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A small business guide to Google Ads


With countless platforms on offer to advertise your business, deciding where to assign your budget can be a challenge.

However, one platform in particular has dominated the industry (and for good reason) – Google Ads. Google is arguably one of the world’s most famous brands, and its ad platform has supported countless businesses (both large and small) in their marketing efforts for nearly two decades.

Why use Google Ads?

Launched in October 2000, Google Ads transformed the way in which businesses reach their target audience. With a dedication to providing the most relevant and valuable experience to users, the targeting capabilities of Google Ads are vast and ever-growing.

On a daily basis Google will receive, on average, 3.5 billion search queries. With the search engine stating that those who advertise receive approximately 7x their investment back, not to mention the fact that your competitors are likely to be advertising here also, utilising this platform is a relatively easy choice to make.

For small businesses in particular, Google Ads can provide a highly effective (and relatively low cost) way to reach your audience in search engine results. Our step by step guide will take you through the Google Ads process, from initial research to campaign launch and analysis.

The structure of Google Ads

Before you begin, you must first understand the structure of the Google Ads platform. There are three levels:

Campaign – focusing on one area of your business (e.g. a product or service)

Ad group – each campaign will have one or more ad groups, within which your ads will sit. Ad groups should be separated by particular aspects of your products, services or audience targeting (e.g. location)

Keywords – each ad group will have its own set of targeted keywords. The web page that your ad will link to should be relevant to these keywords.

Setting up your account

The initial set up of your Google Ads account will be relatively straightforward as long as you have a Google account. Simply visit the Google Ads platform, log into your account and follow the instructions for set-up, providing your currency and time zone (these cannot be changed once created), and inputting your credit card details.

At this stage you should also link your Google Ads and your Analytics. This will allow you to accurately measure campaign performance, create sales funnels, import goals and much more.

Identifying your keywords

Within Google Ads, your keywords will be given a quality score based on their relevance to the ad, the landing page and your target audience. It is important, therefore, that each Ad Group focuses on a similar intent (e.g. veterinary practices Wrexham, vets Wrexham, vet North Wales, etc.), as this will lead to a more specific, quality campaign. The number of keywords you target will be entirely down to your research. As a rule of thumb, keep these to a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 20 per ad group.

To identify your keywords, Google Ads provides very useful keyword planning tools to identify the ideal search terms, as well as giving you a predicted click through rate and costs based on previous data. This should be used in conjunction with in-depth keyword research of your own (i.e. brainstorming with your team, competitor research, data in your search console, etc.).

Choosing your campaign

Google provides many different types of advertising for a campaign:

Search network – the most common form. These ads will appear on Google Search, Maps, Play, etc. and Google Search Partners (e.g. YouTube, Amazon, and many more). You can choose not to display ads on Search Partners.

Display network – a cheaper alternative and perfect if you want to build brand awareness for your business via text, image or video. The downside of this is that it is less relevant for audiences, which ultimately means fewer conversions.

Video – currently one of the cheapest forms of advertising (although we suspect not for long). These highly visual ads will display in YouTube or the Google Video Network, depending on keywords, video topics and customer behaviour/interests.

Shopping – the ideal option for ecommerce sites. Businesses can connect their product feed to a Google Merchant Account, which will then display in the Google Shopping tab.

Targeting the ideal audience

There are a vast number of ways you can target your ideal audience. You can include and exclude various locations; Google will highlight areas on a map to show which you have chosen. Don’t worry if these areas overlap, as later down the line you can assign more or less budget to various areas depending on how they perform. In addition to location you can also specify languages, devices, age, gender, household income and even audiences generated through your Google Analytics data.


You will set an initial daily budget which you can adjust later. Google will spread this cost throughout the month, so don’t be alarmed if you appear to go over your daily budget occasionally.

Google Ads run on a bidding strategy; you will select how much you are willing to pay for a click on your ad (the more you pay the higher up in search results your ad will appear). Your bid strategy is set as default to Maximise Conversions, however for newcomers to Google Ads, selecting Manual CPC (cost per click) may be better in the initial stages. This will allow you to decide how much you want to pay for each individual keyword.

From here you can then choose which conversions you would like to track, when you want your ads to appear and whether or not to optimise your ads to show preference to the ones performing best.

Creating each ad group

Each ad group within your campaign should have a clear and specific name. You will input your default keyword bid (individual keyword bids can be changed later) and finally add in those precise keywords that you researched earlier.

In addition to budget, you can also select how Google interprets your keywords.

Broad match – Google will include synonyms and other relevant keywords

Phrase match – Google will include close variations of a keyword phrase

Exact match – Google will only allow for exact matches or very close variants of a keyword (including spelling errors, singular and plural forms, etc.)

Creating your ads

Each ad group should have multiple ads (with a minimum of 2). For text ads you will include a URL, up to 3 headlines, up to 2 descriptions and how you would like your URL to be displayed. Not all headlines or descriptions will appear, so include the most important information first. Make your copy concise, enticing users to click through.

There are also many different extensions you can add to your ads, which can encourage higher conversions, these include:

Callout extension – what you offer or benefits of your product or service

Sitelink extension – links to useful pages on your website (clicks on these links will incur charges)

Location extension – for those with a verified Google My Business account, to utilise local searches

More information and support on extensions can be found here.

Once your ads have been created, your audience and budget set, it’s time to set your ads live!

Reporting on your ad performance

When running your ads, you should regularly check how they are performing and amend your campaign settings accordingly. Google is very good at informing you of any recommendations that could prove beneficial; these won’t always be relevant so you should assess these as you go along and implement only those you think could add value to your campaign.

There may be many reasons why your campaigns aren’t performing as you would have hoped. You may need to increase your bids, alter your ad schedule, add or exclude keywords, amend your landing page or ads, add further extensions, or any number of other adjustments that will refine your campaign. Regularly checking these and amending as necessary will greatly increase your conversion rates.

Of course, the sheer scale of the Google Ads platform means that we have only scratched the surface of its capabilities. As Google’s main ethos is to provide the most relevant user experience, it is no wonder that it offers businesses a vast amount of support and guidance on how to optimise their campaigns. You can find further information on the Google Ads platform here, and a full glossary of Ad terms here.

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