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Does Google Ads work for small business owners?

Do Google Ads Work For Small Business?

As a business owner, you might be wondering if using Google Ads is worth you time. Some have had bad experiences, others just don’t think it’s worth the hassle. And some just don’t think that Google Ads works for anyone except the big guns with the big budgets.

The truth is, Google Ads is a very flexible platform that can accommodate businesses of all sizes – and all budgets. But there are many pitfalls that can snare marketers with limited budgets and expertise.

We’ll look at the facts in this post, and try to dispel a few myths around the biggest online ad platform.

Why use Google Ads?

Getting your business on page one of the Google search results is, as any website owner will tell you, key to getting site visitors.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the organic method of building a web presence. But it’s a labour intensive and slow process, that doesn’t even guarantee results.

And this is where Google Ads comes in.

If you could pay to get on the top of the first Google Ads search results page, you would, wouldn’t you? And that is why millions of businesses every year use paid ads on Google. From day one, you can be right at the top of the search results, and bringing in new customers from the get go.

Where can you display Google Ads?

But there is much more to Google Ads than just search engine results – although obviously this is a major part of the offering. Google Ads allows you to set up campaigns for paid search results (SERPs), display ads on the Google Display Network (GDN) also known as banner ads. These can display on hundreds of thousands of websites, apps and in Google’s own portfolio of sites like Gmail and Blogger.

Google Ads also offer sponsored shopping results, sponsored Google Maps listings, and video ads, like the type you see on YouTube. These video ads can also be embedded in other sites that support video ads.

Put simply, there are multiple strategies you can use, so there are more chances to make Google Ads work for your business.

And because Google is always forward thinking, there are usually new products and changes to their marketing ecosystem that happen regularly.

So using pay per click advertising (PPC) gives the small business owner a huge platform to reach just about anyone searching online.

How does Google Ads work?

It takes just a few minutes to sign up to Google Ads and input the details of your business. The Google Ads platform is designed to be super easy to use for business owners, with most of the tricky stuff managed automatically. 

You’ll be asked a few things about your business, and what your end goal is, for example more leads, more sales or more site visitors.

Google Ads then guides you through setup of your chosen ad (or ads) in a very user friendly and accessible way. It even helps you set up display ads (banners) and videos if you need.

Once you’re ready to roll, the serious questions of daily advertising budget and keyword bidding come into play.

You are given full control over this, with the option to set your own bid prices and budget. Or, you can go fully automatic and let Google take the strain, a process known as Smart Bidding.

There are few things to know about setting up your keyword bidding, which we recommend reading up about before you start with Ads.

In short, it’s good to keep an eye on your Google ads budget as you can go over quite easily. And it’s also a good idea to check the details of your traffic, which is something we will come back to shortly.

Is Google Ads expensive?

For most ad campaigns you’re paying pennies on the click, but with the volume of clicks it can quickly add up. And, to be competitive, you often need to set aside a large ad budget to keep up with the market.

It’s also possible that prices for some keywords will surge during busy periods as competitors bid higher. So a keyword that was 10 cents a click might suddenly be over $1 for the same PPC campaign.

Put simply, yes, Google Ads can be expensive if you’re not careful. 

But there are ways to bring your Ads budget down.

  • Use more specific keyword targeting instead of broad search terms. These general search terms will bring in lots of traffic, but they are also less likely to see the conversions that you’re looking for.
  • Avoid running your ads around the clock. Instead, work out the time when people are most likely to be looking for your service
  • Don’t be afraid to split your Google ads campaigns up – so you might have some PPC campaigns targeting a specific demographic or area, and others targeting another segment of the same audience. Look at it as A/B testing for your search ads.
  • Focus on one campaign at a time as you start out. Many campaign managers can end up running search and display campaigns at the same time, which is great for traffic but can quickly drain that marketing budget. Make sure you keep on track, at least to start… 
  • Be proactive with blocking invalid traffic. Also referred to as click fraud or ad fraud, invalid traffic is non-genuine traffic such as bots or business rivals clicking your ads. Yes, it does happen more than you think… Read more in our guide here.
  • Understand how Quality Score works and how it can influence your ad spend. The short version of this is to make sure your ad and your landing page are designed to capture your audience’s attention; to reduce the bounce rate and to maximise conversions. Easier said than done right?

Check out our guide about bringing your CPC down.

How quickly can I expect to see results with my Ads?

Yes, you can have your Google Ads up and running in under an hour, and you can be seeing clicks and traffic within that time too. But to start seeing those proper results, with consistent sales and a solid return on ad spend (ROAS), it can take a few weeks or even months.

Why so long?

As with anything, it takes time to adjust, optimise and get traction. 

Google Ads is exactly the same. People often expect to see their Google Ads bring in a huge windfall in sales within a day or two, a week at most.

And there is no question that if you throw money at the issue, you will see increased traffic and probably conversions too.

But to see a big return on investment? It’s an ongoing process, so don’t bet all your money on the first week.

For a realistic approach, with regular optimisation tweaks, expect something in the region of 4-8 weeks to start really seeing a solid return on ad spend (ROAS).

Is Google Ads worth using for SMEs?

Small business owners can definitely see some great results from Google Ads. But, it does take time and effort to really bring in those sales and get the best return on ad spend.

Google Ads is a definite benefit for small business online. How else can you reach such a huge audience with such a broad demographic range?

Yes, Facebook Ads is powerful too. But their reach is limited to social media users. Google reaches anyone searching online, or even people browsing popular websites, with their Display Network.

Done right, a digital marketing campaign on Google Ads run by a small business can rival that of a bigger competitor.

Getting the best results from your PPC ads

Hiring an agency is probably the easiest way for most small businesses to manage their Google Ads. But if you want to manage it yourself, it’s worth setting aside the time to really read up on optimising your ad campaigns.

Pay attention to things like phrase match and negative keywords, which can really help to improve your targeting and eliminate wasted spend on broad or general targeting. Also avoid using broad match keywords, as this can target the wrong audience.

Find out more in our post about modifiers.

Take care to focus on your PPC ad copy, keep an eye on your traffic regularly, use IP exclusion lists for suspicious clicking activity, and monitor your daily spend.

If you’re spending over $1000 a month on Google Ads, using click fraud prevention software such as ClickCease will save you a big chunk of your budget. 

In fact, many of our clients make their ClickCease subscription back in just a day or two.

By blocking fake traffic, you’re not just stopping bots from clicking your display ads, or competitors clicking on your search results. You’re also maximising the real potential customers who see your ads – which means more chances of hitting that ROAS.

Oli Lynch

Since working for ClickCease, Oli has become something of a click fraud nerd, and now bores people at parties with facts about click farms and internet traffic stats. When not writing about ad fraud, he helps companies to optimise their marketing content and strategy with his own content marketing business.

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