Benefits of google advertising for small business in 2024

March 04, 2024

Google advertising for small businesses

Using Google advertising for small business is a common practice today compared and while it may seem easy to set up, it definitely shouldn’t be underestimated. One wrong click and you can kiss goodbye thousands of dollars. 

To prevent that from happening, we’ve gathered some precious advice from experienced professionals who are very familiar with Google Ads for small business. They’ve seen all the pitfalls small business owners are lured into. But more importantly, they also know all the ways to avoid falling in these pitfalls.


The biggest mistakes small businesses make with Google Ads 


The biggest mistake small business owners make with Google Ads is budget versus campaign size. As a Google Premier Partner who specialises in working with SMEs, each time our first conversation is about setting expectations. Depending on the vertical or on the market the advertiser is in, cost per click (CPC) bids might be around £2 so if the daily budget is only £10 a day and there are lots of potential customers searching for the service/product, 5 clicks a day isn’t going to get much traffic, let alone results. Read more about how to avoid PPC spending disasters in this article about budget pacing.

It is important to have a clear outcome in mind and build the account to achieve that outcome, with campaigns that match the size of the budget, which is a realistic amount to achieve the outcome. The Google Keyword Planner is a great place to start as it will give you an understanding of the cost & results you can expect to achieve.

Jaye Cowle, Founder of Launch Online

Small businesses seem oblivious to the fact they are spending more on ads than those ads are bringing in. They just kind of assume advertising is a cost of doing business, but don’t actually dive into the analytics to figure out that they are paying $20 to get a sale that makes them $10. Now initially sometimes ads aren’t profitable when experimenting and dialling things in. However, ads should quickly become profitable or you should stop that ad and try something else. 

John Frigo, Digital Marketing Lead at Best Price Nutrition


The biggest mistake I see is that if business owners are running their own Google Ads, they don’t pay enough attention to Negative Keyword Lists

Negative keywords are a simple way to ensure your search terms don’t appear for irrelevant terms, and to exclude common terms which you may not want to appear for.

For example, a retailer selling luxury handmade engagement rings might be bidding on “engagement rings ” as a broad match phrase. 

Left unattended, this keyword bid may appear on:

cheap engagement rings 

vintage engagement rings 

antique engagement rings

unusual engagement rings

luxury engagement rings

platinum engagement rings

Of course, some of these will be relevant and happy to appear on, but ideally, they would be excluding terms like “cheap” or “vintage” if they are not appropriate. 

Negative keyword lists need constant attention with the regular and consistent trimming to ensure the budget is not being wasted on irrelevant search terms. Log in and check the Search Terms at least twice a week, ideally more depending on budget, to make sure your spend isn’t wasted. 

Adam Bastock, eCommerce SEO at abastock

A lack of understanding around potential customers’ search intent and not sourcing the right keywords to target are two interrelated mistakes made by small businesses using Google Ads. 

For example, I have seen local businesses miss out on locally-focused keywords that may result in their ads appearing in front of relevant searchers in their area and better

outcomes. Instead, they have tried to target broader, national words in their industries.

Andrew Clark, Marketing Strategist at Duckpin 

Another big mistake that small business owners make with Google Ads is cluttering their campaigns with too many keywords that don’t convert very well. The best way to solve this is to limit each ad group to around ten keywords that are extremely relevant to the content of the ads within that ad group. This way the user’s search query and the content of the ad that receives an impression are a very close match.

Michael Anderson, Marketing Specialist at GeoJango Maps 

A lack of keyword research can certainly prove costly for a business running Google ads. The keyword should resemble the product or service your business is currently offering, the wrong keyword can significantly increase the bounce rate (number of visitors backtracking after clicking initially) and this results in the budget being taken for unnecessary and ineffective traffic. This can be solved with an easy solution with SEO tools such as Ahrefs and Google Keywords.

Rizwan Girach, Chessgammon 

Match types

The biggest mistake I’ve seen several times with small business owners is not knowing about the correct usage of match types. They’ll put in a keyword like “Accountant” as a broad match, and get tons of clicks that are never going to convert. Match types aren’t an especially complicated concept, so a small business owner either needs to spend a bit of time learning more about Google Ads or hire someone to give them a basic set up that at least avoids the obvious pitfalls.

Abir Syed, Digital Marketing Consultant at

Most business owners assign Broad Match keyword to their ad campaign(s), and since Broad Match is meant to capture as many variations of the keyword as possible (BM keywords also captures traffic to topic related searches that don’t have to include your target keyword) on the web, the small business owner starts losing advertising spend quickly because the ad is being shown as much as possible throughout the internet.

