If you’re like most small to medium-size business owners out there, you’re looking for reliable ways to widen your reach and grow your operations. 

Yet, you’ll probably have trouble finding a cost-effective way to introduce your brand to a new audience if you aren’t leveraging online search

An image of someone putting a direct mail piece in a mailbox.

Speaking of the internet, more and more consumers are turning to it as their primary source for finding new brands and products. As of 2021, there were 4.66 billion active internet users, 2.14 billion of whom made purchases online, which is up from 1.92 billion digital buyers in 2019. 

It’s clear that there’s massive potential for advertising online – and it’s only continuing to grow – but you want to make sure that you don’t break your budget in the process. After all, there are countless examples of PPC (pay-per-click) horror stories where online advertising went horribly wrong.

So how do you attract new customers with online ads on a limited budget that actually generates an ROI? 

You might want to consider using Google Search Ads, which generates an average return of $2 for every dollar spent. When done correctly, you can use Google Ads to attract new customers, earn more revenue, and scale your business.  

If that sounds interesting to you, here’s a guide showing you how to master Google Search Ads.

What are Search Ads?

A search ad is a form of digital advertisement driven by search queries or keywords. Search ads are particularly powerful because they reveal a customer’s search intent based on the keywords they use. 

As a quick example, a search ad tied to the keyword ‘dog food’ will display whenever someone searches for ‘dog food’ on Google

This is beneficial for the company because they know that people searching for the keyword ‘dog food’ are likely looking to make a purchase. As such, the ads are effectively only targeting interested users that are after a company’s product. 

If the dog food ad showed up no matter what the user searched – the ad would be far less effective. Someone searching for ‘skateboards’ probably isn’t looking to buy a bag of dog food; make sense? 

That’s why search ads are effective because they help you pinpoint your target audience through the use of keywords

The search terms people enter in their online queries determine which ads are displayed for them on a search engine results page (SERP), along with any related organic content. The businesses that placed the ads then pay a small fee to the search engine company every time somebody clicks on each ad.

As stated before, Google Ads boasts an average return of $2 for every dollar spent. That means you pay Google an average of $1 for each click and ideally end up making $2 back. 

Search advertising is also called pay-per-click advertising (PPC), paid search advertising (PSA), and search engine marketing (SEM).  

Search advertising is a great way to discover what your existing and potential customers want. By doing a little keyword research, you can uncover their search intent and buyer intent. From there, you can match their intent with your products, ensuring that you meet their needs. That’s what search advertising is all about in a nutshell.  

If your business has a website that has poor organic traffic, then search advertising can provide a much-needed boost. Not only that, but it can help turn them into conversions such as email signups, leads, and online sales.

If you’re in a business that offers products or services for urgent needs (plumbing, dental, electrical, and tire services) or for time-bound seasons (tourism and travel), search advertising is a perfect solution. Online users are constantly searching for local service providers and deals on airline tickets and hotels. 

What are Google Search Ads?

Currently, Google leads the fray in the world of search engines, as they have over 86% of the search market share. Naturally, they’re the #1 choice for most companies’ SEO and PPC marketing efforts. They have the most extensive user base and the most significant potential to help you reach your target audience. 

Google has long been on top of the search engine game. In fact, Google became the most popular website in the world way back in 1998. Two years later, they would launch Google Adwords – the predecessor to Google Search Ads. They would go through some rebranding in 2018 and change the name to what we know today. Search ads are also popularly known as Google Advertising, Google Search Ads, or simply Google Ads. 

These ads appear on the Google Search Network, which includes not only Google Search but also Google Play, Google Maps, Google Shopping, and Google partners across more than 2 million other websites which are part of the Google Display Network. Currently, Google has 3.5 billion daily searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.

Every time an ad space is available, Google automatically sets up an auction to decide which ads will show at that moment in that space. Depending on your goals and campaign type, you bid at this auction when you publish your Google Ad.  

Most people starting out with Google Ads use cost-per-click (CPC) bidding by indicating the highest CPC amount they’re willing to pay for a click on their ad.

For example, if you set your CPC at $2, you’re letting Google know that you’re only interested in ads that cost $2 or less. If there’s a bid that exceeds that amount, you’ll automatically get removed from the auction. 

That helps you not exceed your PPC budget, so it’s wise to set your maximum CPC as soon as you get started with Google Search Ads. The last thing you want is to wind up spending $3 or more per click when you can’t afford it.  

What You Can Do with Google Search Ads

Google Search Ads will help you target your ads in terms of keywords, ad location, intended audience age, location, and language; days, times, and frequency your ad appears; and the types of devices your ad displays on. 

