This is a guest blog post from Mark Williams-Cook of Candour, following his talk at The Marketing Meetup: Norwich. This blog post is designed to complement the talk, giving you a summary of the key takeaways (with slightly less Lord of the Rings). If you would like to listen to the full talk, check out the podcast player at the top of the page!

Starting your own paid search campaign as a small business can be a daunting task – and rightly so, while the attraction of paying to connect yourself with search audiences is alluring, the market is highly competitive and shows little mercy to errors or inefficiency, so what can you do to get by with small budgets?

Realise the deck is stacked against you by Google

While the smart campaigns that Google Ads encourages you to set up by default are somewhat superior to the classic Google Adwords Express, many of the default options will gear you towards a “spend and cut back” strategy, rather than a more cautious “spend and increase” strategy. If you’re not paying management fees of a PPC agency, there is no reason you need to rush your media spend, through Google.

There are some specific things you can look out for during setup:

Avoid broad match keywords

During the setup process, Google will ask you to enter keywords to trigger your ads. By default, these will be “broad match” keywords, meaning a wide variety of variations and related keywords will trigger your ads that will give opportunity for much wasted spend unless it is closely managed. With small budgets using phrase match and exact match with your keywords will allow for a narrow-to-broad strategy, saving your budget for keywords that really work.

Sticking to Google Search

By default, your search campaign will opt you in for Google Search Partners, meaning your ads can appear on search results pages, on site directory pages, or on other pages related to a person’s search. In our experience, search partners tend to provide lower quality traffic and if you’re on a tight budget, it is usually best to stick with core Google Search.

Being careful with location targeting

It is easy to assume that selecting a geographic area will mean your ads will only show to people in this location. In fact, the default setting is for “People in, or who show interest in, your targeted locations”. While this does make sense, Google as demonstrated it isn’t always perfect at working out which area searchers are interested in, even showing ads for the wrong country. For more control, use the “People in your target locations” option and use separate campaigns if you want to target areas outside of this.

Understanding success with Google Ads is more than Google Ads

Baked into the very core of the Google Ads system and how Google decides how to rank its ads are factors such as quality score. Quality score looks at the click-through rate of your ads, your ad relevance and landing page experience. This means, for instance, that sending mobile searchers to a slow loading website that’s not mobile-friendly can vastly increase your cost per click (CPC).

This is compounded by the conversion rate of your site – the percentage of visitors actually do the action you want them to do. If your site converts at 1% and your competitors at 2%, this effectively means that all other things being equal, they can afford to pay twice as much per click as you. In reality, things are rarely equal and these factors are usually related, as we all know, slow sites convert poorly, so slow sites can mean increasing your cost per sale four fold.

Tracking is a must

Some of the most common complaints we encounter when taking over PPC accounts is either the client is not sure of what is exactly attributed to Google Ads, or they are, and they are not getting the quality enquiries they need. There is no reason in 2019 why we should not have full tracking for our Google Ads campaigns. This means being able to track clicks to on-site conversions and if you’re a lead generation site, follow that lead into your CRM system.

Many off the shelf CRM systems such as Salesforce have built-in integrations with Google Ads, which means you can optimise for quantity of leads, with the context of quality. It may be a little bit of investment to get this set up before you begin, but we would not recommend going ahead without it.

Bing – remember me?

Microsoft’s Bing search engine still has a respectable search volume and can offer a much more attractive cost per click than Google Ads. The great thing about Bing Ads is that it offers you the ability to directly import your running Google Ads campaign, meaning the time investment to get going is almost zero. Test and get your campaigns in good shape using the traffic volume of Google and continue to export these working campaigns into Bing to effortlessly improve profits!

If you want a friendly chat about anything digital from brand to Bing contact Candour or e-mail Mark directly [email protected]


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