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    Best Practices for Google Ads B2B Targeting

    If you’re searching for a way to drive traffic to your website and improve lead generation, paid advertising is an effective way to increase both traffic and leads. The catch is that you need to know how to do it right or you risk losing time and money. Here’s what to understand about incorporating Google Ads B2B targeting in your content marketing mix.

    Google Ads is Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) platform, which allows businesses to gain visibility across Google’s assets. The search ad is the most common type of Google Ads ad, which pops up for searches related to an advertiser’s products or service. Google Ads are also used by businesses to run display ads, shopping ads, and YouTube ads (just one of Google’s many properties). A pay-per-click (PPC) platform requires the advertiser to pay whenever visitors click on an ad.

    Used by businesses across all industries, Google Ads is the top pay-per-click platform on the internet.

    With Google Ads, a B2B company or business can be the first result people see when they search for a specific solution to a problem, which is great, but B2B PPC campaigns require more research into the variations of phrases and keywords that your company’s audience uses, so let’s start with the importance of keywords.

    Choose Keywords Carefully

    Google Ads are based on what people are looking for, so really think about what your target customer would use in a search in the first place. You need to know almost word-for-word what search terms your target audience enters in Google search. Also, do your keyword research to understand the industry in which your business lives. If you don’t already have it, develop a deep understanding of your product or service from every angle. Keywords need to be as specific as possible to be successful in search. You should know the acronyms and jargon used in search terms to catch the most specific of searchers. 

    Consider grouping your keywords into four main categories:

    • Generic: These are words that broadly describe your service or product for SEO and PPC campaigns. You might hear them referred to as short-tail keywords, which are popular search terms with high search traffic volume. Your generic keywords could be “building supplies” or “door locks” or “local garage doors.” Generic words don’t have branding in them and they’re often a first step on the search journey. You could search with generic words on Google, Yahoo! and Bing and display both organic search results and paid advertisements in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Since Google has a near monopoly in the online search arena, with 87.75% of the online search volume and market, we’ll concentrate there. But Microsoft’s Bing has 5.56% of search, followed by Yahoo! with 2.71%.

    What’s important here is that generic keywords will capture your target audience at the top of the sales funnel. According to customer relationship management software giant Salesforce, the top of a B2B traditional sales funnel includes the awareness phase, in which the potential prospects of the company or business become aware of the existence of the product in the market and its solutions.

    • Related: These are words surrounding your industry, service or product. A good example of related words is Google Autocomplete. Using this is as simple as entering a keyword into the search bar without hitting search. What comes up? Oh, yes, related words. The first and second cousins to your branded or generic words.

    Related keywords also capture your target audience near the top of the sales funnel, particularly around interest, which is the second phase of the funnel when prospects show the level of interest in a product or services by conducting product research and related details in the market.

    • Branded: These are words containing your brand name or associated with your brand, company or products. A branded keyword includes anything in a search engine that includes the name of your company, business, or brand along with a product or service that the searcher is trying to find, such as “Google Keyword Planner.”
    Person touching tablet with finger to scroll and read

    People who search for a branded keyword phrase are actively looking for products, services, or related content to satisfy their search purpose. Branded keywords can create more conversions and increase SERP. When you search your brand online, you’ll see the branded keywords searched most for your business, which can help you make marketing decisions about what type of content you should create based on what’s being revealed in searches around your brand name.

    (You can buy branded keywords to increase website traffic and leads through a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign when revenue and brand exposure is most important for your business. Buying branded keywords can give your business more listings in the SERPs to acquire customers.)

    • Competitor: These are words surrounding your competition. You can use Google Keyword Planner to find competitors’ keywords. You may primarily use this tool for finding search terms to target for Google Ads, but you can also use it as a free SEO keyword research to find how your competition uses keywords. All you need is a Google account to access the Google Keyword Planner Tool which is part of the Google AdWords dashboard. 

    According to SEOChatter, if you want to get competitors keywords for easy uploading to your Google Ads or Bing Ads account for pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, Wordstream can help.

    “Use the free WordStream Keyword Tool to scan your competitors’ websites to get a list of terms along with their Google search volume, Competition Level, Cost-Per-Click (CPC), and Opportunity Score.”

    (If you’re a Bing user, Microsoft Webmaster  is your keyword research tool of choice. But that’s another blog story…)

    Branded and competitor keywords tend to capture those prospects lower in the funnel, which is, according to Salesforce, is where desire and action live. This is where evaluation, in which the prospects or prospect companies examine competitors’ solutions in the market, and decision, where prospects move toward a final buying decision, are completed.

    [Just a note about the sales funnel. Remember that the funnel continues after the purchase. There’s re-evaluation, phase in which B2B sales involve contracts that need to be renewed. As a customer becomes familiar with an offering, and especially as a contract draws to a close, the customers enter a re-evaluation phase during which they’ll decide whether to renew the contract—or not—with you.  There’s also re-purchase– the phase where the customer repurchases a product or service from a company.]

    It’s okay to use ultra-specific terms that only make sense in your specialty, but you want to make sure people search for them before you spend money on advertising. If it is a keyword that’s only used a couple of times per month, you might want to pass on it for something that ranks higher.

    Before we move on from keywords, a note about negative keywords: Not using a negative keyword list is an easy way to waste ad spend. With most keywords, there are obvious but related words used with a totally different intent.

