How To Get Customers From Google Ads For Small Businesses

Expert Advice: How Successful Are Google Ads For Small Businesses?

The world of Google ads for small businesses is vast, constantly changing, and technically complicated. As a small business owner faced with various options and platforms to market your business, advertising on Google can seem intimidating, especially when you don’t have all the information you need to ensure your ads are as effective as possible.  “It makes it challenging as a business owner, if you just want to run a small campaign, to do this without calling someone who actually understands this stuff because of how technically nuanced it is,” said Jeff Cooper, Founder and President of Saltbox Solutions, during a BizHack Live webinar With more than 5.6 billion searches each day on Google, the platform serves to be one of the most common ways advertisers can market their product to an audience.  “Google has a massive ownership of the search market,” Cooper said. “As an advertiser, even though there are other platforms out there, such as Microsoft ads, or Bing, I really recommend that you focus on Google first. If you can get things to work in Google, it’s very easy to replicate those things in other search engines.” How successful are Google ads for small businesses? Keep reading to learn more. 

TL;DR: Learn more about the fast-paced world of Google paid search auctions to plan your Google ads for small businesses strategy. 

Using Google’s paid auction for your online advertising needs can be complicated, confusing, and overwhelming. How can a small business owner know if Google ads for small businesses are the best option? When devising your business’s online advertising strategy, consider these four ideas.
  • Google paid auction pits advertisers against each other as they bid for space on the top of a search page for a specific search query. Google evaluates how much you are willing to spend for one click on your advertisement alongside the quality of the user’s experience when engaging with your ad. 
  • To decide if Google advertising is worth it for your business, calculate the estimated profit you will earn if only a fraction of the traffic you receive from your ad becomes a paying customer. If you have a relatively new advertising campaign or will lose money by engaging in a Google paid auction, it may not be worth it as a small business. 
  • Take time to observe what the current search market is like for other advertisers and how your competitors spend money. Pay attention to what search queries your competitors are bidding on and if these keywords are relevant and economical for your business. 
  • If you choose to engage with Google paid auction, take note of which keywords you bid on are successful and which ones are not. Avoid common mistakes like using a broad keyword match or disregarding the quality of your advertisement. 

Want more of these great insights? Subscribe to our community newsletter and get invited to #BizHackLive events. Also, don’t forget to follow BizHack on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and subscribe to our YouTube channel.


Google Ads For Small Businesses: How The Google Paid Search Auction Process Works 

There are many opportunities to use Google ads for small businesses, including paid search results, Google Maps, Google My Business, Google Shopping, and organic search results. Of these resources, the paid search result feature tends to be the most elusive and complicated for small business owners with little prior experience using the paid auction feature. However, it also presents numerous benefits. “It tends to get a lot of visibility with prospective customers, and it also gets a lot of click volume and interaction from people who are using Google,” Cooper said. “When you compare it to something like organic search and you’re a new business or you’re a smaller business, it’s oftentimes a lot easier to drive traffic and sales faster through these advertising components.” When you’re thinking about using Google ads for small businesses, the paid auction feature can be attractive because it can promote a new ad on the platform almost immediately. This quick turnaround and visibility are faster than trying to rank organically for search terms, as it takes a longer time frame to refine and generate visible results. The Google paid auction process is fast-paced. For each search query entered into the site, Google runs a live auction where advertisers compete against each other to rank at the top of the search results page. As the auction goes on, the platform goes through a series of steps. 
  • Google views the list of advertisers who have submitted a bid for a specific keyword. It looks at how much each advertiser is willing to pay for one click from a Google user. The price they pay for this engagement is called the cost per click, or CPC. 
  • Google evaluates the quality of your ad experience or your quality score (QS). This quality score consists of how relevant your ad copy is, the quality of the user’s experience on your landing page, and your historical performance as an advertiser with Google. In other words, do users usually find what they are looking for when they engage with your ad?
  • Finally, Google ranks the ads into a series of results based on a score it gives you. This score is determined by multiplying your CPC by your QS to produce a fractional value out of 10. With this scoring system, ads with a higher value out of 10 will rank higher in the search results. 
As an advertiser, you can’t simply submit a higher bid to be featured in search query results. You must invest in the experience a potential customer has when engaging with your ad. These criteria are part of Google’s commitment to preserving a high-quality experience for its users.  “Unlike a billboard or radio ad, where you can just place that ad and reap the benefits of it, you have to actively manage this because these prices change as advertisers come in and out of the marketplace,” Cooper said. “Your quality score can change as your website evolves, or as other advertisers participate and start working on their ad copy.” Cooper recommended those using Google ads for small businesses specifically use Google’s paid search auction to ensure that their ads are relevant to their target keywords. The more relevant your ad is for a specific search query, the higher your quality score is likely to be.  Your quality score evaluates three different criteria. 
  • The expected click-through rate of your ad. Do you have engaging offers and compelling branding and messaging?
  • Ad relevance. Does your ad use specific language that ensures users find what they are looking for?
  • Landing page user experience. Is your landing page easy to navigate? Do you refrain from using spammy pop-up windows and other features that could be distracting?
Advertisers who use Google paid search auctions can achieve the best results by providing quality content that ensures a high-quality experience. When a high-quality score works alongside an appropriate CPC, ads generate clicks and lead to new business.   

Is Paid Search Worth It For Your Business?

