How Small Businesses Can Get the Most Out of Google Ads

Turning a single click into a customer. That’s the power of Google Ads.

More than just an online advertising platform; Google Ads for small business is a connection to the world’s largest audience: five billion people online. It capitalizes on Google’s extensive reach, allowing businesses to appear right where their customers are searching.

Google Ads for Small Business

For small businesses, where every marketing dollar must count, the platform’s flexibility in budgeting and campaign customization makes it ideal.

However, there’s a common misconception that Google Ads is some sort of magic potion, that simply setting up a google ads campaign will result in being inundated with leads and new customers.

Just as buying a gym membership doesn’t automatically get you in shape, merely setting up a Google Ads campaign won’t guarantee success. The real muscle work is in managing and optimizing these campaigns.

Why Working Your Google Ads Campaigns Matter

For a small or local business, it’s crucial not to waste resources on an “unused gym membership.” Every penny spent on Google Ads must be strategic and purposeful. You need to work with your campaign, fine-tune it, and adapt it to your business needs.

In this guide, we’ll show you exactly how to get the most out of your Google Ads campaigns through smart spending, targeting precision, and constant improvement.

What is Google Ads and How Does it Work?

Let’s start with the basics to ensure we’re all on the same page.

Google Ads is an online advertising platform developed by Google, where businesses pay to display brief advertisements, service offerings, product listings, or video ads within the Google ad network to web users. It operates on a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) model.

PPC ads require advertisers to pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. Businesses select keywords relevant to their business and bid on them. The bid amount is what they are willing to pay for each click on their ad for that keyword.

Key Components of Google Ads for Small Business

There are four key components to Google Ads. Whether your Google ads work or not is highly dependent on these four factors:

  • Keywords: Keywords trigger your ads to appear. Choosing the right target keywords aligns your ads with user intent, but the wrong keywords means low click-through-rates (CTRs) and wasted budget.
  • Bidding: Your bid determines your ad’s placement. Higher bids can lead to better ad positions. If not carefully managed, though, you could either overspend for each click or set bids too low, resulting in poor ad placements.
  • Ad Copy: The ad copy is your first communication with potential customers. Great ad copy will compel potential customers to click through, but weak ad copy can result in low engagement, even when the ad itself is well-placed.
  • Landing Pages: Landing pages finalize the conversion process. They must resonate with the ad copy and fulfill user expectations, but mismatched or poor-quality landing pages can lead to high bounce rates, low conversions, and, once again, wasted budget.

Realistic Goals with Google Ads

But even before you begin investigating keywords for Google search results, it’s important to set clear goals. Success in Google Ads is deeply rooted in the clarity and precision of your goal setting. Realistic goals provide a focused direction, helping to align your advertising efforts with your business objectives. They also enable you to measure success effectively, track progress, and make informed adjustments.

Types of Goals to Consider

When setting goals for your Google Ads, consider what aligns best with your business needs and where prospects are in the marketing funnel:

  • Top of Funnel (Enhancing Brand Awareness): Here, the focus is on reaching a wider audience. Opt for broader keywords and compelling narratives in your ads to maximize visibility and recall.
  • Middle of Funnel (Generating Leads): If your priority is to gather potential customer information, your campaign should focus on keywords and ad copy designed to encourage sign-ups or inquiries.
  • Bottom of Funnel (Increasing Sales): For direct revenue generation, your ads should target high-intent keywords and feature compelling offers, leading users to optimized landing pages that drive purchases.

Imagine a local bakery aiming to increase foot traffic. Their initial Google Ads goal might be to enhance local brand awareness.

google ads for small business bakery

This goal would prompt their campaign to focus on:

  • Targeting local geographic areas.
  • Using keywords that resonate with the local community.
  • Crafting ad copy for local service ads that highlights unique local offerings.
  • Tracking metrics like local search impressions and CTR in their Google ads account.

