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Google Ads and SMBs: How to drive results on a low budget



Whether you’re a small business owner or an agency that works with SMBs, you’ve likely encountered issues with low ad budgets. SMBs are often spread thin and, especially in light of business shifts due to COVID, their ad budgets are, too.

However, low budgets don’t have to mean small returns for SMBs or their agency partners.

What is Google Ads? How does it work?

If you’re an SMB owner just getting started, here’s how it works: Google Ads offers paid advertising options for businesses of all sizes to promote their products and services across Google platforms like Search, YouTube, Shopping, and more. Ads display at the top of search results, in the local map packs, before and during YouTube videos, or on websites across the internet that opt into Google’s AdSense.

Google Ads, often referred to as pay-per-click (PPC), works on an auction system. Individual businesses submit a bid for their ads to show up in these ad locations for a greater chance at visibility with their target audiences.

At a fundamental level, Google looks at your bid amount, multiplies it by your Quality Score (a numeric estimate of the quality of your ads and their associated landing pages), and ranks the top ads in their advertising spots. If your ad is displayed, you pay only when your ad is clicked (hence pay-per-click).

How do small businesses use Google Ads?

The Ads bidding process may seem intimidating or cumbersome for small businesses investing in paid online advertising for the first time, but Google estimates that businesses profit $8 for every $1 spent on Google Ads. This can be a huge gain for SMBs and local businesses.

PPC allows businesses to target their audiences based on their particular demographics and locations — a big deal for franchise and brick-and-mortar businesses. SMBs can show up in maps, above search results, on affiliated websites that opt-into Google’s display ads, and even in pre-roll ads on YouTube.

In her SMX virtual session, “Small Budget Tactics That Pack A Serious Punch,” Amalia Fowler, director of marketing services at Snaptech Marketing, emphasized how paid ads can take a small business to the next level.

The critical element for low-budget Google Ads accounts, though, is ensuring the integrity of your account foundation and structure. A poor setup can ruin a business just as quickly as a wasteful campaign.

How much should a small business spend on Google ads?

How much your individual SMB should spend on online advertising depends on multiple factors like your industry, your total ad budget, and the competition in your space. 

When determining your SMB ad budget, it’s critical to look at how many of your leads become customers and how much each new customer is worth to your business. If a new customer pays $500 for your product or service, how much are you willing to pay to get them as a lead?

Fowler quickly pointed out that leads do not always equal clients or customers. So, knowing your conversion rate is also critical to determining how much your business should spend.

Choosing an insufficient budget means you’ll run out of money fast and see minimal results. However, there’s also the potential for wasted ad spend when you throw money at paid advertising without a strategy.

Is it worth using Google Ads for SMBs?

As with most PPC questions, it depends. “With very small budget accounts, you typically only have the ability to capture demand or create it — not both,” Fowler said. Prioritizing your SMB’s goals, budget, and capacity to respond to new inquiries can tell you if it’s worth investing in paid advertising.

For example, if your lawn care franchise can only handle 100 customers a week, then an ad campaign that drives 200 inquiries may be too much (and could hurt your business if you can’t positively respond to all the leads in a timely manner).

Small businesses also have to understand the ad process. When campaigns don’t get instant results, small and medium-sized companies can’t rely on upping their ad spend as a band-aid measure like larger accounts might. Instead, you have to employ patience and sometimes even reduce other campaigns to focus on a few that work well.

What is a low budget Google Ads account?

Certain industries have higher budgets by nature, like law, finance, and other competitive local businesses, so “low budget” will differ by category. Fowler categorizes small business spend on Google Ads by accounts that have budgets under $5,000 a month. Some even spend less than $1,000 a month and can still see a positive impact.

“In low budget accounts, when you have less to work with, maximizing your returns becomes that much more important,” she said. Low budget accounts should focus on a few effective campaigns instead of spreading money over too many campaigns. Fowler recommends looking at what campaigns get the most qualified leads per month (those leads that turn into clients) and to invest your spend there.

Optimizing Google Ad Structure
In this slide, we can see that it might be worth adjusting our budget to invest in the campaigns driving the most leads depending on our business goals and capacity for new inquiries.

How long does it take to see results in Google Ads for SMBs?

Patience is key when it comes to seeing results for small businesses. How quickly you see results can depend on your advertising budget and strategy, but partnering with an experienced expert in small business advertising can help.

If you don’t see immediate results, the answer may not be to fiddle with everything in the account right away. In fact, that could hurt your visibility and waste money. Many small businesses panic when they see clicks and impressions numbers increasing and conversion (phone calls, form fills, and sales) numbers flat-lining.

