Meetup Description

Google Search Ads are not sexy, but are they one of the most important tools in the digital marketers’ toolbox. Why?

Unlike most online marketing tools, Search Ads are able to immediately “turn on” a steady stream of new bookers and buyers to your website. However, like all tools, there’s a right way and a wrong way to us them and mastering them requires practice and making mistakes.

I’m sure the first time you picked up a hammer and swung at a nail you didn’t always hit the head. You may have even smashed a finger or two. Well, the first time you dive into Google Search Ads it might feel like the first time you swung that hammer. But, instead of swollen fingers, it may be a quickly blown budget with zero return and lots of regrets.

But the data and craft behind Google Search Ads really does work! So the question is, how do we get started running profitable ads?

At Improve & Grow and Accelerate Tourism, Google Search Ads are one of our primary revenue drivers for most of our clients. Based on the experience we’ve gained over the years, we’re going to give you a quick-start guide to running ads that drive more business to your operation.

In this session of Accelerate Tourism we want to answer a few key questions:

  • Will Google Search Ads work for my business?
  • How much should I plan to spend?
  • How do I set up a campaign?
  • What should my ads say?
  • Where should I send people who click?
  • How do I know if they are working?

Want more tools? At the end of the meetup, we’ll share one of the tools that we use to audit our clients’ Google Ads accounts.

Guest Panel

Skip Lefever, PPC Manager at Improve & Grow

Meetup Video

Key Takeaways

Business Case for Paid Search Ad

  • Google generated 62 percent of all core search queries in the US In July 2020. (
  • 3.5 billion Google searches are made every day. (Internet Live Stats)
  • 10% Growth in searches per year
  • 15% of searches every day have never been seen before

How to start a new search campaign

  • Unparalleled Targeting= Right Audience + Right Time + Right cost
  • Determine the right target audience
  • Create your campaign
  • Monitor analytics and make improvements
  • Google Ads yield a high return on investment
    • 2019 Tourism PPC Stats
      • The average cost per click ($1.42)
      • High click-thru rate of 7.83%
      • High conversion rate of 3.95%
      • Low cost per action of $27.04
      • If your average booking is $200 you can estimate a 7.4X Return on Ad Spend

Resource Links

PPC Glossary Of Terms
Wordstream Academy (Free training resources)
Google Ads Certification
Free Google Ads Audit

Tired of Investing in Random Acts of Marketing?

Get a Marketing Strategy You Can Count On!

Meetup Transcript

(Sam Shoemaker) Today, we’re going to be talking about pay-per-click advertising. Really, our goal here is if you’re looking to do any sort of PPC marketing, pay-per-click ads, however you want to define it, if you’re looking to run ads on Google, essentially, we’ll call it what it is, if you’re looking to do that, especially in the tourism space, we’ve had a lot of history in our agency, we’ve done a lot of pay-per-click advertising for people in the tourism space and have had a lot of success. We’ll look at some of that here as we get into the presentation.

(Sam Shoemaker) Just some housekeeping things, obviously, this is a meet up for business leaders serving the tourism industry, focusing on sharing ideas and having discussions. Right now, we are in a monthly rhythm, where we’re having these once a month to talk about a specific topic that we hope will you’ll find useful.

(Sam Shoemaker) Speaking of which, if during this presentation you have any questions, we’d love for you to ask that question to us and we’ll address those questions at the end of the presentation. If you would, there is a Q&A functionality in this webinar on Zoom. If you click the button, if you’re on desktop, there should be a black bar that would have this little icon here that you see or if you’re on mobile, you might have to swipe left or right in order to get that button to show up but drop your questions in the Q&A feature, in the Q&A section and we’ll try to get to them at the end.

Topic Introduction

(Sam Shoemaker) Skip, let’s just get into it. We wanted to start off this conversation. This is Skip Lefever. He’s on our team at Accelerate Tourism and Improve and Grow. Skip is our PPC director. He’s talked at a couple of our different meetups on paid ads, whether they’re on Google or they’re on social media. He’s been with us before talking about some of the things that he does for that.

Panel Discussion

(Sam Shoemaker) Most of our other conversations have been more high level. I’m not going to say that we’re going to get down into the real, fine details of the campaign of running a successful search campaign but what we are going to do is hopefully set you up to be able to, first of all, if you’ve never run a campaign, to get going with Google ads to run some campaigns or if you’ve tried them before, hopefully, this will be a different another perspective and maybe you can identify some things that you can improve on, maybe some places where you might have gone wrong. We’re trying to make this a very practical presentation. Skip, in order to do that, let’s just kind of set this all up with the business case for Google Search Ads. I’m going to advance the slide here and give it over to you.

(Skip Lefever) Great. Thanks, Sam.

(Sam Shoemaker) Yeah.

Business Case for Paid Search Ad

(Skip Lefever) By the way, speaking of travel, I’m traveling to New England today. Coming to you from cloudy but colorful Massachusetts. Good morning, everybody. The first part of the business case for Google Search Ads is the massive reach of the search engine. For example, Google generated 62% of all core search queries in the United States in July 2020. About two thirds of all search engine volume in the US is going to Google these days. Then, another key stat 3.5 billion Google searches are made every day. Now, I think that’s global as opposed to US but that just gives you a sense for how much volume. A couple of ancillary stats, right now, the annual growth rate in Google searches is about 10% from year-to-year. GOOGLE also tells us routinely that about 15% of the searches that come through every day they have never seen before. The search queries that people use are constantly morphing and changing. Okay, Sam, go ahead.

