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A Guide to Google Ads for Small Business

Google Ads for Beginners

You will have no doubt heard of Google Ads (or Google Adwords) and you’ve almost certainly been shown 1,000s of Google adverts (ads) - possibly without even noticing it.

So how can Google Ads help your business to grow?

In this beginner’s guide to Google Ads, we’ll look at how Google Ads can help small businesses, how Google Ads work and how to start creating successful Google Ads campaigns for your business even if you are a beginner.

Google Adwords becomes Google Ads

What is the Google Ads Platform?

To start, it’s probably helpful to clarify some terms you may have come across:

Google Ads is Google’s paid advertising platform. It was introduced in 2018 to bring together all of Google’s advertising capabilities in one place, including search advertising, display advertising (online banner ads), Google Shopping and video advertising.

Prior to this, Google’s search advertising was managed by using Google Adwords. 

Despite ceasing to exist in 2018, you’ll still see the term "Google Adwords" on a number of guides, tutorials and videos. Google themselves still use this term, albeit so that they can direct users to the new Google Ads platform.

Jump to the top of the search results

How can Google Ads help my business?

While Google Ads now also encompasses display and video advertising, the best way to start using Google Ads for small businesses is likely to be "search advertising".

Search advertising or Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the practice of using paid promotion to increase the visibility of your website in search results.

For example, let’s say you run a decorating business in the Manchester area. When somebody searches Google for “decorators in Manchester”, you will naturally want your business to appear high up on the first page of search results.

If you have optimised your website for search engines already, this will go some way to helping you achieve this. However you won’t see the benefits of SEO overnight - and it might be that you are looking for much quicker results or work in a very competitive field.

This is where Google Ads comes in.

Creating a search advertising campaign with Google Ads helps give your business visibility by securing one of the spots set aside for paid search results - often right at the top of the search results page. You can achieve this even if you are just beginning to use Google Ads.

Google Ads also allows you to choose exactly what message you want the user to see. So not only do you get to jump the queue and go to the top of the results page, you have complete control over the message you display to the user.

Google Ads advantages for small businesses

What are the advantages of Google Ads?

Creating a campaign in Google Ads isn’t the only way to increase the visibility of your business. You could choose to advertise on Facebook or Instagram for example or take out a print advert in the local paper.

However, there are two specific traits which make Google Ads a very attractive option for small business:

  1. Google Ads is a form of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising. This means that you only pay when somebody actually clicks on your advert. In other words, you only have to pay if your Google ad is delivering results! This is quite a contrast from traditional forms of advertising as you will pay the same amount for a newspaper advert whether anybody visits your website or not.

  2. Google Ads shows adverts to those who are already displaying intent. For example, if somebody is taking the time to search on Google for "decorators in Manchester", it’s reasonable to assume that they have a genuine desire to secure decorating services now or in the near future.

It’s probably becoming clear to you why so many beginners and small businesses take advantage of Google Ads.

Next, we will discuss how Google Ads work.

Example of Google SEO or organic SERPs

Google Ads Versus SEO Results

How does it work & where do Google Ads appear?

When somebody uses Google to search for something on the internet, they will be taken to the search results page (SERP).

The majority of the websites shown on the results page will be "organic results".

These are websites which Google thinks are the most relevant sites to show the user. Google bases this decision on how well the content of those websites matches the search terms used.

It is not based on how much they pay to Google.

Example of Google Ads for decorators in manchester

However, certain sections of the results page are reserved for "paid results".

Paid results often occupy the top and bottom positions of the search results page - but this may differ depending on what is being searched for and the type of device used.

The paid results are adverts which have been created by businesses or individuals using Google Ads. 

Paid results look exactly like all the other results on the page - albeit they are succinctly labelled to show that they are an advert (look for the word "Ad" at the top left corner).

Although they may look the same in terms of format, there is another important distinction to make between organic results and paid results.

The text displayed for an organic result is taken directly from the website itself - usually from the metadata of that particular web page.

In contrast, the text displayed for a paid result is chosen by you when you set up the campaign in Google Ads. This is important, as it allows you to tailor the Ad copy to specific keywords and audiences (more on that later). The Google Ads platform is very helpful and provides beginners and small business owners with guidance on how many characters fit on each line of the advert.

Higher Quality scores equals higher positions

Google Ads - The Ad Auction

Many businesses are keen to use Google Ads to secure a top spot amongst the paid results, however, there may be stiff competition for certain keywords.

The Ad Auction is what Google uses to decide which of the competing adverts will be displayed prominently among the paid search results. Google pitches competing ads directly against one another and ranks them according to two key criteria:

  1. The Ad (or keyword) bid - This is the maximum cost you’re willing to pay every time somebody clicks on your Google advert. Just like in a regular auction, the higher the bid, the more likely it is that the advert will be ranked highly and "win" the auction. However, there is a second important criteria:

  2. The relevancy of the Ad (or Quality Score) - Google also determines how relevant each advert is to the keyword search that is being conducted and the website page the advert will take the searcher to. At the end of the day, Google wants to show it’s users the most relevant results that it can - this applies to paid results as well as organic results.

Google uses these two criteria to calculate the Ad Rank for your advert and for every other advert in the auction. The higher the Ad rank (which is based on the bid amount X quality score), the higher the position that your ad will secure on the search results page.

Quick Reminder

Let’s remind ourselves of what keywords are in relation to SEO and search engine marketing:

Keywords are the words and phrases that people type into search engines to facilitate a search. “Decorating” is an example of a keyword, but so are “Decorating Services” or “Commercial decorating services.

Google ads tutorial for beginners

How to get started with Google Ads

Let’s go back to our example from earlier - imagine that you run a decorating business in the Manchester area and you would like to begin a search advertising campaign using Google Ads to win more customers.

