Google AdWords Guide for Small Businesses

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Online advertising is becoming a popular way for small businesses to get more traffic to both their websites and into their stores.  Online advertising is cost-effective and like Facebook, offers a great way to target your ads to a specific audience. There are various types of online advertising, but we believe that Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising is the easiest and most effective options for small businesses.

What is PPC Advertising

PPC Advertising has proven to be one of the most effective types of online advertising for small businesses. When a user searches specific keywords, they will trigger text-based ads to display, based on these keywords. For instance, if a hair salon wants to create an ad for their business, while creating an ad, they can specify keywords, such as “Hair Salon”, “Hair Cut”, or “Hair Stylist.” They will then specify the location of their salon. When a user searches for these keywords and is within the specified location, they will see the ad for that specific hair salon. 

These ads appear in the margin of a search engine, and can include compelling call actions to encourage users to click for more information. Even better, the business will only be charged if the user actually clicks on this ad.

PPC advertising continues to grow in popularity because it is relatively easy and cost effective. Further, it allows small businesses to get their ads in front of a huge pool of potential customers within their specific location. These ads are highly targeted, and users only receive the most relevant ads to their specific search.

Google AdWords

Thanks to the Google’s giant reach, Google AdWords is the most popular PPC tool for small businesses. AdWords helps businesses create PPC Ads and then displays these on their target audience’s Google Search Feed.

Google AdWords offers effective reporting and analytics tools, allowing small businesses to track ad performance and ensure that the ads are fulfilling their main objectives.

Pros and Cons of Google AdWords

If you’d like to advertise your small business on Google AdWords, make sure to first consider the pros and cons:


  • Allows great exposure to a wide target audience which can include current or potential customers
  • Provides cost effective advertising, and only requires businesses to pay when their ad is actually clicked
  • Offers a user-friendly interface that first-time users can understand
  • Gives users the option of adjusting their budget
  • Provides great customer service and resources to help small businesses create and manage ad campaigns


  • Specific niche groups are difficult to reach
  • There may be a learning curve
  • PPC Ads disappear when your campaign ends
  • Does not provide a sure-fire way to get sales

Setting Up an Account

If you believe that Google AdWords for you, you’ll first need to set up an account. Google has an insightful starter guide which provides great instructions on how to set up an account. The basic steps include entering your login information, selecting your geographic region to enable geo-targeting, and defining your daily budget and the amount you want to pay per click. Once you have set up your account, you can begin creating your ad.

Creating Your Ad

Google AdWords will walk you through each step to create your ad. You’ll see that the ad is made up of the following four parts:

  • Headline: 25 characters in bold that will be used to grab the attention of the user. It’s important to use one or more keywords in your headline
  • URL: The URL where you want your customers to go when they click your ads
  • Description Lines: Google gives you the option to add two different description lines. Each should build on each other and either describe your product or service while incentivizing the user to click your ad.

There are a variety of creative tactics that will make your ads more engaging and effective:

  1. Include text that describes how your business is unique. You will need to stand out from other business’s ads, so make sure that your ad focuses on what makes your product or service better. 
  2. Advertise a compelling offer. Promotions are a great way to incentivize customers to make a commitment. Whether your ad promotes a flash sale, discount, or free trial, an incentivize can increase the chances that a user clicks your ad.
  3. Highlight a clear call to action (CTA). Make sure that your customers have a given reason to click on an ad. Whether it’s to sign up for an event, make a purchase, or receive a coupon, your ad should include a clear CTA.
  4. Make sure your ad is concise. Google does not give you much space to tell your message, so make sure that you take advantage of the space that you have. Make sure to only use words that are compelling and crucial to your message.

Selecting the Right Keywords

Using the right keywords is critical to the success of your ad. Many people assume that they know the keywords that their target customers would search if they wanted to find a product or service like theirs. However, it’s very important to research keywords before selecting them for your campaign. Google’s Keyword Planner is a great tool to search for keywords. To use the tool, enter the words that you think customers would use to find your product or service online. When you do this, the planner will provide a long list of keywords that are similar to your search. These will give you an idea of how much these keywords cost per click.

Go through this list, and select keywords that are best fit for your business. When starting out, you will want to select anywhere from five to eight keywords. You’ll see that the more keywords that you select, the more expensive your ad will be. You can export your own list from planner directly into an excel spreadsheet.

Once you select your keywords, Google gives you the option of selecting your match type. If you select “Broad” match type, Google will show your ad when users search a board range of keywords that are like your keywords. For instance, if your keyword is “low-cost Italian Restaurant”, your ad may show up when users search “affordable pizza parlor”. While selecting an exact match is the lowest cost option, a broad match type allows you to reach an even larger audience.

Overall, Google AdWords is an affordable and effective way to reach a targeted audience. Each ad that you create, you will learn valuable insights that you can apply to your next campaign. While it does require a decent amount of time, it has proven to drive growth and sales for small and large businesses alike.

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