11 min read
My best tips on how to manage Google advertising for a small business
As a PPC expert, I know how difficult it is to create a PPC campaign from scratch. Especially when you are no expert, have a tight budget, or no love for the craft.
Luckily for you, I’m here to spill the beans and make even the least digital savvy individual able to create a campaign from scratch. But above all, one that bears (business) results.
Start with a business goal in mind
First, start with a business goal. If you don’t have a clear objective you want to achieve by promoting a PPC campaign, you’ll never reach a result.
Do you want to sell more products? Attract more customers? Be known as the leader in the field? Spread the news about an upcoming event? Whatever that business goal is, write it down.
Second, consider a goal you cannot achieve without a Google Ads campaign.
For example, your website doesn’t rank high enough in SERP (below position 5) or you have strong competitors (either online or offline).
How to create a Google Search Campaign
Once you have your business goal in mind, you can start creating a Google Ads Search campaign.
A Google Ads Search Campaign shows your Ad Copy to users who search for any keyword your campaign is bidding for (in the area your campaign is targeting).
Select the campaign goal
When creating a campaign, Google Ads invites the campaign manager to select the campaign goal and to choose between sales, brand awareness, website traffic, or leads.
Select Sales, Leads or Local store visits and promotions as these are measurable goals
My recommendation is to select Sales, Leads or Local store visits and promotions. Select Sales if your campaign advertises a product or service, Leads if it drives sign-ups (such as a subscription to a newsletter), and Local store visits and promotions if it encourages visits to your store.
The above options will guarantee your campaign will reach potential customers (rather than occasional visitors) and make the results measurable (how many sales? how many sign-ups? how many additional walk-ins?).
Choose a campaign goal that is measurable and in line with a business objective.
Select Search as Campaign Type
If you have previously selected Sales as Goal, this window will appear:
Select the option that represents how your customers will make a purchase
If you have selected Leads, this window will appear:
Select the option that represents how your visitors will become a lead
The “Local store visits and promotions” campaign option is not available at this time (Feb-2021). If you are interested in running a simpler campaign, read the section titled “Smart Campaigns” where I describe how to drive leads (or sales) using AI-powered Google Ads campaigns.
After clicking “Continue”, a new page opens. This page is the same for all the above options (it doesn’t matter which campaign goal or type you selected).
Name your campaign. You can follow this formula [campaign goal + campaign way]. Example: Sales Shop visits. If you have more than one campaign with the same goal and way, you can add additional details.
[campaign goal]+[product name]+[campaign way]
[campaign goal]+[product name]+[campaign way] + campaign
[campaign goal]+[product name]+[campaign way] + store location
Sales T-shirts Shop Visits campaign
Sales T-shirts Shop Visits London store
Unselect Display Network
Now, enter your targeted locations. Enter your city/region or state name. You can ignore the Location options unless you run a business whose audience doesn’t live in that area but is interested in finding local businesses (people looking for a hotel, for instance).
Location can be a State (UK), a region (Cambridgeshire), or a city (Cambridge)
Select Search interest if you are targeting an audience that does not live in the area but are searching for businesses in such locations (example: people looking for a hotel)
Add an amount that you feel comfortable spending. If you can, consider investing at least £200 (or €250 ) per month.
Select conversions and add a targeted cost per action (CPA) when possible. In this example, the recommended target CPA is £18.00 based on the past average cost per conversion in (previously run) Search campaigns. If you don’t have any, leave it empty.
Select Conversions as Bidding Strategy. If possible, set your recommended CPA. Ideally, it should be your recommended CPA + 1 pence (in this case, the CPA should be set to £18.01)
Conversions and Ad rotation
As a default, select the option “Use the account-level Include in “Conversions” settings”. A better option would be to select “Choose conversion actions for this campaign”. Click on “Select conversion actions” and click on one of the available options. These conversions can include website activities, app download, or a phone call.
If you want your Google Ads account to report conversions (how many users completed a campaign goal), follow the instructions described in the paragraph “How to add a Conversion to Google Ads via Google Analytics”.
