Google’s AdWords service is kind of like a mercenary – it can save the life of your small business, but it’s going to cost you. Thanks to the service’s pay-per-click business model, purchasing a sponsored result for popular keyword query can chew up five figures of your budget in a matter of days or even hours, leaving you with no money to do more important things – like growing your startup.

The good news is that Google knows your pain. To help small businesses afford the kind of valuable Internet publicity that AdWords provides, the World’s Most Popular Company announced this week that it will be expanding its AdWords Business Credit program this fall. We think that’s pretty awesome.

AdWords is a service that allows small businesses to purchase sponsored results for a particular keyword or phrase. You enter your own ad, similar to a classified ad in the paper, and then whenever someone searches for that particular phrase your ad appears at the top of the search results in the yellow “sponsored results” section. Since the service is pay-per-click, you’re only charged when someone actually clicks your link and visits your site.

As many small business owners will tell you, AdWords definitely generates results. Some businesses have doubled or even tripled their website traffic using AdWords campaigns. The only problem is that as your visitor counter ticks up, so does the cost. That’s where the AdWords Business Credit card comes in.

“Small business owners are used to being pressed: for resources, for time, and especially for credit,” says VP treasurer Brent Callinicos. “Juggling expenses across different credit cards and managing seasonal business spikes and valleys doesn’t leave much room for other spending, like investing in a new oven at a pizzeria or treating a great customer to dinner.”

The card, which was initially offered to 1,400 businesses last July, will be issued through Comenity Capital Bank and MasterCard, and it will carry a low 8.99% APR. Google is also introducing a UK version of the card through Barclays that will carry a variable APR of 11.9%. Neither version of the card will carry any annual fees. According to Callinicos, both cards will have “ample” credit limits.

There’s just one catch – the card can only be used for AdWords purchases. However, even with this very specific limitation, Google’s new product is looking good. Though we’ll have to wait to see the actual agreement to render our final judgment, it appears that the card won’t suffer from the hidden fees and high interest rates that plague many other business cards. So even though you’ll only be able to purchase AdWords campaigns with the card, at least you’ll be able to do it without getting fleeced.

For what it’s worth, the cards have been a hit with Google’s pilot companies, like Alabama-based Get Bats Out. In a follow-up survey, Google found that 74% of the companies who were initially offered AdWords Business Credit cards continue to use the cards to finance their keyword campaigns.

While we typically advocate limiting the amount of credit cards you carry, this highly specialized and user-friendly piece of plastic could be the key to building up your small business. You can get the traffic you need for growth without worrying about paying for it until the money starts rolling in.

One comment

  1. It has been a very handy avenue for credit when running adwords. Defining your budget so that it will not exceed your credit limit is the key. Plus you can generate an automated report about credit card funds via the adword script.

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