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How to Do PPC if You Run a Small Business: SEMrush Solutions

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How to Do PPC if You Run a Small Business: SEMrush Solutions

This post is in English
Julia Olennikova updated
This post is in English
How to Do PPC if You Run a Small Business: SEMrush Solutions

We at SEMrush are aware that the most precious currency for a small-biz marketer is time. And we are sure there are no “bad” marketing channels; some are just used at the wrong time or in the wrong way.

Juggling them all can be tough, and this is what SEMrush was invented for: to help you make smart decisions by providing valuable data and removing the guesswork from your marketing routine. We want you to save time and valuable resources by approaching each of the main marketing channels the right way.

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If we look at 4 of the popular marketing channels in terms of time/outcome ratio, it could look like this:

Marketing Channels: Time/Outcome Ratio

For a business to survive, they need to get leads and make sales and save as much time as possible while doing so.

It sounds simple, but SEO takes time and being found in organic search isn't always something new site owners can wait on. So, for immediate traffic, most turn to pay-per-click (PPC). However, getting traffic is not synonymous with getting leads.

With an incredibly wide range of targeting options provided by Google Ads, it is easy to pick the wrong strategy and end up watching your budget go down the drain (but this can be avoided).

Let’s discover some tricks that will help you plan a smart and well-thought-out PPC campaign with the help of SEMrush tools.

Start With the Right Keywords

Tools to use: Keyword Magic Tool & the PPC Keyword Tool

Once you have decided how much you are ready to spend on PPC, it is time to dive into the keyword research process. If your campaign budget is limited, you may want to set the maximum cost per click (CPC) that you are willing to pay. It is also a good idea to start with the “bottom of the funnel” keywords, in order to target users with high conversion intent.

Picking relevant high-volume keywords with low CPC may seem cumbersome, but with the help of the right tools, it is very doable. We have some examples of how to use the tools to find the right keywords. 

Let’s say you are promoting an online store that sells organic food; we will use this example term as a seed keyword for research. To increase your chances of reaching the users who are likely to make a purchase, you could also use words like “buy”, “cheap”, “delivery”, “near me” etc., in the broad match section. 

SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool

Don’t overlook the “Exclude keywords” option - it is extremely helpful to filter out irrelevant keywords (for example, cities or countries you don’t deliver to).

You have probably hundreds of possible queries, so now let’s define which of these are worth bidding on. If the keyword has decent search volume (1), reasonable CPC (2) and low competitive density (3), it is definitely a good candidate for your keyword list:

SEMrush Keyword Magic - Metrics

Try experimenting with different search terms until you feel you have gathered enough of them. Once you have a collection of terms, you can send them all to the PPC Keyword Tool.

Export keywords from Keyword Magic tool to PPC Keyword tool

As the cost of advertising for a certain keyword may differ significantly in different regions and cities, it can be worth analyzing terms in greater detail at a local level. With the help of the PPC Keyword tool, you can access the most precise local keyword metrics. When configuring your campaign in the tool, select a location to get the search volume, competitive density, and CPC data down to city level.

PPC Keyword Tool: Local Data

Region and city settings are optional, if you would prefer to pull data at country level.

(Note: direct export from Keyword Magic to the PPC Keyword tool, local search volume, competitive density, and CPC data are only available for paid SEMrush accounts)

The PPC Keyword tool will help you:

  • Organize keywords into groups and campaigns.

  • Filter out duplicate keywords, empty groups, and unnecessary symbols, making your keyword list neat and tidy.

  • Сross-match negative keywords that provoke competition among your own ads making your CPC grow.

Once these things are done, you will have a keyword list that is cleaned up, organized properly, and contains only relevant keywords.

For more details on how to deal with the PPC Keyword tool and clean up your keyword list read this guide.

Estimate CPC for Your Niche Keywords

Tool to use: CPC Map

For businesses that target multiple locations within one country, for example, companies that offer delivery to several cities, it can be worth understanding the potential value of their niche keywords in those specific locations.

