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4 Ways Google AdWords Can Increase Small Business Profits

Carrie Hill
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How do you make your AdWords campaigns more profitable? Sometimes accounts are set up with the best of intentions, only to languish or be turned off because they're not meeting expectations. There are four key areas most new-to-PPC (define) marketers overlook that cost them money.

If you haven't set up your AdWords campaigns, read Frank Watson's series on AdWords in SEM Crossfire. Start with "Google AdWords 101" to learn how to set your campaigns up with Google's help. Then read through his tips on landing page optimization and writing effective ad copy. If you've already set up your campaigns, read on to make sure you're not wasting money on AdWords features that don't apply to your small business.

Small businesses face unique challenges. Small business owners don't have a ton of time to constantly monitor campaigns. Time is money. Every dollar and every minute invested needs to provide a ROI (define). Small-scale budgets are typically $500 to $1,000 per month for AdWords.

Here are some ways you can optimize campaign performance.

Keyword Matching

Not only can you add any relevant keyword to your campaigns and AdGroups, you can set them up to show in particular instances. Right now Google supports four "match types."

  • Broad Match: This is the default option. If you add a keyword -- such as cookie cutters -- to your campaign without any punctuation around it, your ad will show for a variety of queries that include the words cookie and cutters -- and any terms Google deems "relevant" to those two terms. You need to have more control over what ads are getting clicks than waiting for Google to decide what terms are relevant and associated to your broad matched terms. Never use broad matching on small budget campaigns.

  • Phrase Match: If you place quotation marks around your keyword -- "cookie cutters" -- your ad may be shown when someone searches the exact phrase in that exact order, possibly with words added before or after. Your ad would show for queries such as "Christmas cookie cutter" or "cookie cutter website." This is the best way to drive qualified traffic to your site for a variety of related keywords without having to add every keyword imaginable to the campaign using exact match.

  • Exact Match: If you place brackets around your keyword -- [cookie cutters” -- your ad will only be shown when a query is made for that specific phrase, no words before or after. This type of matching should be used sparingly, as it adds time to your setup. You'll need to include every phrase possible to be sure your ads are showing -- [Christmas cookie cutters”, [valentines cookie cutters”, etc. Consider using exact match when you set up your branded AdGroup to ensure traffic for only your brand phrases and no extraneous clicks.

  • Negative Keyword: Negative keyword matching eliminates your keyword from showing up in irrelevant queries. For example, if you have the phrase-matched keyword "cookie cutters" in your campaign but you don't sell plastic cookie cutters, you could set up the negative keyword "plastic cookie cutters." This keeps your ad from showing for queries that don't convert.

Geographic Targeting

Depending on your target market, you may only want to show ads to searchers from certain areas of the country. If you run a local restaurant or hardware store, you don't want your ads showing up statewide or nationally. Simply tell Google to show your ads only to searchers in a certain geographic region. You can define these in a few different ways.

Choose to edit your campaign and find the "locations" area -- this is usually in the lower right-hand corner.

Click on "Edit" and the "Target Customers By Location" section will pop up. Type in the location you'd like to target and choose its most relevant area from the list.

You can also choose to do some custom targeting. This is especially helpful if you have a service or delivery radius or serve a specific neighborhood. You can target from between 5 and 10 miles from city center or an address. Google recommends a minimum 10-mile radius here.

Once you choose the area and radius, they'll show you the coverage area on the map so you can see exactly what areas will see your ads when they search for keywords you've added to your campaigns.

You can play around with this. Perhaps you want to target campaigns internationally, to Canada or the UK. Make sure your ad copy targets the audience you're showing your ads to.

Day Parting

If you run a storefront, you may want to attract foot traffic via AdWords -- perhaps by showing your ad only during business hours, or during days of the week you're open. Day parting allows you to show your ads only on certain days and at certain times of the day. Occasionally I use this to show ads to certain audiences during business hours or during high conversion times of the day for the travel clients.

Network Targets

Google shows ads on a variety of networks. Choosing the right network is vital to ensure success. For smaller budgets, stick to the Google Search networks -- sometimes only Google search, sometimes also the search network.

Content network (define) doesn't deliver relevant enough results to make it worthwhile on a limited budget. It's difficult to manage where your ad will show and what queries it will show for. I rarely recommend content network, even for clients with budgets above $10,000. For clients with bigger budgets, see SEW Expert David Szetela's advice on how to make money with contextual advertising (define).

Newcomers to the game often overlook these ways to make money. If you don't have much time to invest, consider outsourcing PPC management. There really are no "quick fix" substitutions for someone who really knows what they're doing. If you're willing to experiment and want to learn as you go, this may cost a little money. AdWords can provide a tidy ROI if it's set up correctly.

If you have any other tips for making small PPC budgets in Google AdWords more profitable, head to the Search Engine Watch forums and check out the Marketing Small Businesses Online forum. I encourage anyone who has a tip to share it with all of us!

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