Is It Worth Using Google Ads For SMEs?

Running a business is hard enough without having to worry about effectively running digital marketing too. And with a lot of chat about the potentially high cost and other problems, some small business owners wonder if it’s really worth using Google Ads.

Maybe you’ve heard that Google Ads is best for big business; or that you need to bid big on popular keywords to see any return?

In fact, Google Ads for small business can be very effective. But, it’s worth bearing these factors in mind to help you get the best out of your PPC campaigns. 

Organic search vs Paid search

The internet is where we all go for information. And, chances are, your business would benefit from that exposure too.

When it comes to free exposure, you’ll need a whole search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy. In the long run, this is a great idea. But if you need results right now, or at least within a very short time frame, paid search is the way to go.

SEO is still something that most businesses should look at managing too. Regular blogs, sharing content on social media and working to create posts on external websites to generate exposure of your business is a process that usually takes weeks, if not months to come to fruition.

By contrast, you can sit down with your Google Ads dashboard and be getting paid traffic in just a few hours. 

So in short, for small businesses, Google Ads can be incredibly useful for quick results.

The problems with paid search

Boosting your visibility with paid search results and display network ads can be very effective, but comes with it’s own problems.

Competitive keywords

The problem that most will run into is competition to appear in the top of the search results. Paying for the top spot in Google can get expensive with competitive keywords. Industries such as finance, casino, business services, on-demand services such as plumbers and locksmiths, and real estate can have search terms that cost anything from $10 to $100 plus.

The prices can be especially high at peak times or popular times of the year.

The technicals

Anyone can set up a Google Ads campaign. Google makes it easy to set up both search and display ads, so you really can be online in minutes.

The problem though is in the detail. Tweaking the paid search campaign for optimal success involves watching your successes and failures over the course of a few days or weeks. 

For example, you might think that your root keyword is the one you need to rank top for – let’s say ‘digital marketer in London’. 

But you might find that this keyword attracts a lot of expensive clicks and few conversions. By contrast you might find that a long tail search term or niche term, for example ‘how can I market my business in East London’, delivers lower click volumes but higher conversions for a lower fee.

You’re not going to know this is the case from day one though, so it does involve a bit of monitoring and analysis to take advantage of these things. 

Equally, you might need to rejig your targeting, scheduling, keyword bids, your ad copy and maybe even your landing page. 

In short, there is a lot to keep an eye on with your Google Ads for the optimum experience. 

Invalid traffic

It’s kinda the elephant in the room with programmatic advertising that invalid traffic costs the marketing industry a lot of money each year. In fact it was found that fake clicks on PPC ads cost around $35 billion in 2020 – which makes it more lucrative than credit card fraud.

Although this invalid traffic can come from accidental clicks or even intentional malicious clicks from competitors or brand haters, it can also come from organised botnets and click farms.

Often referred to as click fraud or ad fraud, claims that invalid traffic is under control are consistently proven to be wide of the mark. Complex ad fraud networks are often exposed and highlight the ongoing problem of ad revenue being stolen by fraudsters.

Does this mean it’s not worth using Google Ads for small businesses? 

Well, the percentages of fake clicks can be anything between 10% up to 60%, depending on your industry. Google Ads can still be incredibly effective, whatever your invalid click volume. 

There is also a huge market in click fraud prevention, with products such as ClickCease and Cheq for PPC offering solutions to make sure your ads are only seen by genuine interested parties. Offering quite affordable solutions, search for click fraud prevention to see which is right for you. 

Money matters

For SME’s Google Ads is usually worth running, for sure. But for many small businesses, the ‘worth’ will relate heavily to the budget. Not every business will pay out $1000 and get $4000 worth of revenue back.

And some might even find that their cost per click fluctuates wildly. At peak times, a $1 click can quickly jump to $20 or even more per click. For an SME in a competitive industry hoping to cut in amongst the big dogs, this can potentially wipe out a marketing budget in an afternoon.

Watching the cost per click and adjusting bids is always recommended to make sure you’re not paying through the nose. And even avoiding those costly root keywords and aiming for the more specific or long tail keyword can make a big difference.

As an example, bidding on ‘womens shoes’ is a hugely competitive search term with hundreds of thousands of searches a day. 

Instead, bidding on terms like ‘best running shoes for women’, ‘stylish high heels for casual wear’ or ‘comfortable womens work shoes’ would result in people looking for something specific rather than general browsing. This reduces the chances of ‘browsing’ and paying for high value clicks which are less likely to convert.

The benefits of Google Ads

So we’ve looked at the problems. What about the best reasons to use Google Ads for SMEs?


Without question, Google Ads is the world’s biggest ad network. With a market share of over 90%, 2 trillion search requests per day and millions of sites on the GDN (including YouTube, Gmail and Google News), there is no question that Google Ads gives you a reach that is hard to beat.

Social media also has a broad reach, although it is more dependent on users logging into their platform. Sites like Facebook also don’t allow keyword targeting, but rely on demographics and location.

For Google Ads and paid search, ads are activated by searches, indicating genuine interest. 


Despite needing some technical expertise to get the best out of it. Google Ads does give SME owners a lot of control over their marketing. 

Set your own bids, schedule ads by time and date, set up multiple campaigns for search, display, video and more. List your inventory, promote your bricks and mortar location via Google Maps and get your ad seen on some of the biggest websites in the world. All of this, and you can set your daily budget too.

In short, it’s a digital marketing beast. And if you’re looking for one marketing platform that will probably deliver what you need, it’s gonna be Google Ads.

Plug and play

The truth is, even if you’re not technical at all, you can make Google Ads work for you. Google has the Smart Bidding strategies, plus a number of easy to use templates for display ads and even video ads.

If you’re the type who struggles to even operate an iPhone, Google Ads is designed to ready to go out of the box. However there are more custom options for those who want to take more control, so if your marketing skills develop with your business, you’ll have plenty of room to grow.

Should I use Google Ads?

With a platform that reaches 98% of the internet using public around the world, there really is nothing quite like Google. Whatever your business goals, Google Ads is built to help you max your marketing.

Yes, mastering the platform takes a bit of time. And yes, the invalid traffic and click fraud is a definite thorn in the side of the industry. But overall, for SME owners looking to get their brand seen, Google Ads is a no-brainer.

However it is also worth using PPC alongside a simple SEO strategy.