Seeing real revenue-boosting results can take time, though, especially on a lower budget. Here are a few of Fowler’s best tips from her SMX virtual presentation:

Low Budget Ad Tactics for SMBs

Avoid head terms and broad match/broad match modified. Fowler recommends SMBs with lower budgets focus on middle- and longer-tail keywords and add locations where possible. This helps you find qualified leads searching in your specific area who may be further down the funnel and ready to purchase.

Focus on quality score. Fowler calls it a “low budget advertiser’s best friend.” If Google’s auction system has two critical elements (how much you can pay and your Ads Quality Score) and you’re at your budget cap, the next area of focus has to be QS.

Focus on Quality Score

“Quality Score is an estimate of the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages. Higher quality ads can lead to lower prices and better ad positions,” says Google. If you don’t have money, invest time in improving those key elements.

Adjusting by audiences. “If you find an audience that’s taking off like gangbusters, create campaigns around those audiences,” Fowler recommended. Strategies include using competitor data and using your best-performing keywords to target landing pages. She also recommends focusing on how-to searches that don’t have direct purchase intent and using your FAQ pages as landing pages.

Exclude what’s not performing well. If you’ve given it time and you’re seeing that certain campaigns or elements are NOT bringing in as many leads or customers as others, nix them. Fowler recommends assessing geographies, demographics, keywords, and landing pages that are underperforming and putting that money into the campaigns that are getting your best results.

React quickly to Google changes. As Google adjusts and experiments, it’s critical that low-budget small business accounts adapt quickly. When your budget is under $5000 a month, any wasted spend can be a big hit to your leads.

Adapt as Google changes

Fowler mentions that her team noticed their ad copy was being truncated, so they adjusted their descriptions and moved up calls to action to ensure they weren’t missed.

Having a small budget doesn’t mean you have to settle for small results with online advertising. To watch the full session from Fowler on “Small Budget Tactics That Pack A Serious Punch,” register for the on-demand sessions of SMX virtual.

Author: Carolyn Lyden serves as the Director of Search Content for Search Engine Land and SMX. With expertise in SEO, content marketing, local search, and analytics, she focuses on making marketers’ jobs easier with important news and educational content.

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This Week in Search News: Simple and Easy-to-Read Update



This Week in Search News: Simple and Easy-to-Read Update

Here’s what happened in the world of Google and search engines this week:

1. Google’s June 2024 Spam Update

Google finished rolling out its June 2024 spam update over a period of seven days. This update aims to reduce spammy content in search results.

2. Changes to Google Search Interface

Google has removed the continuous scroll feature for search results. Instead, it’s back to the old system of pages.

3. New Features and Tests

  • Link Cards: Google is testing link cards at the top of AI-generated overviews.
  • Health Overviews: There are more AI-generated health overviews showing up in search results.
  • Local Panels: Google is testing AI overviews in local information panels.

4. Search Rankings and Quality

  • Improving Rankings: Google said it can improve its search ranking system but will only do so on a large scale.
  • Measuring Quality: Google’s Elizabeth Tucker shared how they measure search quality.

5. Advice for Content Creators

  • Brand Names in Reviews: Google advises not to avoid mentioning brand names in review content.
  • Fixing 404 Pages: Google explained when it’s important to fix 404 error pages.

6. New Search Features in Google Chrome

Google Chrome for mobile devices has added several new search features to enhance user experience.

7. New Tests and Features in Google Search

  • Credit Card Widget: Google is testing a new widget for credit card information in search results.
  • Sliding Search Results: When making a new search query, the results might slide to the right.

8. Bing’s New Feature

Bing is now using AI to write “People Also Ask” questions in search results.

9. Local Search Ranking Factors

Menu items and popular times might be factors that influence local search rankings on Google.

10. Google Ads Updates

  • Query Matching and Brand Controls: Google Ads updated its query matching and brand controls, and advertisers are happy with these changes.
  • Lead Credits: Google will automate lead credits for Local Service Ads. Google says this is a good change, but some advertisers are worried.
  • tROAS Insights Box: Google Ads is testing a new insights box for tROAS (Target Return on Ad Spend) in Performance Max and Standard Shopping campaigns.
  • WordPress Tag Code: There is a new conversion code for Google Ads on WordPress sites.

These updates highlight how Google and other search engines are continuously evolving to improve user experience and provide better advertising tools.

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Exploring the Evolution of Language Translation: A Comparative Analysis of AI Chatbots and Google Translate




A Comparative Analysis of AI Chatbots and Google Translate

According to an article on PCMag, while Google Translate makes translating sentences into over 100 languages easy, regular users acknowledge that there’s still room for improvement.

In theory, large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT are expected to bring about a new era in language translation. These models consume vast amounts of text-based training data and real-time feedback from users worldwide, enabling them to quickly learn to generate coherent, human-like sentences in a wide range of languages.

