PPC helps small businesses boost visibility, drive traffic, and increase sales. Learn how our experts use PPC ads to help small businesses grow (checklist included).

Here, you’ll find:

  1. What is PPC for small business?
  2. How to develop a powerful PPC campaign
  3. Expert PPC tips for small business
  4. Common PPC terms
  5. 5 benefits of PPC for small business
  6. Common small business PPC mistakes
  7. Top PPC platforms for small business
  8. Small business PPC services
  9. What’s the cost of PPC?

Online marketing can be tough for small businesses. How can you cut through the noise when so many organizations are trying to rank at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) and boost brand awareness?

Pay-per-click advertising, or PPC, can get you ahead. It puts your message in front of users looking for products and services like yours faster.

Not using PPC for your small business? You’re missing out on a potential customer every time people enter relevant search queries.

Let’s look at what makes the strategy so powerful.

What is PPC for small business?

PPC for small businesses is a form of online advertising that places ads on search engine platforms, like Google, Bing, and even Facebook, to drive traffic to business websites. With the PPC model, small business owners only pay for ads when users click on them.

When someone searches for a product or service, they’ll see local results first on their search engine results page, based on their IP address.

Here’s how one looks::

Furry Land PPC ad

(Image: Google)

The rate for each click ranges from a few cents to a few hundred dollars, depending on your target audience and targeted keywords. The goal is to select the right keywords that attract conversions (not just clicks).

Having a solid search engine optimization (SEO) and PPC strategy increases your business’s visibility on search engines and garners more clicks and brand awareness. For instance, if a customer sees your sponsored PPC ads and your organic links in search results, the odds of them visiting your site increase.

How to develop a powerful PPC campaign

Now that you have context about PPC for small businesses, here are the steps you can take to build your campaign.

  1. Create audience personas
  2. Complete competitor research
  3. Do keyword research
  4. Create a landing page

1. Create audience personas

Who are you trying to reach? Start by digging into what demographics, geographic information, behaviors, and pain points align with your target audience. For example, a company offering healthy meal delivery services to busy professionals in California may create this audience persona:

Age: 25-35 years old
Location:Los Angeles
Income level:
Dietary preferences: Prefers organic and locally sourced ingredients
Interests: Passionate about exercise and healthy living

2. Complete competitor research

Research your competitors’ PPC examples and strategies. Look at their keywords, ad copy, and offers to understand the competitive landscape and identify opportunities. For example, what keywords are they ranking for, and what kind of services do they offer?

“Conduct a thorough analysis of your competitor’s PPC campaign and identify the strategies they are not using,” says Farhan Siraj, Co-Founder and CEO of OSHA Outreach Courses. “If your competitor is not using ad extensions to provide additional information, you should try this strategy.”

hotels.com PPC ad

(Image: Google)

This ad extension for a booking site offers additional information about deals and nearby hotels to encourage users to click.

3. Do keyword research

Once you have details about your target audience and what your competitors are doing, use PPC keyword research tools to start your process. Find relevant search terms that reflect what you offer, your location, and the people you serve.

4. Create a landing page

Make a landing page for each service or audience you target with your ads, create copy that visitors will relate to, give them information that supports conversions, and put it all together in a sleek landing page design that captures attention.

Use all the insights you gather in this process to put together a PPC campaign that targets a specific group of people. For instance, a party planner may target parents who want a themed birthday party for their young child.

Expert PPC tips for small business

Thinking about implementing PPC marketing as part of your strategy? Consider this advice to help you get the best possible results.

  1. Start with a small(er) budget
  2. Use targeted keywords
  3. Use clear language in your ad copy
  4. Include a call to action (CTA)
  5. Add your location
  6. Focus on mobile
  7. Review results
  8. Use retargeting

1. Start with a small(er) budget

Every business is different, so it may take a bit of experimentation to figure out what will be best for you. Set aside a budget you’re comfortable with spending and try out different ads to start gathering data on what works. For example, you may start with $50 a day before scaling up.

