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Grow Your Business Sales & Marketing

Google AdWords Secrets: What Works for Small Business

Google AdWords Secrets: What Works for Small Business
Credit: Google

Launching an AdWords campaign is one of the most effective ways to grow a small business. Whether you are trying to get the word out about your business or have a special event or sale to promote, launching ads on Google can mean big business in little time.

The Google Display Network (GDN) reaches the majority of U.S.-based Internet users — a whopping 80 percent — giving AdWords advertisers the widest reach possible. Although this is definitely a good thing, it does come with some disadvantages. Because AdWords casts such a wide net for advertisers, launching an effective AdWords campaign requires a finely tuned strategy to reach the right customers and get a better return on investment (ROI).

To help small businesses launch more effective AdWords campaigns, Google shared with Business News Daily these success stories of how five small business owners grew their businesses using AdWords. Read on to find out how you can do it, too. [Google for Business: A Small Business Guide]

1. Think like a customer

Who: Ryan Krane, a fitness consultant in Los Angeles, doubled the number of visitors to his website by using AdWords for his online corrective exercise business. He mastered the art of creating specific campaign keywords to draw more participants to his online training and virtual coaching programs, which are supplemented by tips he shares regularly on his YouTube Channel

How: Choosing the right keywords is key to a successful AdWords campaign. Start by thinking like a customer and considering the same principles that apply to search engine optimization (SEO). List what search words customers who are looking for your products or services may type into Google and expand on that. Start with something general, then get specific to reach the right audience.

For instance, some of the services Krane provides are corrective exercise and fitness training from Los Angeles, but he also provides virtual coaching as well. Thinking like a customer, some keywords in Krane's arsenal include "Los Angeles fitness consultant," "personal trainer in Los Angeles," "best fitness program in Los Angeles," and "Los Angeles fitness training," along with "NASM corrective exercise certified consultant," "virtual fitness coaching" and "virtual fitness training."

Tip: Don't know where to start? Check out Google's Keyword Planner to find new keywords that apply to your business. This tool will also show you how many times people are searching for those terms and how much traffic keywords may be able to drive to your website. The Keyword Planner also lets you add negative keywords, which prevents irrelevant keywords from being associated with your ad when customers do a search.

2. Keep it local

Who: Balloons Over Asheville, which provides hot air balloon rides, has really taken off using AdWords. The company markets exclusively on AdWords with campaigns made up of keywords centered on fun and recreational things to do in Asheville, North Carolina, and the surrounding area. The company gains most of its new customers through AdWords alone, accounting for almost of all its new-customer sales over the busy summer season. 

How: If you own a business with a physical location or if you provide a service, one of the most effective AdWords strategies is keeping your keywords local. This has the advantage of keeping keywords specific to your region, allowing you to reach highly targeted customers. It can also save you money by preventing your ad from showing up when searches are too general; for instance, when you are too far away for the customer to even visit.

For Balloons Over Asheville, available keywords include: "hot air balloon rides Asheville," "balloon rides Asheville," "Asheville hot air balloons," "hot air balloon west North Carolina," "fun things to do in Asheville," "hot air balloon ride Candler," and "hot air balloon ride Charlotte." Keywords can also be expanded to include the season, such as "summer hot air balloon rides Asheville," "summer ideas Asheville," or "summer fun Asheville."

Tip: Set your ads to target specific geographic locations. AdWords offers several tools that make this possible, such as radius targeting, places of interest targeting and bulk location targeting. Radius targeting allows your ad to be visible to those located within a specific geographic area, such as 30 miles around Asheville; this feature also reveals how much reach a specific distance your ad will have. You can also target places of interest, such as airports, universities and specific commercial areas. To target multiple geographic areas, the bulk targeting tool lets you set up to 1,000 locations at a time. All of these tools are available in the Campaign tab of your AdWords account, under the Settings menu.

