Best Payroll Services for Small Business Owners


Payroll plays a critical role in the success of small businesses. Irrespective of the size of an organization, employees have to be paid on time consistently, and an efficient payroll process ensures that.

However, computing total wage earnings, holding back deductions, paying payroll taxes, and making payments require a lot of time and effort.

With businesses increasingly hiring remote employees, freelancers, and independent contractors, the payroll processes have become more complex than ever. Even worse, a tiny mistake in the payroll may lead to a hefty fine. So, it is reasonable to ask, should I outsource payroll to a specialist company offering payroll services.

How do Payroll Services Work?

Gone are the days when a payroll service provider had to visit your office to complete payroll tasks. Now you can easily avail online payroll services to streamline the payroll process in your business. The service provider will ensure that your employees are paid timely, and their legal obligations are met.

Companies offering online payroll services handle a wide variety of tasks. A basic payroll service provider will compute the gross wages of your employees, calculate applicable deductions, make a direct deposit or write paper checks on behalf of you, and take care of all employment tax filings, etc.

However, comprehensive service providers can manage additional responsibilities, such as administrating your business’s retirement accounts, filing new employee forms with the state, complying with any court-ordered wage programs, and more.

Your business can reap multiple benefits from outsourcing payroll services, such as:

Reducing cost Enhancing productivity Avoiding mistakes/penalties Improving security

Outsourcing payroll to a specialist company is not the only option to do the job. You can also explore payroll software to save time.

How does payroll software differ from payroll services?

The following are some key points:

A payroll software package often needs training for your staff, but you can immediately start working with a payroll service provider Human mistakes are more prevalent in working with a payroll application as your employees might not be skilled enough to use the newly adopted tool. But payroll service-providing company has rich experience in handling the complexities of payroll. As a result, the company is less likely to commit a mistake You have to shell out lesser money in implementing payroll application than the money you will require to avail payroll services from a specialist company

Depending on the needs of your business, you can choose between adopting a payroll application or subscribing to online payroll services.

Finding the Best Online Payroll Service for Your Business

With so many online payroll service providers out there, picking the best one for your business can be tricky.

You cannot simply google for the top ten payroll service providers and select a company that offers cheaper services. Companies working in this domain provide different payroll services and plans to suit the varied requirements of businesses. And to get the best value for your money, you should follow a strategic approach.

The following steps will help you shortlist payroll candidates:

Collect references from your fellow business owners and make a list of five potential companies Read online reviews and customer testimonials of those companies Contact the potential companies to check if they provide satisfied client references

A few essential features of a good payroll service provider include but are not limited to automated payroll, tax forms, direct deposit, employee payroll portals, payroll reports, etc.

Each business has different needs. Therefore, you should list features your business demands and start looking closely at the shortlisted companies.

The right online payroll service provider will bring a long record of accuracy and reliability to the table, give strong customer support, and use advanced technology. Also, it will provide competitive pricing plans and offer unparalleled user-friendliness.

Best Payroll Services for Small Businesses

Getting payroll done is not a hard job these days. If you don’t want to hire an in-house HR team or a bookkeeper, there are options out there. You can opt for an online payroll application program or online payroll services to manage payroll in your company.

If you decide to pick a company to handle payroll services, you should make your decision considering features, ease of use, and cost.

We have listed here the top vendors for payroll services to help you select the right company for payroll processing.


ADP is a leading company offering cloud-based human capital management (HCM) solutions to its clients. In addition to payroll services, the company offers human resources, talent, time, tax and benefits administration solutions.

Here are some key highlights of payroll services from ADP:

Easier and faster payroll processing Self-service for employee and manager (Online or with ADP’s mobile app) 24/7 availability of certified, experienced payroll professionals Simple integration with other applications, such as HR systems, ERPs, and time and attendance tracking

ADP offers two types of payroll services – Small Business Payroll and Midsized to Enterprise Payroll. And each of these two payroll services come with four packages to choose from.

The most popular package in Small Business Payroll is Enhanced Payroll, which includes key features such as payroll delivery, tax filing, State Unemployment Insurance (SUI) management, Poster Compliance, and many more.

The company is currently offering three months free of its payroll services. To check the pricing of different packages, you have to visit the website of ADP and request a quote.

Square Payroll

Square designs easy-to-use online tools for small businesses to set up and run their business. It has a suite of tools to run payroll, manage eCommerce websites, and marketing. It also offers POS systems and payment devices.

Some key benefits of Square include:

Automated stress-free payroll tax filing Easy team management and review (with website or mobile app) Live specialists for support Seamless integration with other invoicing, scheduling, and business management tools

Square has an all-inclusive flat pricing system for small business owners. It offers two monthly plans – Pay Employees & Contractors and Pay Contractors Only. Both the plans offer unlimited pay runs.