2. Use targeted keywords

Choose keywords relevant to your business and audience. For example, a business that offers mobile pet grooming services might use the keyword “mobile grooming for dogs” instead of “pet grooming.”

“It’s essential to focus on highly targeted keywords that are not only relevant to your niche but also not overly competitive, which can drive up costs,” explains Chris Cho, Founder of DroneSourced. “For instance, we target specific drone-related keywords that have a clear intent but lower competition, ensuring a better ROI.”

QuickBooks PPC ad

(Image: Google)

3. Use clear language in your ad copy

Craft your ad copy with language that your audience will quickly and easily understand. Clear is better than clever in ads. For example, this Quickbooks ad tells users exactly what they can expect from the software.

Morgan & Morgan PPC ad

(Image: Google)

4. Include a call to action (CTA)

You have a limited number of characters in a PPC ad, make each count by guiding users toward what you want them to do. For instance, a law firm may include information about what they specialize in followed by a “Call us” CTA.

Wave hotel PPC ad

(Image: Google)

5. Add your location

Use location-based keywords if your business serves specific areas. Geographic segmentation will help you reach more people in your target market. You may choose to target a wider range, like a region, or include keywords for a specific neighborhood.

6. Focus on mobile

The number of users accessing the internet via mobile devices is growing across the globe. In the United States, 45% of web traffic originates from mobile devices. To get the best results, optimize your campaigns for users by making sure the landing page your PPC ad leads to is mobile-friendly.

To optimize for mobile:

  • Use responsive design
  • Look at page loading time
  • Ensure forms are easy to fill

7. Review results

Regularly check on the performance of your campaigns. Look at click-through rates (CTR), conversion rates, and cost per conversion (CPC) to make informed decisions about any adjustments you may need to make to your PPC ads or landing pages.

“We increased our advertising spend by $10,000, targeting colder climates. This has led to a 40% increase in sales of our moisturizing products during this period,” says Sophia Tang, Founder of Zeralabs. “Continuous monitoring and reallocation of funds based on activity performance is key to maximizing our return on investment.”

8. Use retargeting

People buy from businesses they know, like, and trust. When you get in front of people more frequently, you increase the chances that they’ll convert. For example, if someone clicks on your PPC and views a product, you may advertise that product to them again on social media. Make retargeting part of your PPC strategy to reach users who have already interacted with your brand.

Common PPC terms

New to PPC? Here are some phrases you should know before creating PPC ads for your small business:

  • Cost per click (CPC): The amount of money a business pays each time a user clicks an ad. For example, if you spend $50 on an ad and get 500 clicks, your cost is 10 cents per click.
  • Cost per thousand impressions (CPM): The amount advertisers pay for every 1,000 impressions an ad gets. If your ad campaign costs $1,000 for 200,000 impressions, your CPM would be $5.
  • Click-through rate (CTR): The percentage of people who click on an ad after they view it. High click-through rates mean that your ads are relevant to your audience. The average click-through rate for search ads ranges from 4.76% to 11.78%, depending on the industry.
  • Conversion rate: The percentage of ad clicks that result in a new lead or a sale. The average conversion rate for search ads ranges from 2.06% to 15.45%
  • Quality score: A metric from Google Ads that assesses the relevance of ads and keywords. This impacts your cost per click and ad ranking.
  • Ad rank: Where your ad appears on the search results page.
  • Retargeting or remarketing: A method that shows your ads to users who have previously visited your site to capture their attention again.
  • Negative keywords: Keywords that prevent ads from showing up in search for certain terms or phrases.
  • Ad extensions: Additional information (contact details, links to specific pages, or product information) you can include in PPC ads.
  • Landing page: The page users see after clicking on an ad.
  • Impressions: The number of times an ad is displayed.
  • Display network: A network of websites where ads can appear.

5 benefits of PPC for small business

Making PPC part of your small business marketing strategy comes with several benefits. Here’s a closer look at what you can expect.

