Understanding – and Conquering – Google AdWords for Small Businesses

You’ve toppled Twitter, felled Facebook, and even slayed SEO. Formidable foes, indeed, but now it’s time to take on the big marketing beast — Google AdWords for small businesses.

For anyone who’s even attempted to start an AdWords campaign, you know how confusing and cumbersome it can be. It seems like you need a fleet of marketers and SEO experts and a hefty marketing budget to make even the tiniest impact.

And, yes, more money and more resources can help, but small and midsized businesses can compete in — and even win — the AdWords battle. You just have to know where to start.

Understanding — and Conquering — Google AdWords for Small Businesses

Like anything else, when it comes to Google AdWords for small businesses, you get what you put in. Not money, but effort. And while you don’t need a small army to take on AdWords, you do need someone who will devote time and effort into your campaigns. AdWords are from Google, not Ron Popeil … you can’t “set it and forget it.”

This means you need multiple keywords, campaigns, ad groups, ads, and you need to monitor their performance on a regular basis. Make weekly (or sometimes even daily) tweaks to keep everything at peak performance. It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out exactly what will work best for you. And once you figure it out, the game will change and you’ll have to adjust again. But the more work and optimization on your campaigns, the less leg work you’ll have to do going forward.

Remember, other small businesses like yours (and your competitors) are probably facing the same frustrations. Putting a little more time and effort in can vault you over the top. When they throw in the towel, you should be throwing more at your AdWords.

Choosing the Right Keywords

The crux of Google AdWords for small businesses is keywords, i.e. what people type into Google when they’re searching for something. When setting up AdWords, you want to think like your customer and use terms and phrases that they would use to find you. Google will also give you suggested keywords that are often useful, but don’t live and die by them. To dig a little deeper, use Google’s Keyword Planner, which gives you relevant keywords, suggested bid estimates, and a list of how often keywords are searched and how their search volume changes over time.

Get specific with keywords. By using longtail keywords (more than two words), you can get a leg up on the competition. Longtail keywords are more specific, and thus will have less competition. Use variations, as well. If you sell widgets, don’t just use “widgets” as your keyword, try “widgets for women,” or “construction widgets.” The key is focusing on niche markets and targeting specific users.

There are two other things to focus on when it comes to keywords — match type and negative keywords. There are four keyword matching options you can use: broad match, broad match modifier, phrase match, and exact match. Here’s a breakdown of each one, according to Google:

Broad match — "A keyword setting that allows your ad to show when someone searches for that keyword or a variation of it. The broad match keyword bicycle bell can cause your ad to show if someone searches for variations like bicycle bellsbuy a bell for a bicycle, and bell reviews for bikes.”

Broad match modifier — "Broad match modifiers let you target searches that include at least one of your keywords. This can help increase how relevant your traffic is to your ads, and improve your clickthrough (CTR) and conversion rates."

Phrase match — "With phrase match, you can show your ad to customers who are searching for your exact keyword and close variants of your exact keyword, with additional words before or after. Phrase match is more targeted than the default broad match, but more flexible than exact match. It gives you more control over how closely the keyword must match someone's search term so your ad can appear."

Exact match — "With exact match, you can show your ad to customers who are searching for your exact keyword, or close variants of your exact keyword, exclusively. Of the four keyword matching options, exact match gives you the most control over who sees your ad, and can result in a higher clickthrough rate (CTR)."

Negative keywords allow you to exclude certain search terms and phrases from your campaigns, so you’re only targeting the customers you want. This can be as easy as avoiding words like “free” or “cheap,” or more advanced and specific — if you sell candles, you can make “in the wind” a negative keyword to avoid people searching for this.

Continuing Education

We’ve just scratched the surface here, so it’s easy to see why Google AdWords for small businesses is such a tough beast to slay. But it can be done with time, effort, and a lot of trial and error. On top of that, there’s a lot of resources out there that can help. Google itself has the Google AdWords certification, online training and testing that shows you the ins and outs of all things AdWords, turning you into an AdWords certified professional. If you don’t want to go that deep, you can try Udemy’s online courses, including the free AdWords 101 course, WordStream’s PPC University, or countless other online classes and tutorials. If you’re looking for help, just Google it!

In any case, if you want to do Google AdWords for small businesses right, put the time and effort into it. Otherwise, it’s just not worth it.

Want to get started with Google AdWords for small businesses? Contact CC Marketing and Communications today!