To avoid this issue, small business owners should learn about how keyword match types work or speak with a PPC specialist.

John Pinedo, Co-Founder of Instinct Marketing


Trying to be all things for everybody is yet another mistake small business owners make with their Google ads. You must focus on your target audiences. Know what they want and need. Learn what their interests are. You must know what makes them tick. That’s the only way your Google Ads can get views. If you know what your target audiences are looking for, you’ll know how to sell to them.

Julia Brookes, Finance Consultant at Now Loans 

Landing pages

The biggest mistake that I see small business owners make is that they treat just about every single click the same. In my experience, the closer you can match the ad and the landing page to the search query, the more likely it is that you’ll increase conversion rates and improve your down funnel CPAs (cost per acquisition).

A simple way to solve this is to identify the top keyword(s) that drive the most volume and create a landing page and ad that matches the search query. I would break these top keywords out into their own ad group and focus on creating the most consistent and relevant experience possible. Then move onto other keywords as time permits.

John Porrini, Founder of LeadBoost

Too often, SMBs lack customized landing pages designed for advertising (with stripped-down navigation and a design based on best practices for optimal conversion optimization). Even more often, companies fail to create or direct ads to relevant landing pages on their website, whether custom or existing pages. This dramatically impacts conversions and indirectly, Quality Score. 

The fix: creating dedicated landing pages for Google Ads, ideally for each ad group.

Kent Lewis, President and Founder of Anvil


I was getting my butt kicked in our Google AdWords account, I had tried almost everything I could think of until one simple change that I made proved to be the thing that would give me a leg up I guess my competition.

Big data is a buzzword to get stone around a lot but I was able to use it to make AdWords work for us.

I began to leverage our data, combined with publicly available census data, for marketing insights.

For example, in a recent campaign we ran in Nashville, TN , we ran pay-per-click (PPC) Adwords campaign with one ad targeting the entire metro Nashville area. The headline read ‘Local Lawn Pros in Nashville are a click away.’ and I thought the performance of the ad was good with a click-through rate of over 1% and conversion rate of over 10% on the Nashville landing page but we needed to improve on it.

We thought, how can we make this more contextual and relevant to the viewer? Se we researched census data, looking at the average income and home values throughout the Nashville area.

We found that East Nashville, an up-and-coming neighbourhood, was populated with more working class, and a creative class demographic and we hypothesized this customer segment would be price sensitive but still not want to cut their own lawns. So we segmented those zip codes and only ran a specific ad for them, with a headline ‘The Cheapest Lawn Mowing in Nashville. Lawn mowing from $20.’”

We then created a matching landing page. After running the ad for one month, on-page analytics proved our hypothesis to be true. We saw over 200% lift in click-through rate and 30% lift in on-page conversion.

Studying the data your own business generates can tell you which of your online marketing campaigns works best. Do the ads appeal to your target market or another market altogether? The data may also point to completely new areas of customer interest.

Bryan Clayton, CEO at GreenPal

Tracking conversions

The biggest mistake we see over 90% of small business owners make when it comes to Google advertising, is not directly tracking conversions. Google has the most advanced machine-learning on the market and to make it work for you, it needs to know what to optimize around. When you tell Google what your conversions are and track them within Google Ads, you open up Data-driven attribution and bidding strategies that other small businesses miss out on.

Grant Higginson, President of Welby Consulting

Display advertising

We are a small business and one of the biggest mistakes we made was keeping the Display Advertising selection checked when setting up our account. We wasted so much money there and didn’t know until months later Display Advertising should have its own campaign. 

We unchecked that option and immediately saw far better results and were actually profitable!

Jeff Moriarty, Marketing Manager at Moriarty’s Gem Art 

Advertising an entire catalogue

The biggest mistake small business owners make with Google Ads is trying to run ads to their entire catalogue. When it comes to paid traffic, not all products are going to be profitable. It’s important to pick and choose the products you’re putting ads behind based on common sense, average order value, and data. This is especially crucial with Google Shopping, many newbie store owners (myself included when we were starting out) just turn on the shopping feed with their entire catalogue, and let it run.

Cole South, Co-Founder of Gold BJJ


It takes more than one try to make a successful Google Ads campaign. Or better yet, it takes constant effort to find the perfect formula for your business. And even when you find it, it will most likely change sooner rather than later. So keep on experimenting, testing, learning, but never give up. Moreover, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Paying an agency to run the ads for you can sometimes be more cost-efficient than doing it by yourself.

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