    Google defines negative keywords as “a type of keyword that prevents your ad from being triggered by a certain word or phrase. Your ads aren’t shown to anyone who is searching for that phrase. This is also known as a negative match. For example, when you add ‘free’ as a negative keyword to your campaign or ad group, you tell Google Ads not to show your ad for any search containing the term ‘free.’ On the Display Network, your ad is less likely to appear on a site when your negative keywords match the site’s content.”

    We’ll use an example from LinkedIn, as it’s kind of a B2B site, to further explain negative keywords.

    “The most common situation where negative keywords come into play is with job seekers. If your goal is to sell data security software, you don’t want people who are searching for “data security jobs.” It’s a no-brainer to include “job(s)” in your list of negative keywords.”

    Remember to include misspellings, homonyms and accidental pop culture references when compiling your negative keyword list.

    Finally, it’s also important to continually manage your ads, as keyword search terms fluctuate seasonally and you’ll want to adjust them accordingly to truly optimize your efforts.

    Identify Who You’re Targeting—Exactly

    Before you ever start a single campaign, it is incredibly important to decide on your target audience. In most B2B niches, this is usually a specific company owner, manager, or other executive. If you’ve built audience personas, good on you. That will help streamline your PPC effort.

    Once you figure out who you want to find your company’s website, it’s time to write down how you would usually contact them if you weren’t online. Would they generally call you? Do they only get in touch with your firm when they need a specific item or service? Think about this and come up with a clear idea, as it sets the whole tone for your paid advertising campaigns moving forward.

    Identifying your specific target audience’s wants and needs are key to success in search engine marketing.

    Fortunately, there are a ton of tools that can help identify who’s viewing your website. Google Analytics is the leader of the pack, although it’s blocked the ability to view IP addresses, but you can use other tools, including Leadfeeder, Visitor Queue and Clearbit.

    Focus B2B Campaigns on Brand Awareness

    In most cases, you aren’t going to get a sale immediately from paid advertising if you’re in the B2B space, so focus initially on brand awareness over sales when using Google Ads.

    Go back to that first stop in the funnel: awareness.  You just want them to know who you are. Use ads to try to get them on your website to learn about your brand, what you can offer them, or even answer questions via content on your page. The more you can get them to recognize that you’re a trusted leader in your industry, the easier it is for them to contact you when they’re ready.

    Write Stellar Copy

    After you’ve decided on a few keywords, it is time to start writing ad copy. You want to use your writing to make your call-to-actions as clear as possible and let customers know what makes you different from others in your industry. Finally, you want to be as clear as possible by using descriptors where applicable. This part can be a bit trickier than writing a normal advertisement, but when done correctly, it can make a huge difference in your results.

    Get attention: We don’t mean huge headlines that give click bait a bad name. Identify the target audience’s problem and why they might be searching. Address the audience’s pain points. Let the audience know you get it. These are things that get an audience’s attention.

    Know where your audience is in the sales funnel, to the best of your ability. Write to where searchers are, as their pain points are different depending on where they are on the journey. They may be looking for a range of possible solutions, or narrowing their chosen solution. Write to that, as clearly as you can. Personalized content is something all searchers appreciate.

    Use numbers when you can. As click bait-ish as it sounds, human brains scan for “5 Reasons to Eat Birthday Cake at Work” before they see “Understand Why Sugary Foods Metabolize Well in the Afternoon.” Numbers and simplicity can be the golden win in copy.

    Avoid using all the talking points your competition uses. Jargon just sounds like nonsense after a while. Imitation can feel safe, but won’t make you stand out.

    Know What’s New with Google Ads for B2B

    In 2018, Google started requiring advertisers in certain categories, such as gambling and games, politics, health care, and event ticket sales, to be verified. Expanding the verification process was a necessary step, said John Canfield, Google’s Director of Product Management, Ads Integrity, in 2020.

    “This change will make it easier for people to understand who the advertiser is behind the ads they see from Google and help them make more informed decisions when using our advertising controls. It will also help support the health of the digital advertising ecosystem by detecting bad actors and limiting their attempts to misrepresent themselves,” Canfield said.

    Within our industry, local service businesses such as locksmiths and garage door companies, who Google identifies as having customers who “may need their services immediately and are most likely using their mobile phones to conduct searches, paid search ads are an effective source for generating leads and can provide a much higher return-on-investment (ROI)” were prime real estate for bad actors to misrepresent  themselves. So, Google requires Advance Verification for these two business categories.

    “Google prides itself on providing its users with relevant and useful information which will lead to a positive experience. In order to achieve this level of service, it has designed an Advanced Verification process for Locksmith and Garage Door businesses that wish to advertise their services and products using the Google Ads platform,” Google states on its verification policies page. “Google requires Advance Verification from these two types of businesses because over the years it has identified several misleading claims, unacceptable business tactics, and untrustworthy behavior by advertisers in these two fields.”

    As Google Ads for B2B is ever evolving, it may be easiest to bookmark this page and watch for updates: Read about 2022 Google Ads policy here.

    Consult with a B2B Specialist

    To gain an even better understanding of your B2B niche’s distinct needs, you may want to consider working with an agency that specializes in the channel and has expertise in leveraging paid advertising and Google Ads. Doing so can help your brand create content that’s continually managed for optimization, stands out among your competition, and ensures you’re reaching the right audience.

    If you’re interested in elevating your digital marketing efforts, contact us. We’d love to start a conversation around the possibilities of paid advertising for your business.

    About The Author

    Elton Mayfield

    Elton's career spans media, production, digital and building industry expertise. His diverse experience makes him nimble, innovative, and curious – always pushing the envelope to create extraordinary work that delivers real results for our clients.

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