5 PPC Tips Every Small Business Owner Needs To Know

Tag Archives: Keyword Research

5 PPC Tips Every Small Business Owner Needs To Know

Greetings, Reader.

It gives me great pleasure to introduce Mr. Brad Shorr to you. With over 25 years of experience in marketing and sales, Brad Shorr’s work has been featured on reputable sites like Forbes and Entrepreneur. He is Currently the Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, an Internet marketing agency that focuses on SEO and PPC.  Today, Mr. Shorr will share his 5 PPC Tips Every Small Business Owner Needs To Know on our blog. Be sure to read his post. Also, remember to follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter as well.


For small business owners, PPC advertising is incredibly tempting, almost irresistible. It’s easy to set up a Google AdWords account, pick out some keywords, set a budget, and bingo — you’re in the PPC business.

However, in my 10-plus years of helping small businesses that dove belly-first into PPC, the failure rate is close to 100 percent … and to make matters worse, a lot of those companies squandered a considerable amount of money before throwing in the towel.

I think because PPC is so easy to jump into, it gives participating small business owners the illusion they’re doing something constructive to generate revenue. Given the difficulty and complexity of setting up SEO and social media campaigns, along with a comparatively hazy line between activity and results, PPC is straightforward, measurable, and perhaps most important, familiar — we all know what PPC ads look like, and what happens when we click on an ad. So businesses gravitate to PPC, but fail to appreciate how carefully and thoughtfully campaigns must be executed.

So the question is, how do you beat the odds and succeed with PPC? Here are five tips that will give you a big edge over competitors — even big ones with 10 times your budget.

1. Pick the Right Keywords

If you pick the wrong target keywords, bad things will happen:

*You’ll spend your budget too quickly because the keywords are too competitive.
*You’ll never spend your budget because the keywords have no search volume.
*You’ll get clicks but no conversions because the keywords aren’t relevant.

Smart keyword selection consists mainly of selecting keywords compatible with your budget, having a critical mass of search volume, and being highly relevant to your advertised product or service. There are other factors to consider as well, but get these right and you’re off to a promising start.

A good strategy is to look at “long-tail” keywords — specific search terms that are not highly competitive but particularly relevant (for example, “entry level shrink wrapping systems”).

2. Pick the Right Geography

As a small business, a winning PPC strategy is to make peripheral attacks rather than go after established competitors in their areas of strength. In terms of geography, you want to zig where everybody else zags:

a.) If you are selling nationally, target geographies in your campaign the big competitors overlook.

b.) If you sell locally, target geographies adjacent or near your core market.

Smart geo-targeting of keywords — for example, “entry level shrink wrapping systems in Utah” — further cuts down on the competition. You may not have as many eyeballs on your PPC ads, but you may have a higher than usual click-through and conversion rate — far more important.

Small Business PPC - AltusHost

3. Pick the Right Offer

Assuming you’ve targeted the right keywords, the next step is to have a killer offer. A lot of companies, surprisingly, use no offer at all! They just take users to a landing page that describes the product or service, and I guess cross their fingers hoping someone inquires or orders.

With a strong offer, however, conversions can skyrocket. Sticking with the “shrink systems” example, here are some offers that would be tempting:

* Free one-year service for orders in April.
* Extended warranty for orders placed now.
* $500 off orders placed in April.

Strong offers deliver serious value, are time sensitive and appeal to a wide audience. By the way, I mentioned landing pages in passing a minute ago: As a bonus tip, make sure to use a customized landing page exactly relevant to your PPC ad. It’s the only way to fly.

4. Pick the Right Elements to Test

PPC campaigns are NEVER maximally productive out of the gate. Smart PPC campaigners test campaign elements to improve click-throughs and conversions. While there are hundreds of variables to test, here are the ones with the most potential to move the dial:

*Keywords — Put more emphasis on the best-performing ones, drop underperforming ones, and keep testing new ones.

*Offers — If free service isn’t getting action, try $500 off. If that does better, think of another offer to test against that one. This is how PPC campaigners slowly, steadily improve offers and the ensuing results.

*Bid times — It’s likely some times of day and some days of the week get better results than others. Testing different time frames enables you to steadily concentrate bids where they have the most potential to generate clicks.

As a bonus tip, be sure to test only one variable at a time. If you change the offer and the bid time together, and results skyrocket, you won’t know whether it was the offer or the bid time that made the difference.


