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Are you ready to run ads for your business online? Is the $100 Google Ads credit that came with your new HostGator Hatchling plan is burning a hole in your virtual pocket?
Google and other search engines make it easy to run ads that appear on their search results pages. You can set up your first pay-per-click (PPC) campaign in just a few minutes. To get the most value from the money you spend on these ads, there are a few things it’s helpful to know first.
Know your keyword match options
Before you start bidding, it’s important to understand the different ways that Google matches searches to the keywords that trigger your ads to appear.
While you’re setting up your keyword plans, you can choose from three different types of matches for your keywords: exact match, phrase match and broad match.
What are broad match keywords?
By default, Google Ads sets all your keywords to broad match. It’s the most general match category, and it reaches the widest possible audience, because Google will loosely match people’s search terms to that keyword for broad match.
However, that audience may not be looking for exactly what you offer. That’s because if your keyword is kids’ t-shirts, the broad match setting may also display your ad on searches for kids’ dresses and men’s t-shirts. Here’s an example from Google:
How to set up broad match keywords: Just type in your keyword phrases in Keyword Planner without brackets or quotation marks.
What are phrase match keywords?
Phrase match keywords help you reach a more specific audience. For example, if your phrase is “kids’ t-shirts” your ad may display on search results for similar phrases, like discounts on t-shirts for kids and tag-free children’s tee shirts.
How to set up phrase match keywords: Enclose your keyword phrases in quotation marks.
What are exact match keywords?
When you select exact match for your keywords, your ads will only display on searches where people type in exactly the same text as your keyword phrase or a phrase that shows the same intent. With [kids’ t-shirts] as your exact match keyword phrase, only people who search for kids’ t-shirts and related terms like children’s t-shirts may see your ad.
How to set up exact match keywords: Enclose your keyword phrases in square brackets.
Why exact match keywords are best for bidding on a budget
To get the most value from your ad budget, you want to utilize exact match keywords as much as possible. That’s because people who are searching with those terms are looking for something specific, and it usually means they’re ready to make a purchase, so you want to get them to visit your store.
You may have heard this kind of keyword search referred to as long-tail keywords. You can and should do your own keyword research over time, but Keyword Planner is great for finding exact match keywords fast. To do this, choose Discover new keywords:
Then choose start with a website. You can type in your website address and the planner will generate a list of keyword suggestions. Here’s what happens when we enter Hostgator.com:
For each suggested keyword, you can see how much traffic is available and how much competition there is. Further to the right in the table, you’ll also see the low and high ranges for bids that would put your ad for each keyword at the top of a results page. Here’s an example from an online flower delivery website:
Notice that for these keyword suggestions, there’s a lot of competition, so getting just one click from a top-of-the-page ad could cost more than $5 for someone who’s looking for general same-day flowers. When you have $100 to spend, you may want to direct your spending toward people who are closer to making a specific kind of flower purchase.
To do this, instead of bidding on the most competitive and general searches, you may want to pick the suggested keywords that are longtail but that have a decent amount of traffic.
Remember that generally speaking, longer tail keywords show higher intent to purchase. So instead of bidding on “online flower delivery” you might instead bid on “graduation flower bouquet” or “graduation flowers for guys.” These are still competitive keywords with lots of traffic, but they show more intent to purchase—and it costs less to get your ad on the top of the results page.
So, you find your long-tail keywords to use as exact match keywords [in brackets] in your first Google Ads. As you set up those campaigns, you’ll get more mileage from your budget by thinking about time and money. Is this your first time using Google Ads? Read my guide to setting up your first ad campaign.
Use dayparting to get more value from your ad budget
Google ad scheduling tools let you choose when you want your campaign to be active. This can ensure that customers see your ad when your store is open, or that your ads only display at the times when you know your customers are most likely to buy.
To choose when you want your ad to run, click on the campaign in your Ads dashboard. While you’re choosing your days and times, remember that you’re looking at your time zone. If your customers are several times zones away, you’ll need to adjust for that. Save your selections, and your schedule is ready.
Decide on your maximum daily ad spend
It’s tempting to bid low when you’re working with a small ad budget, to make that money last as long as possible. But to be effective, your ad generally needs to be the first one people see on a page.
Why? Nobody really looks down the page if they don’t have to. Of course, the higher the placement on the page, the higher your cost per click.
To get that top placement, you’ll need to bid close to the max bid range, which you can find for each keyword on your planner list. The best thing to do is spend as much per day as you’re comfortable so customers can see you at the top of their searches—and so you can start getting data on how your ads perform.
Study your campaign results
Your Google Ads dashboard lets you generate reports so you can see which ads work best. Once you start getting data from your first ads, you can start making decisions on which keywords get the best results, and which ads get the most click-throughs and conversions.
You can use that information to decide which keywords to focus on, which dayparts give you the best results, and the wording in your ads that works best. Keep building on that knowledge, keep testing ways to improve your keywords and ads, and you can keep getting the most from your ad budget.
Ready to start running pay-per-click ads for your business? HostGator’s Hatchling plan comes with a $100 credit for Google Adwords when you spend $25 on ads, and a free $100 credit for Bing Ads.
Gerard is a Senior Marketing Manager in the Digital Acquisition team with over a decade of paid search experience. He is responsible for managing conversion based campaigns that drive direct sales through Google Ads along with other paid search platforms, and he has done so for HostGator for over 6 years.