If you run a small business, you (or your team) probably wear a lot of hats. When one person makes up an entire marketing department, you need tools that can handle time consuming jobs for you. When it comes to paid ads, that means Google Ads.

The Ads platform allows you to manage your PPC campaigns and control the visibility of your advertisements, but when it comes to bidding on keywords, you may be wondering what bidding strategy is right for your business: manual or automated.

Manual Bidding

Manual bidding gives you the most control, allowing you to set a max price on the cost of someone clicking your ad. This gives you the best value because you essentially only pay for someone interested in your ad.

So, all you have to do is set your maximum bid for each of your keywords and run them. But how do you decide what maximum bid to set? This depends on the value of your offering and the value of each lead. As a small business, you should have an idea of how much your average lead is worth. This will help you figure out your maximum bid.

As your business picks up steam and you start experimenting with different offerings and advertisements, your account will get bigger and bigger. If you begin to find that managing every single ad is beyond you, Google has some useful automated tools to help you.

Google Ads is great because you can let it do the heavy lifting. Automated bidding strategies manage the day to day running of your campaigns, so you don't have to. But Google offers a range of automated bidding options to help. Which one is best for a small business looking to pick up conversions?

Automated Options

Types of Flexible Bidding Strategy

1. Target CPA

2. Target ROAS

3. Maximize for clicks

4. Maximize for conversions

5. Target Search Page Position

6. Target Outranking Share


Which one is best for your business? It depends! If money is no object and you want to outrank your competition, Target Outranking Share is your best option. If you want to maximize conversions over CPA, choose Maximize for Conversions. Every strategy has its pros and cons, but for small businesses, let's assume you care about cost and about return on investment.

Target Cost Per Acquisition

As the name suggests, Target CPA is designed to help you return conversions at a set cost.

If you want to spend $2 to acquire each conversion you would simply turn on Target CPA bidding and set the target to $2. Simple.

Google uses machine learning in conjunction with the target you've set to continually optimize your bids. This gets you leads at a rate that is profitable for you without having to manually adjust your bids all the time.

For small businesses that rely on seasonal spikes, target CPA is particularly useful; keeping you competitive without running away with your credit card.

But to really maximize on seasonal spikes, you need a focused, more aggressive strategy to cut through the competition. To this end, Maximize Conversions/Clicks or even Target Outranking may be better.

The problem with automated strategies is that they rely on existing data to anticipate future optimization. This can lead to delays in getting the results you want, both in terms of cost and conversion.

So, if you're a small business looking to launch a Black Friday campaign on Ads for the first time, the sale period will have come and gone by the time Google gathers enough data to give you decent optimization.

Tips for Starting Your PPC

If you want to use Google Ads, but you're tight on both time and money, here are three easy takeaways to get things revving:

Running Google Ads successfully is a fulltime job. If you don't have the time, use what time you do have early. Spend time setting up your account properly. Set your budget, create a keywords list and give your campaign a clear structure. Spending the time organizing your account and making great creative will allow you to avoid headaches down the line.

Automation might appear attractive, but it isn’t without its pitfalls. As mentioned, most automated strategies need existing data to be profitable. If you use Ads Express, you will more likely than not discover that Google is bidding on terms wildly outside your core offering and wasting your money. Remember, you know your customers best, so create ads that target their needs and their search behavior.

Geotargeting allows you to pick and choose where your ads appear based on postal code, place of interest, tourist destination, country and more. This allows you to attract local business without competition from bigger brands driving up your cost per click.

Paid search is great for getting your site converting quickly. You'll see returns much faster using PPC than you will with SEO, but be wary! The costs of making mistakes with Ads can be huge, so take care, test everything and be smart about how to attract the right customers.