  1. Better targeting
  2. Instant visibility
  3. Cost control
  4. Measurable outcomes
  5. Consistent strategy

1. Better targeting

Relevant ads perform better. PPC gives you targeting options like demographic, geographic, and behavioral targeting. For example:


  • Age group
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Job title
  • Interests or hobbies


  • Country
  • Region or state
  • City


  • Browsing history
  • Purchase history
  • Search history
  • Retargeting

Using these different targeting options ensure your PPC campaigns get in front of the right audience, at the right time.

2. Instant visibility

Once you launch your PPC campaigns, your ads appear at the top of search results immediately. This can give you a leg up over your competitors that only rely on organic search optimization.

According to research from Semrush, out of the 28,000 domains studied, only 7.65% had content ranking in the top 100 over a period of 13 months. It can take a long time for organic content to rank. Plus, there are several factors that determine whether or not people see that content. PPC puts you on the fast track to visibility.

3. Cost control

Your campaign becomes visible right away, so it’s easier to track your results in real-time. You can look at metrics like click-through rate, conversion rate, and return on investment (ROI) to get a sense of how your ads are performing. Then, adjust the copy or design as needed to improve your results.

4. Measurable outcomes

Your campaign becomes visible right away, so it’s easier to track your results in real-time. You can look at metrics like click-through rate, conversion rate, and return on investment (ROI) to get a sense of how your ads are performing. Then, adjust the copy or design as needed to improve your results.

5. Consistent strategy

Google uses over 200 ranking factors and makes changes to its search algorithms and systems several times per year. Those changes have a big impact on SEO. However, those changes aren’t a concern for the performance of your PPC ads. This means you can be more confident that tried and true best practices will help you get results.

Common small business PPC mistakes ( + how to avoid them)

The effectiveness of PPC ads depends on the quality of your campaign. If you’re planning to add PPC to your advertising strategy, side step these mistakes.

Setting and forgetting

Managing PPC campaigns is not one-and-done. You have to continue looking at your offer, keywords and calls to action. What resonates with your audience this month may fall flat next month.

Use PPC analytics to spot low-performing ads that aren’t getting clicks or driving conversions. Run A/B tests to figure out how to boost those metrics. A/B testing is a method of comparing two different versions of a similar marketing product to see which option better reaches or converts your audience.

For example, you may test two different CTAs like “buy now” or “get your copy” on a digital download to see which option performs better.

ConversionIQ, HawkSEM’s proprietary software, reveals who’s clicking your ads (and converting), so you can personalize your marketing campaign and messaging for better results.

Overlooking negative keywords

Small businesses have limited advertising budgets. When your ad doesn’t reach your target audience in a search query, you may see “wasted” clicks and a lower conversion rate. Using negative keywords can prevent your ads from showing up in irrelevant searches.

For example, a law firm may add “pro bono” to a list of negative keywords in a PPC advertising campaign. If it includes that negative keyword, the ad won’t show up when people are looking for free legal services.

Poor location targeting

Users see ads based on their IP address, so if you only offer products and services locally, you should use location-based keywords. Failing to do this may put your ad in front of people too far away to do business with you.

Ignoring landing page quality

When customers decide to click, the first impression they get of your landing page matters. If it’s not relevant to them, they’ll navigate away. Google also considers the landing page experience when calculating your ad quality score. Your landing page has a direct impact on the success your business will see, so ensure your PPC ad copy and landing page design are hitting the mark.

Not knowing platform specifics

Every display network is different. You need to understand exactly how each one works and what they allow to get the most out of your PPC campaign. You may find differences in these elements across platforms.

  • Targeting and audience selection
  • Formats and content
  • Bidding strategies
  • Policies and compliance requirements

Top PPC platforms for small business

There are many different PPC platforms to choose from. But how do you choose the right one for your business?