How to Start a New Search Campaign

Determining the Right Target Audience

(Skip Lefever) Let’s talk about targeting. Google Search Ads give you some great targeting options. One way we like to sum it up is targeting the right audience, at the right time, at the right cost. Search gives you a lot of control to be able to do that. Here are some examples of the kind of targeting that you can do. You can target by demographics, things like location, age, gender, and income. You search for ads by their very nature. You are triggering ads based on search queries. You choose search queries that you want to use to bid and trigger your ads. Those search queries, by the way, and we’re going to do an actual session today, where we’re going to demonstrate for you how we typically approach identifying search queries that prospects are using in the travel and tourism industry.

(Skip Lefever) If you look at the little graphic on the right of the slide there, we’re showing the sales funnel. We’ve talked about that previously in another webinar but basically when people are searching, they’re doing a number of different things. In the early days, they might just be doing some basic research and becoming aware of possibilities. In the consideration stage, they’re further down the sales funnel. They’re getting a little more serious. They’re putting little more specifics in their search queries. They’re kind of narrowing down. Then, in the decision stage, they’re actually ready to make a decision. They’ve done a lot of research. They’re looking at their top options. They’re going to make a decision. That’s when they become either a qualified sales lead or an actual booking in your case. That’s one of the great things about search ads is you get to analyze potential search queries, choose the ones you want to serve ads for, and what position in the funnel they’re in.

(Skip Lefever) Other types of targeting options you have, you can schedule ads anytime you want. You can run 24/7 365 or you can run specific days of the week or specific hours of the day. You can target by device, if your prospects tend to search on smartphones, for example, versus desktop computers. You can specify only one or the other. If your business tends to be one that gets a lot of sales through phone calls, you can actually target just calls, if you prefer. You can also exclude unwanted traffic. Just like you can target who you do want, you can also exclude those searches that you don’t want to serve in that too. Google Ad platform makes available to you a number of options for bidding strategies everything from fully manual, where you retain 100% control to machine learning, smart bidding strategies where the work is done for you based on some parameters that you set. Bottom line, there are lots of targeting options and there’s lots of ways of optimizing that targeting.

(Skip Lefever) Finally, return on investment. There is very high ROI potential in Google Search Ads. A couple of stats here, 96% of advertising pros who are working on behalf of the travel and tourism industry are using Google Search Ads. That’s a pretty huge testimony for that many pros marketing for travel and tourism to be able to be using this single ad platform.

(Skip Lefever) A second major point, the startup costs for AdSpend are relatively low. They’re not as cheap, for example, as Facebook to get started, but it’s a different type of advertising, but it’s still reasonable. Our recommended minimum AdSpend for travel and tourism companies is typically to start at about $500 a month.

(Skip Lefever) Just 2019 travel and tourism industry statistics for Google search, the average cost per click was $1.42. Every time someone clicks on an ad, on average, across all travel and tourism advertisers, it was a buck 42 in 2019. It has a high click-through rate for travel and tourism, 7.8% in 2019. By the way, to put that in perspective, across all industries, a good click-through rate is considered to be between 3 and 5%. You can see travel and tourism enjoys a higher than average click-through rate. The same thing is true of conversion rate, again, across all industries, a pretty solid conversion rate is between 2 and 4%. You can see that travel and tourism is at the high end of that range.

(Skip Lefever) Low cost per action or cost per acquisition, you might have heard it called. Once somebody actually does do a booking, the average cost in the tourism and travel business was $27 in 2019. As a hypothetical example, if you’re in, let’s say, the lodging part of the travel and tourism business and let’s say you’re selling bed and breakfast rooms for $200 a night, based on those statistics, you can estimate the potential for a 7.4 times return on AdSpend. Great ROI potential with Google Search Ads. That’s kind of the final part of the business case for us.

(Sam Shoemaker) Skip, when we were doing our prep work, I think we talked about, we chose to use these 2019 numbers realizing that there’s been a whole lot that’s happened since then but these being conclusive numbers, you also mentioned, though, with the numbers that are not fully yet in for the year for 2020, for travel and tourism, you mentioned that there’s indications that they actually look like they’re slightly higher even or better numbers for 2020, despite all that’s going on.

(Skip Lefever) Yeah, that’s absolutely true, the same source that I quoted these stats from, which is called WordStream that benchmarks every year for Google Search Ads. For this year, under COVID-19, the average click-through rate is more like 10%. The average conversion rate is a little over 4%. Even though the travel and tourism business has been hammered this year, there’s no denying that travel and tourism businesses that are open and that our advertising with Google search, are actually enjoying higher than 2019 statistics. I can further attest to say that our travel and tourism clients, we’re seeing click-through rates in the 15 to 20% range for a number of them and we’re seeing some amazing return on AdSpend numbers this year.

(Sam Shoemaker) Fascinating.

(Skip Lefever) Especially if you’ve got a niche that has been able to still serve clients, whether it’s locals or more regionally isolated traffic, some of our travel and tourism customers are seeing really good results in Google search.

(Sam Shoemaker) Wow. Cool. I think you have a, kind of talking through all that, I think we can kind of break it down into something that’s a little bit, an example that’s kind of easier to understand, if you want to walk us through some of these numbers?

(Skip Lefever) Yeah, absolutely. One of the questions that we’re trying to answer with this presentation is well, does search ads work for everybody in travel and tourism? What do I need to spend? Well, we already gave the example of most advertising pros advertising for travel and tourism are, in fact, using Google search. That’s one huge testimony. Secondly, we recommend a starting budget of about 500 bucks, but there is a way to actually calculate a budget.

(Skip Lefever) Here’s a hypothetical example. Let’s say that your goal for your travel or tourism business is to add an additional 20 sales or 20 bookings in a month. Well, just walking that through using those average benchmark statistics on the prior slide, if we take those 20 sales and we divide that by the average conversion rate of 3.95%, that means that you need to get 506 ad clicks. You need to show your ad enough times at that 4% click-through rate to get clicked on in visiting your website 506 times.