In practice, there are a few additional steps involved, but for simplicity here are three things you will need to consider in order to get started with search advertising using Google Ads:

  1. Choosing keywords to bid on

  2. Creating a quality relevant advert

  3. Determining your budget

We show you how to create your first Google Ads campaign to win more customers in our Google Ads online course, but for now, let's go through each of these in turn.

1. Choosing relevant keywords to bid on

To get started with your Google search campaign, the first thing you will need to do is choose which keywords you want to bid on. To do this, think about words and phrases a person might search for when looking for a business like yours.

For the decorating business, it would make sense to bid on keywords like “decorators in Manchester”, “commercial decorators Manchester” or “home decorators Manchester”.

More guidance on choosing keywords is included in the Keywords section of our SEO for Beginners page. The most important thing to consider is that any keywords that you choose must be relevant to your business.

2. Creating a quality relevant Google advert

Once you have selected which keywords you want to bid on, you are ready to write the text which will make up your advert. Once again relevancy is the aim of the game here.

Try to write your advert using those same words and phrases that a person is likely to enter into the search bar. Ideally, you’ll make sure the entire keyword that you are bidding on is included in the headline of your advert.

For example, if you are bidding on the keyword “Household Decorators in Manchester”, an example for your advert’s headline might be:

Clarke & Sons | Household Decorators in Manchester

Using the keywords in your advert copy tells the person conducting the search that your business matches what they’re looking for. Crucially it will also help Google see that your advert is relevant to that person, therefore improving the quality score.

As with all types of advertising, you should also try to ensure your advert stands out from the rest. Be sure to include a call to action such as “Book Now” or “Enquire Today”, or even a unique offer if possible, for example:

Clarke & Sons | Household Decorators in Manchester 
Call Today for 20% Off

3. How much should a small business spend on Google AdWords?

There is one big question you probably have before you start your journey with Google Ads: “How much should I spend on a Google Ads campaign?

This will differ from business to business and the exact goals of your campaigns. However, to understand how much to spend on your own campaigns, it is helpful to look at how much it is likely to cost to bid on keywords which are relevant to your business.

You can use Google’s free Keyword Planner tool within the Google Ads platform to gain an understanding of how much it will cost to bid on certain keywords.

For example, for the “decorators in Manchester” keyword (also known as a key phrase), the Google Keyword Planner tool shows that businesses will spend between £1.33 and £3.45 each time their advert appears at the top of the search results page and someone clicks on it. We call this the "cost per click" or CPC for short.

Image of Google Keyword Planner in beginners guide

Depending on the type of business or service that you offer, bidding on keywords may cost much less, or significantly more than this.

So for your own business, you will need to decide how much you can afford to spend to attract potential customers to your website. You should check the cost per click for several keywords related to your business. You will then get an idea of how much you will need to spend. 

You Website Also Matters

Keep in mind the conversion rate of your website - i.e. how many visitors to your website convert into paying customers? And how much money do you make on average from each sale? These are important factors, as they will allow you to work out your return on investment (ROI).

If you want help to calculate these figures or help to set up a Google Ads campaign for your small business, please get in contact.

Combining this information with the anticipated cost per click should tell you how much you can and should afford to spend using Google Ads to drive new customers to your website.

Remember that you are likely to have multiple relevant keywords to choose from, try to find keywords which strike a balance between relevancy and affordability.

In the end, it may mean you spend £100 per month on clicks, but if you are in a competitive marketplace, it might even be 10 times or 100 times this. Keep in mind, you can always increase or decrease your budgets once you discover what works and what doesn't.

Yes Google Ads are good for small businesses image

Conclusion - start a campaign today

Are Google Ads worth it for Small Businesses?

Thanks to the pay-per-click nature of the activity and the intent displayed by consumers using Google for search, there are few platforms that can match Google Ads when it comes to achieving a return on your investment.

It is vital that you spend time researching relevant keywords to bid on, then once up and running, optimising campaigns based on the keyword performance and then tracking conversions to ensure that your ads are sending paying customers to your website.

Our easy to follow online Google Ads course is perfect for beginners and small businesses - it shows you exactly how to use Google Ads to win more customers.

The common Google Ads questions

People Also Ask

If you are a beginner or small business owner who has never tried Google Ads before, then you might be asking yourself some of these questions:

What is Google Ads?
Google Ads is an advertising service provided by Google that allows you to bid (pay) for adverts placements on search engine result pages (SERPs). The most common is Paid Search Ads where you bid based on keywords, but it also extends to Display Ads and Shopping Ads.
Where do Google Ads appear?
Google Ads can appear at the top and bottom of search results pages. These ads are known as Search ads. Google Ads can also appear on Gmail, YouTube, Blogger sites and on other Google partner websites as display banners and text ads.
How much will Google Ads cost?
Google Ads cost anywhere from a few cents up to hundreds of dollars for each click. This is known as the cost per click (CPC). It is largely determined by how competitive the marketplace is for a particular keyword that you have selected.
Why Google Ads is better than Facebook?
Google Ads will help you attract customers who are actively looking for certain products or services. Your search adverts will appear as they search. Facebook is considered an interruptive marketing channel – as these ads are placed in-front of a user whether they need the services or not.
Are Google Ads Free?
It is free to use the Google Ads platform to setup and manage Google Ad campaigns. It will cost you money to run an Ad campaign as each time a user clicks on one of your Google adverts it will incur a cost-per-click charge or an impression charge.
Is Google Ads worth the money?
If done properly, then Google Ads is certainly worth the money. It will allow you to advertise to millions of prospects around the world very quickly. Depending on your industry, it may not be expensive to reach new customers. In these cases, it is worth the cost.

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