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The top small business PPC advertising strategies & tips

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Key take-aways

You know that nowadays, when we want something, we turn to our nearest device to find it online. You also know that you want to show up when a potential customer searches the web for what you offer. But when it comes to marketing budgets and know-how, can you really compete with giant companies?

The answer is yes. Google Ads offers an advertising for small businesses solution that lets you advertise directly to people who want what you offer, the moment that they’re trying to find it. By organising a smart account structure and adopting a few best practices, your website can draw more traffic, composed of more qualified potential customers, for a budget that fits your business. Just bear these strategies in mind as you get started with your Google small business advertising.

  • 1. Set Your Goals
  • 2. Do Your Research
  • 3. Define Your Budget
  • 4. Set Your Structure
  • 5. Choose Your Keywords
  • 6. Be Relevant
  • 7. Use Strong Messaging
  • 8. Look At the Whole Picture
Treat your venture into the world of small business PPC marketing as you would any other business pursuit, and go in prepared.
Set Your Goals

Before you dive in, clarify the goals that you hope advertising online will help you to achieve. Are you looking to draw more visitors to a particular part of your website? Do you want to get the word out about a special promotion? Would you like more phone calls or sign-ups to your newsletter? Once you’ve identified the specific results that you want, use them as the basis for every decision that you make in setting up your advertising campaigns. No matter the step, always ask, “Will doing this help my business to meet its goal?"

Ad Groups

Using Ad Groups set by theme can help you structure and manage your campaigns easily.

Do Your Research

Treat your venture into the world of small business PPC marketing as you would any other business pursuit, and go in prepared. You didn’t launch your company without a business plan; start your online advertising with the same understanding of how it relates to your own business, your competitors and your customers.

Your business

How are people finding your business now? Are there any specific words or phrases that people use to find your business, whether searching online or in a phone book? Are there geographic locations where you know the majority of your business is coming from? Are there other areas, such as your customer demographic, that you see as an opportunity?

Your competitors

Because a company is your competitor in a physical location doesn’t necessarily mean they’re your competitor online. Try typing in a few relevant keywords that you’re thinking of using on Google Ads to see who actually pops up in the results. Then take a look at how these businesses are featuring themselves online (their ads, websites, social media, etc.). Are they doing something smart that you haven’t thought of? Are they making any mistakes that you can see and correct in your own practices?

Your customers

Are your customers buying and reviewing your products and services online? Who are they, and where do they come from? What do the reviews say – what do your customers seem to want more of from your business, and what would they like to see changed? Are these customers writing reviews for other, similar products or services? Being armed with this information can help you figure out where to advertise, who your ideal audience is, and what kind of messages they might respond to. The more you know about your business as a whole, the better able you’ll be to create successful advertising campaigns.

Define Your Budget

The advantage of Google small business advertising is that you can constantly test and improve your campaigns for more success and the best use of your budget. With this in mind, when you’re first starting out, begin with a smaller budget and progressively grow your account as you test out ads and strategies to find what works best.

Determine what percentage of your monthly marketing budget you’d like to spend on Google Ads, and then break that amount down by day. Once you’ve set your daily amount within Google Ads, it’s important to stick to it for a while. It can be tempting to go in and tinker with your budget, but whenever you change it, Google’s algorithms have to recalculate how many times to show your ad, which can make your campaign run much less effectively.

When you feel that you are happy with your campaign – including who you are showing your ads to and the range of keywords that you’re using, try using automatic bidding. This allows Google to automatically adjust your bid to the amount that will get the most clicks, while staying within your daily budget.

Set Your Structure

As you start adding more keywords and ad groups to your Google Ads account, it can start to feel out of hand. The more organised your account is, the better you’ll be able to maintain it and keep running successful campaigns.

To keep things simple, base your Google Ads campaigns on the structure of your website. The familiar way that your products, service types, or other information is laid out will help you to make sense of how to create and organise your ads.

Within your campaigns, you’ll have ad groups. Try to focus your ad groups on specific themes within the overall section of a campaign. For example, if you own a photography studio, you might structure your Google Ads account like this:

Campaign: Movement Portraits

Ad Group: Yoga Portraits
Ad Group: Dance / Fashion Portraits

Campaign: Students / Graduation

Ad Group: Yearbook
Ad Group: High School & College Portraits

Campaign: Events Photography

Ad Group: Corporate Events
Ad Group: Birthdays

A well-structured account is easier to maintain, test, and improve – and, it will help you send people who click your ads to more relevant pages on your site.

