Paid advertising in the search can be a great way of increasing traffic to your website.

However, there can be some nasty surprises, and it's very easy to get it completely wrong as an IT provider.

The first time I attempted to get into Google AdWords I failed.  Blowing through a substantial amount of cash with nothing to show.

In this chapter, I'll be laying out how not to make the same mistakes I made and how you can use AdWords to be one of your competitive advantages.

Professional Adwords agencies will charge an arm and a leg and tell you that to have a successful AdWords campaign that has measurable results you'll need to spend anywhere from $3,000-$5,000.  This is true.

Now I know many MSP's where this figure seems ???.  However, I am also aware of a large number of IT who feel this amount is just a laughable.  What's the solution? 

Start small and refine your AdWords campaigns over time.

Funnel position

First, let's talk about the type of lead you're going to attract if paying for ads in the search.  Ask yourself this question, what ultimately would someone be searching for that requires them to take immediate action when they arrive on your website? For an IT provider this could be many things, here are 3 examples:

1)  Systems failure, a complete outage of services, P1!

2)  Virus/ Ransomware outbreak.

3)  Switching IT provider due to lackluster service.

These three items are what I've experienced in sales as the top three reasons why a local business is going to need immediate service and is willing to take some form of action when they land on your website.

You're going to choose only one of these scenarios for your first campaign and over the course of six months you will refine it in the Adwords system.  Once you've improved it, you can move onto the other scenarios.  Remember:  Start small and you won’t have to blow through $5000 a month before seeing results.


The other paid search terms to be targeted are your brand terms.  This is covered extensively in the Brandjacking post, but you should be bidding on your brand terms.  Why?

1) It helps you to dominate the search for your company name. 

2) You can control the messaging when someone types your company name in the description.  This is not always possible on your homepage title tag.


3)  Keeps out any competitors that might have read this article, more specifically the Brandjacking post!

4)  Branded terms cost peanuts, and you'll receive a good quality score due to click through rate.

Let's get down to work on working within a budget 


When you are targeting keywords in Adwords there are different ways you can do it.  Let's say for example the keyword you're interested in targeting is:  ransomware recovery in London.

There are three ways you can tell Adwords to display your ad.  They are:  Exact Match; Phrase Match; and, Broad Match.

Exact match is when someone types exactly the words.  For example:  "Ransomware recovery in London".

Phrase Match is when the words are part of the search.  For example:  "who does ransomware recovery in London".

Broad match is when someone types into the search something that is similar to your keyword.  For example:  "virus removal somewhere in London".


Out of the three different modifiers you only want to be working with exact match and phrase match.  You'll lose too much money on board match due to your ad appearing many times on loosely related searches which are not your target audience.

Geolocation (radius)

If you're an IT business, more than likely your clients are local.  Yes, there's remote support, but when working with companies, this step can quite easily be overlooked.

This, of course, will mean if there's a new business expanding into your local catchment then they'll never see your advertising.  That's when your SEO has to be on point.


Scheduling your ads to appear at the right time of the day is also something else that can keep your AdWords budget manageable.  I see so many local IT firms that skip this step.




Simply put, you should have your ads displaying when your office is open.  So, if a visitor to your website does take an action, (i.e., telephoning you), then it's far more likely that you'll have an opportunity to speak with them.

The other benefit of scheduling your ads to specific times of the day is that your advert will appear higher in the search.  Any competitors that may also be running ads will be running 24 hours - 7 days a week.  When your ads are triggered, you'll have gone through less budget which makes it more likely Google give you the higher position.

Split Test

Split testing your ads is a MUST.  It is running one ad up against another and then researching which one performed better in the search.  People are more likely to click one ad which will lead to more conversions on your site.

Here's an example of a split test:



Over the course of a week run these ads in tandem.  At the end of the week look up the stats and see which advert got more clicks.  Also, keep in mind to take the impressions into account when deciding on this.  Once you have your winner, it's time to start the process again. 




Can you outperform last week's winning ad?

The whole point of this is to make your ads optimized in the AdWords system.  If people are more likely to click your ads, then Google is more likely to display your ads.  Thus, giving you a higher ranking.

Quality Score

There are two different camps on quality score.  Best practices state that having a good quality score matters a lot.  Over time if your advert has a good quality score, you pay less for your ads to be shown.  This makes perfect sense as your ad is more relevant in the search.  That's the whole point of quality score.

However, the second camp believes that you should take quality score with a pinch of salt.  Mainly this is down to the fact that you can have an advert with a low-quality score that will appear in the search. 