(Skip Lefever) If you take those 506 ad clicks and divide those by the click-through rate of 7.8%, you need to show your ad 6,462 times to get that many clicks, again, at that average click-through rate. Then, finally to calculate the actual potential AdSpend budget, if you take those 506 clicks times $1,42 per click, you’re talking about an AdSpend budget of about two $719 to get those hypothetical 20 additional bookings per month. It is very possible to do budget calculations and budget forecasting using those benchmark statistics.

(Sam Shoemaker) Cool. Seeing that, I don’t spend a whole lot of time in the PPC world in our agency because that’s your domain but it’s always helpful for me to see just a clear… I know it’s not a formula, but just this clear progression of being able to quickly put something into perspective. This was even a good reminder for me.

(Sam Shoemaker) Now, once we’ve determined that these ads are worth doing and I think, in general, based on the benchmarks, somebody in the tourism and travel space, they could optimistically make that assumption. Obviously, it’s going to be different for everybody’s business and that’s where that little example that we looked at is helpful to be able to do but once we move past that, now we want to get into this practical, let’s take a couple steps and talk about actually starting a campaign and to make sure that we are taking those steps appropriately, this is kind of this 1-2-3 step processes is kind of the launch point of moving into this. We’re actually going to get into the practical things next but right here is where we can make some key decisions that set that next part up. You want to talk us through these couple quick steps here?

(Skip Lefever) Yep, absolutely. There are some steps to take before you build an actual campaign. Doing this analysis and making some decisions ahead of time will inform how to build your campaign. Number one is determining the right target audience. How do you do that? Well, we have three steps that we typically go through and recommend to our clients. First of all, always first identify your business goals and be as specific as possible. For example, is your goal to increase brand awareness? Do you feel like your brand is not well known and you want to be known? That’s one strategy.

(Skip Lefever) Another strategy might be to increase bookings. We find that’s most where most of our clients are but both are valid strategies. Identifying your overarching goal with the potential to run Google Search Ads is number one. Part of that is also to identify what products or services isn’t that you want to sell? You may have a suite of services or products, do you want to advertise and try to increase bookings in all of them or do you want to focus on one particular product or service? That’s a valid question to ask and make a decision about. Another is what’s your budget? How much can you afford to spend or how much do you want to spend? We would say invest in running Google Search Ads.

(Skip Lefever) Finally, just a real strong admonition, when you’re identifying these goals, be as specific as possible. You can always broaden your business goals later, particularly if you start out more narrowly-focused and have some success, you can always broaden but we find it best to start as specific as possible, get going, make some headway, have some experience, and then widen out or broaden out afterwards.

(Skip Lefever) A second part of it of determining the right target audience is to define who your audience is. Who are your prospective customers? Are they men or women? What age group are they in? What income brackets are they in? Are they housewives? Are they whatever? I think you get my point. You identify who your prospects are, you identify where they hang out, and we’re talking about Google Search Ads today and we’re actually going to show you how you can determine whether your prospective audience is actually hanging out on Google search engine.

(Skip Lefever) Really, Sam’s our messaging expert. He would talk about personas, kind of identifying who the people are and kind of defining them a little bit and you might have more than one target audience. You might have, for example, one tourism client that we have caters largely to younger families with children. However, there’s also another big part of their demographics for their prospects that is grandparents, who might be treating their children and grandchildren to a travel experience. Define your target audience. It might be more than one. That’s okay. Then, the final step is to actually do some research on the actual word, search term, search queries that people are using to find your kind of products and services.

Creating Your First Campaign

(Skip Lefever) Okay, how do you actually go about creating a Google search campaign? Well, the first choice that you can make is which Google Ads experience to use. There are two: One is called Google Ads Express and then there’s the full Google Ads experience. Just to touch on this for a moment, Google Ads Express is a very easy interface and a very easy way to start running Google search ads. That’s the plus. Essentially, all you have to do is create an account, create an ad or two, and set a budget and some and the locations that you want to target people in and then Google will do the rest for you.

(Skip Lefever) It’s a very quick and easy way to launch a Google search ad campaign. The downside is that you’re relinquishing a lot of control to Google. It’s not all bad. We’ve seen some good experiences. We’ve also seen some very bad experiences. It’s harder to sort of manage wasted AdSpend, I’ll just say that. We don’t typically recommend using Google Ads Express but we didn’t want to ignore it or to say that it’s not available because it is and some people start out their Google Search Ads experience that way.

(Skip Lefever) Google ads, the full experience is what we typically recommend. That’s mainly what we’re going to be talking to today. All right. The first actual step then after you’ve chosen which ad platform and literally, you can type Google Ads or Google Ads Express and find the links and help documents that will help facilitate you through that process. Once you’ve decided on the experience that you’re going to use, the next step is to create an actual Google Ads account within that experience.

(Skip Lefever) By the way, you’re going to have to have a Google account. That simply means that you need to set up an account with Google, for you personally or for a business account that maybe you’re going to use to run this ads account and you have to do it with an email address. By the way, it does not have to be a Gmail address. It doesn’t have to be a Google email address. It can be your company email address or your Yahoo! account. It can be a Gmail account but you basically create a Google account and associate your email address with it. Once you’ve done that, you can then create a Google Ads account.

(Skip Lefever) Okay, step two, is to actually do search query or keyword research. By search query, that’s industry jargon. All we’re talking about is the words that people use in a search engine to look for your product or service. We’re going to call that a search query. Then, when we’re doing that research, the Google terminology or the search ad terminology typically used to identify which queries you’re going to trigger ads for is called keyword research.

