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Most small businesses do not have large marketing budgets and have to start their Paid Search Advertising campaigns with little money. It is not uncommon for them to run campains with Google AdWords, but they quickly give up this marketing channel:”That didn’t work! We lost a lot of money.“ A bad realisation, especially if the marketing budget is limited.

However, the reason for this is often not the campaign itself, but a weak strategy. Targeting ineffective keywords, too high click prices, irrelevant landing pages, poor ad copy and many other factors can cause the budget to run out quickly and Paid Search as a marketing discipline cannot bring the desired benefits. In this context, many people wonder whether Search Advertising can be worthwhile if you have a limited marketing budget for it. The common assumption that success in the field of search engine advertising can only be achieved with a high budget means that many people reject such a campaign in advance.

But is successful Search Engine Advertising (SEA) only possible with a high budget? No, there are numerous methods by which even low-budget campaigns can become successful. Comprehensive tips with extensive information on this topic can be downloaded in the form of a free whitepaper. This article explains how to qualify users based on their search queries as one of these methods to enable an efficient and cost-saving placement of SEA campaigns.


The amount of the required advertising budget usually depends on the respective industry and the products to be advertised. Particularly in the case of products and services with a strong competitive environment, click prices for keywords can be significantly higher than for search terms that are less competitive. The actual click prices are therefore determined, among other things, by the respective competitive situation. Therefore, a fixed amount for the “small” budget cannot be defined easily.

Small-Sized SEA can be generally spoken of if no more than 1000 pounds of click budget is available per month. That’s about 33 pounds per day. If you run two campaigns at the same time, 16.5 pounds per day remain. If there are keywords in one of these campaigns with an average click price of 1 pound (which is not uncommon), you can only click on an ad about sixteen times a day. This alone is not a number that promises to be particularly successful.

However, an AdWords account often has more than two campaigns, so each campaign in an account has a much smaller daily budget. Click prices must, therefore, be kept as low as possible. It must also be ensured that selected keywords are only relevant for users with an intention to buy. In this way, we want to eliminate weaker prospective customers from the outset, so that the company can only concentrate on consumers who are more likely to convert.

Selection plays a decisive role here, as the costly process of attracting an unprofitable prospective customer causes high costs without delivering the appropriate revenue. It should be noted that the more a consumer approaches the actual purchase, the more specific the search terms become. Due to the budget constraints, it would be advisable to say goodbye to the idea from the very beginning, to want to address as broad an audience as possible. Users who only want to inform themselves should be excluded in advance if possible.


The closeness of a keyword to conversion can be explained, for example, in the purchasing decision process according to Kotler. In this model, the customer moves through five phases:
• Problem identification
• Search for information
• Evaluation of alternatives
• Purchase decision
• Behaviour after the purchase

Even if purchasing decision paths often consist of phases that are similar to each other, their order and process can vary depending on the customer and product. Ultimately, however, the following applies: The closer the user is to his or her purchasing decision, the more likely a conversion will be generated.

Source: merkleinc.com

For this reason, search queries with a rather information-seeking character have a relatively low conversion proximity. For example, a provider of holiday homes in the Scottish Highlands with a small advertising budget should not include any informative search terms on the particularities or attractions of this location in the keyword list, as these can only be attributed to a very low conversion proximity.



As already mentioned, the more a consumer approaches the actual purchase, the more specific the search queries become. However, it must be emphasized that if the company has high SEA budgets, it is possible to consider search terms that are looking for information, even if they are far from the user’s purchase decision. The reason for this is that it is usually only with more general and informative keywords that it is possible to generate high traffic and reach other potential users in the course of their search for information in order to be present as a brand and provider during their purchasing decision process. Information and impressions collected by users are included as fundamental criteria in the purchase decision. However, due to the problem of budget limitation described above, companies with limited resources are advised against this type of customer acquisition.

Search queries, in which the user already shows a potential interest in a product or service according to the purchase decision process model, have a medium distance to conversion. If his search query is “Vacation in the Scottish Highlands”, it is not yet possible to find out whether he is interested in vacation homes or whether he is looking for a hotel, for example. However, the user has probably chosen this holiday resort, so that there is at least the possibility to convince him with high-quality content on an optimized landing page of the offered holiday apartments. The use of these keywords for customer acquisition with Google Adwords is only of limited applicability for small-scale SEA campaigns.



If, on the other hand, a consumer is explicitly looking for “holiday accommodation in the Scottish Highlands”, he has already confirmed his intention to buy and show his need for a holiday flat. In this case, there is a high conversion potential. For holiday home providers in the Scottish Highlands, such a prospect is highly interesting due to its specific search query. In contrast to users who, for example, are only generally looking for “holidays in the Scottish Highlands”, it has a definite intention to buy. In addition, users with general search queries may still be in the research phase, so that no purchase decision can be made at this point in time.


As a result, only highly specific keywords should be used in small-sized campaigns. If the most important keywords are defined on the basis of a detailed search, so-called “longtail keywords” are derived from it. These are keywords that consist of several words and thus narrow down the search queries. Additional advantage: they are usually cheaper than one-word keywords (so-called “shorthead keywords”).

Choosing the right keyword options is also an important tool for qualifying traffic. The most suitable keyword options for small-sized budget are the phrase and exact match options. Because here, the ads are only shown for those search queries for which the keywords have been defined. Typographical errors or deviations in plural or singular are ignored.


In order to be able to use limited search advertising budgets efficiently, small-scale campaigns should ideally only appeal to users with an existing buying intention. To do so, the potential customer’s purchasing decision process should be examined in detail. Putting yourself in the position of your target group and trying to understand them is the best strategy for identifying efficient search terms to qualify users – and that is essential with a limited budget