An example of a Google Ad for a car detailing company.

Google Search Ads has a lot more features than simply the ability to run ads. There are also analytics that can help you measure your success, budgeting tools to make sure you don’t overspend, and campaign management tools. It’s a robust platform that you can use to run ads, track their effectiveness, and implement new strategies. 

In short, it’s your secret weapon for developing effective ad campaigns that generate revenue and attract new customers

The Different Types of Google Ads 

You can choose from several paid search options for your display ads:  

Text Ads

As the name implies, these ads are text-only and can display throughout the Google Network. Text ads are affordable since there’s no need to create any visual content like images or graphics. They’re also great because they can work with any type of publisher, even ones that don’t accept certain formats. 

Text ads also offer the opportunity for simplified A/B testing. All you need for an ad is a little bit of copy and a link to your website/product page

As a result, adding different types of copy in a few ads is pretty easy to see which gets the best response. All you’re relying on is the copy here, so you won’t need to worry about creating differing images or graphics. After a few A/B tests, you’ll land on the copy that garners the most interest and responses. 

Another benefit is that text ads translate perfectly from mobile to desktop. Google uses mobile-first indexing now, so you’ll want to make sure that your ads work on mobile devices. A reliable way to ensure that is to invest in text-only ads so that your messaging stays consistent.

Responsive Search Ads

If you want to take the simple A/B testing mentioned above and supercharge it – you want a responsive search ad (RSA) on Google. Traditionally, you only get to write one headline and one body of static text in an online ad. An RSA places an innovative twist on this formula by allowing you to write up to 4 different descriptions and 15 different headlines.

Not only that, but the RSA can configure those headlines and descriptions into over 43,000 arrangements and test them automatically

That provides countless testing possibilities to refine and enhance your ads. After a while, your RSA will learn which version of the message is best based on a number of factors like:

  • The user device (it will display the best message for mobile devices, PCs, and more)
  • Search query 
  • Past browsing behavior (tailoring copy for differing interests)
  • Many other factors

As you can see, an RSA is constantly determining which permutation of your ad is best for any given situation. So how do these ads tend to perform? 

Well, according to Google, RSAs tend to result in 6% more clicks and a 5% higher click-through rate. It’s definitely a time-saving ad, as Google does all the testing for you with an RSA. That’s not to say that other forms of paid ads don’t have their place – as it will take some experimenting to uncover the best type of ad for your business.

Call-Only Ads

Does your business prioritize phone calls over website visits/membership sign-ups? If so, you’ll want to use call-only ads on Google. These ads will only appear on mobile devices and will automatically call your business when clicked. The ads do not contain any link to your website whatsoever – as they’re only for generating phone calls. 

These ads work wonders if you’re a local service provider such as a dentist, mechanic, or landscaper

These businesses thrive on phone calls instead of website visits. In fact, when users do visit their websites, they’re encouraged to pick up the phone and call. A call-only ad gets rid of the middle man so potential clients can call you straight from the search results page. 

Call-only ads work the same as PPC, except it’s pay-per-call instead of pay-per-click

As such, you’ll only incur charges if someone calls your business. 

Campaign-wise, you have two options for call-only ads. You can choose to incorporate them as part of a normal search campaign, or you can create a ‘call-only’ campaign. There’s a direct advantage to setting up a call-only campaign if you only plan on using call ads. It’s that you can set the max cost-per-call rate, just as you would set the cost-per-click (CPC) for PPC ads. So if you want direct control over the cost of each call – it’s best to use a call-only campaign. 

Dynamic Search Ads

Another intriguing form of Google ad is the dynamic search ad (DSA). It’s similar to an RSA but differs in one key area. Instead of selecting from a set number of headlines and body text that you wrote – the dynamic search ad will generate them both by crawling your site. In doing so, it matches content from your site with the search intent of the user. 

In a nutshell, a DSA will automatically generate ads for each user directly based on their search intent

It’s another time-saving ad that handles all the heavy lifting automatically

Companies tend to use dynamic search ads to fill in the gaps in their other search campaigns. They’re effective ways to capture users that enjoy casually searching the web. A DSA will find a unique search and then generate a relevant ad from your website content – all without you having to press a button. DSAs are great add-ons to any search campaign, and they can act as a fail-safe of sorts. 

Shopping Ads

If you operate an Ecommerce store, you can make use of shopping ads on Google. These show up on search queries that have a strong purchase intent. An example would be the keyword ‘best computer mouse to buy.’ 

It’s clear that the user has the intent to buy a computer mouse. In this scenario, a series of shopping ads will pop up at the top of the search engine results page. You’ve likely seen these types of advertisements if you’ve searched for something you wanted to buy online. 