You might pay more for the advert to be shown but it leads to more conversions on your website due to the way the wording is crafted within the ad.

Personally, I'm in the first camp here - follow best practices that Google outlines.  You're working with a limited budget, so if you can achieve a high-quality score, then you're going to pay less for the ad.

Relevance and Landing Page

This is another biggie at which most amateurs fail.  How relevant is the page that someone lands on after clicking your advert to the search they performed?

If you had an advert running for "Ransomware removal London" and linked the advert to your homepage (while this makes sense) you can be much more intelligent on where you send the visitor.  You should have a page on your website for the specific purpose of someone that comes to your website after entering that term onto Google  The page can talk about what ransomware does to a system and how it works.  Then describe some of the processes your MSP uses to remove/protect.

Finally, the call to action with a prominent telephone number and submission form.  Make it clear on the page and tell the user to call or submit the form for a quick professional response within 15 minutes.

The beauty of setting up a call to action like this using AdWords is, that if you do take the advice in regards to scheduling the ad to only appear in office hours you really can make that call back to them within 15 minutes.

They'll be impressed by this fact alone, and you'll start off a new business relationship on the right foot.

Negative Words

A daily task that you'll have to do when running AdWords is to build your list of negative keywords.

These are words people are typing in that you want to exclude your ad popping up for in the search. 

For instance, you may be running an ad for "ransomware removal in London".  Your ad may appear in the search for "removers in London" and that would be someone typing a search looking for a removal company.  The negative word in this term is "removers".

You'll find these negative searches constantly appear when you first start running with AdWords.  The only way to stop them is by building list of negative keywords over time, so that your advert is not triggered.   You'll have to go into the search term report on a daily basis to weed out the negative searches.  At first, it's quite a fun task as you'll see some of the searches people are performing to come to your website.  And, over time you'll realize just how crucial it is to keep a negative keyword list maintained as the savings can make or break a successful Adwords campaign.

Daily Prospecting

Depending on the services you're attempting to appear for in the search you might still get stuck with limited traffic, even if you have an AdWords campaign setup.  This is usually due to a poor choice of keywords.

Daily prospecting involves spending money to buy data.  That data is keywords you should be targeting.

The only time you want to use broad match terms is when you are daily prospecting for new keywords. 

Assign a small budget and set the ads to appear for broad match.  Check the search term report daily, and you'll find some interesting keywords that you'll never have thought about.

These keywords are prospects.  Plug them into the Keyword Planner tool to find out an approximate volume.  If it's above 0, then it's worth creating an ad group that targets the phrase and exact match of these terms.

Other locations and competitors

If you are struggling to come up with ideas for your ad text, this is where your competitors can come in handy.

Perform a search to see what their text is in the ad copy.  Make this ad copy exactly the same and put it in a split test against your creative ad copy, see which ad wins and repeat the process.


Bigger and better

Another handy research tip when planning your ad copy is to look at more sizeable geographical areas (New York, LA, London).

For example, here in the UK, I might search "IT Support London".  London is a big area (8.5 million people), and the competition is fierce for a spot in the paid search.  I would imagine companies are paying anywhere between $30-$80 a click for this term. They'll be working with much bigger advertising budgets.  More than likely they'll be spending a dedicated AdWords agency to have these ads optimized.

Repeat the same searches on a daily basis over the course of 3 months. 

Take note of the same ads that keep appearing.  These are the ads that have been tested to death and optimized. 

All you have to do is use the same ad copy, page URL and landing page structure to have a highly successful ad.  

Some tools will automate this process to an extent, so you do not have to check over the course of a month.  One, in particular, is called SEMRush which I've used in the past to find keywords to use.

Included in the resources page is a SEMRush search box where you can get some ideas for free:  (PM me for info)


-- Because it's not Google, yeah I never knew that either!

-- IE and Edge users, you gotta love them.

Bing Ads has a great import tool available so once you've refined your Google Adwords campaign you can copy it across to Bing and run exactly the same setup on Bing.  The beauty of this, (apart from interacting with Edge and IE users), is that the cost of running ads on Bing is significantly less as there's just not as much competition.


Chapter checklist:

·        Bid on your brand terms

·        Keep your ad targeting local and scheduled for office hours

·        Maintain a negative keyword list

·        Run a constant A/B split test

·        Refine phrase match keywords to exact match campaigns where possible

·        Maintain a focused landing page that relate to your ad.

Scott Millar

IT Rockstar

Scott Millar helps MSPs & IT companies generate more qualified leads using proven digital marketing techniques.  Sign up for a 1 month free trial of our service at