The Pay Employees & Contractors plan package features tax calculations and filing. You can use direct deposit, checks, or Cash App for employee payment. Timecards, healthcare and retirement benefits, and employee self-help app are the other facilities available with Square.

Square’s Pay Employees & Contractors plan starts at a monthly subscription fee of $29. And $5 per month is charged additionally for each person you add.

Gusto Payroll

Gusto is an online people management service for small businesses to run payroll and take care of their employees.

Gusto helps you process payroll and handle employee benefits. It also supports hiring and onboarding, time and attendance tracking, and other related features.

Among the salient features of Gusto Payroll solution are:

Easy and quick set up of payroll system Automated tax and compliance management Supports hourly and salaried employees Easy download of pay stubs and various other payroll reports

Gusto has four monthly payroll management plans – Core, Complete, Concierge, and Contractor.

For small businesses which need simple salaries and wages management, and pay schedules, the Core plan of Gusto is the best choice. It offers a full-service payroll system, employee benefits, and more.

The Core plan is available at a base price of $39 per month, plus $6 per person per month. The Complete plan of Gusto, with additional team management features, is available at $12 per person per month. For Concierge, Gusto charges $149 per month, plus $12 per month per person.

Gusto enables you to run payroll effortlessly. But if you’re stuck, Gusto offers top-class customer service to help you out.


OnPay offers cloud-based software for payroll processing, automation, and management for growing businesses. In addition to payroll, OnPay also comes with tools for human resources and employee benefits management.

With OnPay, you get useful features such as:

Multiple payroll scheduling options Integration with accounting software and time tracking software Friendly phone support for profile setup and troubleshooting Mobile-friendly, fast-loading dashboard for anywhere usage

OnPay has one simple plan that includes all its features. It allows business owners to handle everything related to payroll, human resources, and benefits.

Onpay is available at the base fee of $36 per month, and an additional $4 per month for each person paid in that month. It doesn’t have any other fee for tax filings, direct deposit, and other features.

OnPay comes with a one-month free trial period. It also provides free account setup and migration of employee data into its system.

Intuit Quickbooks Online Payroll

Intuit Quickbooks offers a cloud-based service to manage employee profiles, their details, and payroll all in one place. Besides payroll, Intuit Quickbooks also offers HR support, insurance handling, and compensation coverage for employees.

Some key features of Intuit Quickbooks online payroll are:

Automated payroll management, tax filing, and payment Easy on-the-go time and location tracking Expert support for account setup and payroll management

Intuit Quickbooks payroll is available with three price plans – Core, Premium, and Elite.

The premium plan of Intuit Quickbooks payroll is the most popular package for small businesses. It offers HR management, along with payroll. Health benefits, workers’ compensation, and many other features are covered under this plan.

The Premium plan of Quickbooks payroll from Intuit is available for $75 per month, plus $8 per month for each employee. The Core plan of Quickbooks is for $45, plus $4 per employee. And for the Elite plan, Quickbooks online payroll charges $125, plus $10 per employee.

Intuit Quickbooks payroll offers a free trial for a month, or currently, you can pay a 50% discount rate for the first three months. You can get more information from Quickbooks’ website.


Paychex is a leading provider of human resource management solutions for small to mid-sized businesses. In addition to various payroll services, Paychex takes care of benefits and insurance services too.

The prominent features of Paychex payroll are:

Effortless calculation and payment of payroll taxes Flexible 24/7 customer support Availability of compliance experts to help you with regulations Controlled employee access to data

Paychex has three payroll packages for businesses – Paychex Go, Paychex Flex Select, and Paychex Flex Enterprise.

The most popular package is Paychex Flex Select, which clients can customize as per needs. Paychex Flex Select offers a user-friendly online payroll application, employee attendance and time tracking, an integrated system for human resources, and many other features for growing small businesses.

The basic Paychex Go plan is at a base price of $39 per month and an additional $5 for each employee every month. You can avail of a one-month free trial of the Paychex service.

To know the prices of other plans, you’ve to visit the website of Paychex and ask for a quote

Patriot Payroll

Patriot is an online web-based solution handling payroll for small businesses. Along with payroll solutions, Patriot also provides HR tools and accounting software to keep track of all your resources.

Here are some key features of the solution from Patriot:

Fast, simple and mobile-friendly Employee and contractor payrolls in one place Free payroll data setup and support

The features of Patriot payroll are available under two packages – Full Service and Basic.

The Full Service Plan is the most popular choice. It includes all the crucial features a small business would need for payroll. You can take care of employee benefits and deductions, and multiple payrolls and schedules.

The Full Service payroll package is available at a monthly charge of $30. An additional $4 per month is charged for each person paid. The Basic package costs $10 (plus $4 per employee) per month. The company offers a 30-day free trial of its services.


Paycor is a company providing payroll and HR software to businesses of all sizes. The company also handles different aspects of people management, from recruiting to training and development, apart from payrolls.

