Online Advertising for Newbies: Getting started with AdWords

By Chris Damico

The Internet is a big place, and it’s only getting bigger. In 2014, the Internet hit the 1-billion website mark, and today there are nearly 4 billion active Internet users worldwide — almost half the world’s population. More than 3 billion Google searches are made every day, and by the end of 2017, there will be more web traffic than all previous years combined.

Seems overwhelming, doesn’t it? With all of this traffic, all of this noise, how do you stand out? The answer used to be to optimize your website as much as possible for the search engines, or search engine optimization (SEO). That way, when someone searched for “Husqvarna chain saws” or “Toro lawn mowers,” and your website had the best content to offer results for those search terms, you’d show up on the front page of Google.

But that’s changed. With so many websites and frequently changing algorithms, it’s gotten much more difficult to attract traffic by organic SEO alone. Besides, now when you do a search on Google, the top results aren’t websites that show up organically — they’re paid ads. Want your website to show up in the #1 spot? Here are some tips for making pay-per-click (PPC) advertising a part of your inbound marketing strategy.

#1 Sign up for a Google AdWords account

Businesses make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend advertising on AdWords. Google is the king of the Internet, so if you’re going to create your “online billboards,” it’s the smartest place to start.

#2 Pick your keywords

What’s a keyword? Simple: A keyword (“keyphrase” would be a better definition) is the word or phrase that people search to find what they’re looking for. For instance, someone might type “Toro zero-turn lawn mowers” into Google to view the best models, or “Used John Deere tractors” to see if they can find a deal on equipment. Choose the specific keywords you’d like to show up if someone searches near you.

#3 Keep it local

Your dealership may ship parts all over the country, but chances are you’re trying to attract local shoppers away from neighborhood competition to buy from your dealership. Think about that when choosing keywords and setting your ad radius. Start with a 50-mile radius, and add the city to some of the keywords you set, such as “Toro lawn mowers Hill Valley.”

#4 Get specific with your audience

Who do you want to reach? The easy answer may be the same demographic of customers who visit your store, but maybe you want to reach out to a new audience. Maybe you want to attract younger shoppers into your dealership. You’ll be able to set the age of the online shoppers that your ads display to, along with the types of sites that they visit, interests and more.

#5 Set your budget

You have to spend money to make money when you’re advertising, and in the case of online advertising, you should dedicate at least $500 per month. There are some factors that impact your budget, including what keywords you use, how big of an area you’re targeting, the time of the day you advertise (maybe you don’t want ads on when your business isn’t open), and what types of devices you advertise to.

#6 Have a goal in mind

Once you’ve gotten the attention of online shoppers, what do you want them to do? Google AdWords makes it easy to choose different ad formats for different results. You can customize your ads to include calls to action — driving shoppers to take action on your website, call your business, visit your store, or even install your app.

#7 Adjust as necessary

Is it working? How can you tell? Sometimes, it’s easy to tell — your phone will ring more than it used to, you’ll see more traffic in your store than before, or online orders may pick up. But it’s important to log into your account and analyze the numbers. How much are you paying per click? Cost per click (CPC) varies widely by industry, but the average across the board is about $2. If you’re paying more than that, you should probably analyze your online ad strategy.

You’ll also want to analyze how many people your ads are reaching, and how many potential buyers they’re converting into shoppers. Of course, Google has great resources to help you learn more about AdWords and get started on your own. But, let’s face it: Your dealership is busy, and you probably don’t have time to become a PPC expert.

In that case, hire an expert. It’ll be worth every penny, and then you can get to work fulfilling the orders that roll in as a result of your digital ad campaigns. Once you begin seeing results through Google AdWords, think about extending your online advertising to social media, including the other king of the Internet: Facebook.

Chris DamicoChris Damico is the marketing manager at ARI Network Services. He’s helped hundreds of dealers across the country with their digital marketing, including the content and SEO of their websites, social media presence and advertising and email marketing campaigns. He’s dedicated to the mission of helping dealers improve their operations through the implementation of ever-evolving best practices paired with ARI’s suite of award-winning data-driven software tools and marketing services that help dealers “Sell More Stuff!” online and in-store. ARI removes the complexity of selling and servicing new and used inventory, parts, garments and accessories for customers in the outdoor power equipment, powersports, marine, RV, automotive tire and wheel, and white goods industries. More than 22,000 equipment dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage ARI’s website ( and eCatalog platforms to “Sell More Stuff!”