(Skip Lefever) Keyword research is the next step. There are tools that you can use to identify potential keywords that people use. You can refine those. You can choose which ones you want to use and then use that as the foundation just to start your campaign. We’re going to walk you through a demo here today. We’re going to use Google’s actual Keyword Planner. It’s the easiest way to do keyword research and immediately create a Google search ads campaign and to organize it into relevant groups of keywords and ads. Okay, all right.

(Skip Lefever) I’m going to do a demonstration for you today on doing keyword research and choosing which keywords to use. It’s going to be a relatively simple and quick example, but fairly powerful, I think. Keyword research and using that kind of terminology with our clients and with our prospective clients, almost seems like this big mystery. My goal here is to demystify what keyword research is. Okay. We like to talk about, first, starting by figuring out some seed keywords. I’ll explain that a little bit further but we recommend to our clients that we typically help walk them through an experience like this or we’ll ask them a series of questions that will help us to do this.

(Skip Lefever) First of all, we start with, “Hey, what’s the product or service you want to sell, you want to advertise for Google search.” I’m going to use the example today of a bed and breakfast business and do this demonstration based on a bed and breakfast. I’m showing you here some potential… I’m going to pretend that I have a bed and breakfast business. I want to advertise that business and get more bookings for my bed and breakfast. I know that I call my business a bed and breakfast and I know that the way people talk about it is to use that terms. Sometimes they’ll spell it out. Sometimes they’ll use the ampersand. Sometimes they’ll shorten it to B and B, sometimes within without spaces. I know there’s lots of ways that I would search for a bed and breakfast and I know there’s lots of ways that my prospective customers.

(Skip Lefever) The first column there that I’m showing you is how to express or search for my particular product if you will. The second column we call intent qualifier. You remember earlier, we showed you the funnel and we talked about people just starting to research, what the heck is a bed and breakfast or where are they, that kind of thing but they really don’t show much intent. They’re using very generic, very broad search terms.

(Skip Lefever) Intent qualifiers to us demonstrate that the searcher is looking for something much more specific and they’re potentially down in the consideration and even the decision-making phase of their research. Intent qualifiers we look for are things like a time qualifier like I’m looking for a bed and breakfast this weekend or next week, that kind of thing.

(Skip Lefever) Another intent qualifier is a price or cost or I’m looking for a bed and breakfast that’s less than $150 a night as an example. Maybe I use the actual brand name. I’m going to call my bed and breakfast XYZ because I’m not really creative. Maybe the intent qualifier would have XYZ in it. Maybe it’s something like a package deal. They’re looking for a bed and breakfast that’s running some promotions or some kind of a package deal.

(Skip Lefever) Then, finally, I want to talk in this example, about we call them geo qualifiers or location qualifiers. This is where a searcher has indicated, “Hey, I’m looking for a bed and breakfast this weekend that’s in Lancaster or in Lancaster County.” My hypothetical bed breakfast is going to be located in Lancaster County today and it’s going to be in an area of the county that people generically called Amish Country, right? A geo qualifier or location qualifier could be Lancaster, Lancaster County, it could be Amish Country. It could be near me. It could be PA. It could be Pennsylvania.

(Skip Lefever) You can see I’m identifying words that people might use to find my product or service or bed and breakfast, how they might indicate that they’re pretty far down the sales funnel when they’re looking for price or package deals or timeframes, that kind of thing. Also, when they’re specifying an actual geography, that tells you that they’re pretty far down the funnel and they’re getting ready to make a decision. With search ads, what I’m talking to you about right here is identifying where they are at the search funnel. This example I’m setting up is to identify people that are down at the bottom of the funnel and are ready to make decisions as opposed to people that are just becoming aware of that.

(Skip Lefever) In this example, down in the blue panel here, I’m specifically choosing some words for each of those columns. I’m creating some three and four-word, what I’m calling seed keywords. I’ve identified four here, Bed and Breakfast Lancaster, Bed and Breakfast Amish B&B near, by the way, by not saying near me or nearby or something like that, I’m making a little bit less specific and just a little bit more generic but it’s still got a geo qualifier on it and then B and B package deal. Okay, Sam, let’s move on to the actual demo.

(Sam Shoemaker) Great.

(Skip Lefever) I’m going to share my screen at this point. I’m going to do into our research account. Can you see in my screen okay, Sam?

(Sam Shoemaker) Yup. I’m seeing it.

(Skip Lefever) Okay. In this example, we’ve already created a Google account. We’ve created a Google Ads account. This happens to be one we use for doing research like this today. I’m actually in the Google Ads interface. This is the full experience, not the Google Ads Express. You typically, when you log in, you come to a screen, a screen that looks like this that is an overview screen, I am going to go to the Keyword Planner Tool, since that’s what we’re demoing here today. I’m going to choose this wrench up here. I get a whole bunch of options. I’m going to go over here under planning because that’s really what I’m doing today. I’m going to choose Keyword Planner.

(Skip Lefever) Now, I’m in the keyword planner and my goal in this planning session is to actually discover new keywords. I’m researching new keywords. I’m going to click on that arrow. I’ve got two options. I’m going to actually demonstrate both of them for you. One of them is to take those seed keywords and enter them into the keyword planner. Let me just do that quickly. I’m going to copy and paste those seed keywords that I just showed you and I’m going to simply paste them in here. Let’s see, bed and breakfast Lancaster, bed and breakfast [inaudible 00:32:41]. Okay, it only brought me two of the four. Let me grab the other two. I’m going to type them and not allowing me to paste them for some reason. Oh, I see why because I’ve got the same keyword copy twice. I’m going to choose here B and B near and Sam, can you remind me what my last one was? You have the presentation still open.

(Sam Shoemaker) It was B&B package deal, B&B without any space.

