Does Google AdWords Work For Small Business?

By August 1, 2017Pay Per Click
Google AdWords is shown as dripping paint that answers questions for small business owners

A question that comes through quite a bit during conversations with prospects centers around Google AdWords. To quote it verbatim, “does Google AdWords work for small business?” Our standard answer to them is “not usually”. As you can imagine, it draws some interesting reactions. 

Here’s the catch. It USUALLY doesn’t work for small business (or even large business for that matter). That doesn’t mean it can’t. But there’s so many factors at play that determine if you’ll really get a positive ROI from AdWords, the odds are unlikely. Here’s some of the most important ones…

An Absolute Killer Website Experience – Let’s face it, most business websites are, let’s just say, uninspired. Especially most that were built more than 5 years ago. And, if for some reason, the site isn’t responsive or built with a separate mobile version…you can kiss any leads and sales goodbye from those browsing on their phones. It’s not just about a sleek, fast, good-looking site either. The individual landing pages where traffic is being driving needs to be a perfect match for the term that sent it there. Dropping users off at your home page is not going to cut it. A real landing page strategy takes time and effort, more than most companies are prepared to handle.


Good Products & Real Offers – If you have an inferior product or service, AdWords will be an uphill battle. Having big competition doesn’t matter. Having big competition with a far superior product and lower price points does matter. Similarly, just being in your field doesn’t matter to most potential customers. What’s your unique selling proposition? What’s your angle? What are you “offering” that you want people to know about. AdWords works best when there’s a sale, a special, a unique piece of content or a new “thing” that makes your business stand out. Just being another vendor in a sea of options will not make you money.

In-Depth Keyword Research – For Google AdWords to really “work”, you have to understand what keywords are profitable, what has great volume, and what is overbid or oversold. The right paid research tools will not only uncover areas of opportunity, but allow you to spy on what other businesses are bidding on (and what their ad copy looks like). Equally important to what you bid on is the phrases you DON’T bid. A great negative keyword list is paramount for getting ROI from AdWords Speaking of copy…

Copy That Resonates Deep Down – Most small businesses that use Google AdWords don’t have access to a professional copywriter. Not that it’s mandatory. It’s not like every ad has to set your top prospect’s souls ablaze with passion for what you’re peddling. But it should be unique. It should make them think. It should make them CLICK! It’s hard enough to write compelling copy. Writing compelling copy with 20 or 40 characters? Good luck. The pen is mightier than the sword, but only if it works in tight spaces. It’s a really, really tricky aspect of profitable AdWords campaigns. And one that many businesses just don’t ever master.

An Expert Understanding of Sitelinks – If businesses using AdWords aren’t using callout extensions, review extensions or even basic sitelinks, there’s little chance to get love from Google when that just-right prospect searches and they WOULD show your sitelinks (if only you had them). For e-commerce sellers, price extensions have been a game changer. Brick and mortar companies with physical goods get more phone calls from call extensions than their main published business lines often times. But…only if those extensions are set up and used correctly. BTW, if you’re using AdWords and aren’t using Gmail Native Ads, make sure and click this link

Enough Budget to Last – One of the biggest mistake we see small businesses make is in regards to budget. The “toe in the water” approach does not work. At all. Part of a winning “Q Score” is having enough individual keyword budget AND enough daily/weekly budget to win a great amount of auctions. More auctions won = a better CTR. Better CTR = greater ad position and lower keyword costs over time. It’s a vicious circle of success. Unfortunately, most businesses never get there. AdWords nirvana is never reached by penny pinchers, suffice to say. And that in and of itself kills many campaigns before they really ever live.

Patience to Test and Re-Test – Does Google AdWords Work For Small Business? Not if they try to set it and forget it. And not if they never test anything new. New ad copy. New keywords. New extensions. New landing pages. The beat goes on. As the seasons change and products change and offers change, so should your adWords account. Keeping it fresh is a key component of keeping it profitable. Changes for the sake of change are pointless. Changes to take a good campaign and make it great are the net goal here.

Using it as Part of the Puzzle – Man cannot live on bread alone. Nor can businesses survive with just one digital channel. AdWords works best as a “funnel filler”. It helps you identify your best prospects. If you aren’t remarketing them after their visit, using Facebook and other social channels to keep them engaged or even getting them subscribed to your email content, you’re losing both the battle and the war. Google AdWords works best for small business when it’s used in tandem with a larger overall digital strategy. Hey, we know some people that are good at that kind of thing by the way.


So, in closing, a revised answer to “Does Google AdWords Work For Small Business” is actually a yes…maybe. If you have the website, offer, copy and overall skill set. Or if you find a digital marketing partner that can provide all those things. Otherwise, you may find yourself lining Google’s pockets with your cold, hard cash.

If you’re ready to find a partner that can help you integrate AdWords (or BING Ads) into an overall digital marketing strategy, please contact us today. We specialize in outsourced digital marketing for businesses that spend anywhere from $3k to $30k a month on advertising and marketing (and a few that spend a little more than that). Smarter marketing is just a call or click away!

Author Jason Keeler

Jason is a Digital Strategist and Digital Marketing Consultant. He's spent more than a decade working in Ad Agencies on businesses ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies like General Electric and U.S. Bancorp.

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