Google advertising for small business: 27 golden rules

October 04, 2022

Google advertising for small businesses

Using Google advertising for small business is a common practice today compared to a couple of decades ago when TV and radio ruled marketing. However, despite being so frequently used Google Ads are still a nightmare for many business owners. The main reason for this is the lack of knowledge and experience. 

While Google Ads 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.

Whether you’re about to set up your first Google Ad campaign or you want to improve the ROI, this is the guide you’ll need.

Jump to:

  • The biggest mistakes small businesses make with Google Ads and how to avoid them

     – Budget

     – Keywords

     – Match types

     – Audience

     – Skeleton

     – Landing pages

     – Data

     – Quitting

     – Tracking conversions

     – Inexperience

     – Display advertising

     – Advertising an entire catalogue

  • The golden tips for running successful Google Ads

     – Data hygiene

     – Understand your customers

     – Negative and intent keywords

     – Video content

     – SEO

     – Specific ad copy

     – Customers’ search intent

     – Location

     – Structure

     – Consistency

     – Precision and relevance

     – Vary bids by match type

     – Management fees

The biggest mistakes small businesses make with Google Ads and how to avoid them


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 

Adding broad keywords is a big mistake for yet another expert as well as not checking the search term reports regularly to see what queries triggered their ad to show. If not aware of keyword match types, the natural way to enter keywords is to just type them in. Doing this automatically enters the keywords as broad. 

There are more precise keyword match types, but you have to know how to enter them. Broad match keywords leave it up to Google to decide what searches are relevant to your keywords, and they can be pretty liberal with what is considered relevant. We frequently see this result in around 80% of budgets wasted on searches that clearly are not related to the product or service being advertised.

There are 2 main ways to avoid this. The first is using a more precise keyword match type. This requires adding certain symbols to the keywords you type in. You can use exact match, phrase match, or broad match modifier terms. 

The second way to remedy this is to regularly view your search terms report and add searches or words that you don’t want to show up for as negative keywords. This will prevent you from showing for these terms in the future.

John McGhee, Owner of Webconsuls


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 

People need to focus much more on the targeted audience. They need to narrow down the audience as much as possible in order to find the customers that really have an interest in their products. This is especially important in the beginning when you have a smaller budget and less room for mistakes.

Dan Serbanescu, CEO at Leather Depot


The biggest mistake small business owners make with Google Ads is not setting up the skeleton of the Campaigns, Ad Groups, and Ads correctly. It is so important to set up your Google Ads account properly because it leads to more specific and targeted ads that provide higher CTR (Click through Rate), lower CPC (Cost per Click), and ultimately better ROI. 

Campaigns should be set for macro themes, while Ad Groups are set up for micro themes or centred around single keywords and very similar iterations of that same keyword. 

For example, at Tajima Direct we sell replacement lenses. We focus our campaigns on different sunglass brands (i.e. Maui Jim, Ray Ban, Oakley, etc). Then diving deeper, different Ad Groups in our Maui Jim campaign might include: Maui Jim Replacement Lenses, Maui Jim Lens Replacement, Maui Jim Peahi Replacement Lenses, while the keywords in the Maui Jim Replacement Lenses Ad Group would be Maui Jim Replacement Lenses, Maui Jim Replacement Lens, and Replacement Lenses for Maui Jim as they are all very similar iterations of the original keyword: Maui Jim Replacement Lenses.

This allows you to make Ads that are extremely specific to each search query by using the search query keywords in your ad headlines and ad copy, providing the customer and Google with confidence that your ad will solve their problem, which will make the customer more likely to click your ad and make Google increase your Quality Score, thereby decreasing your CPC.

Jacob Rosenberg, CEO and Founder of Tajima Direct 

When we audit campaigns or onboard new clients, the biggest mistake we routinely see is that everything is under a single campaign. Many businesses fail to understand that you control the budget at the campaign level.

With everything under one campaign, they end up with poorer performing ad groups eating up a larger portion of the budget. That money that could be funnelled to better-performing ad groups and ad groups promoting products and services that provide better profitability for the business.

Mike Friedman, Owner of Clicked Marketing 

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


Small business owners give up too early on Google Ads. You have to expect the first few weeks/months to be unprofitable, and be OK with burning some cash to generate meaningful data that you can use to continually improve ad spend. Once you find your company’s most profitable keywords/products, you can re-invest in those and enjoy continued profitability.

Calloway Cook, President of Illuminate Labs

Everyone goes into running Google Ads with this wonderful vision of getting it right the first time, and leveraging a new channel to massively scale their business. However, this is very rarely the case. You have to constantly test copy and landing pages to understand what users respond to, and by looking at data and iterating constantly you can eventually make Google Ads work profitably for you. You just have to be patient, and moreover, smart with the way you test to manage your marketing budget.