When you align your strategy with goals, you can ensure that every click moves you closer to your business objectives.

Budgeting Wisely: Google Ads on a Small Business Budget

Part of the reason a clear strategy is important is because of Google’s immense potential reach. Being budget-conscious is vital to making Google Ads worth it for a small business. Without careful planning, your budget can quickly deplete with little to show for it.

Let’s explore how to avoid this pitfall, ensuring your investment in Google Ads is not only strategic, but also cost-effective. The key is to start slow and build gradually.

Start with a Modest Budget to Test the Waters

  • Gauge Performance: Understand how your ads perform in real-time without risking a significant portion of your marketing budget.
  • Learn and Adapt: Identify which ads resonate with your audience and which fall flat.
  • Optimize Spend: Fine-tune your bidding strategy in your Google Ads account and decide ad placement based on initial results.

Gradually Increasing the Budget: Performance-Based Scaling

  • Incremental Increases: Boost the budget for your ad campaign gradually in response to positive results.
  • Performance Tracking: Google Analytics is your friend. Continuously monitor your campaign’s conversion rates and CTRs.
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: Ensure the additional spend translates into proportionate returns.

Keyword Research and Selection

Now that we’ve got our goals and budget planned out, the real action begins.

Keywords are integral to how Google Ads work. What terms should small businesses use to make the most out of your Google Ads campaign? Again, there’s an element of trial and error, but the steps below will set you on the right path with a keyword strategy.

  • Understand Intent: Keywords should align with what your potential customers are typing into Google search. If you’re a local business that bakes and sells bread, terms like “fresh gluten-free bread in [City Name]” might be more effective than a generic “bread”.
  • Use Keyword Tools: Leverage tools like Google’s Keyword Planner. For example, if you’re a small business that sells handmade soaps, tools like this can let you know if it’s better to use “organic handmade soaps” or “artisanal soaps online”
  • Competitor Analysis: Look at what keywords your competitors are targeting. Tools like SEMrush can provide insights into their strategies.

How to Craft Compelling Ad Copy

We already mentioned how important ad copy is to making Google Ads worth it for a small business, but it can’t be overstated. Your ad copy is your first impression. It needs to be engaging, relevant, and action-oriented.

  • Benefits Over Features: Highlight what your product or service does for the customer. For a yoga studio, instead of just listing classes, emphasize “Find Your Inner Peace with Expert Yoga Instruction.”
  • Clear CTAs: Direct and compelling calls-to-action are crucial. “Sign up for a free trial” or “Download our guide now” are generally more effective than vague statements.
  • A/B Testing: Regularly test different versions of your ad copy. Which one brings more clicks? For instance, does “30% off on first purchase” perform better than “Join our exclusive sale?”

Optimizing Landing Pages for Higher Conversion

If ad copy represents your introduction, landing pages are the “getting to know you” phase. This is where your ad leads, and the page should be optimized to convert visitors into customers. Entire books have been written on how to do that, but keeping these three things in mind is a good start:

  • Consistent Messaging: Ensure your landing page aligns with the ad’s promise. If your ad is about a special offer on gardening tools, the landing page should directly reflect this offer.
  • Simplicity and Clarity: Avoid clutter. Use clear headings, concise text, and strong visuals. For instance, a landing page for a webinar sign-up should have a straightforward form and compelling reasons to join the webinar.
  • Mobile Optimization: Ensure your landing pages are mobile-friendly. With more searches happening on mobile, this can greatly affect your conversion rates.
google ads Mobile Optimization

When to Adjust Your Google Ads Campaign

You’ve got your perfect plan, precise budget, researched keywords, great ads and an effective landing page. Time to sit back and let the leads roll in. That’s how Google Ads work, right?

Well, not quite.

For a small business looking to maximize ROI on its Google Ads campaigns, it has to monitor results constantly.