Among the various features offered by Paycor are:

Precise accounting and bookkeeping Payroll tax and employee benefits administration Employee self-service on-the-go Tax and compliance experts’ availability

Paycor has two payroll services – Small Business and Mid Market. Small Business payroll is available under three different bundles, while Mid Market payroll is a fully customizable payroll service.

The price for the Small Business Basic bundle starts at $99 per month. With this plan, you get access to PDF-only reporting, Paycor mobile access, and other primary payroll options. You can also add human resources services and Talent Management features on an ad hoc basis.

The Essential and Complete bundles are available starting at $149 and $199 per month, respectively.


Payroll4Free offers a full range of payroll services at no cost to its clients. It caters to businesses with a small team. This web-based solution also offers integrations with many popular tools.

The free benefits you enjoy with Payroll4Free include:

Easy step-by-step account setup tool Benefits, 401K deductions, and contributions Skilled payroll and tax professionals for support Vacation and PTO tracking Detailed reporting options

Payroll4Free has made its software available free of cost for small businesses (with 25 or fewer individuals). It allows businesses to pay employees as well as contractors, either by checks or direct deposit from their own bank account. Payroll tax calculation is also available.

Apart from the free features, Payroll4Free also offers two paid features – automated tax filing and deposit, and direct deposit through their account. These features are priced at $15 each, per month.

Payroll4Free runs only on Windows-based devices.

Payroll Mate

Payroll Mate is desktop-based payroll management software (for Windows devices) by Real Business Solutions. It meets all the payroll needs of small businesses and midsized companies.

Here are some key functions available with Payroll Mate:

Easy-to-follow setup process Multiple payroll formats and pay-cycles Offline record-keeping and employee information storage Reporting and data exporting Quick data backup and restore

Payroll Mate software package is available at a yearly price of $139. You can download and run this application on your desktop locally, without the need for the Internet.

It allows you to pay employees and contractors, and generate detailed reports and tax forms. The software package also offers custom categories for employee income, tax and deduction among other features.

Some features like Direct Deposit and MICR Ink Check Printing are optional. They cost extra; the prices of which are available on their website.

Deluxe Payroll

Deluxe is a leading HR solutions platform that integrates payroll, tax systems, and people management in one place. It offers a suite of services, including talent onboarding, attendance and time tracking, and benefits administration, apart from payroll.

Some of the prominent features of Deluxe payroll solutions are:

Simple and intuitive user interface Employee self-service and benefits management On-demand support from HR professionals Effortless hiring and onboarding

Deluxe has three monthly payroll management plans – Lite, Blended, and The Works.

The Works is the most popular package for small businesses. It is an all-access package including features like workflow automation, performance tracking, workers’ compensation, and more.

The Works plan is available at a base fee of $39 per month. An additional $12 per month is charged for each employee added. Lite and Blended plans are available for $39 and $49, plus $7 per employee, per month, respectively.

You can also ask for a customized quote if you need extra features like time tracking and ATS or other upgrades.



PaySmart is an online payroll solutions provider specializing in payroll for small businesses. Along with payroll processing, it provides employee onboarding options, HR tools, and many other complimentary services.

The notable features of PaySmart include:

Easy and secure access anywhere Automatic tax calculation, tax filings, and payment Pay-As-You-Go workers’ compensation option Remote time tracking, attendance, and PTO management Access to regularly updated, important payroll related information

PaySmart provides custom-made payroll plans for small businesses. It offers an array of automated payroll and HR services through its cost-effective, personalized plans. Employee background checks and identity theft protection are also available.

To know the package prices, you’ve to contact their support department. They will provide you a free quote depending on your specific requirements.


Pay USA is one of the leading products in the cloud-based HCM software market. It offers automated payroll and human resource services to its clients. Along with payroll, it also has different productivity tools and resources essential for small businesses.

Here are some payroll services offered by Pay USA:

Employee payroll checks and direct deposit Tax filings and payments Assistance from payroll specialists Data export to popular accounting software and other business tools Next day or overnight delivery of reports anywhere

Pay USA provides customized payroll processing solutions to each of its clients. Its online tools bring payroll, employee self-service, and other HR features in one place. It offers time tracking, time off records, and attendance management too.

Additionally, Pay USA offers background screening and on-demand HR support. You’ve to contact them to get a custom quote as per your requirements.


PrimePay provides a host of services to run payroll, manage teams, and make businesses more efficient. In addition to payroll, it aids with taxation, reporting, and compliance as well. PrimePay helps manage the entire employee lifecycle.

Some of the key functionalities offered by PrimePay:

Online payroll processing and direct deposit facilities Deductions, insurance and benefits administration HR compliance and support team of licensed attorneys Data integrity management and protection

The company offers two payroll plans to its clients – Starter Bundle and Starter Bundle + WFM.

