Google Ads for B2B: The Strategic Guide

Nobody knows targeting and algorithms like Google — which is why their Google Ads for B2B companies are used by 80% of businesses around the world to generate leads.

Their pay-per-click (PPC) platform allows its users to target effectively, take directly competitive approaches, and refine their strategy over time with valuable data insights.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to execute your B2B Google Ads strategy with confidence and optimize your results. We’ll go over:

  • How the Google Ads platform works
  • Types of Google Ads campaigns
  • How to optimize Google Ads keywords
  • Aligning keywords with funnel stages
  • Smart ways to boost your Google Ads ROI

Let’s dive in.

Quick Takeaways

  • Google Ads target keywords and keyword phrases. They can appear on search results pages, YouTube video pages, on websites in Google’s network, and in mobile apps.
  • Keywords can be targeted by broad match or required to match exactly, depending on the ad buyer’s preferences.
  • Google Ads keyword targeting is most effective when aligned with sales funnel stages.
  • Other ways to optimize Google Ads ROI include targeting competitor keywords and retargeting users over time.
  • Dynamic Search Ads allow Google to crawl your site and choose the searches your ads will appear for.

How do Google Ads work?

Google Ads is Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platform. When users query a keyword or keyword phrase, paid Google Ads appear at the top of the results page (SERP). They’re designed to look exactly like the organic search results outside of small bolded text that says “Ad.”

Image of Google SERP with red box around the Google Ad at the top.

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Given that the first result for any Google search earns more than a third of the click-throughs, Google Ads can be an incredibly powerful tool for generating website traffic and earning lead conversions at every stage of the sales funnel.

In addition to the PPC model (brands pay per user click that their ads earn), there is also an auction process for purchasing Google Ads. In short, when you purchase a Google Ad, you bid on your target keywords against other brands targeting the same keywords.

You give Google a maximum bid, or the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for an ad, which is then multiplied by your Quality Score — a score assigned to you by Google based on expected click-through-rate, ad relevance, and your landing page experience. This calculates your ad rank, which Google assigns to every brand who bids for particular keywords.

If your bid and Quality Score land you the highest ad rank, your ad will get the first position on SERPs for that keyword. Your cost-per-click (CPC) is then determined by the ad rank of the next highest ad below you divided by your Quality Score.

If this all sounds confusing, consider this for right now — the Google Ads auction process and Quality Score/ad rank assignments are designed to keep ads relevant, valuable, and accurately targeted for the users who see them.

Brands won’t waste time trying to hoard keywords that aren’t highly relevant to their offerings because Google won’t rank them high enough to earn the ad position. The result? A better experience for both B2B sellers purchasing the ads and Google users leveraging them to find the right products and solutions.

Types of Google Ad Campaigns

While we mostly think of SERPs as it relates to Google Ads, there are actually a number of other types of campaigns you can bid for and purchase. This allows B2B ad buyers to run campaigns that are aligned with the products and services they sell as well as the channels that their target audiences use.

Display Ads

Google uses its massive network of websites across the internet to display your ads to users on adjacent and/or otherwise relevant sites. They appear at the top, sides, or bottom of the page.

Screenshot of web page with a Google display ad showing at the top.

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Video Ads

Video ads are included in the Display Ads network, but you can also choose to run a campaign specifically targeted to video content. These ads appear in-stream on YouTube videos and/or on the side of the video above related video suggestions.

Image showing where in-stream and discovery placement for Google video ads.

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Application Ads

Application ads appear in-app across apps in the Google Play Store. They look like regular display ads and allow users to click-through without leaving the app.

Screenshot of a Google Ad appearing in an application interface.

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Shopping Ads

Shopping ads also appear at the top of search results pages. They’re more visual and work best for product-based campaigns.

Screenshot of Google shopping ad appearing at the top of a SERP.

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How do you optimize Google Ads keywords?

Google Ads work because they target keywords and phrases. You can use Google’s free Keyword Planner tool to discover keywords relevant to your audiences and see estimates of their search volume and cost to target. You can also leverage your internal SEO/SEM team if you have one or use tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush for comprehensive keyword research.

Types of Keyword Matches

Before you decide which keywords you’ll target for Google Ads, it’s important to know the types of matches you can assign to your campaign. They are: broad match (casts the widest net), phrase match (looks for similar searches that mean the same things), and exact match (ads only appear for searches that match your keywords exactly).

Table outlining the three types of Google Ads keyword match types with examples.

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Once you choose your keywords and launch your campaign, you’ll be able to see searches that fall under it and filter out those that are irrelevant to your brand (for example: homonym searches under a broad match category). You can also use negative keywords to exclude specific words or phrases from your campaigns.

Funnel-Specific Keyword Targeting

To really optimize your B2B Google Ads strategy, target your keywords by the target audience’s funnel stage. For example: top-of-the-funnel buyers are usually looking for introductory information that tells them more about their current problem and potential solutions. To target this audience, you can use keyword phrases that ask “what is XYZ?”

For middle-of-the-funnel audiences you might target keywords that directly compare your brand directly to your top competitors or give information about pricing for the types of products and services you offer. For bottom-of-the-funnel audiences you would want to use specific brand and product keywords and potentially pair them with high-intent action words, like “free trial.”

The takeaway: Your target keywords should align with the intent of your audience at each stage of the funnel. A buyer in the awareness stage won’t convert to a B2B purchase, but they’ll likely do things like fill out a form in exchange for content.

Earning smaller conversions on the way to the big win (a closed sale) is part of the Google Ads process and one that Google makes easy to execute if you know how to target correctly.

Other B2B Google Ad Optimization Strategies

There are a few ways to optimize your Google Ads strategy even further to boost results. One is to target competitor keywords and audiences. Your ad must be authentically relevant, however, to the keyword and/or audience to avoid penalization from Google.

The second way is to retarget users after a period of time or with a different call to action. This is a common tactic for B2C brands when users abandon carts, but B2B Google Ads campaigns can also employ this strategy to reach prospects who drop out of the pipeline at a particular point.

Sometimes, all it takes is a time delay for retargeting to effectively re-engage a prospect. Given that it takes 6-8 touches to convert a lead, retargeting can be a great way to grab the attention of high-potential prospects again and spur action again toward purchase.

Using Dynamic Search Ads

Finally, it’s worth noting the option of Dynamic Search Ads — a Google PPC option that allows Google to crawl your site and decide which searches your ads should appear for. Given the sophistication of Google’s algorithms in general, this is the perfect option for brands that want to use Google Ads but don’t have the bandwidth or expertise to research and plan their own campaigns.

B2B Google Ads: Final Thoughts

There’s no doubt that Google Ads for B2B companies means making an extra financial investment — but with the right planning, research, and active strategizing, it’s one that will pay off in the form of higher lead volume.

Strategically targeted ads increase your overall search visibility, get important landing pages and content in front of target audiences, and provide you with valuable insights you can use to continually refine your strategy.

If you’re looking for comprehensive outbound marketing support, RevBoss can help. Our outbound email software and lead generation services are custom-built for startups, consultancies, marketing agencies, and other B2B organizations. Schedule a call with us and find out how we can help you win more clients.