Small Business Owner’s Guide to Pay-per-click Advertising

Drive more traffic to your website with these experts’ top PPC tips.
pay per click graphic
How can pay-per-click advertising help your small business? (Photo: vasabii/Shutterstock)

Not getting enough visitors to your business’ website? One option is to buy traffic through pay-per-click marketing, or PPC. In PPC, your ad — a link to your website, with a description — appears above the organic search results on a search results page. You pay a fee each time one of your ads is clicked.

Here’s an example of a PPC ad:


Any small business owner can easily create a PPC campaign without hiring an expert.

“If you start a pay-per-click campaign, don’t pay a third-party company to support it for you. Do it yourself,” said Joe Silverman, CEO of New York Computer Help. “Why give away 25 percent of your tight budget? When you’re ready to get started, call Google Adwords and request a call back. They will return your call immediately and help with the setup process,” Silverman said.

Google Adwords might even give you $50 to get you started if they have promotions going on, Silverman said.

Before you make that call, review these tips to help ensure a successful and profitable PPC campaign.

Decide the “what”


According to Anthony Church, on one of the best benefits of pay-per-click advertising is the ability to target your ad to one geographic area at a time. (Photo: Anthony Church)

With PPC, you typically buy a keyword phrase — a phrase a user types into a search engine to find what they’re looking for. If you’re in the jewelry business, a keyword phrase for you might be “jewelry,” or better still, “gold earrings.”

Knowing which services or products you want to promote is key. “The campaign should support your business goals and it helps to focus on one specific area rather than trying to advertise everything all at once,” said Anthony Church, vice president of client services at Interact Marketing. Church added that small business owners can always grow their campaign over time and add additional supporting campaigns.

Google AdWords includes a Keyword Planner tool that can help with your pre-campaign keyword research. The tool provides search volume, information on search competition, average bids and traffic forecasts for each keyword. Need help? There are plenty of resources and tutorials for Adwords beginners.

Determine the “who”

A rookie mistake small business owners make when they start a campaign is targeting too broad a geographic area, Church said. “One of the best features of pay-per-click advertising is that you are able to geotarget your ads to only appear in certain areas. For example, if you are only able to deliver your product or service within a 15-mile radius, it won’t make sense to target the entire county.”

Similarly, if your product or service caters to a wealthier client base, you should target your ads to appear only in wealthier geographic areas. “The geotargeting feature inside your Google AdWords account will allow you to enter specific zip codes you would like to target. So do a little research on median income levels in the different areas.”

Budget wisely and start slowly

Google AdWords allows you to set a daily ad budget. “This is a great way to control advertising costs and make sure you do not unexpectedly rack up high levels of ad spending,” said Church.
Keep your spending low in the beginning until you see how well your keywords perform. “What your company considers low will vary depending on your total marketing budget,” Church said. But starting at even a couple of hundred dollars for the month will give you enough data on keyword performance to make some campaign decisions, he said.

“As you start gathering data on which keywords are performing best, you can make adjustments — for example, pause keywords that aren’t performing well and increase bids on keywords that are performing well — and slowly increase the budget once you’re confident the budget is going toward well-performing keywords.”

Church advised segmenting your PPC budget based on priority and performance. “Most small business owners make the mistake of applying one budget to their entire account. By using different budgets for each campaign and breaking the campaigns up by product or service, it allows you more granular control over how much you invest into each.”

Similarly, if have you multiple locations, set up each location with its own campaign. “This way, if one location is struggling or needs a boost in sales, you can increase budget for that specific location and pull some back from the others,” Church said.


Pay-per-click advertising has many benefits that can help boost the number of visitors that come to your website.

Analyze ROI

“The biggest mistake most small businesses make is failing to determine as closely as possible the average sales or transaction amount and average total lifetime customer value before initiating a campaign,” Church said. “Without knowing these numbers, it is challenging to determine if your campaign is paying off. You won’t have anything to compare the cost of a new lead or sale to.”

When analyzing ROI, Church recommended paying attention to your lead to customer ratio. “For example, if your campaign generates 15 inbound inquiries or leads, you will need to determine at what rate these leads convert into a customer. This can be challenging, particularly if you have a long sales cycle. It can also be as simple as using a spreadsheet.

“No matter which system you use, simply being aware and paying attention is half the battle,” Church said.

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