Quick-start intro to Google’s AdWords

So you’ve got your new business up and running. Hopefully you’ve got a website up and running too (even if it is nothing more than a page with your company logo and information on how your potential customers can contact you). With any luck, it won’t be long before people start visiting your site and even buying your products or services. Now you’re ready to take the next step and actively promote your business through advertising.

There are many ‘traditional’ forms of advertising out there (television, newspapers, radio, etc.) but if you are on a tight budget then you might want to consider digital adverting. There are a number of digital advertising options out there for the small business owner that don’t require learning a lot of complicated computer geek stuff and best of all, you don’t need to spend a fortune. We decided to take a beginner’s look at one of the more popular digital advertising platforms – Google’s AdWords.

AdWords is a fairly simple concept. When people search Google for something (just about anything actually) the Google search engine not only brings up the search results, it also displays a handful of paid ads at the top of the page and on the right hand side of the page. Those ads look pretty much like any of the other search result listings except they are marked as ads.

The way those ads get there is simple, people pay Google to put their ads on pages when certain keywords appear. For example, a store that sells tires can have their ad appear whenever someone searches for the word ‘tires’. The best part of the AdWords approach is that you only pay Google if someone clicks on your ad, and you have complete control over how much you are willing to spend.

Essentially, you create an AdWords account, create an ad (a sentence or two that promotes your business or service), and then you pick a handful of relevant keywords (you can also specify other criteria). You can then use Google’s tools to see how much money other people are willing to spend for those same keywords. If you think those rates are reasonable you’re on your way.

Now you can set limits on how much you are willing to spend per ad click (pay per click) and limits on the total amount you are willing to spend in a given time period. On the Google AdWords Cost page they claim that many business can get off to a good start spending as little as $10 – $50 a day. That’s cheaper than a newspaper ad.

And it goes beyond simply matching a few keywords. For example you can specify that you only want your ad to appear if the person doing the search lives within a 50-mile radius of your store or if they are using a smart phone when they search. You can build quite a detailed ‘profile’ of your ideal customer and only send ads to people who match your criteria.

Google also has analytics tools to help you track how well your ads are doing (and a million other tools and services and options, but you can start out small and then tap into them later on if you need them).

So it’s fairly simple to get started in the world of digital advertising and even if it doesn’t work out for your particular business it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.

Setting up an AdWords account is fairly simple (and the folks at Google will be more than happy to help if you get stuck). A good place to start is the Google AdWords help center.  or you can simply search Google for AdWords.

Of course, once someone clicks on your AdWords ad it’s up to you to close the sale.