  • Use Performance Metrics: Keep an eye on CTRs, conversion rates, and cost per conversion. If a campaign is underperforming, it needs adjustments.
  • Respond to Market Changes: Be responsive to market trends and seasonal changes. For instance, a swimwear brand should consider ramping up ads before summer and take on a different strategy during the colder months.
  • Be in the Feedback Loop: Use customer feedback to adjust your targeting or ad copy. If customers frequently ask about a feature, highlight it in your ads.

Leveraging Local Targeting for Maximum Impact

An effective Google Ads campaign isn’t just about reaching more people; it’s about reaching the right people. Local targeting ensures your campaigns are seen by those in your vicinity, who are more likely to visit your store or use your service. For instance, a café in Saskatoon won’t benefit much from ads seen in Calgary.

  • Geo-Targeting Precision: Use Google Ads’ geo-targeting to focus on specific postal codes, neighborhoods, or regions where your potential customers reside. A boutique in downtown Edmonton could target ads to users within a five kilometre radius, focusing on nearby neighborhoods known for high foot traffic.
  • Leveraging Local Keywords: Use keywords that include your city, neighborhood, or even local landmarks. Think about the specific keywords that customers use.
  • Google Business Profile Integration: Ensure your Google Business Profile listing is accurate and complete. It helps in showing up in both local searches and ads.

Beyond the Basics: What Else to Know About Google Ads

The more you put into Google Ads, the more you’ll get out of it. And even after running multiple successful campaigns, there are still things to learn. Think of Google Ads as a video game with levels. You can successfully complete one, but the next one is always waiting.

Keep growing. Keep getting better. And always be ready to take your holistic Google strategy to the next level. Here are some other things to consider after you master the first level.

Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific phrases that searchers are likely to use when they’re closer to making a purchase or when they’re using voice search. They tend to have less competition, lower cost-per-click (CPC), and higher conversion rates because they capture users with more specific intentions.

Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are additional pieces of information about your business, like your phone number, links to specific pages, or customer reviews, that can be included in your Google Ads. Extensions make your ads more appealing and informative, which can lead to higher CTRs. They also give your ad more visibility on the search results page.

Different Match Types

Match types in Google Ads determine how closely a user’s search query needs to match your keyword for your ad to appear. By choosing the right match type (broad, phrase, exact), you can balance reaching a broad audience and targeting specific user intents.

For the keyword “women’s hats,” a broad match might show your ad for “buy ladies’ hats,” whereas an exact match would only show it for “women’s hats.”

Creating Tightly Related Ad Groups

This involves organizing your ad campaigns into smaller groups that target specific themes or products. Tightly related ad groups allow for more relevant ad copy and landing pages, which can improve your Quality Score and ad performance.

A pet store could have separate ad groups for “aquarium supplies,” “dog food,” and “cat grooming tools” to ensure ads are as relevant as possible to the searcher’s intent.

Getting the Most Out of Google Ads

google ads best practices

Google Ads offers small businesses a powerful tool to reach new audiences and grow their business. But like any powerful tool, it has to be used properly, with some caution, with some experimentation, and with a plan.

  • Be Strategic and Patient: Success with Google Ads doesn’t happen overnight. It requires strategy, patience, and constant optimization.
  • Focus on ROI: Keep a close eye on your return on investment. Make adjustments as needed to ensure your Google Ads spend is profitable.
  • Seek Expert Advice: Professional guidance can make all the difference. Consider consulting with digital marketing experts to fine-tune your approach.

Take Your Next Step with Harvard Excelerate

If you’re ready to implement an effective Google Ads strategy that not only maximizes your ROI with Google, but also improves the efficiency of all your digital marketing efforts, it’s time to partner with with Harvard Excelerate.

The actionable advice from our local experts is proven to generate more leads, win more sales, and significantly improve the bottom lines of small businesses.

Stop throwing money you don’t have at marketing problems you don’t need. Contact Harvard Excelerate today and start making out the most of your Google Ads and overall marketing budget by getting your free quote now.

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