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What is Google Adwords and Should I Be Using It?

Google ads, formerly known as Google Adwords, is a pretty intimidating topic for many small businesses. Most small business owners have heard both success and horror stories about using it. So, what exactly is Google Adwords, and is it a good fit for your business? First let’s start with an overview of how it works and then we can explore whether or not it makes sense for you and your industry. 

The Two Most Popular Types of Google Ads

Search Ads

The most common type of Google Ads are called search ads. Search ads are the ads that show up right at the top of a Google search results page. They look just like a normal search result, but have a small “ad” label right below it. You have probably seen these before but, if you haven’t, take a moment right now to type any search term into Google and you will find a couple of examples at the top of the results page. So a search ad is just what it sounds like: it is an ad where you pay Google to put your listing at the top of the results page for the relevant terms you select.

When creating search ads, there are a couple of important components you need to set to run your campaign. You will need to choose the text in your ad, what landing page you want your potential customers to see when they click your ad, what keywords you want to target, the max per click you’re willing to pay, and your daily budget cap. We will explain these different pieces in more detail in a moment.

Display Ads

Display ads are another common Google Ad. These are the banner ads you likely see when visiting blog sites, news sites, and many other websites. They’re visual ads that go on sites, rather than just text ads on a Google results page. Display ads are also billed at cost per click and are typically much cheaper than search ads because they convert at a much lower rate. While search ads are shown to someone who is most likely looking for what you sell because they’ve already taken the time to Google it, display ads are shown to anyone who either fits your targeting or is visiting a website you’ve chosen to show your display ad on. While you will try to show display ads to only people interested in your product or service, display ads are just a much wider net than a search ad. Some businesses still find a lot of success with search ads but they aren’t right for everyone.

How Do Google Search Ads Work?

We touched a bit on this already, but here is an overview of how Google Search Ads work. Someone will be sitting at their computer or on their phone, and will type a term into a search engine like Google. They will then be taken to a Google search results page, and at the top of that page will be a couple of ads. If that person chooses to click on an ad result, whoever put that up will pay for the click, often somewhere between $1 and $10. That click will then take them to a landing page on the creator of the ad’s website that explains more about the product or service they sell. 

So that was the user experience. Now let’s talk about what it takes on the other side of things to set up these ads.

Once you create the basic setup of a Google Ads account, like billing, your business address, etc, you will then create a campaign. A campaign is what your ads and keywords will be set up under. If you are a small organization with only one main service offering, like tree and bush trimming, you likely only need one campaign. You may want multiple campaigns when you have totally different segments of your business that you want to separate. Like, say you do tree and bush trimming, but then you also perform recurring gardening services. For that, you would want two separate campaigns. But for this example, let’s assume you just want to do one campaign based on one main product or service. 

You will first create the campaign, and then you will want to create your ad groups inside of the campaign based on the different keywords related to each specific service. For example, you would want to do one ad group around the keywords related to “tree trimming” and one ad group around the keywords “bush trimming.” This way, you won’t accidentally show someone who googled “tree trimming” a “bush trimming” ad, because they are far less likely to click an ad that isn’t exactly what they are googling. Once you have your two ad groups created, you will need to fill them up with keywords and create your ads. 

How Do You Choose Your Ad Keywords?

Adding your keywords is maybe the most difficult part of setting up your ads, and if you do this part incorrectly, you can also waste a lot of money. Our quick, dirty advice is to only add around 20-30 keywords to each ad group and to set the keywords all to either phrase or an exact match. To explain match types a little better, there are basically three types of keywords: broad match, phrase match, and exact match.

With broad match, you are casting a very wide net to the types of people you want to be shown to. With phrase match, you are telling Google to only show ads to people searching for something pretty close to your original keyword. And lastly, with exact match, you are saying, “Google, please only show my ad to someone who googled my exact keyword.” Unless you want to cast a super wide net and likely spend lots of money on people who aren’t googling a term very close to your keyword, we almost always recommend using phrase and exact match, not broad match. And again, 20-30 keywords or phrases per ad group is enough.

