It’s quite rare for small businesses to appear on the first page results of Google during a standard keyword search of something related to your business. For example, if you operated a small sporting goods store, when a user searches “sporting good stores” on Google, the big contenders will always show up on the first page (Dicks Sporting Goods, Dunhams, etc.) while your small business lays buried in the pages and pages of results.

And although SEO is incredibly important to any small business marketing strategy, there’s an extra component that can and should be utilized to enhance this approach and increase the likelihood that your business will appear in search results of these relevant keywords.

Pay-per-click advertising, or PPC, is a strategy where businesses bid on specific keywords related to their line of work and user interest. Those results then appear at the beginning of search results and when a user clicks on them, the business pays a fee to the search engine. Popular platforms for PPC advertising include Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

If you’re looking to get started with PPC advertising, here are a few steps to get you started.

Develop Your Strategy

Before you begin your research, you need to have an idea in mind of what goals you’re trying to achieve through PPC advertising. This will help you determine what type of campaign you should run. Are you trying to gain new customers who search for your products? Are you trying to extend your brand’s awareness? Are you trying to bring people back to your website? Start small and build your way up.

Keyword Research

After you’ve determined what you’d like to achieve with PPC advertising, you need to conduct keyword research to determine what your potential customers are searching for. Think about your target audience and what keywords and phrases are most relevant to them.

Search algorithms will utilize your chosen keywords to pick which ads they show to the searcher, so you want to know the best keywords ahead of time. Google offers a keyword planner tool that will help you select the right ones.

Your keywords should be relatively specific and closely affiliated with what you’re selling. They should also fall into your budget and possess a high search volume.

Write Unique Ad Copy

The copy within your ad should grab the searcher’s attention and encourage them to click. Your headlines need to be relevant to the search query and the keywords that are utilized. For example, if you opted to select “Teeth whitening in metro Detroit,” your headline could be “Premium teeth whitening in the Metro Detroit area” or something along those lines.

Google and other search engines will hold your ad in higher regard depending on the relevancy of the headline to the keyword and query. If you’re unsure of how to create your text ad, Google provides plenty of helpful tips on a variety of items, including length limits, description, display URL and more.

Optimize Landing Pages

When a searcher clicks on your ad, it will take them to a standalone page referred to as a landing page. For each specific campaign you run, your landing page for that campaign should have a single call to action (CTA) that is relevant to the initial search.

Your CTA could be anything from making a reservation to purchasing a specific product or service. You should consider these CTAs as one of the beginning steps in developing your strategy.

According to a blog from Unbounce, the best PPC landing pages contain: strong contextual images, a headline and sub-headline, a singular, focused CTA, clearly outlined features and benefits of your offer and testimonials, trust symbols or social proof supporting your claims.

Monitor Your Progress

If you’re investing time and resources into a PPC campaign, you want to make sure that your efforts are worthwhile. Monitor your campaigns and analyze your results. Keep in mind the various KPIs (key performance indicators) to determine how well your ad is working. These include clicks, click-through rate, quality score, conversion rate and more. Your quality score on Google is very important, as it determines the usefulness of your ad to searchers by taking into account its relevancy, expected click-through rate and landing page experience.

If something isn’t working the way you want it to, consider performing A/B testing. Google, for instance, will let you run experimental ads along with your other ads to showcase which performs better. You can then utilize the data provided to make the necessary changes to improve your ad’s performance.

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