How Can Google Search Ads Help Advance Your Business Goals?
Whether you’re a new tech company trying to get a foothold in the industry or a brick and mortar storefront trying to attract new customers, digital marketing is going to be a key consideration in your business development strategy.
Even with local small businesses, more than 75% of shoppers will do some online research before going into the store to buy.
Search engine marketing, or SEM, is just one of the digital marketing tools available to your marketing team.
It often gets confused with search engine optimization, or SEO, but where SEO is about using strong content marketing to drive organic traffic to your business, SEM is about using paid tools like Google Ads to get your products and services in front of interested customers now.
What are Google Search Ads?
Google Ads are a paid digital advertising service that puts your business front and center in the digital marketplace.
Google Ads cover a wide variety of campaign options including:
- Search Ads
- Display Ads
- Shopping Ads
- App Ads
- Video Ads on YouTube
Today we’re going to talk primarily about Google Search Ads, which are the text ads that appear when people search on Google.
With search ads, you set the search words and phrases you want your ads to show up for, and then set a budget for how much you want to pay for that visibility, both in terms of the amount you’re willing to pay for each person who clicks on your ad, as well as for the whole campaign.
Let’s look at some example ads.
Say you were looking for a new accountant for your business. You might search for accountants in your city. The first few results will almost always be paid Google Search Ads like in the screenshot below.
At first glance, they may look like organic search results, but notice how they’re all marked as an ad in the top left of each listing.
These results show up first not because they have the best SEO, but because they have been targeted to the search term “accountants in Etobicoke” and marketers have paid to make them show up first.
If we change the search terms, we see a different selection of ads.
Before you even set up an ad on Google, you need to decide what searches you want to show up for and—more specifically—how people search online.
People don’t use keyword searches the way they did in the early 00’s. Remember the days of “accountants+etobicoke+small business”? Those are long gone.
Full sentences and questions are far more common, so setting your keyword targets is a strategic undertaking.
But What About Social Media Ads?
Sure, these are an option too. Social media advertising can even be very effective when it’s targeted correctly.
Who hasn’t seen the same ads over and over from Amazon on their Facebook feed and finally clicked out of sheer curiosity?
When we’re talking about different options for digital advertising, like Google Search Ads vs. Facebook Ads, it’s important to remember the purpose they serve. Social media advertising is a much more passive means of reaching potential customers.
You target prospects based on demographic data, whether they’ve liked a certain Facebook page or Instagram account, or by using browser data on past searches.
However, there’s no guarantee your targeting is accurate. Facebook is changing its rules on what you can use to define targets all the time. And if you’re relying on search histories and cookies, you don’t know if that person already bought the thing they searched for yesterday.
The advantage to a Google Search Ad is it will appear when someone is actively looking. It’s not based on yesterday’s search history, or a Facebook page they liked last year. It’s based on what people are googling right now.
As any marketer knows, getting in front of someone who is actively looking for a product or service – behaviour known as having high intent – is a huge part of the battle, and herein lies the advantage of Google Ads.
Not to say you shouldn’t bother with social media ads, but they serve two different purposes.
How Do I Make an Effective Google Search Ad?
Looking at the examples above, each search yields slightly different results. When you’re setting your Google Ads strategy, you’ll need to spend time researching which search terms will work best for your business, and what will fit your budget.
“Accountants in Etobicoke” is a broader term, with more than 4,000,000 results.
Paying for a Google Search Ad gets you to the top of those listings, but will probably also be a more competitive campaign since more businesses are trying to be visible. It also means your ads might be shown to searchers who aren’t your target market, like people looking for a personal tax accountant, instead of a business owner looking for a corporate accountant.
By comparison “Small business accountants in Etobicoke” is a much narrower search, with only 233,000 results.
It may seem less important to boost your visibility for this keyphrase if you already have good SEO, but the ad costs may also be less expensive since fewer people are looking for a small business accountant. And the search term is more specific, so you know you’re more likely to reach your target market.
Does that mean it’s better to only advertise for one search term over the other? The answer is it depends.
The narrower search may be less expensive because it will reach fewer people, but some narrow searches can be more expensive than broad ones, because advertisers know they are more likely to reach strong prospects looking for what you have to offer, so they’re willing to set higher budgets.
How Do I Make an Effective Google Search Ad?
If we had to give anyone a crash course on how to use a Google search campaign to advance your business goals, this is probably where we would start:
- Define the goal of your ad campaign. This seems obvious but is often overlooked. The more specific you make your goal, the easier it will be to refine your ads and measure success. Goals like “win more clients” will never be as effective as “increase white paper downloads by 20%” because you won’t know if you’re succeeding.
- Set your keywords. Like we said above, this should take some research. You can start with broad industry terms like “web developers” or “business coaches”, but also spend time researching how people are searching for businesses like yours so you know you aren’t missing opportunities.
- Choose the right geography. Google lets you target ads geographically. If you’re a brick and mortar storefront, you can limit this to a specific city or zip and postal codes. If you’re an e-commerce retailer or professional service provider, then you might be able to target more broadly across a region, province or state, or even across the country.
- Create an engaging ad. For search ads like in the examples above, this is about using the right phrases and terms to catch a reader’s attention. Help them know you’ve got the right product or service for them before they even click on your ad. Include benefit statements and a CTA.
- Pay Google…but do it carefully. Once you’ve got all your targeting and copy done, there’s nothing left to do but set up your payment. Then don’t forget to make sure someone on your marketing team is keeping an eye on your budgets. If you set them too low, your ad won’t be shown to enough people to make the cost worthwhile. Too high, and your marketing will blow through its budget before you’re able to optimize for return on the investment.
Ultimately, developing a digital ad strategy isn’t a set-it and forget-it undertaking.
It takes careful research and budgeting, and then ongoing monitoring to see which ads are performing well, which are overspending, and which need to be refined to advance your business goals.
If you need support in building a Google Ads strategy that advances your business goals, reach out to Sparked Digital today to talk to one of our digital marketing specialists.