Neal Taparia, CEO at Solitaired

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

The single biggest mistake small business owners make is actually not measuring their ROI, and not measuring it correctly. It is the starting point that sets the stage for every bit of optimization and most SME do it halfway or not at all.

  1. They don’t track conversions
  2. They track the wrong conversions
  3. They track too many conversions, some unrelated to business objectives
  4. They don’t attach a value to each conversion
  5. They assign the wrong value to conversions

The way to make a good ROI is to actually measure it very accurately. Know the metrics in and out. Understand what the value is for each click, understand at what price you’re making a profit and at what price you’re losing. This makes it easier to spot winning strategies and failing ones. Then all you do is keep the winning strategies and dismiss the losing ones over and over again. With constant testing and iteration, things improve gradually. However they can’t improve if the first step if correct measurement is done badly.

Christian Nkurunziza, CEO at Tenscores


Small businesses understand the importance of advertising on Google, but they oftentimes do not understand the complexity of Google Ads. Rather than hiring an SEM professional, they assign their Google Ads to an untrained, inexperienced employee. This is a huge mistake that could end up costing you more in the long run. 

Experienced paid search marketers understand the range of Google’s paid opportunities and which ones will yield the best results for your business. Plus, they know how to properly set up and optimize the ads. Without this knowledge, you could see higher cost-per-clicks and lower conversion rates.

Kristie Forsman, Marketing Director at 28 Collective 

The biggest mistake is not knowing how to use Google Ads and trying it on their own. They should hire a coach to teach them or an agency to do it. It’s very easy to lose money on Google.

Jose Victor Castellanos, CEO and Lead Strategiest at Recon Media, Inc. 

The biggest mistake we see from small businesses is trying to run Google Ads entirely by themselves with no expert input. There are simplified options for setting up accounts which make it really quick and easy to advertise on Google, but this usually doesn’t lead to the best performance. We speak to a lot of small businesses who’ve dabbled in Google Ads themselves and seen no return, and unsurprisingly they tend to have a very negative opinion of it.

While we actively encourage small businesses to take control of their own digital marketing wherever they can, Google Ads is one of those areas that really benefits from an experienced set of hands. The friendly interface can be deceptive, and it’s all too easy to spend a lot of money without seeing much back.

Charlotte McMurray, Founder of Cameo Digital

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 


The biggest mistake that I see small business owners make with Google Ads is not using all the possible extensions. Extensions increase your quality score with Google, create more clickable real estate, and provide more reasons for viewers to want to click. They’re so easy to set up, too!

Ryan Cook, Digital Marketing Specialist at Crowd Storage 

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 

The golden tips for running successful Google Ads

Data hygiene

The golden rule now is good data hygiene. Google Ads is embracing machine learning through its smart bidding options but the technology relies on accurate data and good depth of data too. Using Google Ads conversion tracking you can set up a range of goals from soft goals, such as reaching the customer details page of a checkout process or filling in a contact form, through to full enhanced eCommerce tracking where you can understand what products a customer has viewed, added to basket and/or purchased. 

By having these conversion actions correctly set up in Google Ads and set to an advanced attribution model like linear or data-driven rather than last click, the campaigns can be automatically optimised around these goals to get the best possible results for the budget. We recommend Google Tag Manager to implement conversion tracking and the Recommendation tab to explore bidding strategies that are tailored to your account. 

Jaye Cowle, Launch Online

Make sure you track all conversions as much as possible. Every form submission, phone call or online sale should be set up as a goal in Google analytics and treated as valuable. Ideally, work out the average conversion rate of enquiries and order values – then set the goal value as this figure.

This data feeds into Google Ads and helps you see the true value of the traffic Google Ads is acquiring. 

Often I see eCommerce stores only tracking online sales and all other goals lack a conversion value. If 20 – 30% of their sales come through enquiries such as lead forms or phone calls, Google Ads isn’t getting the full picture.

I suggest every business owner to analyse what Google Analytics goals they have set up and review if they can be improved! PPC dashboards are also a useful alternatives that can give you a much more full, holistic picture of what your PPC data represents.

Adam Bastock, eCommerce SEO at abastock

If you’re using Google Ads to generate leads, then I would highly recommend using multi-step forms to pre-qualify leads. Focus on getting data to make it easier on your sales team for when it comes time to reach out to the lead. Giving your sales team more information can help accelerate sales velocity, which in turn can have a huge impact on your ROI.

John Porrini, Founder of LeadBoost

My best advice for creating effective Google Ads campaigns is to consistently monitor the performance of keywords from a user engagement perspective. When a keyword is performing poorly, which is likely to happen, you can then either pause or substantially lower the bid on that specific keyword. This helps to reallocate budget away from low performing keywords and towards higher-performing ones. 