(Skip Lefever) Okay. All right. You can see I’ve now either pasted it or typed those four seed keywords. Now, I’m simply going to click get results. The Keyword Planner is going to search its history. I’m also going to put some geography qualification on here because I’m not looking to advertise in the whole United States. I want to start smaller and be more specific. I’m thinking for this particular demonstration, I’m actually going to target potential prospects that are in the Greater Philadelphia area. By choosing these location targets, I’m actually in the interface.

(Skip Lefever) It’s actually linking up to the Google Map facility and showing me location options. I’m going to choose this thing called the Philadelphia Nielsen DMA region. You can see it mapped it for me there that’s right there. It actually crosses over into Delaware in New Jersey as well as Pennsylvania. Then, I’m also going to choose New York City because I know that I get a few Lancaster County gets a fair amount of tourism, people coming from the Greater New York City area. Again, I’m going to choose this DMA region, which will be larger than just New York City. Now, I’m going to save that. By doing that, I’m saying to Google, “Hey, I’m interested in showing ads to people in those two regions,” and I still got my keyword seeds up here.

(Skip Lefever) Now, down here, you can actually see the keywords are the search queries that Google Keyword Planner is reporting to me are being used by searchers that are looking for these products, these search queries. I’m just going to order these by average monthly searches. I’m going to put the biggest quantities at the top. What the Keyword Planner is showing me here, that based on the seed keywords, Google Keyword Planner found these relevant keywords and it has this average volume per month in this geographic area. It also gives me a couple of other data points. It shows me how much competition there is for the search queries or these keywords. Low means not a lot of people, not a lot of advertisers are bidding for that particular keyword. That makes that one particularly interesting to me. Then, you can see there are others that are identified as medium. There can also be some highs. I’m actually seeing highs right now.

(Skip Lefever) Also, another data point here is the Keyword Planner is giving me some idea of what I’m going to have to pay for cost per click. It’s giving me a top of page bid that’s kind of on the lower end. What that means simply is that if I want to be on the top of the search results page, we call that above the fold or above the organic search results, to get in that range, I’m going to have to pay this much per click. If I want to be higher up or closer to the top of the page, I’m going to have to pay more like this. You can see based on the benchmarks that I showed you earlier, we’re squarely going to be in that buck to a buck 50 kind of range for cost per click for bed and breakfast search queries in the Greater New York City and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. Hopefully, that gives you a sense of how you start the process of doing keyword research.

(Skip Lefever) Now, I’m going to quickly make some choices here. For example, B&B near me has some definite intent that is more bottom of the funnel intent. This is somebody that is looking for a bed and breakfast relatively close to their physical location when they did this search. To me, that’s a bottom of funnel keyword. I want that keyword. Bed and Breakfast Lancaster similarly shows geographic content. This person’s pretty fallen out of the funnel. Not only are they interested in a bed and breakfast, but they’re interested in one that’s in Lancaster. This one is very similar. It’s just slightly different word choice and different order. Here’s one that’s specifying Amish bed and breakfast. My Bed and Breakfast is located in what’s called Amish Country. You know what? I’m going to take that one too as well as this one. I’m even going to take this Lancaster B&B, I think.

(Skip Lefever) Now, I’m also making some qualified judgments here. Personally, I’ve found from my own experience that I’d rather only choose keywords that have at least 20 or 30 searches per month and more. You can see that I’m not going to choose these ones that are only 10. Okay, that’s a deliberate decision I’m making. You can make a different decision. That’s the one I’m making today.

(Skip Lefever) Another thing I want to point out to you, just by looking at these keyword ideas that the Keyword Planner has presented, I also see some keywords here that I really don’t particularly want to show ads for. For example, I consider my B&B in this hypothetical example to be kind of a mid to high range B&B in terms of price. If somebody’s searching for a cheap B&B, I’m thinking they’re probably not going to choose my B&B. I’m not going to choose that keyword. In fact, I’m going to register the fact that that cheap, as part of a search query, is probably not one that I want to use. I’m going to actually start a little list for myself over here. I’m going to call this negative keywords, which you could also think about as an exclusion. I’m going to start a little list for myself. You could write it by hand. You can do whatever you want. I’m going to put the word cheap, right there.

(Skip Lefever) Okay, let me search this a little bit more for a couple more examples. Okay, here’s a branded search or, well, I’m not going to call that branded search. That’s another town that’s in Lancaster County, the Town of Paradise. That’s okay. I’m okay if people are… I’m close to Paradise. I’m good with that search query. But this one, this is an actual brand name somebody knows about a B&B called Beacon Farm, Amish Bed and Breakfast. I don’t want to serve my ads for that query because they’re already calling out that by brand name. I’m thinking, chances are, they’re not going to book with me. I’m going to write in my negative or exclusion keyword list here, Beacon Hollow.

(Skip Lefever) Let’s take another quick gander here. Here’s another one that looks like a branded search to me. It’s called Lowfield B&B. I’m going to add that to my exclusion list. Okay. All right. I’m going to put that aside for a minute.

(Skip Lefever) Now, I’ve made my selection. I’m choosing… By the way, you can choose lots of keywords. You can choose a relatively small number of keywords. Again, it kind of comes down to budget. How many bookings you’re looking for? How many sales that kind of thing.

(Skip Lefever) Now, I’m going to start the actual grouping process. I am going to take the ones that include the word Lancaster. I’m going to unselect these again. I know the ones I’m keeping are just up here in the top. I’m going to choose all the ones that include the word Lancaster. In the interface, I’m going to create a grouping for those keywords. I’m going to call that Lancaster B&B. I have those keywords selected on the left hand side. I’ve created a group name. Now, I’m going to click on this add keywords button. We’re going to go back to that in a minute. I’ll show you what happened by doing that.

