Do Google Ads Work for Small Business? Are Google Ads Worth it?

carpet fitter

Having set up and managed hundreds of Google Ads (formerly Adwords) campaigns for clients over the last 10 years, I’m often asked, do google ads work for small business?

The answer is yes, google ads do work for small business, but like any other system, you have to set it up properly. You also need to adjust it over time for best results. We call that Google Ads optimisation.

Google Adwords (now Google Ads) has been around since the year 2000 when it had 350 advertisers initially using it. So it’s safe to say that it’s a mature advertising platform and given that it brings in a fair chunk of Google’s annual £83 Billion profits, it’s not going anywhere soon.

Back in 2000, when we all realised that the Y2K bug wasn’t going to stop the world, clicks were very cheap. Gary Veynerchuck famously built his father’s wine business on 5c clicks for the keyword “wine”.

Those days are long gone though and clicks are now way more expensive – so are Google Ads worth it?

It may surprise you to learn that Amazon, the largest online shop in the UK spend over a million pounds a day on Google Ads, so it’s certainly worth it for them. But what about businesses with smaller budgets?

I have seen returns on ad spend of 50x or more, but that’s rare. Typically the average return will be around 5-6x with well optimised accounts in the 8-10x range.

restaurantWhether that’s worth if for a small business depends on their profit margins.

Most businesses that use Google ads are already established, so they can survive with their existing overhead and they’re looking for more enquiries or sales. That’s why they turn to Google Ads in the first place.

But it’s not simple if you’re a new advertiser and you have a low budget.

Whatever your line of business, there are established local and national players already advertising in any sector where there’s a profit to be made.

And the reason that they keep advertising, is that they’re making a profit, continually, repeatedly and with certainty.

They have already gone through the phase of setting up ads, testing and refining to find out what works, and fine tuning to get maximum volume at an acceptable cost.

So when you come along and try to advertise against them, don’t be surprised if initially, you stuggle to make a profit. So did they when they first started.

See, although it’s Google that you pay money to for targeted website visitors, the reality is that your competition set the price of clicks, not Google.

And in general, the more profit there is to be made, the higher click costs are.

So if you’re currently breaking even, it’s highly likely that tweaking your campaigns will get you into profit.

I’ve helped plenty of companies with existing Google Ads do just that, and very quickly. If you’d like to have me help you for £100 or less Click Here to find out how that works.

Of course, it really helps if you have a decent website, competitive pricing or offers, and answer the phone when it rings. Google Ads aren’t magic beans and they won’t turn a poorly run company into a good one.

But I’ve seen companies run averagely, grow into multi million turnover companies using Google Ads as their primary traffic source, so big wins are entirely possible.

If you need help with this stuff – just get in touch:

I specialise in helping ecommerce sites improve sales volume and return on ad spend. Never taken over an account yet where I didn’t make that happen

But I also have a huge amount of experience running Google Ads campaigns for a wide variety of businesses, from Australian rock bands to Wedding Venues.

First I want to clear something up, and that’s the way that I’ve heard many business owners from small and local, to large and multinational talk about their Google Ads accounts.

This is fundamental to having a successful ad account that repeatedly and predictably brings in profits to your business very day.

If you have to read it twice, or ten times, to understand it, it’s worth doing so – I promise you.

Google Ads work.

They’ve been around since the year 2000 and for every business you can think of, someone is making money out of it.

If you do a Google search for whatever it is you do, and you see Google ads it works. And it will work for your business.

And the more ads there are, the more lucrative it is to use them.

But it’s not magic beans that will turn your business around if your business is poorly run.

It’s a way to instantly get visitors to your website.

Highly targeted visitors who are searching for whatever it is that you do.

24 hour tyre fitter


If I’m a hundred miles from home, stuck on the A1 at 2 in the morning with a puncture, I’m not going on Facebook to ask for recommendations.

I’m typing “24 hour tyre fitters near me” into Google and looking for an immediate response to my problem. And I know it’s going to cost me.

And I’m clicking an ad that says “24 hour tyre replacement – we come to you”

Because that’s the first thing that I see – an ad

That’s how Google like it, because that’s how they make their money.

And provided that your website doesn’t look like you wear a cowboy hat.

And provided that you answer the phone when I call.

We’re doing business.

Whatever it costs me.

But if your website loads sooooo sloooowly that it’s killing my battery, I’m hitting the back button.

And if it’s not secured with https

My browser might block it

And if you make me type in your phone number rather than having a click to call button, I’m probably going to get a digit wrong (I have fat thumbs) and wake up a random stranger.

And if I do get the right number, but it rings 7 times without an answer …

And if you do answer and sound like you’re annoyed by my call …

You get the picture, and we’ve all been there.

The best optimised Google Ads account in the world won’t solve those issues.

That’s an extreme and emergency case obviously, but the principle holds true.

Your website must load quickly and give the person with a problem the reassurance that you can help them solve that problem.

You must respond quickly and professionally to enquiries.

