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  • Audrey Weatherhead

Is Google Ads Worth the Money For a Small Business?

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

Google Ads is an online advertising platform that lets businesses bid in an auction for their advertisement to show up for keywords that users type into the Google search bar. If you win the auction, your ad will be shown amongst the organic search results. If used properly, Google Ads can be extremely valuable for a number of goals (purchases, lead form fills, website traffic, you name it), because in many cases it allows businesses to capture users that have a high intent. For example, if someone is searching for a catering company in their area, it is highly likely that they are much past the need for an awareness phase as they may be ready to convert.

While Google Ads is a valuable resource for advertisers, it can be intimidating to enter a space with so many users, advertisers, and dollars being spent to compete for these keywords. If you own a small business, you might be asking yourself, “Is Google Ads worth it?” The short answer is, it can be. The key to maximizing your dollar is by understanding the nuances of the platform that can make or break your campaigns. Google Ads works by spending your money, but the platform will respect the parameters you set that give you more control and limit unruly spending. Avenue has put together some of our top tips to consider when creating a Google Ads campaign for your small business.


Establish your objective and keep it simple

Before you take the time building out an entire campaign, from keywords, to ad copy, to landing page, make sure you’ve taken the time to consider what your primary objective is. If you are committed to spending X amount of money, what sort of outcome would be ideal? It may take several months of working in the platform to understand expectations and accurately project outcomes based on spend, but understanding what action you want users to take is critical before creating a campaign. When you create a campaign, you’ll see the following goals to select from:

The goal you select is important, as this information allows Google Ads to make optimization suggestions for your campaign in order to meet your desired outcomes.


Utilize long tail keywords

“Long tail keywords” are keywords that are longer more specific than general, broad terms. Finding long tail keywords can be a tedious process, but is an especially important factor in keyword research for smaller businesses who don’t have large budgets. Consider the term “catering” vs “catering services in portland oregon.” The term “catering” is one word, and much more broad than the latter, which is specific to a location and includes “services” in the keyword. By using long tail keywords you will be able to uncover additional volume, at a lower cost per click, and higher chance to rank for that keyword.


Simplify your account and campaign structure

It can be easy to compare what you’re doing to bigger companies with large budgets. The key to getting started on Google Ads is to start small, and gradually increase the size of your account as you gather learnings, insights, and improve your strategy. Avenue always recommends starting with two campaigns for small businesses: one Branded (which targets your brand keywords and allows you to take ownership of your brand name) and one campaign with a specific goal.


Pay attention to who you’re targeting

Google Ads has great targeting capabilities where you can build out audiences, target your remarketing list, target by topics, and more. At the very least, your first campaigns should always consider targeting within the following parameters if applicable:, age, gender, household income, device, and most importantly, location. Setting location parameters is crucial to controlling spend. Avenue recommends setting your location targeting small (a city or two, or one state or region).


Optimize your customer journey

This strategy is applicable for businesses of any size, but is often overlooked by bigger companies with more to spend. Creating a seamless experience for users from the moment they search a keyword, see your ad, click on your ad, and travel to your landing page will pay off both from a user experience perspective and Google’s perspective. Google doesn’t want spam tactics, irrelevant advertising, and bad experiences to muddy the positive experience that users have when using Google search as a resource. For that reason, Google will always reward advertisers who are focused on the user experience. If you’re bidding on a keyword, make sure that keyword exists in the ad copy and on the landing page. Make sure that the keyword overall is relevant to your business and objectives. If a user searches for a keyword you’re bidding on, they should be able to find the answer to that word on your site.


Please note that Avenue has no affiliation with any products, services, or websites referenced in this blog post. Avenue is a digital marketing agency in Portland using business as a force for good. Our proprietary suite of paid advertising, search engine optimization (SEO) and social media services help brands and businesses of all sizes grow sustainably and successfully. For more information, we invite you to visit our services page.

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