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Dear Professor Bruce:
As a small business owner, how can I get better visibility for my business online when I don’t have a lot of money to spend on advertising?
Online search advertising is a great way for small businesses to develop an online presence. Search companies like Google, Yahoo! and MSN offer advertising services to help small businesses market themselves online. These advertising programs allow small businesses to create their own uniquely-tailored campaign affordably to reach a targeted customer base.
When you go into a search engine and plug in a keyword, you see resulting ad placements or “sponsored links” listed alongside search results. Advertisers can bid on their advertisement’s placement on the results page, connecting with millions of potential customers who are already searching for what you offer. Let's say you’re running a gourmet coffee website that sells everything from whole beans to espresso machines. You want people who are searching for great coffee products to visit your site.
Online search advertising program details vary, but all share the same goal: To provide a simple way for businesses of any size to advertise online. Some solutions to look into would be Google AdWords, Yahoo! Advertising and Microsoft adCenter.
According to Emily White, Google online sales and operations director, “your ad campaign’s effectiveness depends largely on how you plan, create, and maintain it”. Here are a few tips:
- Know your audience. Precision is the key to search advertising: You want to reach the right users at the right time. Take a good look at the products and services you're selling and the customers who are buying.
- Identify your goals. Once you have a clear sense of your business, stay focused on how to reach your customers. Structure each campaign based on a simple, overarching goal such as a category, product line (coffee, tea, or machines), or theme (seasonal or promotional).
- Choose powerful keywords. Choosing keywords is both an art and a science. Start brainstorming by expanding your list as widely as possible. Try to think like your users do.
- Write 'gotta-click' ads. It's time to write the ads that users will see when they search on your keywords -- the ads that will make them feel they must click on your ad to learn more.
- Hit the right users with the right ads. Once you know your potential customers’ key demographics, you can target individual campaigns to reach your audience.
- Track down to the last customer. After your campaign goes live, measure its results regularly. Keep a close watch on your account statistics, review your own web logs, and use conversion tracking software (available for free through some advertising programs).
- Test. Adapt. Thrive. Continually review what you’ve set up, keeping in mind that there's always room for improvement and that online advertising environment is dynamic.
For further information, readers may contact https://adwords.google.com/.
"your ad campaign's effectiveness depends largely on how you plan, create, and maintain it".