The Starter Bundle enables businesses to automate their payroll and taxes, pay their employees electronically, and talk with trusted advisors when needed. It also offers employees access to statements, pay stubs, and other information.

For additional features such as time-tracking and employee self-help, PrimePay has Started + WFM Bundle. It includes a range of workforce management tools, besides payroll and HR.

To know the price of the packages, you’ve to contact the team through the website.


Rippling is a cloud-based employee management platform. It syncs data from various tools with payroll and automates the entire process. Rippling brings together payroll processing, HR tools and PEO services in one place.

Here are some major benefits of using Rippling:

Pay employees and contractors across the world Automated filing of taxes and compliance handling Custom reports and detailed visualizations Mobile app for employee self-help Integration with over 400 business management tools

Rippling offers custom plans to avail its features. Apart from full-service payroll, you can get benefits administration, and time and attendance modules, among other features. It also offers features like onboarding/offboarding automation, task management, workflow automation, and many more.

You’ve to get in touch through the website to know how much Rippling payroll will cost you. The pricing plan starts at $8 a month per person.


SurePayroll is one of the reputed products in the market of payroll outsourcing services. It offers benefits & HR management features like 401(k) plans, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and more.

Here are some of its main features:

Flexible payroll options Payroll processing on the go (with the mobile app) Live help even during the evenings & weekends Payroll taxes calculation, payment, and filing with No Penalty Tax Guarantee Access to updated resources, compliance, and forms

SurePayroll is available with two subscription plans – Self Service and Full Service. Both the plans come with features like unlimited payroll runs, automated payroll, direct deposit, and others.

Full-Service plan, additionally, has payroll tax handling among other features. The company also offers standalone integrations and tools as needed, on top of the packaged plans.

You need to visit the website to get a quote for the services. It is offering a 2-month free trial currently.


Wagepoint is well-suited for small businesses and bookkeepers. Moreover, it also provides tools to track time and calculate paid time-offs and third-party software integrations.

Here are all the core features of Wagepoint:

Flexible and easy-to-use software Free setup with a friendly support Pay employees and contractors seamlessly Custom incomes and deduction calculations Integrations with helpful third-party applications

Wagepoint has a simple pricing plan for its payroll services. It is customizable based on the number of employees and the preferred frequency of payment.

With its single plan, businesses get access all its payroll features like automated tax calculations, benefits administration, and more. Add-on tools like time tracking and PTO management are charged extra.

To know about estimated plan prices, visit the website and use the pricing calculator.


Zenefits is a cloud-based HCM software providing payroll administration, reporting, and tax management to its clients. It also offers HR, benefits and scheduling, and integrates them with payroll, in one platform.

With Zenefits, you get advanced features like:

Fully integrated, easy-to-use software Easy payment for extras and special bonuses Stress-free compliance management and administration

The company offers three price packages – Essentials, Growth, and Zen. Payroll is offered as a separate service, to be paid for in addition to the paid packages.

The Growth package is the most popular plan which includes core HR, compensation management, performance management, and many more features. It is available for $18 per month per employee.

Essentials and Zen packages are available for $10 and $27 per month per employee, respectively. Zenefits is currently offering 14-day free use of its services.

Payroll add-on is available at an additional $6 per month per employee. It offers payroll summaries, detailed reports, and general ledger reporting among other features.

Main Features of Online Payroll Software

When you start searching for an online payroll application for your business, you may be overwhelmed looking at the available options. Why shouldn’t you be?

There are hundreds of options in the market, and all of them claim to equally good or better than others. To make sure you get the best deal, we have listed key features of an excellent online payroll application.

Let’s explore:

Unlimited Payroll

Unlimited payroll means you can run payroll as often as you want in a month without any extra fee. Some online payroll processing companies go the extra mile and allow their clients to set multiple payroll schedules for different employees.

This feature can be helpful for your business if you pay your employees multiple times in a month. OnPay and Gusto come with the unlimited payroll feature.

Time and Attendance Tracking

Time and attendance tracking is a feature that allows you to track the working hours of your employees.

You won’t have to manually calculate working hours, vacation time, sick days, holidays, and overtime by having this feature. This feature can automate the entire process of time and attendance tracking.

Paycor and ADP offer the time and attendance tracking feature.

HR services

A few applications can help you manage simple HR tasks such as HR analytics, events calendar, employee pay history, leave management, etc. If you don’t have any HR tool in place, you can look or for payroll software with the capability to handle HR services.

HR services offered by payroll applications vary from company to company. Therefore, it is better to look closely at the services before making the final decision.

ADP offers added HR services in their advanced packages.

Direct Deposit

The direct deposit feature enables you to deposit payroll directly into your employees’ bank accounts. This simply means you don’t have to hand over checks every week/month.

