Businesses of all sizes advertise on Google, but small businesses have a special challenge that big businesses don’t have: small advertising budgets. Google advertising for small businesses can be very effective when done well, but there is a dark side: Like most forms of advertising, there are no guarantees. If you’re not careful, you could spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a campaign for little or no return. Here are 14 tips to help you get the most out of your Google advertising campaigns.
Tip #1: Set a Budget
One thing that makes Google advertising a good choice for small businesses is the ability to set a daily budget. When determining how much you are willing to spend, keep in mind that it’s entirely possible to run a campaign and not get any sales. When you set up your initial budget, you should set it at a level that you are willing to lose. How much can your business afford to put into an advertising campaign that may or may not pay off?
Let’s say you can afford to lose $10 per day ($300 per month) on advertising that brings in no results. Set your daily Google Ads budget to $10 per day to start, and then evaluate the results. Did you make any sales from your Google advertising? How much are those new customers worth to you? Once you have tested the ads and have a better idea of the results you can expect, you can adjust your daily Google advertising budget to whatever level makes sense to you.
Tip #2: Pick Good Keywords
Don’t bid on every keyword you can think of. You might get more clicks, but chances are, your conversion rates will suffer. You are more likely to get sales if the page you send people to closely matches the phrase they searched for. For example, if you are selling Marvel comic books, don’t bid on “Marvel.” People searching for Marvel are much less likely to be shopping for comic books than those who search specifically for “Marvel comic books.” Specific, multi-word keyword phrases generally perform better than more generic search terms.
Tip #3: Use Negative Keywords
If there are searches you don’t want to show up for that are related to your keywords, add them as negative keywords. This will keep you from spending money on traffic that is very unlikely to convert.
Tip #4: Have a Goal
Take some time to think about what you want users to do after they click on your ads. Do you want them to buy a specific product? Then make sure your ad goes to the correct product page. Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter? Then send them to an opt-in form, preferably one that offers an incentive for signing up. There are many actions a user can take upon reaching your website. You have to put some effect into guiding them to the choice you want them to make.
Tip #5: Optimize Your Landing Pages
Now that you know what you want your visitors to do, you’ll need to optimize the landing page you’re sending them to. You can do this by making changes and testing the results. A/B testing is ideal for this. There are software solutions that can make it easy to do A/B testing on your website. The software will let you know which page performs better. Once you have a winner, use it for the majority of your pageviews, but keep testing changes as well to see if you can do even better.
Tip #6: Limit Your Ads to Google Search
Google Ads can be run on Google search only or you can opt to take advantage of the Google Display Network, which places your ads on various websites and blogs throughout the Internet. In the beginning, at least, small businesses advertising on Google should limit their reach to Google search. The traffic coming from these ads is more targeted and is more likely to convert into sales.
Tip #7: Target Mobile Devices Separately
Google Ads offers the option to target mobile devices with a specific ad. You can put phone numbers in these ads, which makes it easy for the prospect to call you when they see your ad. Since the prospect already has a phone in hand, targeting them with an ad that includes your phone number makes a lot of sense.
Tip #8: Use Remarketing
You know those annoying ads that seem to follow you all over the Internet? Guess what? They work! Once you’ve gotten a prospect to your website, you want to keep your name fresh on their mind. You do this by remarketing. This service targets your ads to people who have already visiting your site and helps build trust in your brand.
Tip #9: Track Everything
The only way you can be sure whether your Google advertising campaign is working is to track the results. You must have tracking set up so that when a lead or sale comes in, you know where it came from. Otherwise, you might think your sales are coming from Google Ads when in reality, they are coming from organic traffic or social media shares.
Tip #10: Use Geotargeting
If your business operates in a specific area, use Google’s geotargeting feature to limit the geographical area where your ads are displayed. This will keep you from wasting your precious advertising budget on far-away users who will never become customers. This is a very powerful feature. You can set it to display ads only to users within 10, 20, or 50 miles of your business, or, if you ship throughout the US, you could set geotargeting to display ads only within the US.
Tip #11: Run Specials During Slow Times
A lot of people don’t know that you can run different ads based on the time or day of the week. If your business is typically slow on Sundays, you could run an ad with a coupon code that only displays on Sundays to try to drum up extra business. You can also choose to run your ads only at certain times of the day, like during business hours.
Tip #12: Don’t Overbid
You don’t have to be the #1 result on every keyword. You should set your bid no higher than what makes sense for your business. For example, if you make an average of $10 per year for each subscriber on your list, how much are you willing to pay for a subscriber? And how many clicks does it take to get someone to sign up on your list? You might not know the answers to these questions at first, but you should make an effort to find out so you don’t pay more for a new customer than you will ever be likely to recoup in sales.
Tip #13: Remove Non-performing Ads
Ads that don’t perform well not only don’t make you any money, they could actually lower the performance of your other ads. This is because they affect the quality score of your Google Ads account. This makes your other ads more expensive. If your ads aren’t working, delete them.
Tip #14: If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try Again
One of the great things about Google advertising for small businesses is that it is easy to test different ads, landing pages, and conditions until you get it right. If your first efforts don’t produce the results you’re looking for, make some changes and try again.