Advertising on Google isn’t limited to the text ads that show up at the top of search results. The Google Ads platform also includes display or banner ads that show up on third party websites like news publications, as well as product ads that show up in product specific searches or on the Google Shopping tab.
Google advertising options offer a variety of ways to reach potential customers by targeting specific keyword searches and other audience types identified by Google. Advertisers are charged when someone interacts with an ad by clicking to visit a website or clicking to call. (View Google’s FAQ related to ads for more general info.)
Before we explore a few scenarios and if it makes sense to invest in Google ads, let’s take a look at the various ad types most relevant to small businesses.
Google Ad Types
Search (aka Paid Search)
These text ads are shown on Google search results when someone searches for a product or service that is related to yours. Often these appear at the top and bottom of the search results page. (Click here to learn more.)
Display (aka Banner Ads)
These visual ads appear on websites and apps that your customers use, such as news publications, blogs and more. (Click here to learn more.)
These product ads sometimes show at the top or to the right of the regular search results page if they are relevant to the search. These ads also show up in Google’s Shopping tab. (Click here to learn more.)
Hosted on YouTube, these are the videos that often run before a user accesses the content they seek to watch, and usually come in the form of 6 or 15 second videos. (Click here to learn more.)
When Your Small Business Should Use Google Ads
Your Business Doesn’t Rank Very High in Search Results
If your business doesn’t rank high in the search results for related searches, advertising can be a great way to push to the top of the search results page. In this case, building a search campaign that targets the type of keyword searches you want to rank for will help build some awareness and may even help you generate leads. While search ads can benefit businesses of any age, any Google ad strategy should be accompanied by an SEO strategy as well in order to really improve your businesses visibility in the search results.
You’re a New Business
If you own or operate a new business or even a new franchise location, it will take some time before your business starts ranking on the search results page for relevant searches. In order to get an initial injection of awareness for your business, running a highly targeted local campaign consisting of display ads, search ads and even video ads will be extremely beneficial. Again, supplementing these efforts with SEO strategies will make sure you get the most out of your marketing dollars.
You Sell Physical Products Online
If you allow people to buy products online that you ship to their personal address, Google Shopping campaigns can be a great way to build more product awareness but also grow your online sales. Shopping campaigns simply require a product feed that includes pictures, info, pricing, etc., about each of your individual products offered on your online store. There are a number of ways to do created this feed and once it is set up, Google will automatically display products whenever relevant searches take place.
When Your Small Business Should Not Use Google Ads
You Don’t Have Time or Know-How to DIY
If you’re looking to do-it-yourself (DIY) but you don’t have the time or the know-how it is probably best to avoid doing any Google advertising. Without adequate expertise and time dedicated to your Google ad efforts, you are likely to end up with lack-luster results which might make you think that these ads simply don’t work. But this isn’t necessarily the case. While Google does offer some DIY ad formats and tools, you should hire an expert to help you not only identify the ad types best for you, but to manage and optimize your campaigns in an on-going basis.
You Can’t Afford to Hire an Expert
Many small businesses feel they can’t afford to hire an expert. While pricing ranges and is often dependent upon the monthly ad spend, there are more cost-effective providers that are available. Still, if your business just doesn’t have budget to hire, you can still explore building campaigns yourself. But again, if the results aren’t what you were hoping for, it may be because the campaigns aren’t optimized correctly or aren’t utilizing all of the best practices.
You Don’t Have a Website
The majority of Google’s ad offerings focus on driving clicks to your website. If you don’t have a website, you will be extremely limited in what you can do with Google ads. In this case you should most definitely invest in a website and find someone who can not only build your website but also has Google advertising expertise and capabilities. This will make sure you get the best price possible for these combined efforts.
Budgeting & Targeting
There is no minimum spend on Google. You could spend anything from $50 – $50,000 a month. We advise our clients to spend at the very least $100 a month in order to identify the strategies and targeting that works best and then to increase the spend accordingly. At the very least, you can expect to spend roughly $400 – $1,000 a month which includes your ad spend with expert management of your efforts.
From a targeting perspective, you should focus on your local market and optimize your campaigns for this specific location. However, when running a search campaign, you will need to understand how customers are searching for businesses like yours and identify the keywords they use to do so. Again, you can attempt to manage this yourself, or you can hire someone to do it for you.
Overall Google advertising is a powerful way for business to reach potential customers and build brand awareness in a variety of ways. Whether searching on Google, watching a video on YouTube or visiting one of the many Google publisher partners, small businesses can reach potential customers wherever they are. However, the creativity, technical know-how and budget optimization needed to be effective requires experience and expertise. If you have tried to DIY your Google ads, you may have missed a number of technical best practices or tactics that could have improved the results of your efforts.
Joe is the owner and chief digital marketer at Rithm Marketing. He has been building websites and executing digital marketing strategies for about 10 years. Previously Joe was an analyst and director of marketing for a prominent digital marketing trade association.