Direct deposit is beneficial to both your business and your employees. By depositing directly into your employees’ accounts, you can save time and money that you would otherwise spend in issuing and distributing checks. And your employees don’t have to make efforts to deposit checks in their bank accounts.

Patriot Payroll and Paychex come with this feature.

Insurance Plans

Some companies have a built-in feature to offer employees’ compensation insurance plans from leading carriers. Having this feature in your payroll software means you can find the best coverage for your employees and manage the insurance policy effortlessly. Payroll companies often manage disability insurance and health insurance.

Square Payroll and OnPay offer competitive employees’ compensation insurance.

PTO Management

There’re many reasons why you have to provide your employees with paid time off (PTO). Vacation, marriage, sickness, bereavement, and personal time are a few to mention.

Needless to say, managing multiple PTO policies in a business is a cumbersome task. Payroll software having the capability to do PTO management can make your life a lot easier and save you tons of time.

Patriot Payroll and SurePayroll have hassle-free PTO management.

Multiple Payment Options

If you want to provide your employees with multiple options to get paid, you should look for software with multiple payment options.

Paychex comes with multiple payment options – your employees can choose to get paid via direct deposit, prepaid pay card, or paper checks.

Employee Self-Service

Employee self-service is a useful feature that you would love to have in your software. This feature equips your employees with the ability to initiate a wide range of self-help actions.

Auto-routing workers’ queries to the right company, accessing/changing their personal information, and applying for leaves are just a few of the many benefits employee self-service can offer.

You must note that employee self-service features change from company to company. So, you should carefully look at the listed features to ensure you get what you need.

Paychex offers an excellent self-help feature along with many valuable features.

Tax Forms

Small business owners have to deal with a variety of federal, state, and local tax forms. Form W-2, Form 940, and Form 941 are just a few to name. It goes without saying that the process of filing tax forms is time-consuming, let alone the complexities involved in the process.

The good thing is you can automate the entire process of tax form filling. You just have to look for software that handles tax forms like W-2. Using e-file, e-sign, and e-fax technology tax form filling process can be fast and paperless.

Gusto can help you fill all necessary forms such as Form W-2, Form 940, Form 8974, Form 1099, Form 941, etc.

Payroll Taxes

Small business owners have to calculate and deposit payroll taxes timely for both themselves and their employees.

Employee payroll tax typically includes Federal Income Tax, State Income Tax, Social Security, and Medicare. And employer payroll tax can include Federal Unemployment Tax, State Unemployment Tax, Social Security, and Medicare.

Square Payroll can calculate and deposit federal and state payroll taxes and do the filing to appropriate state and federal agencies.

New Hire Reporting

You must inform about newly hired or rehired employees within 20days of hire to the state where the newly hired employee work. This is a legal obligation. Having a new hire reporting feature in your software can give you peace of mind. The payroll software company itself reports new hires to the government for you.

Gusto comes with an easy-to-use new hire reporting feature.

What is online payroll software?

Online payroll software are a solution that helps you manage the entire life-cycle of payroll operations end-to-end. With comprehensive payroll software, you can automate the whole payroll process in your business.

Here are three key points how online payroll software can help your business:

Automating payroll keeping tabs on payroll expenses Simplifying payroll tax filing

Gusto, OnPay, and SurePayroll are a few examples of online payroll software.

How do I do payroll for my small business?

You can do payroll for your business in three ways – manually doing payroll yourself, using payroll software to do payroll, and hiring a company offering payroll services to get payroll done.

Doing payroll for your business on your own is the most cost-effective way to get it done. But the process is prone to errors. Besides, it takes a boatload of time.

If you use online payroll software to do the job, it can save you a lot of time. But you or your staff may require a little training to use payroll software efficiently.

Outsourcing payroll to a vendor specialized in payroll services may cost you a bit more than buying a payroll software package. But a payroll service provider will give you complete peace of mind. This is because the entire payroll process will be handled by a specialized company.

What do payroll services include?

Payroll services include processing payroll calculations, payroll tax statements, year-end taxes, handling deposits, withholding and paying garnishments, new hire reporting, and more.

Payroll service providers offer different plans that come with different features. To pick the best payroll service, you should list down your requirements first. Then, start your hunt for the best payroll service provider.

Here are five key features that payroll services for small businesses must have:

Direct deposits and tax filing Reporting Compensation management Compliance Customer support What is the cheapest payroll service for small businesses?

The cheapest payroll service for small businesses is Payroll4Free. All the basic payroll services are offered free by the company if you pay 25 or fewer people.

Rippling offers the second cheapest payroll service, which can cost you $8 a month per user. A few other cheap payroll service providers are Quickbooks online and Square Payroll.

When you’re looking for a payroll service for your small business, you must understand that the cheapest is not always the best payroll service provider. You should explore the features of different payroll companies and pick the one that suits your business needs.

What is the best online payroll service?

