Updated March 30 at 12:29am

Make your search ads count


Thanks to the explosive growth of mobile search (which commands cheaper ad rates) and competition from social sites such as Facebook, the cost of Google search ads has been dropping a bit. That’s good news for small business.

Millions of businesses now use some type of paid search advertising to attract customers and prospects to their location or website. Pay-per-click advertising – also called search engine marketing or simply paid search – can be an effective, low-cost way to gain visibility online. Here are four keys to getting the most bang for your buck:

• Write compelling ad messages. Search ads are extremely short so you have to make every character counts when you write your copy. Hone in on only the most critical benefits and features of what you offer, knowing your goal is to get someone to click on your words. Include your keywords in your ad copy so searchers know your ad is relevant to what they want.

• Make your keywords really count. Keywords are the essence of PPC advertising. This is what you are actually paying for – the right to show up in results when customers or prospects search for specific words and phrases. The more carefully you choose those keywords, the better your results will be. Ideally, the keywords you buy should match the terms that your customers are most likely to use when searching for your products or services.

Google has a good keyword tool that can help you find the precise words and phrases that people use most often to search for products, services and solutions online. Visit www.googlekeywordtool.com.

• Consider “negative keywords” as well. Selecting keywords is a little like preparing a party guest list. There are people you choose to invite and some you choose to avoid. In similar fashion, using “negative keywords” for your search is like crossing certain people off your guest list. Negative keywords that you specify will not trigger your ad. Thus, for example, if you sell only new or paid services, you might put the terms “used” or “free” on your negative keyword list.

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