Making a profit from Google ads means optimising your campaigns and ad groups as data comes in.

Optimising a Google Ads just means spending less on stuff that doesn’t work, and more on stuff that does.

And here’s the key bit, the bit you need to get …

Google Ads is not the driver of this process, optimisation is reacting to what happens when traffic from google ads hits your website.

Then adjusting the many variables within Google Ads based on that feedback.

So your website plays a huge part in the process.

rooferLet’s take this to extremes to illustrate a point.

Two identical businesses within 5 miles of each other have identical google ads setup.

One, has a website that makes it easy for a visitor to find what they need and make the next step to becoming a customer.

The other looks like it was designed by your 14 year old nephew.

Which means that it converts poorly.

The bloke with the decent site is getting conversions all day long for £30 a pop

And it’s costing you £150 to get a conversion

And that’s when the immortal line is uttered

“Google Ads Don’t Work”

Finally, even if your website is decent and you reply to enquiries quickly …

You’ve got competition

And if their ad account is better optimised than yours

You’re going to be paying 2 or 3x more per conversion that they are.

Let’s put it this way

If your competitor tomorrow employs me to run their ad account

And you’re relying on Google ads

You’re going to have a very tough time competing.

Yeah I know that’s harsh, but it’s true, just look what’s happening to the high street

Look what’s happening to some very big names that have closed their doors.

It’s, at the time of writing 2019 and not 1999, things have changed.

The bloke that invested his life savings in a horse ranch, right before Henry Ford came out with the very affordable model t – lost his shirt.

The business that over a century corned the market for typewriter manufacture in 1954 no longer exists

We’re not going to be renting a video from Blockbuster anytime soon

And we’re not buying pic n mix from Woolworths (and Xmas eve presents) anymore.

Once things have changed, they’ve changedelectrician

And we don’t go back

Look, in some ways I’m not a fan of what’s happening. I have an allotment, I grow my own food, and I’m suspicious of “the system”

But it is what it is and if you want to survive and thrive as a business you can’t ignore reality.

Don’t be Blockbuster

Don’t be Woolworths

Here’s some Google Ads tips:

1) Conversions

The biggest problem that I see when I’m looking at Google Ads accounts is finding that there are no conversions set up.

That’s a bit like doing a leaflet drop and forgetting to put your company name, address, and phone number on the leaflets.

When you are paying for traffic to your website, and that’s really all that Google Ads provide – highly targeted traffic; you have to have some goal, or goals that you need visitors to take.

A goal could be:

Calling you on the phone
Buying something directly from your website (ecommerce)
Filling in a contact form
Subscribing to your newsletter

Or it could be all of those things – you can have more than one goal.

Once you’ve identified the goals, we need to feed back into Google Ads when someone completes a goal.

That’s called a conversion.

When it’s properly set up, it means that we can see some very useful data, for example:

We can find out on which days and which hour of day, visitors tend to take action and complete a goal ie. Convert from a visitor to a buyer, or potential buyer.

Why is that useful?

Well we might find out over time that the cost of a conversion is £75 on a Friday afternoon, but only £25 on a Tuesday morning.

Then we can adjust the bid for Friday afternoon by -50% and adjust the bid for Tuesday morning by +50%.

And now we’re getting conversions for an average of £37.50

What’s more, we’re not wasting money on Friday afternoons, and we’re very likely to get more conversions on Wednesday mornings.

2) Listen to Google Reps, but don’t implement what they recommend.

Google reps, or companies who say they represent Google have a habit of getting in touch to “help” you with your account.

In general, that means help you to spend more.

They have some useful suggestions sometimes, but really, trusting them to do the right thing for your business, is like trusting the revenue to do your tax return.

There’s only one winner, and it isn’t you.

You can request advice from Google by phone. I do that when I have a specific issue that I’m dealing with. The number is 0800 169 0409 and they are available Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm GMT.

Be aware that the quality of advice varies, a lot. If it sounds like they are reading off a script, or they are not answering your questions, hang up because you’re just wasting time.

You can try again and see if you get a different tech help.

Failing that, my PPC TuneUp Service is ideal for sorting out issues:

3) Check your account settings

google ads tools

Click on “Tools” which you’ll see at the top right of any page in your account – a menu will open.

On the right hand side you’ll see the “setup” menu – click on “Preferences”

We’re looking at the time zone for the account.

If you’re doing business in the UK – the setting should be (GMT) United Kingdom Time.

If it’s not, you’ll need to ring Google on the number above and ask them to change it.

I’ve seen a few accounts where this time setting was wrong by 7 or 8 hours.

Why is this important?

Well as you’ll see later on, you can set an ad schedule so that ads only run on certain days and times of day.

Typically, that might be 9-5 Monday to Friday.

If your account time zone setting is wrong, your ads will turn on and off at the wrong times. Here are 3 actionable tips to improve the performance of your PPC account immediately.

They are default settings in Google that unless you alter them, will cost you a lot of money