You wouldn’t be alone in admitting you haven’t played the Google Adwords game yet. Although you are familiar with those sponsored ads that appear everywhere, from the right side of your search feed to the top of your Gmail inbox, it can be intimidating for a small business owner to delve into the “black magic” of the system.

If you want to give it a try, there’s of course lots to learn, but in this column let’s delve into the most important part: how to compose your ad.

Traditional advertising has always been flashy & image-heavy, and Google was one of the first companies to try to create a different model. They wanted the ads they display to be unobtrusive and to be consumed more like the actual content that appears on the page. Of course, they still needed to be valuable to the companies who pay for the ads. So they decided to focus on text-only advertising, in which case what you say becomes absolutely critical.

When I do a search for dog food, my first Google Ad result looks like this:

When you set up your Google Ad word, you have the option to put a title (large text in blue), a link (text in green), and a description (the two lines below the link). Google has defined character limits in each section to keep your content concise. Your title is the most critical part, as it should contain THE WORDS THAT YOUR POTENTIAL CUSTOMER WILL SEARCH FOR. This is important to understand in order to exploit its potential fully. Some technical companies who are creating their own ads will often make the mistake of using industry language to compose their ad instead of what their average customer types into a search engine. Some basic research can uncover what words you *should* be using to describe your product or service, and likely you will iterate this over time once you start really delving into the monthly reports that Google automatically provides of the efficacy of your campaign. The line in green is, of course, the link that the ad will take them to, and the two lines below give you the opportunity to describe your offering in more detail.

If you are indeed a dog food manufacturer, you are up against some pretty big guns of course. But what if you are making a dog food that is made from scratch using natural ingredients, and only selling it in St. Thomas and London at specialty shops and small markets? The biggest advantage of Google Adwords is that you can target your ads geographically. In other words, you would do two things: make sure you are using words like “Dog Food” & “ Natural ingredients” in your title as something a dedicated pet owner might search for, and then when you are setting up your ad visibility, you can select a specific region (like St. Thomas and London, or even all of Southwestern Ontario) in your settings. In this way you aren’t necessarily competing with Purina for ad space on a national scale, which would be impossible anyway.

That’s all I can cover in one column, so next month we’ll cover how to set up your advertising budget and monitor your campaign for best results.

Happy wordsmithing!