However, despite the anticipation that ChatGPT would revolutionize translation, previous experiences have shown that such expectations are often inaccurate, posing challenges for translation accuracy. To put these claims to the test, PCMag conducted a blind test, asking fluent speakers of eight non-English languages to evaluate the translation results from various AI services.

The test compared ChatGPT (both the free and paid versions) to Google Translate, as well as to other competing chatbots such as Microsoft Copilot and Google Gemini. The evaluation involved comparing the translation quality for two test paragraphs across different languages, including Polish, French, Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Tagalog, and Amharic.

In the first test conducted in June 2023, participants consistently favored AI chatbots over Google Translate. ChatGPT, Google Bard (now Gemini), and Microsoft Bing outperformed Google Translate, with ChatGPT receiving the highest praise. ChatGPT demonstrated superior performance in converting colloquialisms, while Google Translate often provided literal translations that lacked cultural nuance.

For instance, ChatGPT accurately translated colloquial expressions like “blow off steam,” whereas Google Translate produced more literal translations that failed to resonate across cultures. Participants appreciated ChatGPT’s ability to maintain consistent levels of formality and its consideration of gender options in translations.

The success of AI chatbots like ChatGPT can be attributed to reinforcement learning with human feedback (RLHF), which allows these models to learn from human preferences and produce culturally appropriate translations, particularly for non-native speakers. However, it’s essential to note that while AI chatbots outperformed Google Translate, they still had limitations and occasional inaccuracies.

In a subsequent test, PCMag evaluated different versions of ChatGPT, including the free and paid versions, as well as language-specific AI agents from OpenAI’s GPTStore. The paid version of ChatGPT, known as ChatGPT Plus, consistently delivered the best translations across various languages. However, Google Translate also showed improvement, performing surprisingly well compared to previous tests.

Overall, while ChatGPT Plus emerged as the preferred choice for translation, Google Translate demonstrated notable improvement, challenging the notion that AI chatbots are always superior to traditional translation tools.


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Google Implements Stricter Guidelines for Mass Email Senders to Gmail Users



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Beginning in April, Gmail senders bombarding users with unwanted mass emails will encounter a surge in message rejections unless they comply with the freshly minted Gmail email sender protocols, Google cautions.

Fresh Guidelines for Dispatching Mass Emails to Gmail Inboxes In an elucidative piece featured on Forbes, it was highlighted that novel regulations are being ushered in to shield Gmail users from the deluge of unsolicited mass emails. Initially, there were reports surfacing about certain marketers receiving error notifications pertaining to messages dispatched to Gmail accounts. Nonetheless, a Google representative clarified that these specific errors, denoted as 550-5.7.56, weren’t novel but rather stemmed from existing authentication prerequisites.

Moreover, Google has verified that commencing from April, they will initiate “the rejection of a portion of non-compliant email traffic, progressively escalating the rejection rate over time.” Google elaborates that, for instance, if 75% of the traffic adheres to the new email sender authentication criteria, then a portion of the remaining non-conforming 25% will face rejection. The exact proportion remains undisclosed. Google does assert that the implementation of the new regulations will be executed in a “step-by-step fashion.”

This cautious and methodical strategy seems to have already kicked off, with transient errors affecting a “fraction of their non-compliant email traffic” coming into play this month. Additionally, Google stipulates that bulk senders will be granted until June 1 to integrate “one-click unsubscribe” in all commercial or promotional correspondence.

Exclusively Personal Gmail Accounts Subject to Rejection These alterations exclusively affect bulk emails dispatched to personal Gmail accounts. Entities sending out mass emails, specifically those transmitting a minimum of 5,000 messages daily to Gmail accounts, will be mandated to authenticate outgoing emails and “refrain from dispatching unsolicited emails.” The 5,000 message threshold is tabulated based on emails transmitted from the same principal domain, irrespective of the employment of subdomains. Once the threshold is met, the domain is categorized as a permanent bulk sender.

These guidelines do not extend to communications directed at Google Workspace accounts, although all senders, including those utilizing Google Workspace, are required to adhere to the updated criteria.

Augmented Security and Enhanced Oversight for Gmail Users A Google spokesperson emphasized that these requisites are being rolled out to “fortify sender-side security and augment user control over inbox contents even further.” For the recipient, this translates to heightened trust in the authenticity of the email sender, thus mitigating the risk of falling prey to phishing attempts, a tactic frequently exploited by malevolent entities capitalizing on authentication vulnerabilities. “If anything,” the spokesperson concludes, “meeting these stipulations should facilitate senders in reaching their intended recipients more efficiently, with reduced risks of spoofing and hijacking by malicious actors.”

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