Consumers search for different things in different places and thus the average cost per click may differ by location. The CPC Map tool represents an interactive map displaying the average local CPC for one of the 17 industries — from Online Education and Travel to Legal and Cryptocurrency. In the tool, you can check the average CPC in a particular area, such as state or region, for your specific niche. Currently, the tool provides data for 13 countries, including the US, the UK, Canada, India, Australia, Brazil, France, Italy, Spain, Germany,  Austria, South Africa, and Russia.

CPC Map

You can easily compare advertising costs and the average search volume of queries for your industry in a chosen state or region side by side. Also, you will see a CPC graph that shows how the costs change over time in a particular area.

CPC Map: PPC Costs and PPC Demand

You can use this information to better understand whether or not it makes sense for your business to target certain areas. Let’s say there’s a small demand for your product or service in Illinois and Missouri, however, the average cost per click is considerably higher there. Therefore, you may not want to advertise your product in these states.

By analyzing the average CPC (PPC costs) and the average search volume (PPC demand) of keywords across different regions, you can find the most receptive and affordable locations in which to advertise your business. 

Discover local CPC data

With SEMrush CPC Map tool

Please specify a valid domain, e.g., www.example.com

Creating Ads That Work

Tool to use: Ad Builder

The next step is working on ad creatives. There can be hundreds of other advertisers who compete for the keyword you are targeting, so your ad should be relevant and stand out from the crowd.

Besides the golden rule “use keywords in headlines”, there are lots of tricks that can increase your ad’s conversion. These are the techniques we figured out by analyzing the PPC campaigns of Australia’s top online retailers:

10 Best Ad Copy Techniques

Once you are finished with building your keyword list with the help of PPC Keyword Tool, you can move on to creating ads without leaving SEMrush.

In the ‘Projects’ section, you will find the Ad Builder Tool. It will automatically import the campaigns and keyword groups you have created earlier and take you to the next step: creating ads for each group.

SEMrush Ad Builder Tool

In the image above you see that Ad Builder Tool can do the following:

  • Make sure you stay within the Google Ads character limits (1)
  • Add URL paths and a destination URL (2)
  • Assign the new ad to a keyword group (3)
  • Get an immediate ad preview (4)

The tool also provides you with ad examples of your competitors. Whenever you run out of inspiration, take a look at their ads to find relevant CTAs.

Ad Builder Tool Competitors Ads

Another time-saving feature you can take advantage of is the dynamic keyword insertion. It is especially helpful when you have a wide range of products from pretty much the same niche. Imagine creating separate ads for some dozens of keywords like “organic banana”, “organic avocado”, “organic monstera deliciosa“, etc.

Instead, you can just add a variable to your ad, and Google Ads will automatically replace it with the keyword you are targeting:

Dynamic Keyword Insertion in Ad Builder

Be sure to make good use of ad extensions, which enable you to show additional pieces of information about your business, making your text ads more visible on the search results page. By adding extensions you can improve the performance of your ads and get more value from them. There are several types of extensions you can select from based on your goals.

You can create extensions for your ad campaigns right in the Ad Builder’s interface. Currently, there are four extension types available for creation in the tool: 

  • Sitelink. Extensions that enable you to display additional links below your standard ad text. (1)

  • Callout. This is an additional non-clickable line of text that provides users with more details about your business, like shipping costs, special offers, etc. (2)

  • Structured snippet. These extensions are shown in the form of a header (e.g. “Types”) and list of values (e.g. “Boutique Hotels, Luxury Hotels, Airport Hotels”), highlighting key values of your product or service. (3)

Ad Builder: Ad Extensions

  • Call. This type allows you to include a phone number in your ad, so the searcher will see it (or a clickable call button if their device can make calls). (4)  

Ad Builder: Ad Extensions

As soon as you are done with composing ads, you can export them, together with the keywords, to Excel files, which you can then import into Google AdWords Editor.

Give Display Campaigns a Try

Tool to use: Display Advertising Report

Campaigns in Google Display Network are considered more effective for branding purposes. So, if you aim to get leads and conversions, this channel will probably not be your ideal choice. However, it can be useful when you are struggling to narrow down your target audience just using search campaigns.

An example would be if you are targeting small business owners. Whenever they need to find a logistics company, they would just search for “logistics company”; there’s no point for them to add “for small business” to the query. Audience targeting will be your helper in this case.

