Make Google Ads Absolutely Work for Your Small Business: A Step-by-Step Guide

After working over 50s of small Google Ads accounts. Here are a few Google Ads tactics and strategies that have worked absolutely great for my small clients and I am going to share those Google Ads tactics and strategies for small businesses here in a step by step guide in different phases.

Phase 1: Data Implementation

The right data implementation helps in taking the right data-driven decision. If the implementation is not right from the beginning, there would be nothing much to analyze later after the campaigns have delivered. The data implementation part can be divided into the following categories

  • Platform implementation such as
    • Google Ads conversion implementation
    • Google Analytics events and goals implementation
  • landing page implementation such as
    • Using a funnel builder
    • using heatmap tools for audience activity on the landing page

Phase 1: Connect Google Ads with Google Analytics

  • The reason is we want to connect Google Ads with Google Analytics because we want to monitor the soft metrics such as session duration, pages/ session, bounce rate etc.
  • Initially, there would not be enough conversion data, hard or soft conversions so, we might to have to initially rely on these soft metrics to find out the most engaging keywords

Phase 1: Instrument Micro conversions to measure Engaged users

In the previous step, we already implemented a way to measure soft metrics such as pages/ session, session duration etc. Now, it’s time to take a bit further and implement micro conversions. Micro-conversions are basically the soft signals that shows the engagement of the users with the landing page. And these soft signals could be very important in Google Ads for small businesses. Some micro conversions ideas are:

  • scroll depth, for example – 75% scroll depth
  • link clicks on the landing page
  • Video watched on the landing page
  • Session duration of 60 seconds etc.

When you start driving traffic initially, try to optimize for the above events to start with. At least, it will help you ensure that Google Ads is driving more engaged users to the landing page or the website instead of just driving any random traffic. Below is an example of one of the small businesses accounts where we used the strategy of driving engaged users through Google Ads initially to start with but also have your real conversions measured.

Optimizing google campaigns for micro conversions

Phase 1: Also implement Hard Conversions

So, now you have soft conversions implemented. But, I would also recommend you have hard conversions implemented. Remember to keep your conversion action optimization as primary initially as shown in the picture below in the second column

The reason we are keeping all the conversion actions has primary because initially we want to optimize the campaigns for all the actions before we gradually start shifting some of the micro conversions or less important conversions to secondary from primary after enough data.

Phase 1: Think and Re-think on your Audience Avatar

Always try to find faults in your Audience Avatar. Always ask questions. Here are some examples:

  • Can they afford your service?
  • Are they willing to do what you are asking them?
  • Are you asking for the payment too early?
  • Do you have enough availability for your leads?
  • What your competitors are doing?
  • Do you have all the information that your audience might be looking for on the landing page

Phase 2: Landing Page Tactics

Landing page tactics ensures that a small business owner has everything that it needs to make the Google Ads work for the business by analyzing the data

Phase 2: Use Funnel Builders for landing page

Instead of using any CMS or custom landing page, I would suggest you using funnel builders for the landing page. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Funnel builders have low latency and are fast load
  • Setting up A/B test is easier
  • Integrations such as data integrations or CRM integrations are easier
  • Most of the funnel builders are easy to use as they do not require technical knowledge
  • Most of my clients use GHL as the landing page and funnel builder

Phase 2: Have Heatmap Instrumentation done on the LP

You might not realize but heatmaps are a great way of looking into what is putting off the users on the landing page. How far the users are scrolling, are they clicking all the CTAs etc. There is a lot of data that you can look into to gain insights from the heatmaps. One such free tool is Microsoft Clarity

Phase 2: Cohesive Experience

Try to make sure that the following elements speak the same language and point in the same direction and there is not break in the experience

  • keywords
  • ad copies including headline and descriptions
  • landing page content

Phase 3: Important Google Ads campaign Settings

These Google Ads campaign settings ensure that the campaign is implemented the right way.

Phase 3: Manual bidding is the way to go

Why Manual Bidding? Small business have small budget for Google Ads. A small budget means a smaller amount of data. A smaller of data means slow learning for Google Ads. Slow learning for Google Ads means longer learning period. Longer learning period means automated bidding may take even longer to work for you.

So, at the basic level, smart bidding strategies on Google Ads such as Maximize conversions, TCPA, Troas etc work well only when there is enough pixel data learning involved. If your launching your business fresh and there is no data at the pixel level, it’s wise to start with the manual bidding. So, that you can have much more and better control over your advertising.

You can also take a conservative approach with the manual bidding such as start with lower CPC bid, monitor the search impression and then gradually up the CPC bid. Another reason not to use smart bidding in the beginning is that Google Ads are known to charge insane amount of CPC when using maximize conversions.

  • Start with a conservative approach with lower CPC
  • Adjust the bid higher for the performing keywords gradually by looking at soft signals such as bounce rate, session duration, pages/ session, micro conversions as well as hard conversions such as lead submission, purchase etc.

Phase 3: Don’t jump into Broad Match Keywords

Google has been recommending switching the existing keywords to broad match lately a lot but I would suggest not jumping directly into it as it might open the flood gates of the search terms and you might have to keep negating the search terms into an ever-evolving negative keyword list daily. So, it’s best to start with the phrase match keyword type first. There will be a time when you can switch to broad match. Keep reading.

Phase 4: Optimization Process

Optimization process gives you the basic idea of what steps to take into your Google Ads account to optimize the campaigns after you have already taken the previous steps.

Phase 3: Action Optimization: Primary vs Secondary

Once you start to see a good amount of micro conversions and also some macro conversions, it’s time to start shifting the gears optimizing more towards macro conversions. So what we do? Change some of the micro conversions from primary to secondary under the conversions on Google Ads as shown below

Action Optimization: Primary vs Secondary

Changing some of the conversion action from primary to secondary will ensure that we are gradually shifting the gears of our campaigns more towards macro conversions. This Google Ads tactics has helped some small businesses getting more qualified leads.

Which conversion goals to change from Primary to secondary? Change those conversion actions which are far from the funnel or at the beginning of the funnel.

Phase 4: Test Broad Match

Now is the time to introduce broad match campaign. By far, your other campaigns must have gathered some data. Analyze the search term report and keyword report and find out the intent and based on that start a new broad match campaign. With enough micro-conversions at the account level, it’s should not be hard for the broad match to pick up and drive more intended traffic.

And, that’s the difference between starting a broad match campaign at the beginning vs starting a broad match campaign after some level of learning.

Phase 4: Find the funnel Bottleneck

Please note that using marketing can not only get you sales qualified leads. Marketing can only give you marketing qualified leads and then you need to nurture them for sales. So, it’s necessary to look at your data and find the bottleneck of the problem. If you look at the screenshot below then you will realize that only 25% of the users (13 out of 54) are booking an appointment and rest of the users are leaving the page after completing the quiz

funnel bottleneck example

So, try to look into the issues why users are dropping from the bottleneck. Some of the reasons could be

  • Funnel is too long
  • Funnel is not clear
  • You are asking too much information
  • Website is slow

Phase 4: Do A/B Testing

Now that we have already looked into optimizing the data from keywords, landing page heatmap etc. It’s important to do some AB testing of your landing based on the data feedback. What feedbacks to consider to do split testing of the landing pages:

  • Most converting keywords/ search terms intents
  • Based on the heatmaps such as
    • Least engaging segments on the landing page
    • Based on the scroll depth data
    • Based on heatmap data and recordings
    • Based on landing page behavior on different device types and browsers

Next Steps

  • Keyword expansion
  • Ad copy testing
  • funnel improvements etc.

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