I get this question all of the time. What is the monthly cost to run Google Ads?  As with many questions in the world of digital marketing, the answer is, “it depends”. The absolutely simplest answer is as much as you want to spend.

So How Does Google Ads Work?

Google Ads itself is a free tool to use. You simply have to have a Google account and go to ads.google.com and you can get started. You don’t have to pay to use it, you just have to pay to advertise. Google gives you a lot of flexibility there.  You can set a comfortable daily budget. For example, if you set up a campaign to have a $10/day budget, you can expect to spend about $300 in a 30-day month if all things run normally. You can even set it up to run only on specific days or hours of the day. You typically won’t spend much over your set daily budget, though Google allows themselves a little wiggle room to go over that.

You can definitely spend under budget if you aren’t bidding properly or targeting keywords with enough search volume. Typically the risk is more with wasting money on bad keywords rather than not getting enough, but I have seen business owners set up campaigns and bid too low and not get any traffic because they weren’t willing to spend enough per click.

What Does a Click Cost in Google Ads?

Google Ads Keyword CPC VarianceIt varies widely. I would say that the biggest mistake people make is focusing a bit too much on the cost per click, often seen in reports as CPC.  At the most basic level (there is more intricacy we won’t get into here), Google Search Ads are set up as a live auction for each keyword at the moment it is searched. Tools can give you a general idea of how much a keyword has been costing historically, but it can literally change from hour to hour. I have worked with flood restoration companies that have seen the CPC jump from a few dollars per click to over $70/click in the middle of a big storm. Why? Because that is when someone is stuck with a flooded basement and looking for an immediate solution.  Those clicks convert at a high rate at that time and it becomes worth it.  That is all to teach the lesson that many times, the higher cost keywords are higher cost because those are the ones that convert. The art of mastering your Google Ads is to figure out which keywords convert for you and then to focus on those. That’s why CPC doesn’t matter as much as cost per conversion.  If you spend $1/click on 100 clicks that don’t ever convert but spend $10/click on a term that converts at 20%, which one is the better one to spend money on?  This brings us to the importance of measuring success.

Be Sure You Measure Success

The first thing you have to think about when starting to work on Google Ads is to decide what you want to happen from those ads and make sure you are measuring that properly. I recommend setting up conversions in Google Analytics, but at the very least, make sure you are asking new customers, etc. where they are hearing about you. For example, when looking for potential customers to fill out a form, create a “thank you page” on your site that visitors only reach if they have filled out that form. You can then set up a conversion in Google Ads to trigger any time someone makes it to that page. This way you can attach your successes to specific keywords, campaigns, types of traffic, etc. This is very important to determine what is and isn’t working with Google Ads and help you focus your spending on the right keywords and campaigns. Calls can be a little tougher to measure, but you can learn to set up event actions in Google Analytics.  It is a little more complicated, but tools like CallRail have pretty good help documents that show how to set it up.

Be Careful Out There On Your Own

Of course when it comes down to it, if you are generating enough business through your ads to warrant paying for them, you are good to go.  Unfortunately, the way Google Ads is set up and the way all of the changes are trending, are making it harder and harder to avoid wasting money. I would say it is generally a good idea to get help from an independent professional (not Google reps) to take a look at it if it is not working or step in from time to time to clean things up and get them running more efficiently. If you find it generates a lot of business, it is worth having someone keep an eye on it for you each month or even more often to make adjustments as Google, your business, and the market change. Wishing you all the luck with tremendous success with Google Ads. You can always look back here for resources to avoid stumbling blocks along the way, or if you want someone to handle it for you.