They appear with:

  • A clear picture of the product
  • Its title with a hyperlink to the product page
  • Its selling price
  • A link to the business website 
  • (optional) A star review rating 

These ads provide a quick and easy avenue for shoppers to find what they’re after. They can work wonders for Ecommerce stores – yet they tend to go underutilized. In fact, shopping ads only account for 20% of the paid retail ads online. 

The good news about that is you can use shopping ads to pounce ahead of the competition

A shopping ad will display at the very top of the SERP – meaning that users will see an image of your product even before laying eyes on the #1 organically-ranked page. That can translate into a huge advantage, especially if you’re selling an in-demand product. 

To set up shopping ads, you’ll first need a Google Merchant Center account. 

Why’s that?

It’s because Google needs information about the products you sell. Once you have a Merchant Center account, you’ll need to set up a shopping feed. It’s a spreadsheet that you’ll need to fill out with your product details. Once that’s done, you’re all set to start running shopping ads on Google.

Google’s Free Ad Extension Types 

Google Search Ads offers free ad extensions to give users additional information and reasons to interact with your website. They come in five distinct types:  

Sitelink Extensions 

Wouldn’t it be great if users could directly visit your Products page straight from the SERP? If that’s a goal of yours, then you’ll be happy to learn about sitelink extensions. Normally when a website shows up on Google, there’s only one link to the homepage. 

However, a sitelink extension lets you include links to more pages underneath. An example would be including links to your Products, Services, and About Us pages as extensions. 

They’re great because they give users the chance to jump to the specific page that they need without visiting your homepage first

Currently, there are two distinct types of sitelink extensions that you can use on Google. They are:

  • Search campaign extensions. You’ll be able to add at least two extensions under search ads. You have up to 6 links on desktop and 8 links on mobile to use. 
  • Video campaign extensions. YouTube ads can contain at least two sitelinks underneath the video, and the max limit is 4. 

If your website has a poor CTR, sitelink extensions are a great way to improve it. Since users have access to multiple pages on your site from the SERP, they’re more likely to click on at least one of them. 

Location Extensions 

Does your business have a brick-and-mortar location? Then a location extension on Google Ads is well worth it. A location extension will include your business address as a blue link underneath your ad. Other options for location extensions include:

  • A Google Map link pinpointing your location for potential customers. 
  • The current amount of distance the user’s location  

There’s also the option to use affiliate location extensions as well. These come in handy if you primarily sell your products through retail chains. An example would be selling original hair products in local hair salons in a particular town. In that scenario, the business owner doesn’t have a physical location – so they need to use the hair salon addresses instead. 

If your main goal with online advertising is to drive more foot traffic to your store – location extensions are a great way to go

It’s common for these types of business owners to combine location extension ads with call-only campaigns. That way, your online ads are generating footfall and calls to your brick-and-mortar stores. 

Call Extensions 

It’s crucial not to mix up call extensions with call-only ads – as the terms are not interchangeable. Rather, a call extension adds your business phone number to an existing search ad – which likely contains links to your website

A call-only ad, on the other hand, is a mobile-only ad that contains your business phone number and nothing else. There are no links to your website with a call-only ad. 

So if you want to include your phone number as well as hyperlinks to your website, you’ll want to use a call extension. As with call-only ads, you can add a direct call button to the ad. That will enable users to call your business directly from the SERP. At the same time, the search ad containing the call extension will have links to your website. 

In that sense, a call extension is the best of both worlds if you want to generate organic traffic and calls for your business

Promotional Extensions

If you’re running a huge sale or special promotion at your business, you can advertise it through Google Ads with a promotional extension. It works by adding a special blue link under your search ad informing users about a sale or promotion. You can let customers know about special occasions and holiday sales with ease. 

Promotional extensions on Google are fully customizable – so you can tweak them until they’re perfect for your needs

Prepare to keep it short with your copy, though, as you’ll only have 20 characters to work with in the extension

You can choose from 30 different holidays and special occasions through Google’s interface. If there’s no special occasion related to your promotion, you can select ‘none.’ Once that’s done, you’ll need to select a promotion type. Here are your options:

  • Monetary discount: You can set a fixed amount to take off certain products. (i.e., $5 off tube socks)
  • Percentage discount: Instead of a monetary amount, you set a percentage for the discount instead. (i.e., 5% off tube socks)
  • Up-to monetary discount: This is a fixed discount amount that has a limit. (i.e., up to $5 off tube socks) 
  • Up-to percentage discount: This is a fixed percentage amount with a limit. (i.e., up to 5% off tube socks) 

It’s up to you what you choose to use for your promotions – but Google Ads has all the bases covered no matter which route you go.  

