Small business owners often struggle to use Google AdWords.
Targeting buyers successfully often leads to sales, but the process is tricky. Using AdWords may seem easy: You open an account, select keywords, set a budget, and let the campaign run.
Google AdWords isn’t simple, though, as many small businesses discover. You have to find the right keywords, which should be aligned with your company goals.
Let’s go over what AdWords is and how to use it properly.
What Is Google AdWords?
Google AdWords is a platform for running pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. AdWords lets you advertise on Google’s search results.
The benefit of AdWords is that it allows you to reach consumers at the exact moment they are looking for something specific – that is, the term they search.
Organic website traffic, while important, can be a hit-or-miss experience. You may rank on the first page on one day and be nowhere to be seen the next.
With AdWords, you know you’ll be on the first page. While it is a key way to target your customers, it is also complex, especially at first.
Get Started with AdWords
Your first step is to create an account on Google AdWords.
The AdWords Help Center provides video tutorials, which give step-by-step instructions on how to begin using the program.
This is particularly useful to new and upcoming businesses and enterprises.
Make a List of Advertising Goals
Create a list of objectives you hope to achieve with Google AdWords targeting. Do you want to…
- Drive traffic to your website?
- Increase sales leads from clicks?
- Spread the word locally about your business?
Use your objectives to come up with targeted keywords, and make them specific.
For instance, if you’re selling men's denim jackets, you need relevant, specific keywords, like “men's jackets” or “denim jackets.” Avoid generalized keywords like “men's clothes” or “jackets.”
How Much Do Keywords Cost?
Some keywords cost more than others. As you plan your AdWords campaign, you’ll want to figure out whether particular keywords are within your budget, or whether you’re even considering the right keywords in the first place.
Often prospective businesses want to know how much an AdWords campaign costs. The answer depends on how competitive the keyword is, the target market, and even the time of day.
The minimum bid is 5 cents per AdWord, but on average, you could be paying 20 cents to 5 bucks a click.
Start simple. It takes time to master Google AdWords management – not because it’s hard, but because there’s lots of data to sift through.
As you’re learning, remember these tips:
- You don't have to spend a lot of money at first. Start with $25 or $50.
- If you have to make variations on your initial ad, it’s easy – and beneficial – to do so. Different variations mean you can target different groups of people. Not all your prospects are the same, and different people have different tastes.
- Be patient. Google AdWords doesn't offer overnight success. You should wait up to 30 days before giving up on a specific campaign.
Troubleshooting AdWords Campaigns
If you haven’t received any clicks or impressions after a month, then you need to investigate.
If a keyword is getting plenty of impressions but few clicks, then the keyword isn’t ultimately useful, so pause or delete it.
Also, check your search term report to make certain your ad is being displayed for the right searches. Many businesses lose money because they spend too much on the wrong keywords.
Remember that your ultimate goal is conversions. You must recoup any money you spend on AdWords through sales.
For example, if you target 10 different keyword variations with a daily combined budget of $10, then run your campaign for a month, you’ll pay $300 total. That may not seem like much, but that’s $300 you have to make up for.
Case Study: Happy Hounds
Targeting customers based on location will give you the edge over your competitors.
Happy Hounds, a boutique dog care service, is located in Oakland, California.
Founder Suzanne Golter targeted a local audience as she was building her customer base, and she says that Google AdWords is responsible for the 40 new clients she got every month that she ran her campaign.
Golter said that using AdWords was at first a process of trial and error, but by focusing on location, she started getting even more calls than she expected. In fact, she received so many that she had to scale back her AdWords campaign in the Oakland San-Jose area.
Golter plans to use geographic targeting in the future with AdWords.
Programs That Help Optimize Google AdWords
Let’s look at two products that will help you glean even more information from Google AdWords.
1. Google Places
Google Places collects information you can use when listing your place of business. With Google Places, you can control this information and present the exact details customers will see.
For instance, you can add an image, hours of operation, a business description, and contact information. In addition, you will appear on Google Maps if you create a Google Places account.
You can include your Google Places information on AdWords listings under location extensions.
2. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a free website analytics service which offers insight on how users find and browse your website.
The service tracks data using a unique tracking code installed on every page of the website. Google Analytics shows which keywords bring the most traffic and provides demographic information about who visits your website.
Follow these four steps to use the program:
- Sign up for Google Analytics.
- You will receive a tracking code. Paste that tracking code onto your web pages so that Google knows each time someone visits your site.
- Within a few hours, you will start to see site data.
- Analyze that data for trends about your audience: age, location, gender, interests, and so on.
Quality Score: Determining Your Campaign’s Success
Quality Score is the rating of relevance and quality determined by Google for both your ad and keywords. It can have a significant influence on the efficacy and cost of your Google AdWords campaign.
Think about Quality Score like your credit score. Your credit score determines whether you are eligible for a loan or not, and how high the interest rate is.
You can view the Quality Score by looking on the keywords tab. Enable Quality Score columns by following Google's tutorial.
Quality Score impacts how your Google Ads perform. There are multiple factors that determine the Quality Score, such as:
- Click-through rate
- Your Google account history
- Landing page
Let’s break down these factors.
1. Click-Through Rate (CTR)
The click-through rate is the most important part of a Quality Score. The more people that click your ad, the more Google thinks your ad is helpful to users.
Google will then reward you with lower costs and higher ad rankings. Click-through rate can also determine how well your ads and keywords are performing. For instance, if you’ve received 6 clicks and 1000 impressions, the CRT is 0.6%.
2. AdWords Account History
Your account history can play a role in determining whether your brand is thought of as trustworthy.
The longer you’ve maintained a Google AdWords account, the more credible it appears to search engines. The more credible you are, the higher you’ll be ranked in search results.
3. Landing Pages
A landing page is the place a visitor goes once they click the ad. It is equivalent to the front of a bricks-and-mortar store.
We don’t know how exactly Google calculates Quality Scores, but we do know that the landing page has some impact. Choose the best possible landing page when making your ad.
Here's an example of an ad by clothing retailer Modcloth and the landing page the ad takes visitors to.
The ModCloth landing page shows users exactly what they'll find on the site through clear headers and eye-catching images.
A landing page should be user-friendly. If your landing page has a high bounce rate, your Quality Score may drop.
Google AdWords Requires Patience, but Patience Pays
Now that you’ve set up your first Google campaign, be patient.
Check back often, tweak your ad, create new versions and look through the data. It may take you a few weeks to get results. Analyze the data in the meantime to determine if the ad is working and if it is performing as expected.
Turn off ads that don't seem to be performing well, and add more keywords to ads that are performing well.
After all, the best way to get better at Google AdWords is through experience.
About the Author
Ali Soudi is the head of online marketing for Be Unique Group, a digital marketing agency with global offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, New York, Georgia, and Sydney. He was born and raised in the UK and made his way to the UAE, where he taught himself about Google AdWords, SEO, social media, and more. He eventually became Google Certified, and Be Unique Group became a Premier Google Partner.