Choose Your Keywords

Be realistic about your budget when choosing keywords. While general keywords may be searched more often, they usually cost more money to bid on, and are often not the most relevant way to describe what you offer. Similarly, stay away from one-word keywords, as they’re also less likely to attract an audience of people searching for a specific product or service like yours, the moment that they want it.

As you set up your Google Ads account, one of the options you’ll be given is keyword matching. Small businesses usually do better to stay away from the 'Broad Match' option. Broad Match allows Google to show your ad for similar phrases or variations of your keywords. Because you have little control over when your ad might show, this option is generally advised for companies with larger budgets who can afford to take a chance on searches that might not be as relevant. Instead of Broad Match, try using one or more of the following:

Exact Match: [student portraits]

This option means that your ad will show only for the exact keywords that you have chosen – in this example, 'student portraits'.

Phrase Match: "student portraits"

This will allow your ad to show for your exact keywords and searches that may include additional words, like 'back to school photos'.

Negative Match: -free

This will ensure that your ad doesn't show for specific words that you don't want included. For instance, if your studio doesn’t offer wedding photography, here is where you could include 'weddings' so that your ad won’t show in any searches with that term, to help weed out irrelevant traffic.

Broad Match Modifier: +dance +portraits

For this, your ad will show when the user’s search exactly for, or a very close variant, of your chosen keywords. This will allow your ad to show for synonyms or related search like 'dance photos' or 'dance pictures'.

As you test keywords, try experimenting with one matching option as well as combinations, to find the fit that brings you the most business.

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Be Relevant

The surefire way to see a return on your small business PPC advertising is to make your ads and campaigns as relevant as possible. Your click-through rate (CTR) is the percentage of people who click your ad divided by the amount of people who see it. The ideal CTR depends on the industry but around 2% is a generic best practice benchmark.

Quality score is another way to measure relevancy. It shows you how well your chosen keyword matches the content of your ad as well as the page of your site that you’re directing traffic to. Each keyword gets a score of 1-10, where 1 is the lowest and 10 is the highest. If your quality score is low, you lessen your ad’s chances for being seen, and it’s more expensive for your ad to compete.

Bear in mind that when a user clicks your ad, they expect to be taken to a page whose content closely matches what they searched for. No one wants to click an ad and then have to click through multiple pages of a website to get to what they need. Make sure that your ads send visitors to specific pages of your website based on the keywords they searched, rather than your generic homepage. This way, you’ll both improve your quality score, and give your potential customers the best possible experience as they decide whether or not to do business with you.

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Use Strong Messaging

Your ads should contain a strong message and tell searchers exactly what to do. During your research, you will have gained a sense of what type of language your competitors are using and how you can improve on this. Aim to make your copy relevant to the keywords that you’re targeting and to the page to which you are directing traffic. Try standing out from competitors by adding offers or benefits. The call-to-action lets the person who’s viewing your ad know what to do as the next step, should contain a very clear and concise message. Give them a clear next step to getting what the they want. For example:

  • Book your appointment
  • See what we offer
  • Call today
  • Discover how
  • Contact Us

By using these action phrases, searchers will know exactly what they will find on your website and what their next steps should be.

Look At the Whole Picture

When looking over the data from their ad campaigns, some people get stuck focusing on a single metric, rather than looking at the whole picture. For the most accurate idea of how your ads are doing, consider all of these elements to help you make balanced, informed choices about which points in your campaign are working well, and which might need some changes.


The number of users who click your ad out of the number of people who saw the ad.


The number of users who followed your ad to your website.


The number of people who took the action that you wanted them to once they got to your site (making a purchase, filling in a form, etc.)

Conversion Rate

The number of site visits that resulted in a conversion out of the number of people who clicked your ad.

Cost per Conversion

The amount of money that it cost on average for a click on your ad to result in a conversion.

Average. Conversion Value

The value that you assign to a visitor taking a certain action on your website, minus the cost per conversion. In other words, the potential profit for your business.

Lastly, be sure to connect your Google Ads account to a Google Analytics account. Analytics will give you an even more in-depth look at how people who click your ads are engaging with your site. This information will help you as you further refine your campaigns, your website, and the ways in which you’re spending your Google small business advertising budget.

Be sure you don’t miss out on the opportunity to connect with the wide audience of interested customers that the web presents. With any size budget and the right small business PPC advertising strategies, you too can be well on your way to making the most of our online-all-the-time world.

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  • 1Create an account
  • 2Set your budget
  • 3Write your first ad and decide where you would like it to appear

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