Google Ads, formerly known as Google AdWords, is a great way to reach new customers and establish a web-based revenue stream. The program leads to 97 percent of Google's revenue. That means thousands of businesses are already taking advantage of Google Ads and its various services.
Launching an effective Google Ads campaign can be difficult. Experts say it's important to target specific audiences, build SEO-friendly webpages and ads, and constantly adjust and analyze your campaigns through Google Ads and Analytics. We connected with some business owners to learn more about the strategies they use to develop and implement successful Google Ads campaigns. [Google's Small Business Initiative involves several programs to get businesses using new technology. Learn more here.]
1. Approach your campaign like a customer.
Who: Ryan Krane, a fitness consultant in Los Angeles, doubled the number of visitors to his website by using Ads. 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 Ads campaign. Start by thinking like a customer and implementing SEO strategies into your keyword search. List what search words customers who are looking for your products or services may type into Google. 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. Thinking like a customer, Krane includes keywords in his arsenal like "Los Angeles fitness consultant," "personal trainer in Los Angeles," "best fitness program in Los Angeles" and "Los Angeles fitness training."
Tip: 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. Keyword Planner also lets you add negative keywords, which prevents irrelevant keywords from being associated with your ad.
2. Stay local.
Who: Balloons Over Asheville, which provides hot air balloon rides, has really taken off using Ads. The company uses campaigns with keywords related to recreational things to do in Asheville, North Carolina, and the surrounding area.
How: If you own a business with a physical location or you provide a service, one of the most effective Ads strategies is keeping your keywords local. This has the advantage of being 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, such as 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. Ads offers several tools that make this possible, such as radius targeting, places of interest targeting and bulk location targeting. Radius targeting makes your ad visible to those within a specific geographic area, such as 30 miles around Asheville. 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 these tools are available in the Campaign tab of your Ads account, under the Settings menu.
3. Optimize your website.
Who: DogWatch of Cedar Rapids builds outdoor hidden dog fences and indoor pet containment systems. Marc Sturges has run the company from his Cedar Rapids, Iowa, home over the last two years through digital marketing.
How: Just like choosing the right keywords, optimizing your website for ads can improve your return on Ads investment. 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 for customers to find that specific product. In such an event, you've paid for the ad click that may not convert.
Another way to optimize your website is 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. This will allow you to gather customer data, get detailed insights about customer behavior, and generate traffic reports to improve both your Ads campaign and your website. You can also link your Google Ads account to your Google Analytics account.
4. Know when (and when not) to use Ads.
Who: Scott Merck of Milwaukee runs his garage door and home repair service, Wisconsin Garage Door, completely through Ads. 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. Ads 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 Ads offers several tools and options that give small business owners the flexibility to run campaigns on their own schedule.
Like Merck, many small business owners don't need to run ad campaigns 24/7. Ads doesn't require any long-term commitment, so you can run ads as needed, such as when business is slow or when you have a special event or promotion. You can pause and resume campaigns as necessary, such as when you need to go on vacation, need more time to run your business or need to re-evaluate campaigns.
Tip: All these options are easily accessible under the Campaigns tab in your Ads account. From there you can start, pause, continue or end 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.
5. Consider the competition.
Who: Michael Theodore is a digital marketing manager for Digital Third Coast, a Chicago-based SEO and paid media agency that was a finalist for the 2018 Google Premier Partner Award. As someone with a focus in digital marketing, Theodore has dealt extensively with Google Ads. Digital Third Coast was listed as a finalist in the Growing Businesses Online category of the Google competition. It was one of eight companies to be featured.
How: Theodore said considering what your competition is doing on Ads can provide insight into what you should do. It may be a good idea to follow their lead, but it would be even better to determine how to differentiate your Ads strategy from your competitors'.
Tip: You can view your competitors' keywords in the keyword panel. If you paste a competitor's website in the tool, you'll be able to see what keywords they're bidding on. This can give you an idea of how other companies approach Ads.
"Check out what your competitors are doing," Theodore said. "If they're not in the market of paid ads, it could mean two things: Either you're first in market to use this strategy, or maybe your competitors know paid ads don't return positive results in your industry."