Small businesses can punch above their weight — if they know how to run smart, cost-effective ad campaigns.

The Adwords platform can be daunting to small business owners, but mastering just a few crucial aspects of the platform can help local businesses run successful campaigns and compete with larger companies.

Hoping to integrate Adwords into your marketing strategy? Consider these five keys to success to make Adwords work for your local business.

1. Tracking Conversions is Key

google adwords explained - text image 1When you set up your campaign, take the time to make sure ALL conversions are being tracked correctly. You want to make sure calls directly from ads, calls from your website, conversions and/or purchases on your website, and form submissions on your website are correctly attributed. Oftentimes, this can be the largest technical hurdle to getting started with the Adwords platform.

If you manage your website yourself, or if your webmaster lacks the expertise to set up conversion tracking correctly, Google’s Implementation Team is available to help. Simply grant them access to your website so they can make any changes needed and run conversion tests, and your campaigns will be ready to launch in no time.

2. Focus On the Region That Matters Most to Your Business

google adwords explained - text image 2Adwords allows you to target your ads to the local area surrounding your business location. This means local businesses can advertise to local people, avoiding the wasted spend associated with targeting by county or a broader region. In cities we recommend setting a radius of 10-15 miles. In rural areas, you could consider upping the radius to 20-30 miles depending on the type of business you run.

For example, people who are searching for “mechanics near me” would usually need to find one within a very short radius, whereas “best litigators in Westchester county” could indicate a willingness to consider options from further afield.

google adwords explained - text image 2B

3. Mobile Matters

google adwords explained - text image 3It’s definitely worth taking the time to set up Call Extensions on your ads. This encourages searchers to “click-to-call” directly from search pages. We consistently see above average conversions from call extensions compared to any other extension type.

Another valuable extension is the “Location Extension”: this enables your location to show as an ad in Google Maps searches, in addition to showing location information alongside your ad in search.

4. Never “Set It and Forget It”

google adwords explained - text image 4The biggest mistake you can make when it comes to maintaining your Adwords campaign is assuming that you can simply let it run itself without any adjustments. Rather, you want to know what clicks you are paying for, and you should check regularly to make sure that you’re only paying for clicks from relevant search terms. Luckily, Google’s “Search Terms” tab will show you exactly what searches you’ve been paying for.

By periodically assessing these terms, we’ve helped local business owners avoid costly mistakes — such as a surgeon’s office that had been paying for impressions on “veterinary surgery”-related keywords, and a law office that had been paying top dollar for “pro bono lawyers” and other related searches that were not likely to yield many valuable new cases.

5. Don’t Overpay

Last but not least: only spend what you can afford to lose, and realize that getting started with AdWords is a learning process. Any mistakes you make only cost as much as your defined budget for the campaigns you launch inside the Adwords platform, and we recommend that local businesses start with an “exploratory budget” of $500-$1,000 per month, gradually expanding the budget from there as you find profitable keywords and targeting combinations.

If You Need More Help…

AdWords isn’t rocket science, but a little experience can go a long way in helping local businesses succeed on the platform. If you’d like a free 30-minute AdWords consultation with one of L&T’s ad specialists, contact us — we’d love to hear from you!

Author Cooper Pickett

Cooper is the CEO and a co-founder of L&T Co. He is a partner of Columbia Entrepreneurship at the Columbia Startup Lab and a 2010 graduate of Columbia University (CC’10). At L&T, he oversees a growing international team that works around the clock to get clients results. He has extensive leadership and team-building experience from his time as the CMO of a real estate startup. He excels as a marketer and strategist — qualities he refined and developed as the founder of e-commerce businesses in the sports and subscription spaces. With the founding of L&T, Cooper brings these strategies and insights to companies worldwide. He participates in Princeton University’s Employer in Residence program, serves on the Columbia Startup Lab’s leadership committee, and speaks on industry panels about entrepreneurship, marketing, and startups. On occasion, he teaches web marketing at General Assembly.

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