The best online payroll service is that caters to your needs and fits your budget.

Every business is different, and so are their requirements. There is no one size fits all kind of payroll service provider.

So, it is imperative that you should carefully assess the features of different payroll services and pick the one that serves you better. After all, there is no point in paying for payroll features that you will never use.

To get the best value for your money, you must start exploring at least five products (the more, the better). After considering features, prices, and your needs, pick the best available option.

What’s involved in implementing payroll software?

Implementing payroll software is quick and easy. Small business owners will find the process of implementing payroll software a lot easier than doing payroll without payroll software.

Here are five simple steps to implement payroll software:

Research to find out the best payroll software Fix a target date for your first payroll Make an implementation plan Get your employees trained to use the software Star using your payroll system How much do online payroll services cost for small business owners?

Online payroll services typically cost from $10 to $150 per month for small business owners. This is a base monthly price, and you have to pay a monthly fee for each employee you add to the payroll system.

The cost of payroll services for small businesses varies from payroll provider to payroll provider. Also, a payroll company can have different payroll packages with advanced packages having additional features.

When you look for a payroll solution, you should first list down what your business needs. Doing so will help find the right payroll solution without burning a hole in your pocket.

What is unique about comprehensive payroll companies?

Comprehensive payroll companies cover each and every aspect of payroll and employee services. From key human resources services to workers comp to pay stubs to auto payroll, these companies handle all the tasks related to payroll.

Unlike payroll software that can handle specific tasks, a comprehensive payroll company can take all the payroll tasks off your plate. And as a small business owner, you will be left with more time to focus on improving customer service and lead generation as well as avoiding payroll mistakes.

Image: Depositphotos

This article, "Best Payroll Services for Small Business Owners" was first published on Small Business Trends

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5 Expert Tips for Google Search Campaigns


If your website is not receiving enough organic traffic, launching a Google search campaign can give you more visits. Google Ads are commonly the first links listed in the search results. It can be tricky trying to understand how Google’s algorithm ranks ads, but luckily there are experts who have spent years studying this very topic.  

Google Ads can be in Display, Video, or Shopping formats as well. Depending on your business, one campaign may be a better fit than another. Search tends to be the most successful because people are using searching on computers and phones more than ever. If you perfect your search campaign, you’ll receive higher traffic and more customers! 

Read on to learn tried-and-true tips to improve your Google search campaigns.  

Research Keywords First 

First off, you need to do the legwork and research your keywords before you even start a new Google Ads account. Along with your website’s quality score, the bids on your keywords determine where Google will rank your advertisement in the search results. Bidding on the best keywords for your business will lead to a higher Clickthrough Rate (CTR) and conversion rate.  

This is why extensively researching your keywords is crucial to a successful search campaign. You can create a broad and generic list of keywords based on your brand, but using research tools will help refine the list to be more specific.

Below are three tools experts use to determine which keywords work best:


Google’s Keyword Planner: This is a free tool that comes with your Google Ads account. The Keyword Planner displays the average number of times a term is searched every month. It also shows the competition level for each term, which helps you gauge whether to bid high or low. It’s best to bid on a relevant search term with a low competition level and a high average search. This can be a cheap keyword that will generate clicks and conversions.  Google Trends: Another free tool, Google Trends can help you decide which keywords will perform better than others. You can see the popularity of a search term over time and by subregion. Google Trends also provides popular related topics and queries, which can give you some more ideas. If you’re stuck between two keywords and don’t know which to bid higher on, Google Trends also has an option to compare search terms.    3rd Party Tools: These are mostly used for SEO, but 3rd Party Tools can be valuable towards a search campaign. These tools expose the keywords your competitors are bidding on. This can help you decide how much to bid and what keywords to use or not use. Spyfu and Ahrefs are reliable and expert-trusted options.   Adapt Quickly 

There is no sure-fire way of predicting the traffic levels of your keywords before you launch. Google provides traffic estimates, but estimations aren’t always right. When you first launch your new Google Ads campaign, trust your research and be ready to adapt quickly.  

In the beginning, monitor your campaigns hourly. Tracking your CTR, conversion rate, and additional metrics will help you determine which keywords and ads are working well. You also need to monitor new campaigns to ensure you’re within your budget and the money is allocated properly.  

Create a Sensible Account Structure 

Account structure refers to how campaigns and keywords are grouped. If the structure of your account doesn’t make sense for your business, your search campaign will get messy very fast.  

To make account structures easier to understand, think of them as umbrellas. First is your Google Ads account, where you may have multiple campaigns (Search, Display, Shopping, etc.). Within each search campaign, you should have multiple ad groups. And lastly, an ad group consists of a keyword list and your ads. 

Ad groups create the connection between keywords and ads. The ads in one ad group are of similar themes, so the same keywords are related to them. This organizes ideas and can help you see which ads and keywords perform better than others.  