(Skip Lefever) I’m also going to go back and grab this near me keyword. It’s the only one like that. I’m going to create a group called B&B near me and I’m going to add that keyword to my plan. Then, finally, I’m going to grab these two that used the word Amish in them and I’m going to create a separate grouping called Amish. In this case, it’s spelled out so I’m actually going to put that in my group name, Amish bed and breakfast. I’m going to add those to my plan.

(Skip Lefever) I have just added these six keywords to my keyword plan and I’ve put them in a group. Now, I’m going to look at the plan that I just created. I’m going to see that these are the three groups that I just created. Google calls them ad groups. You can also think of it as a keyword group. Their platform is called Google ads. They like the idea of identifying the groupings by ads. It’s six or one half dozen the other. Then, I’m going to click on keywords. Here’s the keywords I’ve chosen and you can see the group that they’re included in.

(Skip Lefever) Okay, I’ve just done in this session of, I don’t know 10 minutes or so, I’ve just done some research based on some key some seed keywords I created. I’ve identified the ones I want to choose that are more bottom of the funnel keywords. I grouped them into three groups. I put them in my plan. I’m going to do one more thing. I’m going to go back to keyword ideas just to show you that there’s also another way of identifying potential keywords. We usually do both of these in our keyword research sessions. In this case, I’m actually going to start with a website URL. What I’m going to choose to do in this case, I’ve identified two of my competitors for my B&B and one of them is called Limestone Inn. I’m going to go over here and put their website in here. I’m going to say, “Yeah, go ahead and use the whole site.”

(Skip Lefever) Now, I’m going to click get results. Well, Google Keyword Planner is going to do the same thing, but instead of using my seed keywords I created earlier, they’re actually going to crawl the limestone website and come back with keywords that match it and you can see the same sorts of things.

(Skip Lefever) Now, for the sake of time, I’m not going to choose any additional keywords but I very much could choose additional keywords. Again, I could group them into groups and I could add them to my plan. Again, just for the sake of time, I’m not going to do that right now. I’m going to stick with the ones I’ve already selected. All right, I’m going to show you really quickly, how am I doing on time, Sam?

(Sam Shoemaker) We are starting to get closer to 12.

(Skip Lefever) We are beyond. I’m not going to dwell on this but I’m simply going to select the keywords in my plan. I’m going to click this button right here that says Create Campaign. I’m going to give it a name. I’m just going to call it bed and breakfast. I’m going to choose a starting budget. I’m going to say that my budget is $15 a day. I apparently already did a test earlier. I’m going to change my name. That’s it. What the Keyword Planner just did for me was take those keywords that I chose and they actually put them in a search ad campaign. Sam, I’m going to stop the demo there. You go ahead and take back control.

(Sam Shoemaker) Yeah, Skip and I know that we went a little long there but I think for me, like I said, I said this before, I don’t spend a whole lot of time doing these PPC campaigns but other than doing a few of the things that we’re going to talk about next and we’ll give some sort of categories of things, prioritization of what you should do, must do, things like that just for reference but other than actually writing the copy for the ad campaign, in 20 minutes or so you did the research and had something that we would say is, when we’re actually doing the work at our agency, we’re probably we’re spending a lot more time doing that. We’re going into the real details and the best practices that we’ve learned over the years but what you did there is really, if somebody wants to test out running PPC ads, what you just did is exactly what they should do. We would say they have, while it’s minimum, there’s a lot of things that are going to set you up for success, especially those how we came about those keywords with the different qualifiers.

(Sam Shoemaker) I think we have the next slide here. We’re going to take a look at… Well, we’ve got some must do’s, should do’s, could do’s and don’t do’s and I think, Skip, instead of talking, I don’t think we actually intended to talk through all of these but is there any specific ones that you want to call out quick in the time that we have, but overall, this is just a simple slide that you can look at to see, okay, if you just want to do something quick, here’s some basically a good rule of thumb on what you should prioritize your time doing.

(Skip Lefever) Yup, that’s exactly right, Sam. Good way to say it. The must-do column is these are things that you have to do on the Google Ads platform in order to actually create a campaign that can run and serve ads. You have to choose geo-targeting.

(Skip Lefever) Now, they’ll default to choosing the whole United States for the whole world. It behooves you to narrow down to where your prospects actually live. You have to add keywords. We just showed you how to do that. You have to set a budget. We just did that. You have to choose a big strategy. Those are the prerequisites. You have to do those things in order to run an ad campaign. Things we identify it should do’s, you see the column there, there’s something called match types that you can add to your keywords that helps control the targeting and the level of position precision. We also highly recommend adding those negative keywords or exclusions. We are also highly recommending doing conversion tracking. I’ll leave it at that.

(Skip Lefever) The next column could do, those are other things you can do to control your campaign even more deeply. Let me just touch on the don’t do’s. When you choose keywords like I just did and added them to the campaign, they’re automatically added as what’s called pure broad match keywords. That means there’s little precision. Google still has a lot of, it takes a lot of latitude in choosing what search queries to match up to those keywords. That’s why we recommend choosing match types and we recommend not running all broadcast, just pure broad keywords because you’re going to get a lot of unqualified searches.

(Sam Shoemaker) Yeah.

(Skip Lefever) Secondly, don’t forget about your negative keywords or your exclusions so that you can exclude the searches you don’t want. Don’t do single word keywords. They’re too broad. You would be amazed at the kind of stuff you’ll get matched up for. Those are just some quick don’t do this.

(Sam Shoemaker) Yeah, that’s great.

(Skip Lefever) That’s based on some hard fought experience.

(Sam Shoemaker) I’m sure. Step four here and this is… I’ll let you just give a talk about what we mean when we say keyword location and call to action but we’ll show in the next slide, we also have some additional resources, but Skip, you just want to talk about that real quick?

