Google is the world’s biggest search engine, so using AdWords can be an ideal way of reaching the right customers at the right time and place.

Know your objective

Determine your goals – sales, leads, email sign ups, whitepaper downloads or email registrations? Who is your target market and do you need different ads to reach different audiences?

Search for your product or service on Google to see what natural results are generated along with sponsored links – how could your hairdressing or bricklaying business be differentiated from the rest?

Choose keywords carefully

Use Google’s Keyword Tool to understand how customers are looking for you and determine specific “long tail” keywords (think “chocolate hampers Sydney” or “chocolate lab breeders sydney” rather than just “chocolates” or “chocolate lab”).

The best keywords are those most relevant to your business and that most accurately reflect the content of your website. Try using your Google Analytics data to find out more about visitors’ geographic location and referring links.

According to Chris Pitham, Director of leading SEO agency Digital Massive “When choosing keywords, always keep your goal AND your customer in mind. You’ve got to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and understand what words or phrases they’re typing into Google for your business. Then, you’d tie it together with your own goal, whether it’s return on investment or cost per enquiry/conversion. This is important because without a clearly defined goal, customer intent and accurate tracking, you’ll end up wasting a significant portion of your budget and won’t achieve optimal results for your spend.”

Help prevent irrelevant searches by refining your keyword list and using negative keywords where appropriate. For example, use “free” and “cheap” as negative keywords so your ads do not appear from these searches. You can also use “exact match” and “phrase match” keywords to give you greater control over ad impressions and spending.

When writing the ad, use an attention grabbing title with a call to action such as “buy today,” with keywords included in the text, ensuring your ad is driven by the benefits it offers buyers.

Check your website and processes

There is no point spending money on paid search if you are directing visitors to a poorly designed landing page or website that fails to convert. For example, the ideal landing page for a prospective customer seeking men’s surfwear may feature men’s board shorts in all brands and styles or those by a specific manufacturer.

Make sure the design is mobile-friendly and easy to navigate with call to action buttons such as “sign up now” or “add to cart.” Ensure any online forms work properly and track all leads, including phone calls, so you know if they translate into sales.

Optimise your Adword account structure by setting up separate campaigns for different product areas, such as having separate ad groups for “board shorts” under the “men’s surfwear” campaign. Products with seasonal influences, like Easter chocolate eggs, should be organised into their own campaigns or ad groups which can be paused and resumed depending on the time of year.

Set the budget

Avoid being burned by setting a budget from the start, perhaps doing a three-month trial initially before allocating more funds.

Calculate your maximum bidding price by identifying the customer lifetime value and conversion rates (see an example here) and start out by using manual bidding for clicks to gain greater control over your money.

Track and refine

Insert conversion tracking into your website, phone or app to help see the effects of your advertising on customer activity, as well as linking your Google Analytics account to the AdWords account to measure performance.

It is also important to constantly refine your ads using the keyword details report to remove poorly performing keywords. Run variations of your ad copy on a regular basis to find out which ad is achieving the best results.

Finally, make sure Google AdWords is integrated into your overall marketing strategy, including both online and offline methods of reaching prospective customers.