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A simple guide to Pay Per Click advertising for small businesses (part 1)

As a small business owner, you have found that you have a product or service that you can sell and you’ve got your business up and running. That’s no easy feat but running a successful business is really tricky. There’s lots to think about from finance and payrol, to stock management and data protection. One key area that business owners often struggle with is successful marketing. Marketing, which is usually necessary to drive sales, isn’t easy and can take a lot or trial and error when you’re new to it. As well as this, some of the online marketing channels, which are often the most cost effective and successful, can feel overwhelming due to complicated set up and on going running processes.

It can cause many small businesses to feel they need to invest in expensive agencies to manage these channels on their behalf which reduces their profit margin and also doesn’t allow close management of where their money is really being invested.

One channel that can quickly grow awareness of your company and drive new customers is Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising on Google. It may seem daunting to get started, however it can be a lot simpler than you think. To help you, we’ve created a user friendly guide to the key features of PPC advertising, along with some useful tips to run a successful campaign. Part one explore the basics around PPC advertising along with a helpful explanation of the different types of keywords. 

What is Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising ?

PPC advertising really is what it says: Pay. Per. Click! It's advertising that you only pay for when someone clicks on your advert. This means that even if your adverts are shown but not interacted with, it won’t cost you a penny. This is in contrast to other advertising which is charged on a ‘cost per view’ or ‘cost per impression’ basis. The great thing with using a ‘pay per click’ model is that in theory you have more control over your budget and are paying for people who are interested in what you are advertising.

PPC is employed across lots of advertising mediums however, the most common is advertising on search engines. The two main search engines that we work with are Google and Bing. In reality, most small businesses will turn to Google first as that is the more popular search engine and their PPC advertising is slightly more user friendly than Bing.

How do I target my customers using Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising?

There are a number of methods that you use to target your customers with PPC, but there’s a fundamental approach that underpins the whole channel. This is “keywords”. Keywords are terms that are searched for and you can use them to identify potential customers that are interested in a product like yours. Google PPC allows you to pay for an advert to appear at the top of the search results when the keywords that you deem relevant for your business are searched.

Keywords can take different forms. For simplicity we’ll explore the ones essential for you if you’re starting your first PPC account.

Branded keywords

Branded keywords are terms that potential customers type when they are specifically looking for you.  

For example, if someone typed “Design 49” into Google, we would classify this as a branded keyword.

It might feel redundant to bid on these keywords as the person has clearly got intent to visit your site, however bidding on branded keywords is actually done from a defensive perspective. It is possible that competitors can bid on your branded keywords to try and capture your potential customers with their similar product. As such, bidding on your branded keywords can keep you at the very top of the search results and thus give you the best opportunity to capture the searcher. While this is a good tactic, you may not need to worry about it if you’re new to the market as your competitors might not be aware of you yet.

Generic keywords

These keywords are not related to a specific company or brand but normally represent the intent of the person searching. These phrases tend to be shorter and very competitive. In PPC, this is known as a “Short-Tail Search Query"

For example, “garden centres”, “coffee shops” “brown shoes”.

Long tail generics tends to be longer (3 to 4 words) and usually show a higher levels of intent. Long tail keywords are more specific and so the volume of searches tend to be lower. However, this can mean there is less competition and so you have a better opportunity to capture this traffic.

Both forms of generic keywords are used to raise the awareness of your brand with potential customers who are looking for a product that you offer. Often, you may not find that a click through a generic keyword immediately results in a sale as typically the customer is in the research stage of the buying journey. However, when the customer moves down the sales funnel to make a purchase, they may return directly (sometimes through a branded keyword) to purchase your product.

How do I select the best keywords for my business?

There are a number of things you can do to identify keywords for your PPC account. When we’re starting a project for a client, the first thing we do is just grab a piece of paper and a pen to jot down what your services or products are. For example for a garden nursery, this could include: “hanging baskets”, “perennial plants” and “compost”. Or if you run a bakery. “Fresh bread”, “Croissants” and “Gluten Free Bread”.

Once you have a few ideas, the next thing is explore free keyword tools such which will look at your existing suggestions and come up with alternatives for you to try. Just remember, if you are looking at the volume of traffic to the keywords, it is easy to chase the biggest numbers, however unless you have very big budgets and/or a very efficient account, you will struggle to be visible on the first page of the Google Search Results. Our suggestions is to look at more bespoke longer tail keywords to start off with. This will also feed in later to your ad copy.

One thing to also consider is where are your customers coming from. If you run a physical store, you ideally want to make sure that you are only appearing to customers who are within the catchment area of your business. By targeting outside of this are you’ll be wasting your budget on driving visitors to the site that are unlikely to ever make a purchase. One way in which you can do this is to include location based keywords to your list. For example: Instead of appearing for everyone who searches in the UK for “bakeries”, you can select to appear for “bakeries in Westminster”. The real positive thing with this approach is that you are able to be really relevant to your audience are much more likely to capture their attention.

When you are starting your PPC advertising, our advice is always to start small and keep it manageable. This will allow you to take learnings of what works and what doesn’t and then refine your strategy, otherwise, you can quickly burn through your budget.

Well there you have the introduction to Pay Per Click advertising. If you have found this useful, we continue to explore the channel looking at what advert copy is, including the best practice when it comes to writing it along with how to set the right budget for your campaign.

To receive the second part of this helpful guide, simply sign up by following this link.

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