(Skip Lefever) Yeah. This is an actual screenshot or a preview, if you will, of a Google search ad that will appear in Google search results on a mobile smartphone device or a tablet and it’s just formatted like a mobile ad as opposed to a desktop ad. We recommend always including the keyword or a representative keyword for the group that this ad pertains to. In this case, we tend to put it right in the top left headline. You can see here, we’ve got Bed and Breakfast Lancaster PA in this example, that is a representative keyword for this keyword group that this ad is for.

(Skip Lefever) Secondly, we recommend, particularly for travel and tourism, use a geo qualifier. In this case, we’ve killed two birds with one stone, it’s in the actual keyword, therefore we’ve got a location qualifier in the ad, in fact we’ve got two of them, Lancaster and PA.

(Skip Lefever) Thirdly, we’ve got a call-to-action here. It’s book online. It shows up as part of the URL in the green type on this preview but we’re calling the searcher to come to our website and book. It’s important to highlight a keyword in your ad copy. It’s important to highlight a location. It’s important to call them to actually do something and then you see the rest of the ad, we’ve got some other key messages that we feel like are germane to our hypothetical B&B here, “Great service and amenities. We serve a full breakfast. Hey, in this COVID time, we’ve got an actual external entrance. You’re not going through a general entrance that everybody goes through.” Just to point out a couple of things. Well, I won’t. We’ve got it in another slide. Go ahead, Sam.

(Sam Shoemaker) Sure. Just to call out what I mentioned before, we have done a couple previous episodes of the meet-up on messaging and creative for ads. Now, creative isn’t going to be as relevant force pure search ads because it’s really all about the text that you put in but just referencing these two meetups, one of them back in May and the other one in August, where they were a mix. The one in May was a mix of social ads and search ads. The one in August really focused on social media ads but there were still some really good content around what you should be saying in your ads and some of that would carry over. A lot of it would carry over to search ads as well.

(Skip Lefever) Yes, absolutely. Okay.

(Sam Shoemaker) Ad extensions.

(Skip Lefever) Yeah, let’s jump into that for a minute. In this preview, we’re showing you down at the bottom of the ad, some ad extensions. Ad extensions is simply a way to make your ad even bigger. This is something many folks when they first start running Google Search Ads miss. We’ve got several different examples of an ad extension here. The top part in white there is the basic ad. Everything in gray below that Sam highlighted in the orange box there, those are all ad extensions. The ones in blue are called sitelink ad extensions and if you click on those, you actually go to a page on the website that is specific to those things. I’m saying about my bed and breakfast, “Hey, we’ve got dine in and we’ve got both an indoor and outdoor dining experience.” If you click on one of those links, you’re going to go to a different page on my website that talk about those things.

(Skip Lefever) There’s also this local theater group that a lot of our clientele like to go visit. We’re putting a link to that. Then, I’m putting an actual link to my, in this case, my hypothetical B&B. Then, at the bottom is my phone number. If this is a smartphone, which this ad is intended for, if I click on that phone number with my finger on my phone, it actually calls me. It calls my business and you make a booking. That’s what ad extensions are. They’re a way of making your ad bigger and allowing your prospective customers to do other things.

(Skip Lefever) Okay, launch it. Once you’ve done all those things, it is literally as easy as flipping a switch. You’ve set a budget, you’ve chosen keywords, you’ve written some ad copy, you literally click on a switch and click on enable that tells Google this campaign is ready to run, Google start serving ads for those search queries.

(Sam Shoemaker) I think the one thing that people get in trouble with is that they tend to overthink the rest of the stuff. I think one thing just to stress just from talking with you and hearing what you’re saying on this meetup but also through our other conversations, just don’t start too broadly. You said earlier, it’s picking a specific product. Don’t try to market for everything that your operation offers. If you offer just one thing and you specialize that and that’s your bread and butter, it’s pretty easy for you. Then, you can start off smaller with trying to target a specific group of people or a specific geographical region or even testing out a specific message to your audience but for those operations that offer, multiple things that somebody could book, just start by trying it with one of your product lines or one of your operations.

(Sam Shoemaker) Just don’t rush into it too much because I feel like when people rush into it, in my experience, those are the people that say they get burned. Then they say, “Well, you know what, it’s just Google taking my money.” If I have to be honest with the person, I would say it’s, “Well, you probably just went at it a little too cavalier and I think if you rethink it and take it slow and be very intentional, you’ll find that this can work out for you.” As we said in the very beginning of this, the numbers show that this works for the tourism industry in general and more than likely it can work for your business. You just have to, in a sense, be patient and be working out each one of those pieces at a time. Once you do that, it really is fairly simple to do and to test.

Open Q&A from Participants

(Sam Shoemaker) We’re going to skip right to… Well, we’re going to go right into Q&A here. I think we’ve got a couple questions from when people registered. We’ll ask a few. I think there’s maybe only like two or three questions. We’ll be able to go through it pretty quickly. Scott, what do you got for us?

Should you use competitor’s business names as keywords?

(Scott Rehnberg) Sure. Skip, I know you had talked a little bit about leaving out competitor business names when you’re doing your keyword research. Why would we do that? Why wouldn’t we go after competitors when we want to target?

(Skip Lefever) Yeah, a couple reasons. Probably the first one is that your website… I’ll use that example of Limestone Manor, I think it was called as I’m calling them my competitor. Well, my website has nothing to do with Limestone Manor. Automatically, Google is going to see my bidding on limestone keywords as being less qualified than limestone would be themselves. In a sense, I can’t take the time to go into it in great detail, the point is me trying to serve ads or bid on ads for limestone, I am never going to perform as well as the actual limestone brand. That’s why we tend not to recommend that. It doesn’t mean you can’t or you shouldn’t, you should just go into it with your eyes open. Your ads are not going to perform as well for branded search queries.