Also, display campaigns are where you can unleash your creativity and engage people with captivating visuals. With this in mind, the organic food niche is perfect for display campaigns. The audience is easy to define, and the ideas for visual ads are endless. At the same time, it is extremely hard to figure out which of the advantages are worth highlighting.

  • Should you be focusing on professional photos? Mouth-watering recipes? Special deals and discounts?
  • Would it be better to target desktop or mobile users?
  • Which websites would be the best to place your ads on?

In order to save resources and avoid reinventing the wheel, let’s take a look at what other organic food shops do when it comes to display campaigns.

The renovated Display Advertising report will show you how tight the competition in your niche is and how exactly your rivals are attracting customers:

- What types of ads they’re using (1)

- Which websites place their ads (2)

- How exactly their ads look (3)

SEMrush Display Advertising: Overview Report

We can explore this report to borrow some nice CTAs for text ads, as well as pick some visual ideas.

Here is the advertiser’s 2nd most effective banner that has been encountered 1,567 times on over 500 websites. Worth analyzing!

Display Advertising: Ad Report

Click for the full report

Another bonus, you can filter the ads by device (desktop, tablet, mobile) and OS type (iOS vs. Android).

Display Advertising: Device Targeting

This analysis will help you plan a display campaign based on real data, instead of relying on spray-and-pray technique.

Bonus: Seize the Chance to Test User Behavior

PPC is also a fast, yet effective, way to test how user-friendly a page is.

Before you start driving massive traffic to your webpages, consider using a session tracking software. These tools allow recording users’ sessions to help you figure out what problems they are facing throughout their journey (for example, users miss the “Order” button because it gets covered by the chat window, and other cool UX oversights).

At SEMrush, we use Inspectlet. It has up to 100 free session recordings monthly, but for only $39/mo you can extend the limit to up to 5,000 sessions.

Wrapping Up: PPC As a Ground for More

With all the advantages the PPC channel has, there is one aspect you shouldn’t ignore: every click on your ad takes away money from your pocket. So the earlier you start thinking about how to diversify your traffic sources, the better.

Doing marketing for a small business implies you have to comply with many limitations. Small companies usually don’t have unlimited budgets for promotion, their team’s resources are limited since people have to be multifunctional and do a lot of various tasks at the same time, and, of course, they can’t afford to wait for results for as long as a...

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Product Marketing Manager for PPC toolkit at SEMrush. Migrated from journalism to digital marketing and je ne regrette rien.
How SEMrush helps:
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Comments

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PPC campaign can boost instantly but if you are looking for a long-term result you must go for SEO. That's why I think it's better to spend money in SEO than PPC campaign.
Julia Olennikova
Ankur
Hi Ankur, that's right that with SEO you build the foundation for long-term results! When it comes to promoting a seasonal or short-term offer, a boost of paid traffic can be extremely helpful though.
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nice article!
Mithali Raj
Hi Julia...

I am a Freelancer and I do SEO for different websites of my clients. I am good in SEO, but I don't have experience of PPC. Recently one of my old client asked me to take care of his PPC campaign but I don't have any idea about that.

Then I read different articles on the internet and your article is also one of those. I learnt many things by reading your article and other articles on AHREFS or other blogs.

I just wanted to ask you, should I stop the SEO campaign while working on the PPC campaign? Or can I run the off site SEO campaign and the PPC campaigns together?

I need your advice on this.

Hope to get your advise soon :)

Thanks.
-Mithali
Julia Olennikova
Mithali Raj
Hi Mithali,

I don’t see any reasons for you to stop the SEO activities, also because SEO is not something you can “switch off” instantly. PPC and SEO can work together and, ideally, they should complement each other. With PPC, you’ll be able to get faster results and accomplish more specific goals, like driving relevant traffic to a specific page or set of pages (you just need to be sure they’re optimized for better conversion).
What I would advise first of all is to understand the goals of this PPC campaign. Is it an ongoing campaign or it’s supposed to be a seasonal promotion? How will the client measure the outcome? Is there a marketing /sales funnel in place for the leads? The more information you get, the easier will it be to decide on the right marketing mix.
Mithali Raj
Julia Olennikova
Thank you so much Julia, for your kind reply. It will be an outgoing campaign as it is a renovation business.
Thanks again :)

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