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5 things small business should know to get started with Google Adwords

About 10 years ago, if your business wasn’t listed in the Yellow Pages or a business directory, you were losing out on a lot of new business; especially if your competitors were listed. The Yellow Pages is a simple concept: the advertiser pays for an ad to be listed in a certain category and the consumer, when looking for a service, looks it up in the Yellow Pages and finds all the options in one place. They then have to choose a service provider based on the content of the ad, how it looks and what they offer. More often than not, service providers that start with A get picked because the companies appear in alphabetical order.

So, why the reminder about how the Yellow Pages works? Well Google is not all that dissimilar. Companies also pay to be listed on Google, via Google Adwords. However, in this case, it’s a little more complicated because the companies are not listed in alphabetical order. Rather, companies are listed in order of rank, depending on how much they bid for a keyword (which is effectively a category). The better your ranking, the more chance you have of being chosen. The facts about Adwords are sometimes misleading though, which can scare a small business when considering whether to use the service.

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Here are answers to five of the most frequently asked questions by small business clients starting their first Adwords campaign:

How does it work and what are the differences between ad groups, ads and keywords?

An Adwords campaign is like a pyramid. There are four tiers to the pyramid, and it increases in width as you move down. The top tier is your campaign, where you will define important details such as the location of your campaign, language and more.

The next tier is made up of the ad groups, which you will have a few of, depending on how many products/ services you offer. If you own a shoe shop, your ad groups would speak directly to your products, for example sports shoes, women’s shoes, men’s shoes, boots and so on.

In the third tier, you’ll create some adverts. These ads will each fit into one of the ad groups. Ads contain four lines of copy, similar to a classifieds ad. Such as:

Best sports shoes in SA

Visit our online store today

Buy sports shoes at 20% off

The bottom tier is made up of many keywords, which relate to the ads that you have created. These directly mention the things you are selling, such as: Adidas shoes, Nike shoes, running shoes and so forth. They are much more specific than the ad groups.

Now to explain how these all fit together, in a nutshell:

  • You, as the small business owner, bid on a keyword against your competitors.
  • Your potential customer types that keyword into their Google search engine.
  • Depending on a number of factors, explained later, the most relevant ad in your campaign appears to this customer as one of the first three options in the search results, or in the right side column where ads appear.
  • The customer clicks on your ad, and is taken to the destination URL, a landing page that will entice your customer to sign up for a service or buy a product. More about how to optimise landing pages later.
  • When someone types the keyword in to the search bar and clicks on your ad, you are charged for the amount that you bid for that keyword. This is the Cost per Click (CPC).

How much does it cost?

It’s one of the first questions that a client asks when considering setting up an Adwords campaign and the answer is usually, how long is a piece of string? However, the first campaign doesn’t need to break the bank. Take a good look at all of your marketing efforts and see where you are spending money without knowing your return on investment. Take the money you know you can spare and put it into a campaign. This can be as little as R15 per day, the cost of one cold-call, or as much as R100 per day, the cost of running a classifieds ad in the local paper.

Once you have set aside a budget, you can then decide how much you want to bid on each keyword. You’ll quickly realise what your competition is spending on the same keywords and therefore what you’ll need to bid in order to compete with them. The more competitive the keyword, the higher the bid on each keyword, ultimately increasing the CPC.

At the end of the month Google will charge you for what you have budgeted for, which is your daily budget multiplied by 30,4. The bottom line is, the more you spend on Adwords, the higher the number of clicks on your ads. The key is to optimise your keywords, ads and the page on your website to ensure that each click on your ad leads to a sale, called a conversion.

How do I find the right keywords?

Finding the right keywords is paramount to achieve a successful campaign and use your budget effectively. Start by thinking about your brand, product or service from the customers’ perspective and ask yourself what they would search for in order to find your business. List the search words that they may type into Google and expand on that. For example, if you are an online shoe shop, the first thing people may search to find your business is “buy shoes online”.

Each keyword relates to a certain ad group, therefore you need to group keywords together so that one group could relate to a certain page on your website. If your consumer searches for Adidas shoes, you want them to be shown the specific ad that encourages them to buy Adidas shoes, and when they click on your ad they should be taken to a page where they can actually buy Adidas shoes. If you’re a local business, don’t forget to add keywords that contain your location, such as sports shoes cape town.

If you’re unsure of what keywords would relate to your business, try Google’s Keyword Planner – a very useful tool to find new keywords that apply to your business, as well as how many people are searching for those keywords on a daily basis.

How do I get my ad to appear in the first position?

As with the Yellow Pages, consumers will most likely choose the first service provider that fits their requirements. Therefore, the target in any campaign is to get your ads to show in one the top three spots of the Google search results page for your main keywords.

This is where the Google Quality Score comes in. The quality score is a grade out of 10 that Google gives each keyword in your account, based on the quality of your ads and the landing page that is triggered by that keyword. Google uses this score and your keyword bid to decide how ads should be ranked every single time someone searches that keyword. If your keyword gets a higher ad rank than your competitor, even though you bid the same amount on the keyword, your ad will appear at the top of the search engine results.

To increase your rank you will need to focus on improving a few things: your ad text, your landing page and your keyword relevance. If your ad text is compelling and relates directly to the keyword, then Google will be more likely show this ad to your customer. Your landing page – the page that your customer will land on when they click on your ad – must be relevant, easy to navigate and targeted. The easier it is for your customer to get what they searched for, the more likely Google will show them your ad first over your competitors.

How do I get sales via Adwords?

It’s all very well finding relevant keywords, writing compelling text ads and getting customers to click on your ads, but now you need to convert these potential customers to actual customers. This is where a highly optimised landing page comes in – the first page that a potential customer will see when they click on your ad.

Always assume that potential customers have never heard of your business before, and that they are looking for something very specific – the item that they were searching for on Google. Keep this top of mind when creating each landing page and organise the content on the page so that it is easy for the customer to find exactly what they are looking for.

If they are searching for Adidas shoes, take them straight to the page where you show all of your Adidas shoes on offer, and have a simple but compelling and clearly visible call-to-action, i.e. BUY NOW! If you have a service business and don’t have the option to make the sale straight away, take the potential customer to a page that has more information about the service they are looking for and include a call-to-action such as “Get a quote” or “Call us today”.

The business of optimising your landing pages is a whole article in itself but the simple truth is that you need to look at the landing page as a first time customer. Make sure they can easily see the business identity, more information on the product or service they are looking for, and the next step in doing business with you, then you are on the right track.

There is a lot to consider when creating an Adwords account, however, the concepts are not complicated and once you get started you will easily get the hang of it. There are thousands of resources, which delve deeper into each of the concepts touched on here. There are also a lot of experienced Adwords practitioners who would be able to help you set up and manage a Google Adwords account for your small business. So take the first step and sign up to use Adwords to boost your sales and grow your business today.

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