Posted: Wed 22nd May 2019
Being listed on the first page of Google's search results takes time. Google Ads provide a short cut, allowing small businesses to appear at the top of the results and charging them every time someone clicks through to their website.
Google Ads allow you to target customers who are thinking about buying something. The level of intent is higher than social media advertising, for example, where people aren't necessarily visiting the platform to buy something.
While it can take time to become effective, low cost experiments will help you discover the potential. This article provides a framework for thinking about Google Ads' Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising and the potential for your business.
Understand what makes your product unique
Having a good grasp of what differentiates your business will help you understand how to position your advertising.
"Is it great packaging, provenance or something else?" asked Big Cat founder and Enterprise Nation member Anthony Tattum. "Most products are launched in mature markets. If you're a small business and don't have much budget you have to be asking those questions."
Part of this planning process involves making sure people can understand your website easily - if you're paying per click you don't want to put people off after they click on your advert. Tattum advocates the "nan test" - can an older relative look at your website and understand what you do? - as well as asking friends, customers and experts.
Look at your competition
Your competitors are really important to PPC. It's common for more than one company to target the same search results and this increases the cost. You need to look for opportunities to stand out by being creative about the search terms you target and what you include in your advert.
Start making searches around your product and see what comes up, both in organic search results and the paid results (these are flagged as "Sponsored" and appear at the top of the results).
Click through to check out the product pages and website. What descriptions and photos do they use? How many competitors are paying for adverts against certain terms? Do they offer money off or other incentives?
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Start planning Google Ads around your customer
Put yourself in your customers' shoes and think about how they would look for products or services like yours. What would they type into Google? The "People also ask" and "Searches related to" lists that often appear at the middle and bottom of results provide ideas.
Harry Wycherley is a digital marketing consultant at Enterprise Nation member Supersize Media (check out founder Fin Wycherley's profile). He advised starting with a piece of paper or spreadsheet and writing down these ideas.
"There's no better person to ask than your actual customers. Send out a survey asking what they would be searching for or ask them in person," he added.
Tattum advised people to think about how customers use products too. Is it everyday use or gifting, for example. Thinking about what triggers them to search will help refine what your adverts target.
Writing effective Google PPC adverts
Targeting more specific search terms can help reduce the cost of PPC advertising because there's less competition and making the advert really relevant to someone's situation makes it more likely they'll buy something.
Location targeting is a good place to start. Tattum uses the example of selling coffee pots to illustrate the point. The broad term "coffee pot" might cost 50p, but this will drop significantly if you refine it by a particular city or area, and these customers are much more relevant if you're running a shop.
While Google Ads typically target someone that's considering buying something they can also focus on someone who's learning about a topic too. Wycherley gave the example of a joiner, who could target "rebuilding a house" as well as "joiners in Manchester".
Make sure the advert fits well with the first page potential customers see on your site. Having a different style or making it difficult to locate the offer advertised will cause people to leave the website.
"Your product description and your photography are important too," added Tattum. "Think about the usage. You don't' want a picture of a coffee pot on a table, you want to have people enjoying a coffee."
Planning your Google Ads budget
This guide is intended for small business owners starting out with Google Ads. That means you'll likely have a small budget and want to learn as you go.
"You have to improve the way you're working with ads over time," said ChattyFeet founder and Enterprise Nation member Gil Kahana. "For example, you can define what kind of search terms are matched to your ads by adding those that don't work as negative keywords."
Tattum talked about the power of three: start with a small number of campaigns and test and learn. He estimated a £5 per day budget would allow you to start seeing some results. He added aiming for less than 25p a click was a good target - and again stressed the importance of targeting "super, super niche" search terms.
However, the cost varies significantly depending on how saturated your market is and Kahana said a budget of £200 to £300 per month might be a good place to start.
It can take time to refine the campaigns to a point where it leads to profitable sales. Google helps with this process by sharing analytical information. For example, you can create several versions of an advert with different wording and tell it to focus investment on the most effective.
This article aims to help small business owners understand how to start thinking about Google Ads, it's not meant as a technical guide to setting up your business up on the platform. There's a wealth of information on Google Ads within its help centre when you're ready to get started. The search engine also runs a free online training academy. Both resources are amazing and Kahana said it's really helpful to take one of their courses when you're starting out.
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