The best way to assess whether a keyword is performing well is to customize your data columns so that you can view Google Analytics metrics for each keyword such as bounce rate, average session duration, and average pages per session for each individual keyword.

Michael Anderson, Marketing Specialist at GeoJango Maps

Understand your customers

My one piece of advice for small businesses wanting to succeed is to understand your customer base, be specific and agree on a strategy from the outset including budgets and most importantly your cost per transaction. This metric is key to ensure your profit margins are robust. 

Each strategy will depend upon your company industry and sector, competitors and the audience demographics you’re targeting. Are your customers mostly women for example, then remove men from your ad campaign, factor in age, location and you’ll vastly reduce your cost per transaction and increase your chances of successfully selling products whilst scaling your business without overspending your marketing budget.

Philip Dawson, Managing Director at Lily Arkwright

Negative and intent keywords

One of the best ways to increase your ROI, CTR and also conversions, is to make good use of negative keywords. People often neglect negative keywords, but in my opinion, they often make the difference between a successful campaign and a money sinkhole.

Quick example: Among other things on my website, I also sell leather jackets and I noticed I was getting a lot of Impressions from keywords like “biker jacket”, “best leather jacket for bikers”, etc. However my jackets are just a stylish piece of apparel meant for everyday use, they are not designed for bikers, so those people were seeing an ad that had nothing to do with what they were searching for. They would never click on something that says “Best Fashion Leather Jackets for Men – Made from Genuine Lambskin” (lambskin is known to be a soft and thin type of leather).

After about 1 week of gathering data from people’s searches, I managed to compile a pretty extensive negative keyword list for my ads and I can say that my CTR increased by a flat 0.15 – 0.2% just thanks to that and not to mention my conversion rate, by getting rid of customers that were immediately disappointed when they saw what my shop was about.

I continue to find more negative keywords to this day and I actively add them to the list.

Dan Serbanescu, CEO at Leather Depot

My golden tip for small business owners who run their own Google Ads is to closely monitor the Search Terms report, and use negative keywords. For example, if they use a keyword like “Accountant” and see a lot of searches like accountant salaries and jobs for accountants in their Search Terms report, they should know to add salaries and jobs to their negative keyword lists. This type of curation of the negative keyword list will increase the quality of their clicks over time.

Abir Syed, Digital Marketing Consultant at

When you are creating a list of keywords, you want to make sure to find the right ones. You don’t want keywords that are too broad because you will eat up your ad spend, and you will receive a lot of traffic from people who probably aren’t interested in your product or service.

Next, you want to try and find keywords that have low competition but high results. These keywords tend to receive the best results and cost less. 

Kevin Olson, Digital Marketing Specialist at Capitol Tech Solutions 

Focus on Intent Keywords. Consumers search in phases and based on what they search for you can determine their intent and the phase they are in.

For example, if someone is searching for running shoes they may begin by searching ”best road running shoe”, this would be a research term where they are looking to learn. Then they may search where to buy _____ running shoes, now we know they are searching to buy. These purchase intent keywords are what you want to increase ROI.

Jose Victor Castellanos, CEO and Lead Strategiest at Recon Media, Inc.

Video content

Leverage video whenever possible. If you don’t have video content, consider investing in its production. We’ve found that Google ads with our video content drive significantly higher click-through rates and conversions than image or text-based ads. We hired an animation studio to put together an explainer video and it was one of our best investments in 2020.

Calloway Cook, President at Illuminate Labs


Use SEO appropriately. In general, businesses should target one keyword per ad group, test out

different landing pages (such as a homepage, features page, or a landing page designed for that ad specifically), and consistently add negative keywords to create a more concise target. There isn’t so much one “trick” to great Google Ads, it’s more about consistently optimizing and monitoring your campaigns.

Holly Winters, Account Executive at Brandcave 

Specific ad copy

Whenever we’ve been more specific in our ad copy, it’s improved our ad metrics. For example, we ran an ad with one of our games stating that our games improve cognition. As a test, we used a more specific copy that said our games improved cognition by 28%, as opposed to a general improvement.

The CTR increased by 17% which was huge.

Neal Taparia, CEO of Solitaired

Write ads that remind searchers of the end goal they are trying to achieve.

As an example, if you were selling a product or solution to get rid of weeds in the garden, do not use a headline like Dealing with Weeds? Isn’t that obvious? They wouldn’t be searching for a solution if they weren’t dealing with weeds.

Instead, use a headline that helps them to envision what it is they are after. Kill Weeds Once and For All would be a far more effective headline.

