Can small businesses ultimately benefit from the use of Google AdWords for Digital Marketing?

(Photo credit: Clipart
(Photo credit: Clipart)

When it comes to marketing strategy Crowley, (2014) suggested that hard numbers will help make educated decisions, especially when tracking marketing metrics. Following on from the previous blog concerning SMEs and their online presence, this article aims to cover the impact that Google AdWords has upon a small business for digital marketing; whether that be positive or negative. A quick search on the web sees that it’s benefits are up for debate, some siding for its implementation, others stating that is nor a practical nor very good option for small business.

Google AdWords uses a pay-per-click (PPC) model of advertising for businesses. This allows the business in question to create their own simple ad-listings and pay for relevant keywords concerning their product and/or service; in turn the ad is shown to users searching for those terms. Moreover, the business will set a maximum budget (the minimum is £5 per day) and pay every time a user clicks on their ad until the budget is reached. An example of how this is presented in Google search results can be seen below:

(Photo credit: Google Search Engine)
(Photo credit: Google Search Engine)

AdWords does need to be optimised in order to be used effectively. For instance, the user can define 3 different types of phrase match to cater the ad to appearing in a potential consumer’s search:

  • Broad Match:  this is where the keyword(s) are present anywhere in a search query.
  • Phrase Match: this is where the keyword(s) are in order anywhere in a search query.
  • Exact Match: this is where the keyword(s) are in order and are the only word(s) in a search query.

How these matches are catered will affect a business’ visibility to the audience along with the rate of conversion. For example, a broad match will appear to a greater number of people but they are less likely to be interested/searching for what you are explicitly offering. As such, with incorrect optimisation financial resources can be wasted by a business using AdWords; relevance being key. Evidently, if the optimisation is poor or not sufficient then negating results will occur additionally to the financial aspect. This is something a business should bear in mind, as the optimisation may not always be an easy process. A useful video below however, demonstrates the most common mistakes by businesses using Google AdWords:

One of the benefits of using Google AdWords is the vast amount of metric reporting data they provide; relating to my earlier quote of “hard numbers will help make educated decisions”. The robust analytic nature it provides allows a small business to monitor return on investment real-time in a manner which would not be possible with methods of offline marketing. From this data provided, ads can be tweaked and monitored in an efficient manner to get better results, better visibility and ultimately improve profits. One online blog spoke of 12 reasons as to why a business can benefit from Google AdWords, along with tips for succeeding in its implementation.

An example of Google AdWords analytical features (Photo credit: Google PPC)
An example of Google AdWords analytical features (Photo credit: Google PPC)

One big issue relating to Google AdWords is the incorrect use of Negative Keywords. Negative Keywords remove a business’ ad listing from specific broad matches. For example, if one were to have an ad for “womens dress shoes” the Negative Keywords would be similar to “womens running shoes” – in order for the ad to not needlessly appear in that search. Negative Keywords attribute to a significant waste in a PPC budget, which can be solved if properly addressed. It does however serve to show that AdWords can in fact inhibit a small business if rendered incorrectly. Conversely, one website touched on the details involving such AdWord implementation failures.

Another aspect to consider is that of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and its role of enhancing a small business. It could be argued that SEO can be more cost-efficient to that of AdWords, with a business focusing on it’s website’s organic search listing without a sometimes costly daily spend associated with ads. This can work particularly well with local businesses whereby searches are more targeted, e.g. “cleaner in Brighton” as oppose to just “cleaner”. Resultantly, conversion rates would be higher for such businesses and a high organic listing may grow; sometimes providing credibility and trust to the consumer as they know it has not been bought. Another interesting article found delves into this in further detail.

Concluding, it seems as though that if correct implemented, monitored and optimised, Google AdWords can provide positive benefits for a small business in the form of visibility, conversion and enhanced profitability. One must ultimately take into account however that if poorly maintained, AdWords can serve to inhibit a small business’ financial resources which could have severe consequences in the long-term. Having said this, there are also other factors such as SEO to take into account, which may in some circumstances be a more effective solution depending on the type of business in question.


References and Sources

Crowley, M. (2014), “Optimize Keywords to Improve SEO”, Journal of Financial Planning, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 17.

Gardella, A. (2014). Business Owners Compare Notes on AdWords and Staying Competitive. [Blog] The Art of Running A Small Business. Available at: [Accessed 30 Jan. 2016].

Wishpond, (2013). Why Does My Small Business Need Google AdWords? [Ultimate Guide]. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Jan. 2016].

Kim, L. (2014). The Real Reason AdWords Isn’t Working For Many Small Businesses. [online] Search Engine Land. Available at: [Accessed 30 Jan. 2016].

BusinessZone, (2014). Is AdWords a waste of money for small businesses?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Jan. 2016].

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