Creating Your Ads

You want to create at least 3-4 ads per ad group. Make sure you use the same verbiage in your ads as in your keywords list. If you need some ideas, research what your competitors are saying. Just google your search terms and see what other ads are out there. 

After you’ve written ads, you also need to ensure the page you send people to on your website includes these keywords too and is directly relevant to the ad. Do not create an ad group about tree trimming, write in your ad about your 25% off discount this month, and then just send people who click the ad to your home page that talks about your business philosophy and doesn’t even specifically mention that you do tree trimming or anything about the coupon. You need to send people to a page that is specifically about the service mentioned in the ad. On that page, give them relevant info about the product, and then include an action item like “call us now to schedule an appointment.” The page on your website that you hook up to your ad is essential to the success of your AdWords campaign. 

What about Google Display Ads?

Display ads are less common than search ads, but they work like this: you design a visual ad, usually with some imagery and text like “Hire a Tree Trimmer Today.” Then, you create a display ad campaign in Google ads. When you create your display campaign, you will choose how to target people (or who to show the ads to.) You can pick these people based on interests, like say you want to show your ads to people who have an interest like home improvement. Then, Google will put your ad on websites like Home Depot, maybe a home improvement, blog, etc. Another way is to choose people by a demographic, like being a homeowner. If you do targeting that way, your ad will show up on any website that these homeowners visit, regardless of the website content. The last way is to target people who have interacted with your business before, such as someone who has visited your website. This is called remarketing and is a topic for another day, but it is a great way to use Google display ads. 

With display ads, you will then also still be able to choose a cost per click you’d like to aim for, and a landing page to send people to. The same principles apply here – make sure the wording and imagery in your display ad match the website page you send people to. 

How Does Bidding Work in Google Ads?

Let’s touch on how bidding in Google Ads works. We mentioned that you pay per click, but how is the price of each click calculated? Well, the truth is that it depends on your competition. If you have low competition, your clicks will have a low cost, possibly even below $1 per click. On the other hand, if you are in a very competitive market, your clicks can be $10 per click or even more. 

You can set your campaign to two main ways of bidding: you either control what you are willing to pay for each click, or you can let Google decide. If you don’t have the time to watch your campaign super closely or hire a specialist, we recommend doing automated bidding with a cap. So you can tell Google, “please automate my bids but I’m not willing to pay over $3 per click.” 

This way works alright, but the reason we like manually setting bids is that you can tell Google, “okay I’m willing to pay $5 per click if someone googled ‘tree trimming near me,’ but I only want to pay $2 per click if someone is only googling the phrase ‘tree trimming,’ because I don’t really know if they want to hire someone, or they’re trying to learn how to trim trees themselves, etc.” You have much more control when you do manual bids, but it’s much more time-consuming and takes a higher level of expertise. 

Who Should Be Using Google Ads?

For the most part, everyone can find success with Google Ads, it just might take more work and experimentation with ads and keywords than others. In general, if you have a product or service that people often research or find through Google, then Google Ads are for you! But in rare cases that people aren’t necessarily looking for you when they buy from you, maybe you sell really neat jewelry that is more of an impulse buy, Google Ads might not be for you. Another reason Google Ads may not be a great fit for you is if your competitors are giants in the industry and will price you out of the water on your bids every time. So, say you are a little guy in tech, then you may not be able to afford to compete with Microsoft on keywords like “desktop as a service,” and might need to get more creative with your digital marketing. 

We would say that anyone thinking about upping their digital advertising game should consider just trying out Google Ads to find out if it will work for you. For your average small business in a moderately competitive field, Google Ads can be an amazing tool for bringing in leads. Other digital marketing strategies like SEO and social media can take time to pay off, but Google Ads will get people on your website tomorrow. 

Google Ads for small businesses can be intimidating, yet highly rewarding. If you have any questions about building smart campaigns for your digital ads, or your business needs any other digital marketing help, drop us a line! We offer a free 30-minute consultation where we will chat about your business needs and answer your digital marketing questions.