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Google Ads for startups

Back to all resources

Google Ads for startups

Key take-aways

In this article, we’ll talk you through the basics of planning a Google Ads campaign, narrowing down the audience to a specific group, using keywords most effectively, writing compelling copy, choosing a bidding strategy, and structuring campaigns in a way that allows for effective monitoring and optimisation.

Getting the attention of potential customers quickly and effectively doesn’t have to be difficult - or expensive. Pay per click online advertising isn’t reserved for established brands. Google Ads’ flexible pricing and budgeting means it can bring advantages to entrepreneurs and startups too, in an extremely cost-effective way. With no minimum spend, you can tailor your budget accordingly. There’s also no upfront cost – meaning you can set up and design your ad campaign, as well as set your marketing goals, free of charge – you’ll only start paying once people click on your ad.

1. Know your audience

2. Write copy that reflects your brand

3. Choose the bidding strategy for you

4. Structure and monitor your campaign

What is Google Ads?

Google Ads is an advertising service by Google for businesses that want to display ads on Google search results and its advertising network.

Try Google Ads now

1. Know your audience

Narrowing your audience down to a specific group is the most important first step, and this differs from business to business. Those who are starting a small local business and would like to reach potential customers in their neighborhood, or maybe those who are launching an online shop for products or services, and those who are innovative, ambitious entrepreneurs with a vision of sustained growth, will all have different strategies.

Small local business

For those starting a small local business, their audience is most probably going to be their local neighbourhood, town or county, depending on size. To attract the right audience in this situation, it’s best to concentrate on the right location. If you’re a business that serves a local neighbourhood, or a business with special offers in selected locations, plan to reach users in that area only - and exclude others. Why? Making ads as relevant as possible, meaning excluding locations as well as including them, allows your activity to receive more valuable exposure.

Online shop owners

Those who are starting up an online shop for products or services will likely want to reach people with keywords. This works by choosing words or phrases relevant to your product or service so that your ads appear when customers search those terms. By creating a highly relevant keyword list, you increase your chances of showing your ads to the most interested customers. So, for example, if your company sold fishing equipment, you could add the keyword ‘buy fishing equipment’ to your keyword list.

Innovative & ambitious entrepreneurs

Those with a unique idea and an ambitious outlook, who could be working in an especially small team, are likely to have a vision of sustained growth. The innovation aspect here may mean that your business is best-suited to certain devices. By looking at which devices your potential customers are using, you can show your ads to the right people, based on their specific location, time of day and device type.

Although these three examples of startup businesses may seem quite different, the commonality between them is their limited budget and small number of employees. This is where Google Ads can help. The advertising platform ensures the most return on spend while minimising the amount of time, effort and human resources that are needed to achieve excellent results. If you join the Google Display Network, you can find even more ways of reaching your audience.

Ad status

A description of whether an ad is approved to run, and if so, whether there are any policy restrictions on how or when it can run.

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2. Write copy that reflects your brand

One of the most effective ways of getting people on your site is by writing compelling, specific, and relevant ad copy that will appeal to your audience. This, of course, starts with knowing your audience and then building on that. Things to look out for:

Highlighting your USP

Do you have the widest variety of your product in the area, or of your competition? Use this space to showcase your products and services that set you apart.

Including prices, promotions and exclusives

People often use Google search when they want to make comparisons, so your special offer may just attract them. Special offer code? Exclusive product? Big sale? Tell people.

Taking action

Are you a physical shop? Let people know where they can find you. Are you offering a service? Include contact details. Calls to action such as purchase, call today, order, browse, sign up or get a quote make clear what the next steps are.

Include at least one of your keywords

If someone can see what they’ve just been searching for, you’ll seem more relevant and trustworthy. For example, if you've included digital cameras as a keyword, your ad headline could be "Buy Digital Cameras".

Appeal to customers on all devices

People searching for a service on their mobile are more likely to be searching for a direct service within the vicinity, and may want to know where you are, or how to call you. Show your location and phone number with location extensions and call extensions. Also consider creating ads devoted to people on mobile devices, using the mobile version of your website as a landing page and offering specials suited to a mobile audience. Bear in mind that your text ads can appear differently on mobile.

Google Display Network

The Google Display Network can help you reach people while they’re browsing their favourite websites, showing a friend a YouTube video, checking their Gmail account or using mobile devices and apps. The Google Display Network is designed to help you find the right audience. Its options let you strategically show your message to potential customers at the right place and the right time.

Learn more

3. Choose the bidding strategy for you

Every time someone searches, Google Ads runs an auction to determine which ads will show on the search results page, their rank on the page and whether any ads will show at all. To place your ads in this auction, you first have to choose how you'd like to bid. The key to choosing a successful bidding strategy is choosing one based on your goals, like whether you want to focus on getting clicks, impressions or conversions.


For most startups and entrepreneurs, the main focus will be driving traffic to the website, so a cost-per-click bid is going to be the most cost effective way of advertising. This is known as a CPC bid.

Cost-per-thousand viewable impressions

There is also the cost-per-thousand viewable impressions, or vCPM bid, which is recommended for those who want to focus on viewable impressions, or the number of times their ad shows in a viewable place - in short, those who want to increase awareness of their brand. This bidding strategy is only available for campaigns on the Google Display Network.


Finally, there is the cost-per-acquisition, also known as the CPA bid. This is recommended for those who want people to take a specific action on their website after clicking one of their ads. We recommend the CPA bidding method for more seasoned Google Ads users who are interested in conversions, like purchases or signups.

If you’re just starting out with Google Ads and your online advertising is still fairly small, we would recommend CPC bidding as the most straightforward and cost effective way of driving traffic to your website.

Call extensions

Call extensions let you add phone numbers to your ads, which can significantly increase clickthrough rates. When your call extensions show, people can tap or click a button to call your business directly. That means more customer engagement with your ads, and more chances for you to get and track your conversions.

Learn more

4. Structure and monitor your campaign

Monitoring and analysing your campaigns is even more important than the creation of them in the first place, as this will dictate how you improve and adapt according to your ads’ performance. This way, you can make an informed decision about whether to end your experiment, apply it to the original campaign, or use it to create a new campaign. Google Ads Insights are extremely straightforward to analyse, and there’s lots of help available, making it manageable for small teams.

You can see how your ads are doing by monitoring these columns in the Ads tab. Your status will show if your ads are running, as well as many more insights. Your clickthrough rate (CTR) is crucial, as it’s one of the main indicators of your ads’ health. Your CTR shows how often people click your ad after seeing it – if it’s under 1%, this generally indicates that your ads aren’t reaching the right audience. Lastly, there’s your average cost-per-click (Avg. CPC), which shows the average amount you pay each time someone clicks your ad.

You can also see how your keywords are performing by monitoring via the Keywords tab. The status shows of your keywords is also trackable, for example, an "Eligible" status means your keyword can trigger ads. Your keyword CTR is one of the main indicators of your keywords' health. Keywords that are too general and produce a CTR lower than 1% on the Search Network can often be improved by more specific alternatives. Finally, your quality score helps you monitor your keywords’ quality score performance. The Quality Score column is disabled by default in new accounts, but you can make it show in your account statistics by clicking Modify columns, then enabling "Qual. Score" in the Attributes settings.

We hope we’ve shown you just how effective, Google Ads can be for a small business. With Google Ads, you can have your advertising, budget and planning wrapped up in one handy online package. Plus, with the Google Ads app, you can view performance, pause or enable campaigns and ad groups, adjust budgets and bids, apply opportunities and manage your keywords wherever you are in the world.

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