Once you determine the best account structure for your business, don’t think of it as set-in-stone. Over time, different keywords may have higher conversion rates or a higher volume of traffic than others. Leaving room for your campaigns to grow as you receive more traffic allows you to add in keywords. 

 The last step is to write your ad copy, which I’ll talk more about below.  

Carefully Craft Headlines and Descriptions 

Your ad copy is the headline and description people read when they see your advertisement. You can have all the right keywords and bids, but if your headline is sloppy, people won’t click on it.  

To create a great headline, you need to think about the customer’s intent:

What are they searching for?  Why are they clicking on your ad? 

The answers to these questions can help you write your headlines and descriptions.  

You also want to stand out from similar ads. If you run a cleaning service, your ad can blend in with all the other local cleaning services. Figure out what distinguishes your business from similar ones, and find a way to include it into your ad copy.  

If your ad receives more clicks, the chance of a conversion occurring is higher. Even better, if you have a high CTR, you will have a lower Cost per Click (CPC) and a higher quality score. Google ranks ads with higher quality scores above others, which will lead to more clicks and conversions. If you craft a great headline, everything else can improve along with it.   

Test different headlines and descriptions to see which works best for your audience. Sometimes the headline should be creative and attention-grabbing, while other times a more straightforward and informative ad copy is better. You won’t know unless you monitor your ads and adapt along the way.  

Read Through Search Terms Frequently 

Search terms are the words people type directly into the Google Search bar. When you first create your keyword list, you may be unsure which should be Exact, Broad, and Phrase match types. If you monitor search terms that lead to clicks on your ads, you can improve your keyword list and consequently increase your clicks. 

If you notice a specific search term is high in volume and causes a high conversion rate, you may want to make it an exact match type keyword. Sometimes, you may not think of search terms relevant to your ad until you start reading through a search term list. Checking the search terms often can help you refine your keyword list and rank your ads higher. 

Alternatively, if there are search terms you do not want to show up for, you can add these in as negative keywords. Once a search term is added as as negative keyword, your add will no longer show for this term. 

 Final Thoughts 

Understanding Google’s algorithm and figuring out how to improve your ads’ performance can be confusing, but hopefully these expert tips can help lead you in the right direction. A Google AdWords Consultant can help get your search campaign started or fix a messy campaign. If you’re creating a search campaign on your own, just be sure to do your research first and be prepared to monitor data and adapt along the way!  

Image: Depositphotos

This article, "5 Expert Tips for Google Search Campaigns" was first published on Small Business Trends

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Spotlight: How UnderGents Plans to Reinvent the Men’s Undergarment Industry

men's undergarment industry

Mens’ underwear is hardly a revolutionary product line. However, many of the popular brands fall behind when it comes to comfort. So a product specialist from other industries stepped in to form UnderGents.

Read about the brand and what makes it stand out in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Sells comfortable undergarments.

Founder and CEO Bill Barba told Small Business Trends, “UnderGents develops and markets men’s underwear and lounge wear with a primary focus on comfort.”

Business Niche

Only using comfortable materials.

Barba says, “We use our CloudSoft micro modal that is a premium micro modal (95%) with only 5% elastic. Many other brands of men’s underwear use high levels of elastic and very narrow leg widths that squeeze the legs creating what we call the bike short effect. Our focus is having mens underwear and loungewear that flow with a man and are comfortable in any situation and keep men cool underneath. Our CloudSoft fabric is multiple times softer and cooler than cotton and polyester underwear so men feel fresh all day every day.”

How the Business Got Started

To solve a common problem.

Prior to starting Undergents, Barba had been a CFO and head of operations for several consumer product businesses. He noticed a common problem with many popular underwear brands. They felt too tight and hot. So he decided he could take what he had done in other product categories and launch a direct-to-consumer line of comfortable men’s underwear.

Biggest Win

A constant stream of small wins.

Barba explains, “There has not been any one “big” win we talk about but more of a continuing series of small victories. These go from prototyping to launching a product we believe in, creating a website that we improve on an ongoing basis, launching the brand in more marketplaces, to seeing media write positively about our products.”

Biggest Risk

Ordering the first batch of products.

Barba adds, “It required a significant outlay of cash to manufacture and ship products that had never been sold before, and understanding that if they were desired by men we would have several lifetimes of underwear sitting around.”

Lesson Learned

Invest in your business.

Barba says, “There are probably a number of things that could have been done differently. I would have probably invested more in the brand building earlier with an assumption of success versus risk. We also experienced a longer initial development cycle working with a few early consultants that couldn’t execute timely and we could have spent more to go with bigger groups to save time.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Growing and promoting the product line.

Barba says, “The majority would go into expanding the product line with more styles and colors and in marketing efforts.”

Biggest Misconception

Photoshoot frequency.

