Last updated 2/4/2019

Of course you are! And why wouldn’t you be? For starters, PPC visitors are 50% more likely to purchase something than organic visitors AND businesses make an average of $2 in income for every $1 they spend in AdWord.


But how does a small business owner get started with Adwords? And how can I generate revenue or leads from it so that my business grows?


what is ppc exactly?


Before we get into goal setting and campaign building, let’s first cover what PPC is. PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click. It’s a form of marketing that requires you to pay for each click that your online advertisement gets. The most common type of PPC is search engine marketing—what we’re going to be learning about in Adwords.


Here’s a quick example of Adwords in action:

 what are ppc ads for small businesses


When someone is looking for a product or service on Bing, Google, GoDuckGo or any other search engine, they usually see two different types of results; organic results and paid results. If you look back at the image above, you’ll see that the paid results (aka the ads) get marked with a yellow box that reads “Ad”, and they’re almost always at the very top of the page.


PPC, meet reader. Reader, meet PPC. There, now you’re both acquainted!



5 benefits of ppc & why your small business should care


immediate front page position on search engines

Unlike SEO, which takes months and months of hard work, your PPC ads start running the minute you press play (minus a day or two while Google reviews and approves your ads)! If you want to get in front of users who are expressing a need for your product or service right now, Adwords is the way to go.


getting started and managing adwords is super simple

The Adwords interface has come a long way, to the benefit of small business owners. We’ll go into a few details about setting up your campaigns but a lot of what we’re going to cover is relatively untuitive (but we know it’s always nice to have a helping hand!). Google has done a great job of simplying the most basic parts of creating ads. And, when you’re ready to go really in-depth with Adwords, there are tons of step-by-step guides all over the internet!


you control everything with the click of a mouse

Want to only spend $5 per day? CLICK. Want to run ads only in the morning? DONE. Want to tote your lifetime guarantee? With Adwords, you write the ad copy and you show users what you want about your company and you tell Google when and how to run those ads. As a small business owner, that means you have greater control over your advertising dollars. You can even create what are called sitelinks—additional information like features or links—that give the user even more helpful information about your company, products, and services. Check out the ad below to see sitelinks in action.

example ppc ad for small businesses

target your most valuable audience when they’re actually looking for you

As a small business owner, efficiency is everything—especially when it comes to spending money. With PPC campaigns in Adwords, you not only get to decide who is your most valuable customer, you have the advantage of only showing them an ad when they’re at their highest buying potential. Instead of advertising to people when they are scrolling through Facebook or checking out their friend’s latest Instagram post, your ads will make the best impression because they won’t be intruding on someone’s personal time. How is your brand perceived when you serve someone an ad after they’ve just read a politically charged rant on Facebook? Nothing good! By running PPC ads on Adwords, your small business’s ads will be better received because you’ll be in the right place at the right time. Besides, mood has been shown to have an impact on brand recognition.


see exactly what’s working and what your return on investment is

Unlike other forms of advertising which are extremely complex and multi-faceted, seeing results for PPC campaigns is pretty clear and instantaneous. As long as you set your campaigns up properly (which we’ll help you with in just a bit), you can see which keywords are generating clicks and which campaigns are generating revenue/leads. Small business owners don’t have time to mine data or create really fancy pivot tables. But that’s ok because the Adwords interface has all of the pertinent information you need to understand what’s working and what isn’t. Later, we’ll go over some of the most important metrics that you should be paying attention to as you get your campaigns up and running.



3 things you need before getting started with adwords


Before we get into any campaign development and execution of our PPC strategy, let’s review 3 of the most important parts of every great Adwords account.



Keywords are where it all starts. If you want to be there when someone is looking for your product, you need to know what they are searching. When you can identify what keywords people are using to search for your product, your ads will be much more effective. We’ll get into how you find the right keywords later.



Ads are your opportunity to sell your product and your business! But Adwords gives you character constraints and users have a lot of distractions, so you need to have compelling copy that catches their attention and drives them to click on your ad. And remember, there is A LOT going on on a Google search results page. You have to find a way to cut through the noise.


landing pages

Imagine you’ve written some kick-ass copy and by golly, they clicked on your ad! Where are they going? What page on your website are you sending them to? That’s your landing page and it’s just as important as your keywords and your ad. You’ve put in all this effort to get them to your site. You better make sure your landing page delivers on all the promises you just made. AND you need to be sure your landing page looks great on a smartphone or a tablet.



building an adwords account for your small business

It’s time to start putting everything we’ve learned so far into action and get this PPC show started!


step #1: structure your adwords account

Now that we know what we need for Adwords, how do we put it all together?


If you’re a small business owner new to Adwords, structuring your new account may not seem that intuitive. So, lets examine a simple Adwords structure first.



small business adwords campaign structure


Campaigns are the first part of our campaign structure. They allow us to create advertising groups in Adwords so that we can be more effective in our marketing efforts. Within each campaign are ad groups. Ad groups are where the magic happens. It’s where your keywords, ads and landing pages will all reside. You can have as many ad groups in each of your campaigns.



step #2: create your campaigns

Campaigns are the first level of organization we need to apply to our account. It’s where we can align our Adwords account with our product offering. Here’s an example of what I mean.