App Extensions  

If your brand has a mobile app that you want to gain more downloads, an app extension on Google Ads can go a long way. They provide a direct link to your app on the App Store or Google Play Store in your search ad. That grants users the ability to download your app straight from the SERP page – which is a timesaver. 

As with other extensions, there will also be a regular link to your web address via the search ad headline

As such, an app extension is great for not only boosting app downloads but also generating organic traffic for your website

One of the best parts about an app extension is that it automatically detects the app store link each user needs. If an Apple user clicks on the link, it will take them to the App Store. If the user is on an Android device, they’ll get directed to the Google Play Store. That means you won’t have to worry about linking the incorrect app store – as the process is entirely automated. 

You’ll also receive detailed reporting from a search ad with an app extension. You’ll be able to closely track the number of clicks the headline got as well as the clicks on the app link. 

When you combine that with the in-place editing (the ability to make tweaks without resetting performance statistics), the effectiveness of this extension really starts to shine

Beyond these extensions, you can also use Google Ads for retargeting or remarketing to users who have previously engaged with your website but have not converted into customers yet. 

Generally, prospects need to see your ads at least seven times before they buy. Google Ads uses remarketing tracking cookies and conversion tracking cookies to follow users around the web and target relevant users with your ads.

Google Search Ads Campaign Types

All Google Ads begin with a goal and a campaign. Depending on your marketing goal, brand strategy, and how much time and money you can invest, you will be asked to choose from its 6 different campaign types:

  1. Search campaigns. These campaigns focus on text-only ads where you bid on branded terms and queries. A search campaign is most useful for positioning yourself in front of customers who are ready to buy. The goal is to identify keywords related to your industry that have a strong buyer intent – and to create text ads centered around them. 

Since there are no visuals or extensions at play – a text ad will live and die by the strength of its copy. Do your best to create compelling copy that’s free of generic terms. You’ll want to be as specific as possible when writing the call to action for each ad to generate the most interest. 

  1. Display campaigns. A display campaign grants you access to the vast Google Display Network. It contains more than 2 million websites, videos, and apps where display ads can show up. Rather than focusing on text, display ads focus on visuals. Display ads should feature strong images that entice users to find out more. 

The primary purpose of a display campaign is to build brand awareness. They’re effective for introducing your brand to potential clients that are early in the buying cycle. The goal is to display your ads in front of your target audience so they’ll get intrigued and want to learn more about your brand. 

  1. Video campaigns. Kicking off a video campaign means you’ll use YouTube as your primary ad source. As such, you’ll need to create video ads that will air before, during, or after YouTube videos. These campaigns are excellent for advertising to a relevant audience. That’s because you can market to a specific audience based on age, gender, and interests. 

In other words, your video ads will only air to users that are likely to find them interesting. So if you want to get in front of the eyeballs of your target audience, starting a video campaign on Google Ads is a great way to do so. 

  1. Shopping campaigns. For all the Ecommerce store owners out there, shopping campaigns are the way to go. They’re how you run shopping ads, which we already discussed before. They contain a picture of and link to your product, as well as listing the price and possibly a review. To start a shopping campaign, you’ll need a Google Merchant Center account. 
  2. Local campaigns. These campaigns are for brick-and-mortar store owners looking to drive foot traffic. A local campaign will promote your ad through many localized channels – increasing your visibility in front of users in your area. Local campaigns will also highlight your nearby stores, list special promotions, and provide a rundown of your in-store inventory. 
  3. Smart campaigns. Are you a small business owner that wears many hats and has little to no free time? If so, know that you’re not alone. Also, running a smart campaign on Google is a great choice for you. In short, a smart campaign will automate the entire process of running ads for you. A smart campaign will target ads and optimize them without you having to do anything at all. 

The Key to Attracting Potential Customers

Understanding your potential customers by viewing their search queries and intent is a foundational step in attracting them to your business and what you have to offer.

Since Google Search Ads begin with the keywords or search terms that people use when looking for what they need online, then you should also begin by identifying the keywords related to your business brand, products, and services and what your potential customers would probably type in their search engine queries.

Ideally, your keywords need to match searchers’ intent. Essentially, this is how keyword research works:

  1. Brainstorm and draw up a list of potential keywords you want to use and make this list your starter keywords guide. 
  2. Validate and expand on your keyword ideas with a keyword research tool like Google Keyword Planner and The HOTH Keyword Planner.
  3. Select your keywords.