(Skip Lefever) Another, frankly, is that sometimes competitors get upset. We’ve had several situations where a business owner of a competing B&B, as an example, has called our business and said, “Hey, the heck you’re doing? You’re targeting ads that show my name and your ad. What’s going on here? If you don’t stop, I’m going to sue you.” That’s a secondary reason why we often don’t recommend it. It’s often possible to navigate your way through that but most of our customers don’t want to deal with that.

How do you get a potential customer to click-through?

(Scott Rehnberg) How do you get a potential customer to click-through?

(Skip Lefever) The important thing there is to be relevant. Sam summarized really well there about choosing what you’re doing well that also includes your messaging. It also includes the content on your website. Really, we’re starting with a search query and that we’re designing an ad that we want to serve that is relevant to that search query. Then, as a result of clicking on that ad, we want to send them to a page on our website that is relevant for that search query and for that ad copy. The ad copy and the connection to the search query or the keyword is really your opportunity to convince somebody to click. You need to send them a compelling message about your product or service that might include features or benefits or promotional offers or something of that sort but it also needs to be highly relevant to that specific keyword.

(Sam Shoemaker) Yup.

(Skip Lefever)If you do that, if you’re relevant and you’re offering a product or service in your messaging that people want, they’re going to click-through at a very good rate.

(Sam Shoemaker)That’s great. That’s great.

What’s the best way to narrow targeting when you can’t do a look-alike audience?

(Scott Rehnberg) One more quick one for you, what’s the best way to narrow targeting when you can’t do a look alike audience?

(Skip Lefever) Okay, that’s really kind of mixing two different online advertising techniques. A lookalike audience is really an audience that is used for running display ads. That’s like a cold audience. You’re pushing an ad in front of them. They weren’t looking for something. You’re just pushing like on a billboard or radio commercial online and ad in front of them. That’s actually a different scenario that’s not related to search ads, really.

(Skip Lefever) With search ads, the way that you’re doing the narrowing is by doing that keyword research and choosing the keywords that are highly relevant to what you’re trying to sell and where they’re positioned in the funnel. The example I gave, we’re trying to find people that are ready to buy.

(Sam Shoemaker) Yeah, great.

(Skip Lefever) That’s how you do the narrowing by choosing the right keywords. Really, by doing that analysis where I chose keywords to describe my service, words that showed people had intent that they were near ready to buy and also some geographic qualifiers. For travel and tourism, I would highly recommend those three components to your keywords.

(Sam Shoemaker) That’s great.

(Scott Rehnberg) Great. Thanks guys.

(Sam Shoemaker) That’s it, Scott?

(Scott Rehnberg) Yup, that’s it.

(Sam Shoemaker) Great. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you Skip, as always. I do feel like you said, a demystifying search ads. I do think that is a very accurate way to put it. There’s confusing terminology around it. Google has actually changed some of the ways that it refers to itself recently that can leave a lot of people confused but I think, just a quick summary would be, this is for people, you’re targeting people who are literally raising their hand and saying, “Hey, I want to buy your service.” Instead of literally raising their hand, they’re typing it out into Google, getting the right keywords, writing the right ad copy. If you don’t overthink it, which I know a lot of us, including myself, are prone to do, if you don’t overthink it and you follow some of the simple steps that we put through there, you’ll have success.

(Sam Shoemaker) I also want to mention too, I forgot to include this in the slides but we do have some tools on our website. If you go to our website, if you go to either or, the name of our agency, both places have a free tool that if you already have an ads account, if you already have tried running ads, you can submit your ad account into that free tool. It is basically a free audit that will give you some suggestions.

(Sam Shoemaker) If you are starting up and this is brand new to you, what we recommend is doing what we’ve laid out in the video, doing what Skip has kind of walked us through, especially with the keywords. If you do that, pick a budget that’s not going to break the bank and run an ad for a month. See how it happens. See how it performs. Then, if you’re interested in getting some feedback, go to that tool and submit your ad account then and we’ll go through the auditing process to get some feedback about what to do. It’s hard for us to know exactly what to do without ad accounts, with no history, with no ads that have run. Us, looking at an ad account before it’s actually performed at all, we won’t be able to really offer a whole lot. We recommend if you’re looking at doing it, set up an account, follow the steps, test it out and we’re happy to take a look and give some additional feedback for you to hopefully find some success. It’s really good [crosstalk 01:08:12].

(Skip Lefever) Hey, Sam, just because I’m thinking of it, when we publish the video and the notes and so forth, add some other resources like links to Google ad tutorials…

(Sam Shoemaker) Perfect.

(Skip Lefever) [crosstalk 01:08:27]. We have on also on our website a glossary of…

(Sam Shoemaker) Yes, that’s helpful.

(Skip Lefever) … ad terms. We’ll put that there as well.

(Sam Shoemaker) Yeah. Half of it is just understanding the lingo that goes behind the platform. That’s great. Thank you, Skip. Thank you to our team. Thank you for joining us today. We don’t have a topic for next month yet. We’ll be hosting one on November 13th at the same time and we’ll let you know what the topic is going to be in probably the next week. Look for that email. Thank you all very much. We hope you have a productive rest of October and productive November. Thanks everybody. Bye.

(Skip Lefever) Bye-bye.

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Meet the Author:

Carl Lefever

Carl Lefever, Founder & Strategist

Carl is the founder of Improve & Grow, LLC, where his primary passion is helping businesses grow by improving their online marketing. He leads the team and is involved in developing and executing internet marketing strategies for our clients. Carl's background is in continuous improvement disciplines, focused on sales and marketing operations. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt. He is a proud father of 4 girls and loves traveling and supporting missions work.