5. Pick the Right Budget

Budgeting for PPC involves careful consideration of two things: time and money. Let’s talk about money first. Many small businesses set too small a budget to ever have hope of moving the dial. If you’re thinking in terms of $100 or $200 a month, I’d really advise you to think again. Even successful PPC campaigns have click-through and conversion rates in the area of 5 percent or less. A budget too small simply won’t generate enough clicks to produce a substantive number of clicks and conversions. With a budget of $500 to $1,000 a month, you have a chance to succeed.

Consider time frame as well. One or two months is not enough time to judge a PPC campaign. By giving testing a chance to do its magic over a six- to 12-month period, you may be pleasantly surprised. Many small businesses fail at PPC only because they gave up too quickly, or failed to test over the duration of the campaign.

Is PPC Worth It?

Put all five of these tips into action, and your chances of a successful PPC campaign will go up dramatically from whatever it is you are doing now. But before diving in or overhauling your campaign, take a step back and reflect on the overall strategy. In particular, determine whether the underlying economics of a campaign are in your favor.

By that I mean this: If you are selling shrink wrap machines that generate $10,000 in lifetime profit, then one sale would pay for a six-month campaign with a $1,000 budget. On the other hand, if you are selling widgets with a lifetime profit of $100, the cost of a PPC sale may be too high even if the campaign is running at full efficiency. As with all Internet marketing, PPC is not fundamentally sensible for every business. However, managed correctly, PPC has great potential for a majority of them.

Google’s Secret Keyword Planner Guide

The Google keyword planner is a necessary tool for acquiring keyword ideas based on the search volumes of millions of Google’s users around the globe.

Using appropriate keywords is one of the key points of website optimization, which has the potential of bringing thousands of users to your webpage.

Even though the tool is pretty simple to use, in order to maximize your research results, it is necessary to get to know it better and constantly figure out new, creative ways on how to make it work for you.

Getting Started


In order to access the Google Keyword Planner, all you have to do is create a Gmail account. If you already have one, you already have your Google Adwords account.

As shown in the picture above, you should click on “Tools” and simply choose the Keyword Planner from the drop down menu.

On the following page, you will clearly see 3 boxes, each standing for separate ways to search for appropriate keywords.

Every method uses different parameters, so it’s quite important to actually see which metric you’re planning to chase.

Coming Up With The Keyword Ideas


You can get keyword suggestions by entering a word in the first box. Here, you will get numerous suggestions from Google and a lot of valuable information related to the word you entered.

However, there are better ways of getting different keyword ideas. Even though the tool was designed to help you get keywords for your own needs, using higher authority websites, and especially the ones that Google trusts – Wikipedia, for example – will offer you a wide array of keywords that will help you optimize your website better.

Wikipedia is not the only source you could use, of course. If you want to get quality keywords from your niche, a good way to go is to inspect your competitor’s website.

This will give you more detailed info about what you should focus on. Even though the tool was not meant for this process, creative SEO experts are using it every day to get the most optimal keyword ideas.

Going More In Depth


Getting the suggested keywords is not the end of your journey. There are several things that you should do in order to optimize the best keywords for your own needs. This is where the keyword planner filters come in.

There are four different parameters you can play with to achieve this. These are: monthly searches, suggested bid, Ad impression share and the level of competition.

Now, if you want keywords that could bring in more money, you could filter out the ones with higher bids, combined with higher search volumes. If you want to attract more traffic, you could lower the bid value and increase the search volume.

An important factor can be the level of competition. This is the part where you should be especially creative in order to find the keywords that will give you the best results.

Analyzing The Available Data

This is an important factor which requires the use of additional tools. The most important thing that you should know is that search volumes are rounded up numbers.

This is very important because two different terms may come under the same search volume – 201k per month for instance – but they actually differ by 15-20k searches a month. In the long run, this is a lot of traffic.

So, it is very important to check every result you get. This phenomenon occurs due to Google’s traffic bucket.

Their algorithm has a preset number of searches and it rounds up numbers which are near that value.

So, for example, if you keyword is presented having 201k searches a month, this number may actually be 190k and the other keyword that is also in the 201k range may have 215k monthly searches. This is 25k a month, which creates huge traffic differences during the period of one year.

These are some ways of finding the best keyword ideas that will offer a perfect amount of traffic for your website. Getting to know your Google Keyword Planner may take some time, but it offers a lot of data that is necessary for a healthy business strategy.

The best way to check if you are utilizing the right keywords is to use software like HubSpot, to get numerous analytics. All in all, utilizing the Google Keyword Planner tool is the key point in strategic planning and using it professionally will lead you to ultimate success.

Subscribe Now

10,000 successful online businessmen like to have our content directly delivered to their inbox. Subscribe to our newsletter!