3. Optimize your website

Who: DogWatch Cedar Rapids builds outdoor hidden dog fences and indoor pet containment systems for animal owners. Marc Sturges has run the company from his Cedar Rapids, Iowa, home over the last two years by being a digital marketing ninja. He's ballooned the business and reached new customers by optimizing his website for AdWords, seeing approximately 75 percent of revenue through his online advertising efforts with Google. 

How: Just like choosing the right keywords, optimizing your website for ads can improve your AdWords ROI. An effective way to optimize your website is to make sure you have a landing page that corresponds to your ad. For instance, if you are advertising a new product, make sure that customers who click on the ad are taken directly to the product page. If they are taken to your homepage or another part of your website, it requires an extra step of customers to find that specific product. In such an event, you've paid for the ad click, though that ad spend may not necessarily convert.

Another way to optimize your website it to make it easy to navigate. Customers clicked on your ad because they are already looking for something you have to offer — make it easy for them to find. Deliver a better customer experience by thinking like a customer and organizing the content of your website intuitively, such as by keywords or product category.

Tip: Use an analytics service, such as Google Analytics, to monitor how your website is performing relative to your ads. Doing so will allow you to gather customer data, get detailed insights about customer behavior and generate traffic reports to help improve both your AdWords campaign and your website. See this tutorial for instructions on how to link your Google AdWords account to your Google Analytics account.

4. Choose a primary platform

Who: City Sightseeing Double Decker San Antonio has racked up a ton of new customers this summer by using AdWords as its primary source for grabbing sightseers searching the Web for tours of San Antonio. Owner David Strainge uses AdWords as his exclusive marketing vehicle, with most of his new summer sales resulting from the advertising platform.

How: From search engines to social media marketing, there are many online advertising platforms available to small businesses. Don't get bogged down running multiple campaigns at once, particularly if you are new to online ads. Focus on one platform first, figuring out how it works and if it works for your business.

For small businesses like City Sightseeing, AdWords is a good place to start, for several reasons. First, ads appear on search results, meaning people are already searching for your products and services. Second, AdWords gives you complete control over your budget — there's no minimum spend, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad, and you decide how much you want to spend each month. AdWords also offers a multitude of tools to help you keep track of and improve campaigns.

Tip: Keep an eye on your ads to see what's working and what isn't. Use reports and analytics, such as the search terms report offered by the Keyword Planner, which details how keywords are performing, so you can adjust your ad accordingly. Reports can also show you how many customers are finding your business via your ad, as well as demographic information, like where those customers coming from. Another tool that's available is conversion tracker, so you can easily monitor which keywords and ads are converting into sales or leads.

5. Make AdWords work for you

Who: Scott Merck of Milwaukee runs his garage door and home repair service, Wisconsin Garage Door, completely through AdWords. When he's ready to work, he turns on ad campaigns. When he wants to go on vacation or spend time with his family, he temporarily turns off his campaigns. AdWords has allowed him the flexibility to successfully manage his business on his own time. 

How: Marketing your business online shouldn't be a full-time job. Small business owners often wear multiple hats, and AdWords offers several tools and options that give small business owners the flexibility they need to run campaigns on their own schedule.

Like Merck, many small business owners don't need to run ad campaigns 24/7. AdWords doesn't require any long-term commitments, so you can run ads as needed, such as when business is slow or when you have a special event or promotion. You can also pause and resume campaigns as necessary, such as when you need to go on vacation, need more time running your business, or need to re-evaluate campaigns.

Tip: All of these options are easily accessible under the Campaigns tab in your AdWords account. From there you can start, stop, continue or delete campaigns. These functions aren't just available for ads, though — you can also resume, restart and remove ad groups and keywords, which come in handy when you want to test how different ads are performing against one another.

Originally published on Business News Daily

Sara Angeles
Sara Angeles

Sara is a tech writer with a background in business and marketing. After graduating from UC Irvine, she worked as a copywriter and blogger for nonprofit organizations, tech labs and lifestyle companies. She started freelancing in 2009 and joined Business News Daily in 2013. Follow Sara Angeles on Twitter @sara_angeles.