Let’s say you sell hats. And on your website, you have 3 categories of hats: beanies, trucker hats, and baseball hats. In this example, we would establish 3 campaigns: Beanies, Trucker Hats, and Baseball Hats.


When you organize your campaigns to mirror what’s on your website, you’re subsequently organizing your account to align with your business. That means that everything is in perfect harmony!





step #3: select your keywords

Now that we have our campaigns established, let’s start looking for keywords that someone would be using to search for our products. Let’s go back to our hat example.


Let’s start with our first campaign: Beanies. Write down all the words and phrases someone would use when they are interested in buying a beanie.


Your list might include: winter beanies, beanies for cold weather, black beanies, red beanies, summer beanies, beanies on sale.


Now that we have our list, we’re going to use the Adwords Keyword Planner to get an idea of search volume, competition, and estimated cost for each click. Using that information, we can select keywords that are searched frequently, have low competition, and are affordable for us.





step #4: create an adgroup

So far, we’ve created a campaign—Beanies—and have a list of keywords that we want to target. Now, we need to setup our first adgroup.


Before we get started, let’s take a look at our keyword list. Is there a way to group similar keywords together so that we can create more than one adgroup?


Here is our list of keywords again: winter beanies, beanies for cold weather, black beanies, red beanies, summer beanies, beanies for the beach.


Using this keyword list, we can group winter beanies and beanies for cold weather together as a single adgroup. We can call this adgroup Winter Beanies.


And we can group summer beanies and beanies for the beach togeher and call this adgroup Beach Beanies.


Then, we can have an adgroup called Color Beanies and will have all of our keywords that contain colors in them.


Having this level of specificity gives us the ability to be extremely intentional in our advertising. My keywords about winter beanies will trigger my ad that has messaging about the thermal technology in my beanies that keeps your head insanely warm.


And keywords about summer beanies will trigger my ads about breathable mesh fabric and trendy summer colors.


The more specific and granular you can be, the more control you’ll have over your entire campaign.





step # 5: write your ad copy


We’ve got some really relevant adgroups setup and we’ve got our keywords that we’ll be targeting. Now, it’s time to create the message.


When you are writing ad copy, be sure to lock back on each of your keywords and ask yourself “what is this person really looking for?”


If they need a hat that will keep them warm in freezing cold temperatures, make sure that your ad copy totes your thermal technology and the subzero temperatures your beanies can handle. It also wouldn’t help to throw in a differentiator like “free shipping” or “made in the US”.


Remember, there is so much going on when someone is searching for something on Google. How do find a way to reach them through all the noise?



step # 6: put everything together in adwords

Up until this point, we’ve been doing all of our planning and prep work. Now, it’s time to get into Adwords and execute!


Go to and hit the ‘Sign In’ link at the top right of the screen.


Enter your email address and website URL.


NOTE: If you don’t use a Google product, like Gmail, you’ll need to create a Gmail account before you setup your Adwords account.

adwords setup help for small businesses

Next, Google will ask you what you do. There is a list of predetermined categories. While they might not seem that inclusive, you’ll need to find a category that most closely describes your business.




set your daily budget

Once you’re setup in Adwords, the first thing you’ll need to do is set your daily budget. Google AdWords allows you to control your spending by applying a budget for each and every day.


Keep in mind that these budgets aren’t exact, meaning; if your daily budget is set to $50, a typical ad spend for the day may be $53.22.


So, if you have a monthly marketing budget of $100, you’ll have a daily budget of $3.33.


Don’t get too stressed about setting a daily budget because you can change this whenever you want.



choose a target audience

Most of our customers are small businesses, so their primary customers are in their respective city. If you are a retailer in Raleigh, NC, you’ll probably only be targeting Raleigh.


If you don’t want to set a geographic limit on who can see your ads then keep it simple and select the United States. Again, another thing that you can change later.



select a network

There are 2 main options you’re given here; Search Network and Display Network. By selecting the Search Network you are telling Google to only show your ads on search pages.


The Display Network is a little more complicated. Google partners with over 2 million websites to create their “Display Network”. These includes sites such as,,, not to mention Google’s own sites like Google Finance and YouTube. By selecting the Display Network, you are telling Google that you want your ads to show on any of these 2 million+ sites.


When first starting out with Google AdWords, we usually suggest sticking with the search network so be sure to uncheck Display Network.



add your campaigns, adgroups, keywords, and ad copy

This is where all of our planning from earlier will finally come into play.



set your bids

Every time someone searches for a keyword you are targeting, your account is placing a bid in order to have your ad seen by the user. This is all automated so you don’t need to worry about constantly being logged in to make those bids.


Setting a bid tells Google the price that you are willing to pay for each of your keywords.


Now for the tricky part, actually giving them your credit card information! For those of you who get anxious when spending marketing dollars, don’t worry! You can login whenever you want, day or night, to hit the STOP button.


Now, just review and watch. You’ve done it! You’ve successfully started PPC marketing with Google AdWords! Don’t forget to check your account often to be sure you’re hitting your business goals.



Feeling overwhelmed? We can help you optimize your existing Adwords campaigns or build brand new Adwords campaigns from scratch that will increase your bottom line. 

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