Barba says, “Contrary to some of my friends’ wives’ thoughts, we are not having male underwear models in photoshoots every day that they can help “intern” for.”

Image: Undergents

This article, "Spotlight: How UnderGents Plans to Reinvent the Men’s Undergarment Industry" was first published on Small Business Trends

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Thimble Small Business Customers Ready for Comeback


Are you waking up before your alarm? Infused with optimism? Looking forward to every new day being part of a business operation? You’re not alone.  Thimble reached out to its customer base of more than 50,000 small businesses, and they are feeling positive.

Small Businesses Ready for a Comeback

The pandemic is responsible for upending the business plan of companies big and small. But now that everyone can see the light at the end of the tunnel, they are more optimistic than ever about their comeback. When asked what the comeback will look like, nearly 1/3 felt their business would come back even stronger than it was before the pandemic. However, it will be different across industries.

The report goes on to say, while some segments won’t expect major changes in demand others are worried about having enough capital to launch their summer advertising. One segment, construction pros and contractors, are looking forward to consumers feeling OK with having people work in their homes. This is especially noteworthy because consumer trends indicate people are spending more on their homes and home improvement than ever before.

Furthermore, small business owners are looking to implement systems in place to safeguard their customers and employees from the virus as well as make additional investments. When it comes to COVID-19, 100% of them said they would implement and continue with one of the safety measures used during the pandemic. This includes masking, social distancing, and contactless transactions.

Investing in Growth

The pandemic has taken a toll on the economy, and this goes for both consumers and businesses. And investing in growth has to be measured until the economy really opens up. In the Thimble report, 22% said they would like to reinvest money into hiring as well as spend on existing employees. While this might seem low, a little more than one in five, you have to take into account the past year and a half. Revenue has been low and not everyone was able to get a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.

As far as customers, 20% of small business owners say they’ll be targeting different groups of customers. Only time will tell how consumers will be spending their money once businesses start opening up. According to Thimble, “Think about how you can re-engage with your market. Do your customers know that you’re coming back? Are there new clients emerging in your industry as the economy stabilizes?”

Small Business Trends (SBT) also reached out to Thimble CEO and Co-founder Jay Bregman with some questions, and here is what he has to say about the next phase of the small business journey.

The Next Phase of the Small Business Journey

SBT: It’s very interesting that 100% of respondents said they’d continue with at least one of the safety measures. Does that work two ways – builds confidence with customers, and helps keep workers/owners healthy? Do you think considerations regarding the health of workers/owners factored into this response?

Jay Bregman: Absolutely. We’re seeing this in consumer life too — it’s not easy to just “turn off” all of these safety measures that have been so important over the last year. The business owners we talk to definitely want to play it safe and keeping some of these measures in place goes a long way toward reassuring customers while giving yourself peace of mind.

SBT: Great attitudes, with 1/3 feeling that their biz would come back stronger than ever. What about the other 2/3s? Did some respond that they thought it would stay the same? Worse? Not come back at all?

Jay Bregman: Only about 20% of small businesses were wary that their business would not come back to where it was, which speaks to the optimism of the small business segment. Among this group, most cited the fact that they expect a very slow recovery, and that their advertising and other funds were depleted, so they’ll be working uphill.

About half of responses were lukewarm toward recovery, saying that they just can’t predict customer behavior in the coming months, but that they’re optimistic that consumers will be more open to having tradespeople in their homes, will have more disposable income, and so forth.

SBT: According to the Thimble report, businesses learned more about their customer base and how to engage them. For example, no contact service, which will definitely continue. In many ways, do you think that the customer/biz relationship was strengthened as customers saw what businesses did to keep operating, how hard they were trying?  Do you think that getting through the pandemic built stronger customer loyalty? Should that loyalty be rewarded (reopening specials, loyalty discounts)?

Jay Bregman: Customers really stepped up across the board throughout the pandemic. Whether it was buying gift cards to support their favorite restaurants in the early days of quarantine, or shopping local and small throughout the past year, it’s been inspiring. I do think we’ll see lots of reopening specials as small businesses looking to reward their customers — but I also think the general return to normal will be a big boost to everyone’s moods and in turn their spending.

SBT: According to Thimble’s report, respondents want to spend money on hiring and spending (for existing employees). But how can they do that as they struggle with budget constraints during reopening? Should they talk/meet with employees to discuss this?

Jay Bregman: It’s a tricky path to navigate. There is a definite desire to invest in your team, but the economic reality might not be there right this second. The small businesses I’ve been talking to tell me they’re trying to be optimistic about planning for the future, and some of that involves investing in the team ahead of business truly coming back to 100%. But the optimism is indeed there–and I think most folks believe this summer is going to be very busy.

You can read the report HERE.

Image: Depositphotos

This article, "Thimble Small Business Customers Ready for Comeback" was first published on Small Business Trends

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