Generally speaking, small business owners need to make their marketing and advertising budget work overtime to maximise the return for their investment. For some small business owners, digital advertising such as Google Ads can be a lot of tech jargon to digest at first. But the capacity for Google Ads to help drive new leads to your sole trader business cannot be overlooked.

As such, if you are looking for tried and true strategies for growing your sole trader business using digital marketing tactics, it may be in your interest to gain a working knowledge of the Google Ads platform so you can put it to work for your business. To get you started on the right foot with Google Ads, here are 15 key steps to marketing your sole trader business online with Google Ads.

Step 1: Select the best keywords

Your keyword strategy is key to maximising your Google Ads advertising budget. Selecting the right keywords will help you avoid wasting your budget. A little keyword research using Google’s Keyword Planner tool (or other free keyword tools such as Ahrefs) will reveal that a mix of high-reward, high-cost keywords and your branded terms or low-cost terms can be the best route.

Step 2: Have a comprehensive Google strategy

It’s worth noting that it’s not only paid results that can affect your organic ranking. Your sole trader business can get to the top of Google through frequent blogging, creating and optimising your Google Business Profile, and by using many other tactics.

You can also earn instant credibility by appearing in multiple places on the search engine results pages (or ‘SERPs’). This increases the likelihood of someone clicking on your paid results. To increase your chances of a prospect clicking on your Google Ad, be sure that you adhere to the SEO basics.

Step 3: Use the budget report

It is important to know how to manage your Google Ads spend so that you can achieve your small business goals. Use the Google Ads interface to get a new budget report. This will help you to stay on top of your Google Ads budget.

The budget report is accessible from the campaign view or shared library page. It shows how much each campaign has spent and forecasts monthly total spend. The budget report also shows how changes to your daily budget can impact your performance.

Step 4: Run Google’s Local Services Ads

Many small businesses, and certainly many sole traders, are service-based businesses. Google offers a special ad type for service industries that can enhance the searcher’s experience and improve the match.

Local Service Ads can be used easily from your Google Business Profile. You’ll only be charged for qualified leads. These ads are targeted at customers in your area. Google requires that users verify their location and request the service before they connect to you. This makes them a great option for getting more attention from your local market.

Step 5: Don’t forget impressions

Small business owners tend to be quick to concentrate on the bottom line, which is understandable. But, despite the many pay per click (PPC) metrics that can tell you how effective your Google advertising spend is, one metric is often overlooked: your impression share.

Your impression share within the local market is crucial if you want to increase your local awareness. To identify the most popular searches in your area, use tools such as Google Trends and target keywords with your Google Ads. Even if your impressions are low, it’s still a win-win for your sole trader business.

Step 6: When applicable, remember DKI and local terms

Google’s DKI (dynamic keyword insertion), inserts keywords into your Google ad titles or descriptions to match the query of the searcher in real-time. Many small business owners and sole traders use this hack to match multiple locations within their target area.

DKI may not be the best option for all businesses. However, it can be important to include location-based language in your keywords and Google ads. These terms are easy keywords to win, as searches for “near me”, “close by”, and “nearby” have increased by more 900 per cent in recent years.

Step 7: Use geotargeting

Geotargeting is a major feature in local PPC. Geotargeting can be a key component of your local strategy. It is crucial to tailor your keywords and ads to your local market.

Geotargeting allows you to be selective about where your ads will appear. Geotargeting will allow you to maximise your budget and increase your impression share in a specific area.

Step 8: Run a SWOT analysis

While a local strategy may help you compete with larger businesses, it may still make you vulnerable to smaller businesses in your community. Perform a SWOT analysis to understand your strengths and weaknesses in relation to your competitors. Also, identify any unmet needs that you may target with your advertising copy.

Step 9: Increase traffic to your site

Even though you could have the best Google ads in your industry, they won’t convert if they don’t bring you new website visitors. Traffic to your website must be increased if you want more leads. Use traffic as a starting point for your Google Ads efforts.

Running top-of-funnel advertisements can spark interest and drive people to visit your site. To engage your visitors and get their information, ensure sure that lead magnets are set up on your website. You can gather data as you grow traffic and leads continue to trickle in.

Step 10: Use strong CTAs in your ads

Although it may seem obvious, a call-to-action can make or break your ad’s ability to generate leads. Once your ads are clear about the action users should take, they will be more likely to click on your ads and convert. It is not a good idea to pay for a click from someone who is has found your ad by mistake, then bounces off your landing page.

Step 11: Extensions of ad leverage

Apart from driving traffic to your site, there are other ways that you can get more PPC leads. One route is through ad extensions on search ads. Lead form extensions, for example, allow viewers to complete their information directly from the SERP.

This same principle applies to call extensions. Sitelinks are the additional links that you can add underneath your ad text. They can help increase traffic to your website and improve your lead generation efforts. Sitelinks can also be used to direct users to other conversion sources, such as contact pages or purchase pages on your website.

Step 12:  Perform regular audits

Regular account audits of your Google ads will allow you to identify optimisation opportunities that can help maximise your ROI. You could be unaware of budget bleeds if you don’t check in on your account regularly. This could include checking on keywords costs, your ad strength and ad schedule, and many other metrics.

Step 13: Be aware of your bidding strategy options

Bidding can make a big difference to your return-on-adspend (ROAS). Automated bidding can be optimised for either ROAS or cost per acquisition.

If you don’t feel you are getting the returns you want, review your bidding strategy. Bidding aggressively or too much could affect your SERP position and decrease your chances of converting quality clicks.

Step 14: First focus on lead generation

Many small businesses make the mistake of focusing first on the ROI of their Google Ads when starting with PPC. Although it may seem tempting, you will get a better return on your investment if you focus your efforts on bringing in leads first. Your costs will be offset by the number of leads you generate.

Step 15: Spend money to make it money

Your ads won’t generate enough activity for Google (or for your business) to analyse and inform optimisations if you don’t spend enough or bid enough.

If possible, avoid cutting back on your Google Ads budget if your CPA or ROAS are low. This could lead to even lower returns. Although the margins might seem small initially, you may benefit from repeating the tips covered above until your ROI increases.

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*This information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be relied upon as advice. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. © 2023 BizCover Pty Limited, Public Liability Australia is a business name of BizCover Pty Ltd (ABN 68 127 707 975; AFSL 501769).