Pay attention to where your audience is. Google sites rank first among the most visited multi-platform web properties, so there’s a good chance your audience is already using them.

Do research to find the other channels where your audience is likely to spend time. For example, Meta ads are ideal for businesses that want to reach users on Facebook and Instagram.

Small business PPC services

What should you be looking for when evaluating a small business PPC agency? The range of small business PPC services generally includes:

  • PPC audit: reviewing current campaigns and performance
  • Competitive analysis: reviewing the current competitor landscape
  • PPC strategy: a tailor-made strategy built just for your unique business
  • Market and keyword research – looking at industry trends to find keywords worth targeting
  • Ad copy: creating compelling and effective ad messaging
  • Bid management: ensuring you get the most out of your budget and campaigns
  • Conversion tracking: monitoring progress and A/B testing ad copy
  • Landing pages: Crafting effective landing pages to boost conversion rates
  • Ongoing campaign optimization: analyzing performance and optimizing when necessary

At HawkSEM, PPC management is our core competency. PPC services are specifically designed to meet the unique needs of small businesses. Our approach ensures your PPC campaigns are strategically aligned with your goals, delivering maximum return on ad spend.

Our digital marketing agency works closely with you to develop a custom PPC strategy that aligns with your needs. We take time to learn about the business, target audience, and buyer persona. From there we create custom PPC campaigns, monitor them, and track them closely to ensure a positive return on ad spend.

For example, after tweaking campaigns and creating custom landing pages, HawkSEM was able to help Grayson Living almost double its return on ad spend, grow e-commerce sales nearly three-fold, and increase conversion rates by more than 100% in the first year alone. It also saw an 11% bump in its average order value.

Read the full Grayson Living case study here.

What’s the cost of PPC?

The cost of PPC advertising and small business PPC management varies, but based on our experience, you can expect to spend around $3,000-$10,000 per month.

These are some of the factors that can influence your total spend.

Bidding strategy

PPC costs depend on the bidding strategy you choose for your campaign. The most common bidding strategy is cost-per-click, but you may also see other options like cost per impression. If you’re looking to drive sales or specific actions, cost-per-click is your best bet. If driving awareness and gaining exposure is your goal, focus on cost per impression.


Going after competitive keywords can drive up your costs. If you’re in a highly competitive industry where many other businesses targeting the same keyword, ranking for that term will cost more. Lower-volume and long-tail keywords may give you a bigger return on your investment.
Quality score

Google uses a quality score to grade PPC ads by assessing the relevance of ads and keywords. Getting a good score can help you maximize your budget. A higher quality score will give you a better ad rank and it lowers your costs in the ad auction. Do your best to boost your score by publishing engaging ads and offering a good user experience

Ad scheduling

Running ads during peak business times or specific days can influence costs. For example, if there’s an event or conference in your industry, you may find that running PPC ads is more expensive during that time.

Seasonal trends

Certain terms can be more expensive and competitive during specific times of the year. For example, some fitness and health-related keywords may have a spike in the first quarter of the year when people focus on their wellness goals.

PPC ad campaign checklist

Grab this checklist to make your own landing page and start writing copy that gets results.

Research: Do market and keyword research to understand the makings of an effective PPC ad in your industry.

Header section: Craft a bold, attention-grabbing statement that clearly communicates the main benefit or offer.

Body copy: Speak to the features and benefits of your product or service in the body of your PPC ad.

Ad extension: Insert additional information like product pages or sales to encourage more clicks.

Call to action (CTA): Determine the main action you want visitors to take and give them a reason to click.

Landing page: Make sure users are directed to a landing page that represents your business and offer well.

Monitor: Analyze data and track your results to find opportunities for improvement.

The takeaway

Small business teams have a lot on their plate. Paid search is an investment that offers a quick return and lower customer acquisition costs when you implement the right strategies. Use this post as a guide for your next campaign to set yourself up for success.

Want to put together a PPC advertising campaign that converts? We’d love to help. Get in touch with our experts.


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