The above are the recommended settings for Conversions and Ad rotation
How to add a Conversion to Google Ads via Google Analytics
First, you need Google Analytics connected to your site . Once the GA account is tracking your website’s traffic, you can set up goals in Google Analytics — each goal tracks a pre-defined conversion (1 conversion = 1 goal). Example: a GA goal can track how many times an online booking form is filled in (1 booking = 1 conversion).
Once you have done that, in Google Ads, click on Tools and Settings > Measurement > Conversions. Click on + and then select “Import”. Click on any goals that will track your Google Ads campaigns.
Advanced Settings (they can be omitted)
Google Ads campaigns can set up custom audiences based on traits such as professions or search interests. Search Audiences are users who have previously shown an interest in your business or your type of business. Select any groups that might apply to your business (examples might include Sports&Fitness, Food&Dining, Lifestyles&Hobbies).
Audiences > Search displays a selection of suggestions based on your business profile and past history. Select any categories that apply. Click Save.
In Browse add any features that your targeted audience must possess to become a customer (for instance, if you sell baby clothes your targeted users must be parents; if you sell premium products, you could exclude lower-income users from your campaign).
If you are selling baby clothes, you can choose to show your ads to parents of infants (0–1 year). This selection won’t prevent your ads to be displayed to people who are not parents, it will, however, increase the visibility of your ad to such an audience.
To enrich your campaign add Extensions — These expand the ad with additional information such as links, promotions, or phone call.
Choose account-level location extensions if the settings can be applied to your campaign. Otherwise, use the campaign-level location extension (if in doubt, choose the second option).
They take visitors to pre-selected pages of your website. Examples include pages such as Blog, Contact, About, or Products. My advice is to include key pages such as Blog and Contact plus links to pages that are relevant to the campaign. For instance, if the campaign is promoting a product, the extension could add a link to a page where you can book a free trial.
Structured Snippets Extensions
They highlight the details of your products and services. The identity of these extensions is limited by pre-defined categories such as Brands, Courses, Destinations. My advice is to add these extensions only if your product or service can be described by any of those categories (not all products or services apply).
They create additional text to your add so that you can show more detailed information about what you are promoting in your campaign. For instance, you can include details about your product (free shipping) or about your business (open on Sunday). My advice is to keep the number of callout extensions below 4 and only if relevant to your campaign message.
For details regarding the remaining extensions, click the corresponding link:
Call extension — Add the business phone number
Affiliate location extension — Add the business affiliate address
Price extension — Add the product price to your campaign
App extension — Add the URL of your app to your campaign
Promotion extension — Add sale or discount to your campaign
Select your bidding keywords
In the next page of your campaign creation, you are asked to create an Ad Group. An Ad group is made of keywords that are similar in topic. While a campaign could promote more than one product, each AdGroup would promote only one product.
Each ad group is made of similar keywords. They all refer to the same topic.
When choosing the keywords to bid for, keep in mind that your customers might be using different terms to describe your product or service. For instance, if your product is highly technical, but your customer is not, bid for terms that your customers would use when describing your offering.
To make your life easier, Google recommends keywords based on your landing page or keywords that describe your offering. Select only those that apply.
Remember: do not use the homepage, but the URL that refers to what you are advertising. To describe your product or service, use simple terms.
From the list generated by Google Ads, remove all keywords that are not applicable. For instance, if your gym classes do not include yoga, remove all the keywords that contain the word yoga.
List of suggested keywords based on the landing page and product type
Remember: To keep the budget under control, use only “Phrase Match” or [Exact Match]. Broad match is far too generic and expensive.
Some advice on how to choose your keywords:
Add only keywords that are relevant for your campaign goal
Keep the bidding keyword below the 5 words
You don’t need to add plurals or keywords with spelling mistakes
Keep your keyword list below 20 keywords
Create your Ad Copy
Not, let’s create an ad copy. To do this, follow these rules:
The first headline describes the problem your audience wants to solve. The second headline showcases how your product/service or business can solve such problem.
