Chris Schutte

April 30, 2024

Is Google Ads Worth It For Small Businesses In South Africa

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Is Google Ads worth it for your business?

Most small business owners have heard of Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords). But not all of them have tried it, for various reasons like budget, time or simply just not knowing how it works.

The truth is that whilst most small businesses will benefit from Google Ads, it’s not always the right solution.

I know what you are saying:

“But Chris, you are a Google Ads agency owner, and now you are telling us that it might not work for everyone?”

Yes, any marketer worth their salt will agree that there is no one-size-fits-all marketing solution, no silver bullet. What works for one business may not work for another.

When determining whether Google Ads is right for a business, we ask them 4 simple questions:

  • Do people search for your product or service online?
  • Do you have a website?
  • Do you have enough budget?
  • Do you have a good offer or hook?

In the article that follows, we will break each of these questions down, and hopefully, by the end, you will know whether Google Ads is right for your small business.

What is Google Ads?

You probably know of Google Ads, but do you know how it works? Here’s a quick explanation:

Google Ads is a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platform that allows you to show adverts to people searching for certain keywords on Google. It doesn’t cost anything to set up an account or run adverts; you only pay when someone clicks on your advert.

When you search for something on Google, usually the first 2 – 4 results will be ads; you can see which results are ads because they have “sponsored” written above them.


It’s called a “pay-per-click” platform because you only pay when someone clicks on your advert. The cost per click will depend on various factors such as:

  • The number of competitors bidding for the same keyword
  • The quality of your ads and website

Keywords like “car insurance” or “lawyer” will normally be very expensive because there are a lot of businesses bidding on that keyword.

But keywords like “what is the best car insurance” or “pro bono attorney” will be cheaper because fewer businesses are bidding on those keywords.

How to know whether Google Ads will work for your business

You might be thinking Google Ads sounds great, but don’t throw your credit card at it yet.

To know whether Google Ads is worth it for your small business, ask the following 4 questions:

1. Do people search for your product or service online?

If you sell a product or service that people are actively searching for online, then Google Ads is perfect for you.

But if they sell a very niche product or service, for which there isn’t a demand, then Google Ads won’t work.

To illustrate what I mean, let’s look at the following two businesses:

  • John’s Branded Planners sells branded diaries, planners and notebooks.
  • Alison’s 5 Minute Planner sells a custom daily planner that she created to help people plan their day in 5 minutes to be more productive.

Both businesses sell virtually the same product, but only the business which satisfies a demand will benefit from Google Ads.

There is a demand for custom-branded diaries, planners or notebooks. So John’s business will do very well with Google Ads.

And despite Alison’s 5 Minute Planner being something that everyone can benefit from, there is no demand for it. No one would be searching for this product online. Therefore, Google Ads would not work for Alison.

Google Ads is about satisfying an existing demand for a product or service. It does not create the demand.

Edit: Before the marketers who are reading this have an aneurism for me saying that Google Ads cannot create demand, let me say that there are campaign types (Display, Video, PMax and Demand Gen) that can help businesses generate a demand for their product. But for the purpose of this article I don’t want to confuse the topic.

2. Do you have a website?

You can’t run Google Ads without a website. So this is a make-or-break question. If your answer to this is yes, then we would ask if you have a dedicated page on your website for what you are selling?

A surefire way of wasting your money is to send everyone to your home page. Instead, you should send people directly to the most relevant page for them.

Let’s say you are advertising your plumbing services, and you are targeting these keywords:

  • Drain unblocking services
  • 24-hour emergency plumber
  • Geyser repair

Each of those services will need its own page on your website, selling that specific service.

I could go on for days about creating the perfect Google Ads landing page, but just having individual pages for each of your services or products is a good start.

3. Do you have enough budget?

We have all heard the phrase you need to spend money to make money. Well, it’s like that with Google Ads.

As we have explained, Google Ads is a pay-per-click platform that charges you when people click on your advert.

The cost per click (CPC) can vary from as little as R5 to R200 depending on many factors. Here are a few:

Keywords and competition

Popular keywords will typically have a higher CPC than less popular keywords. This is because there will be more advertisers bidding on the popular keywords, thus driving up the cost.

Your ad quality score

This measures how relevant and useful your ad is to searchers. A higher ad quality score will help you get your ad displayed more often and at a lower CPC.

Time and Device

In general, CPC is higher during peak traffic times, such as weekdays during business hours. CPC is typically higher for mobile searches than for desktop searches.

Here are some CPC benchmarks per industry that you can check out.

You need a big enough budget to ensure that you are getting at least a few clicks per day.