Mike Friedman, Owner of Clicked Marketing 

Customers’ search intent

In order to avoid wasting money on ads that do not get in front of the right people, I encourage Google Ad users to spend time researching customers’ search intent and adjacent interests

An illustrative example would be a gym owner who is seeking out new members. Along with targeting people via relevant keywords, they should also incorporate interests likely associated with their ideal members, such as Health & Fitness Buffs or in-market segments like Gyms & Athletic Clubs. Layering in different criteria helps Google’s algorithm work better to match your ads with people searching online. 

Not investing time and effort into knowing your customer is leaving money on the table.

Andrew Clark, Marketing Strategist at Duckpin


Number one tip is to ensure that your Google Ads campaign is targeted to the right locations. Many advertisers often overlook this and end up spending hundreds or thousands of dollars for ad clicks from users in faraway locations that may be very unlikely to convert into a sale given the cost of intentional shipping or other hurdles. 

If your focus is on a specific country or a particular state or province in that country, target your ads for maximum effect. This is not to say that you should not expand your ads to other locations, but it’s best to start as narrow as possible and then slowly expand to a larger area while monitoring for any changes in the performance of your ad campaign.

Jessica Rose, CEO at Copper H2O


The easiest way to think about the structure of a Google Ads campaign is to think about the building blocks we learned as children. We learned to sort by colours, shapes or other groupings. 

Think of campaigns as that macro-level sorting: Colors, Shapes, Numbers, etc. Within campaigns, there are ad groups. For example, the Colors campaign might have Red, Yellow and Blue ad groups. Of course, the ad groups will not always be as easily identifiable, but the business owner should think about how target customers can be sorted into groups based on what they are searching for. 

The next step is to select keywords for each ad group. These are based on what the target customer searches for and the solution the business offers. Sticking with the colour theme, let’s say the business provides crayons. Keywords that would be included in the Yellow ad group might be banana yellow, banana colour, dandelion yellow or the colour of the sun. 

After that, create ads within each ad group. Good ads must include the keywords in the ad groups.

Once business owners outline the structure of a Google Ads campaign, they will be better positioned to optimize the campaign to align with business Goals.

Katherine Hunter-Blyden, Principal at KHB Marketing 


Continuously optimize your ads. I’ve seen many small businesses spend a lot of time setting up their Google Ads, then letting them sit on auto-pilot. No campaign is perfect. Even if you’re seeing success with the ads, there is always some way to optimize for better results. Utilize negative keywords to avoid wasting dollars on irrelevant searches. Adjust your budgets to focus more on the higher converting keywords. Increase your bids on audiences and demographics with higher conversion rates. Google Ads give you a lot of data, use it to your advantage!

Kristie Forsman, Marketing Director at 28 Collective

Small business owners should routinely check their campaign. It’s the only way to know what’s being done wrongly that needs to stop, or what is being done correctly that needs to be doubled down on.

Jake Rheude, VP of Marketing at Red Stag Fulfillment

Precision and relevance

Focus on precision and relevance. Exact or phrase match keywords, targeting exactly what your business offers, will almost always have the lowest cost per lead. Maximize the amount of clicks you can get within that group of keywords before moving onto the second-best ROI group of terms. In short, start with the cheapest leads, and layer out until you achieve the desired volume. This assures you will get the lowest cost per lead overall.

John McGhee, Owner of Webconsuls

Keyword insertion

The best tip for creating ROI for your ads is utilizing a tactic known as keyword insertion. This feature in Google Ads allows your ad copy to dynamically change to suit a users exact search terms that they are entering into Google. 

For example, the copy of your ad may be written to say California contractor for hire, however, a Google user may be searching Los Angeles contractor for hire instead. If keyword insertion is being utilized, your ad will automatically reflect their exact city search term and your ad will now display Los Angeles contractor for hire. Since your ad now mirrors the user’s exact search term, you are much more likely to get higher click-through-rates.

Tyson Bell, Co-Founder of Octiv Digital

Vary bids by match type

Make sure you’re varying bids by match type

For example, if you’re selling red shorts you are probably going to do great bidding on red shorts with an exact match. As the match type weakens though, you’ll be paying for traffic for terms like blue shirts that are going to be very difficult to convert. If you’re bidding on phrase and broad match keywords, make sure to adjust your bids to reflect the lower quality of the leads.

Cole South, Co-Founder of Gold BJJ

Management fees

Watch your management fees! These are a huge drain on ROI for smaller campaigns. Relatively simple campaigns don’t always need tons of in-depth management or ongoing work, and on a small budget the incremental benefits that an expensive monthly management package might generate will probably not outweigh the costs.

For small businesses, we advise a light touch on management – we handle the setup then step back, combining training so clients can handle day-to-day maintenance with less frequent account reviews to double-check things are working as expected. For smaller budgets, we find this strikes the best balance between making sure campaigns are set up to perform, whilst maximising profitability in the longer term.

Charlotte McMurray, Founder of Cameo Digital


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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