While you’re at it, consider also a list of negative keywords which are search terms you want to exclude when you launch your Google Search Ads campaign since these words are irrelevant to your target. These are keywords you absolutely don’t want Google to use for matching your ad.  

For example, if you are an optometrist whose potential customers might use “glasses” in their search terms aside from “eyeglasses”, you would use “wine glasses” and “drinking glasses” as negative keywords.

Take note, too, of keyword match types that you will need to instruct Google to use in creating your ad groups (one or more ads that share similar targets) for your search campaigns:

  1. Broad match –  uses any word within your keyword phrase in any order (“yoga mats in Florida” will match “yoga mats” or “yoga Florida” or “mats Florida”)
  2. Modified broad match – lets you lock in certain words within a keyword by adding a plus sign before the locked-in word (“+yoga mats in Florida” will match “yoga mats”, “yoga music”, “yoga retreats”)
  3. Phrase match – matches queries that include your keyword phrase in the exact order but may have additional words before or after the phrase (“yoga mats in Florida” will match “purple yoga mats in Florida” or “yoga mats in Florida prices”)
  4. Exact match – matches your keyword phrase as it is written in the exact order.

When you’re starting, a blend of these matches will help you get a cross-section together. You can then monitor the results and further narrow down or change keywords and match selections.

Your keywords guide will also help you in crafting your ad copy. It should match your searchers’ intent, address their pain points, and provide a solution in your ad headline and description.  

Is Your Website Ready for Potential Customers?

Google recommends using this 8-point checklist questions to assess whether your website is ready for attracting potential customers through Google Search Ads: 

  1. Does it have a clear, eye-catching headline?
  2. Does it load fast enough for mobile?
  3. Does it clearly list the benefits your customer will get if they purchase your products or services?
  4. Does it feature images or video?
  5. Is there a clear call-to-action (CTA) on your website?
  6. Is it easy to locate your business’ contact information?
  7. What’s the most important thing you want people to see on your site?  Would a new visitor be able to locate it right away?
  8. Does your business have an online presence other than your website (like a free Business Profile listing or social media site)?

If you answered “No” to any of these questions, Google recommends updating your website so you’ll be giving your customers a better user experience, and your business will be better positioned to make a Google Ads investment.

If you don’t want to be bothered by updating your website yourself or finding and managing the different people you need to do it for you, The HOTH can help you not only with taking control of your company’s image but also with content creation, link building, managed search engine optimization (SEO), managed pay-per-click (PPC), and managed Google Shopping.

An example of how we brought new patients to a dental office.

Preparing for Your 1st Google Ads Campaign

In creating marketing campaigns through Google Search ads, you simply create a Google Ads account and click on its “Get Started” button. Then, Google Ads will take you through a streamlined process of creating your first campaign. Prepare for the following information it will ask for:

  1. Your main business goal (get more calls, get more website sign-ups or sales, get more visits to your physical location, or get more YouTube views or engagement?);
  2. Your business account or business name;
  3. Where people go after they click on your website (what you’re advertising or the most relevant landing page of your website); 
  4. Your ad copy (Headline 1, Headline 2, Headline 3, Description 1, and Description 2; remember to use your keywords here)
  5. Your keyword themes (keywords, again); 
  6. Whether you want to advertise near your business address or at specific zip codes, cities, or regions; and
  7. Your daily budget or ad spend options.

Then, you will be asked to review your campaign for whether all information you indicated is correct, and if so, you will then be asked to make your payment.

You, Your Business, Google Search Ads, and The Digital Space

Google Search Ads is a great way for small businesses to serve their customers’ needs and wants based on their customers’ search queries and intents.  

It is also recommended for businesses whose websites already deliver a good customer experience but receive unsatisfactory website traffic.  

It is especially recommended for service businesses whose offerings are time-sensitive or time-bound

Learn more about engaging the digital space for your business at The HOTH’s Learning Hub for free resources on search engine optimization (SEO), digital marketing, and content marketing, as well as free SEO and other tools you can use for your business.

Streamline and Supercharge the Google Ads Process with The HOTH

As a business owner or manager, you also realize that you’re good at what you do because you’ve focused on on your core competency, which is running your business well. You might not have the time or energy anymore to add to the learning curve of embarking on a digital marketing journey with Google Search Ads and all that it entails. 

The HOTH can help you with its HOTH PPC Managed Service, where you only give a few details about your website, your products or services, and your competition, and we’ll do the rest for you. We’ll design your campaign, collaborate with you on our onboarding call, produce the campaign and track the results, and report everything to you in a timely manner.  

This way, you can focus on what you do best, and we’ll do the same to help you attract more potential customers and grow your business. Call now and see if we’re a good fit.

Start growing your traffic now.