Now that you know how Google paid search auction works, you must begin evaluating if the return on investment for this platform is worth it for your small business needs.  Cooper suggested that small business owners keep two questions in mind. 
  • How much money do I make if a visitor to my website becomes a customer? To answer this question, measure or estimate your customer value (the average revenue you earn with each transaction) and then assess where your “break-even” point is or where your customer becomes profitable. 
  • How many website visitors on average will become a customer? Check your current website data to see how many new customers you receive each month due to visits to your website. You can also estimate your website conversion rate. A 2%-5% conversion rate is average, Cooper said. 
By gathering this information, you can begin to see if your small business can afford to invest the money into placing bids on relevant keywords and keep up with competitors’ bids.  “You need to make sure you’re ready to think about whether or not you can compete on some of these keywords, based on the price of those clicks,” Cooper said. “As long as we know what we can afford as a business, that gives us some guardrails. When we go to advertise, we know how to manage those investments properly.” These evaluations may change depending on what type of business you are in. If you are an e-commerce company, you may simply need to evaluate what margin you earn profit from a single sale. If you are a B2B business, such as a consultancy, you may need to dig a little deeper to pinpoint how much revenue you earn after you factor in time spent with a specific client.  Regardless of which type of company your small business is in, the complicated nature of Google paid search auctions means that you may be best served by entering the marketplace slowly.  “My general suggestion is if you’re first starting, I would focus on a very narrow subset of search queries and try to get those right,” Cooper said. “Maybe pick two or three that you feel aligned with your business and just focus there. Then, you’re not having to worry about the overhead management that comes with having 50 different keyword targets in your account.”  

What Does The Current Search Market Look Like?

As you continue to explore Google paid search auctions and how they can help you run Google ads for small businesses, another valuable strategy may be to observe how the current marketplace is operating for relevant keywords to your company. Cooper recommended several data resources that help small business owners monitor the search market in action. Some of these include:
  • Google Ads
  • SpyFu
  • Semrush
  • Ahrefs
Each of these resources serves as a keyword research tool that provides users with information on how well specific keywords are operating in the marketplace and how much larger companies are paying for one click. Small business owners can use these tools to pinpoint which keywords might be best suited for their advertisements and how much they should bid on each click. An average CPC can range from $1.50 to $6, Cooper said, but these prices can also vary based on the search query.  When researching keywords, Cooper recommended advertisers pay attention to:
  • The relevance of a keyword. Can you sell your product to the user that searches this keyword? Can you fulfill the needs behind their search with your business? Should you pay to get this specific user’s attention?  
  • Click costs. Will you still make a profit from your ad based on the estimated CPC bids of your competitors? 
By looking at the current search market, new advertisers can easily view the triumphs and mistakes of others to create a Google paid search auction strategy that is more likely to be successful.   

Core Success Factors and Common Mistakes 

Finally, Cooper advised small business owners looking to become involved with Google paid search auctions to note important areas to achieve success and common areas where mistakes are made. One of these common mistakes involves neglecting your keyword’s match type before running an ad.  “A match type is the rules through which Google will actually take your keyword target and show you different search queries in that search engine results page,” Cooper said. There are three keyword match types for advertisers to keep in mind when bidding on keywords. 
  • Broad match. This category does not use any specific notation to denote the match type, making it the default option for advertisers. Using this option decreases the relevance of your ads, making them less likely to achieve visibility.
  • Phrase match. This category is indicated by using quotation marks (“) around your keyword. With this match type, your ad may be included in auctions for search queries with your keyword in a longer phrase. This category is more specific than a broad match but is still not as specific as possible. 
  • Exact match. Keywords in this category can be inputted using brackets ([]) on either side of the keyword. This category provides the tightest matching for ads in specific search queries. Cooper recommended that advertisers first start with an exact match to ensure that they have the highest chance of visibility. 
“When in doubt, use exact match,” Cooper said.  While advertisers work to avoid mistakes, it’s also important that they capitalize on common success factors. A major one that advertisers should be paying attention to is the quality score, Cooper said.  “Quality score is the one metric to rule them all,” Cooper said. “It tells you exactly how Google feels about your click-through rate, your landing page experience, and the quality of your ads.” By measuring and optimizing an ad’s quality score, advertisers receive feedback on how their ad is performing and how they can improve their ad’s quality for next time. Google paid search auction participants can add a column for quality score onto the reports the platform generates for them. This field works on ads that scored less than a 6 out of 10 in the paid search auction and gives advertisers the ability to view the impression share and other valuable statistics.  Using the quality score and the impression share, participants can evaluate which keywords are working for their advertisements and which keywords are not. Once they have this data, they can allocate their budget to support the search queries that will generate the best results for their company.  For small business owners just beginning their use of Google paid search auctions, Cooper suggested starting with a manual keyword bidding process to collect data that will help Google evaluate your campaign. Once your campaign becomes more mature, you can begin using an automated bidding process that relies on a daily budget you set for bidding on the platform.  Because of the complicated nature and the vast variety of features, Google paid search auction has to offer, a web developer or SEO specialist may be a valuable investment to ensure your advertisements perform as well as they possibly can.  “Before you even start, you want to be really deliberate about making sure this is set up properly,” Cooper said. With the right strategy, Google ads for small businesses can generate leads and revenue for your company. As a small business owner, you must evaluate each aspect of the Google paid search auction, trust in experts’ advice, and take into account your company’s goals. 

Want more of these great insights? Sign up to receive updates on upcoming events and get invited to #BizHackLive webinars. Don’t forget to follow BizHack on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and subscribe to our YouTube channel.