7 tips for creating a profitable paid search campaign for startups

Written by Kate Gentry
Published on Aug. 19, 2015
7 tips for creating a profitable paid search campaign for startups


Paid search is a great marketing channel for small businesses and startups in particular.  Unlike traditional methods, paid search levels the playing field, creating opportunity for small companies without expansive budgets to compete in the same sphere as large players.  To be successful at paid search, keep some things in mind:

Focus on exact match keywords.  Maximize a small budget by utilizing highly relevant, specific exact match keywords.  If you focus on a core set of carefully selected exact match keywords, you can show above the fold for the keywords that are most relevant to your business and stretch your budget even further.  Stay away from broad match keywords, which tend to match with less relevant search queries (and are thus less likely to convert) at a higher cost per click, ultimately sinking ROI. Here’s an example of performance by match type for one of our large retailers:


Opt out of the display network.  Users on the display network have a lower level of intent than search users and thus are less likely to drive immediate revenue/conversions.  When you create your paid search campaigns, be careful to opt out of the display network as it is selected by default for Google.

Beware of mobile device settings. Not all devices are created equal.  Depending on your business and its operations, mobile advertising can be a great tool or a waste of time and money.  If your website is not optimized for mobile, you could end up losing sales/leads. Google and Bing both allow you to adjust your bids for mobile devices, so you can control how much you spend on a mobile action.  You can choose to opt out of mobile by setting your bid to -100%. Pro Tip: For some businesses, a phone call is worth a lot more than a visit to the website or even a lead form completion – use the available phone ad extensions to focus on driving calls.


Exclude search partners if you are not a retailer. Performance on the Google and Bing Search Partners networks can be very different than that of the Google and Bing only network.  Most of the major search partners are retail focused such as Walmart, Target, and Amazon.  B2B and non-retail B2C businesses can save money (and boost ROI) by opting out of the search partner network.  Again, be careful when creating your campaigns as they are defaulted into search partners.


Utilize shared budgets.  Shared budgets are a feature in Google Adwords that lets you set a single budget across multiple campaigns.  Google then optimizes your spend across those campaigns, allocating budget to improve your ROI.  This is a good tool for those on a tight budget or who do not have time to optimize budgets by campaign.

You do not have to be in the first position. The higher the position, the better, right? Not necessarily. Position 1 does drive the most traffic, but it also is the most competitive and does not revenue-justify if you need to see ROI. A position around 3-4 generally delivers a good balance of traffic at a solid ROI.

Pre-Revenue? Explore Google Analytics for User Behavior. Google Analytics and other analytics platforms can provide great detail into a user’s experience after they click on your ad.  Using Analytics, you can track pages per visit, bounce rates, and time on site, as well as see the path of content users viewed before deciding to leave the site.  These metrics give you something to measure and optimize to even before you have conversion data.


Follow these rules of thumb and your paid search campaigns will be up, running, and driving results in no time!  One of the great things about paid search is that it is very measurable, making it easy to quickly see the result of your efforts and observe how changes affect your account.  To learn more about paid search for startups, contact Effective Spend at [email protected].


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