We recommend that clients start with a minimum of R5000 per month. However, we see clients start to get really good results when they are spending R10,000 or more.

The nice thing about Google Ads however is that you can set a “maximum CPC bid” to let Google know what you are willing to pay for a click. This will allow you to control what you are willing to spend.

4. Do you have a good offer or hook?

What does your offer have anything to do with Google Ads you might wonder. Well, almost everything.

In today’s competitive market, just having a product or service available isn’t enough to convince people to buy from you.

A compelling hook or unique offer is something that sets your business apart from the competition, such as exceptional customer service, an innovative product feature or a unique pricing strategy.

For example, a coffee shop that offers a loyalty program could potentially attract more customers than a coffee shop that doesn’t.

Create a purple cow offer

The purple cow offer is a marketing concept that was popularised by Seth Godin in his book “Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable.

The concept is based on the idea that in today’s crowded marketplace, businesses need to do something remarkable to stand out from the competition.

A purple cow is something so unique and different that it cannot be ignored. It is something that makes people stop and take notice. In marketing terms, a purple cow offer is something so irresistible that people cannot help but buy it.

Some examples include:

  • Offering a money-back guarantee
  • Giving away free samples
  • Offering a lifetime warranty

A good offer will encourage people to take said desired action.

If you don’t have a good offer on your website, then there is no reason for someone to use you. So you will end up paying for a lot of clicks to your website, for little to no sales or leads.

Google Ads isn’t for everyone

At this point, you probably have a good idea of whether Google Ads is right for you. If it’s not, then that’s ok. Google Ads isn’t for everyone, and luckily you have some alternatives!

What are some advertising alternatives to Google Ads?

  • Meta Ads (Facebook & Instagram): This platform allows for highly targeted ads based on detailed demographics, interests, behaviours, and more. It’s especially powerful for B2C marketing.
  • LinkedIn Ads: Ideal for B2B businesses, LinkedIn Ads can target professionals based on job titles, functions, industries, and seniority, among other professional metrics.
  • Twitter Ads: Good for quick, timely messages and reaching a broad or highly targeted audience based on interests and hashtags.
  • Pinterest Ads: Best for businesses with strong visual appeal, especially in industries like home decor, fashion, and food. Pinterest ads can help reach a predominantly female audience planning future purchases.
  • Snapchat Ads: These ads are great for targeting younger audiences with engaging, short-lived video content.
  • TikTok Ads: TikTok is pretty new on the block, and perfect for reaching a younger audience with creative and viral video content, TikTok is rapidly growing as an influential advertising platform.
  • Programmatic Advertising Platforms: These platforms use AI to buy and place ads across many websites and platforms based on your target audience, optimizing in real-time to achieve the best results.

Each of these platforms has its unique strengths and can be chosen based on the specific needs of your business, such as your target demographic, the nature of your products or services, and your marketing goals.

Other frequently asked questions

What are the negatives of Google Ads?

As with any advertising platform, there can be some negatives.

Firstly, the cost of running Google Ads can quickly add up, especially for small businesses with limited budgets. You need to keep a close eye on your ROAS (return on ad spend) to ensure you are actually making money.

Additionally, the complexity of managing Google Ads campaigns can be overwhelming for beginners, leading to potential mistakes and wasted resources.

Overall, while Google Ads can be a powerful tool for marketing, it is essential to weigh the negatives against the benefits before committing to a campaign.

Can you really make money with Google Ads?

The short answer is yes, but it’s not as simple as just slapping some ads on your website and watching the money roll in. In order to be successful with Google Ads, you need to have a well-developed strategy and a good understanding of how to optimise your ads for maximum effectiveness.

While it may take some time and effort to see significant returns, with the right approach, Google Ads can be a lucrative source of income for many businesses and individuals.

Does Google Ads really work?

Again, the short answer is yes, provided you answered yes to all the questions above. Google Ads can be an effective way to reach potential customers who are actively searching for products or services that your business offers.

However, it’s important to have a well-thought-out strategy in place to ensure that your ads are targeted to the right audience and are delivering the desired results. With the right approach, Google Ads can indeed work wonders for your business.

Is it worth it to invest in Google Ads?

So, is Google Ads worth it? Yes, Google Ads is worth it for a vast majority of small businesses and we have seen the same amazing success stories from clients that started small and grew exponentially thanks to the leads and sales they got from Google.

But anyone who tells you it is the answer to everything is lying through their crooked teeth. The fact is that Google Ads is not a perfect fit for everyone – but when it does fit, it has the power to grow your business.

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