The third headline can be used to:
Include the brand name
Include additional details to the second headline
The 90 characters description explains in more details the concept you introduced in the headlines.
A full Ad Copy example
Let’s assume I want to advertise wedding cakes for “Debbie’s Little Bakery”. This is how a full campaign ad would look like:
Debbie’s Little Bakery (Brand)
Order your wedding cake today (CTA)
Fully customed design (Additional details)
90 characters description:
From vegan requirements to bespoke design, we satisfy even the most demanding bride.
We deliver bespoke wedding cakes in less than 1 month. Order online.
Sitelinks: Contact Us, Blog, Menu, Gallery
Structured snippet > Types: Palazzo, Tenuta, Villa
Callout: bespoke design, free-from options, free-tasting
Call: +39 3450215968
Location: Galleria del Corso, 4, 20122 Milano MI
Affiliate: Not Applicable
Price: Starting from EUR 1,000
App: Not Applicable
Promotion: 10% off for any cakes above EUR 1,500
(I included “Not Applicable” examples to show that you don’t need to add all extensions to your campaign. Only those that are relevant to your campaign message)
Designed for small businesses, smart campaigns are less laborious to set up and manage compared to Search campaigns.
The first step in creating a Smart Campaign is to select the campaign’s goal.
In this example, I select “Leads” as campaign goal.
Select Leads as a campaign goal
The second step is to select “Smart” as the Campaign type and choose which action you want your customers to take; either “Calls to your business” or “Visit to your store front”
In this example, I select “visits to the storefront” as campaign action.
Select Smart as the campaign type
Select the action the customers should be taking based on the campaign settings
In the next page, you are asked to use the information from your Google My Business account or not.
If you don’t have a GMB account , please set one up.
In the next page, you are asked to choose either your business profile (GMB) or your chosen webpage (such as a product page).
The answer to that question depends on the campaign’s goal. If you are promoting your business name and identity, choose your business profile. If however, you are promoting a product or service, select the webpage.
For instance, if you are promoting your business as a bakery, choose the first option, if you are promoting a selection of wedding cakes, select the page where your wedding cake portfolio is displayed.
The next task is to write your ad. Please follow the same guidelines I described in “Write your Ad Copy”. Plus, add high-quality images and your business logo.
In the next page, Google displays a list of keywords that might be appropriate for your business.
De-select any keywords that are not relevant to your business. Add any keywords from the list below that apply. You can even add keywords by clicking on “new keyword theme”.
Example of recommended keywords for a sports therapy clinic
In the next page, you need to set up the area where your ad will be displayed. Personally, I find that 15 miles radius is a good distance. However, depending on your business and location, you might decide to expand or restrict your outreach.
For instance, not everybody is willing to drive 15 miles for a hair appointment but they might be to visit a gym with an Olympic swimming pool (not many available).
There’s also an option to advertise by selecting postcodes, cities or regions. Personally, this makes sense if your business is located in big cities (like London, where postcodes might describe the customer persona based on income) or where businesses might serve large areas (an entire county).
In the next page, set your budget. I would recommend going to the recommended budget, to begin with. If it’s too high, reduce your target area — this will lower your final cost.
Finally, review your ad campaign and if everything looks good, press next and go live!
How to track conversions
The easiest way to track conversions is to send users to a thank you or confirmation page when the user completes an action on the website (such as subscribing to a newsletter or purchasing a product).
For details on how to set up your Google Analytics account and track online conversions, read Google Analytics 101 .
Campaign Management — Bonus Tip
Search Campaign Bonus Tip: while your campaign is running, open the Search Terms Tab under the Keywords Menu (at least every week). These are the queries that triggered your campaign. Tick any search that is not relevant to your business and add those to your campaign’s Negative Keyword list.
Smart Campaign Bonus Tip: while your campaign is running, open the campaign and click on See details under the tab Keyword themes and search phrases (at least every week). In the new window, click on Search phrases. These are the queries that triggered your campaign. Click the Status of any search that is not relevant to your business (they are automatically disabled).