“If you build it, they will come.”
It’s a magical phrase. One which, unfortunately, only works in the movies. In real life, building a website takes time and effort, and bringing prospects to that website takes even more time and effort.
For those businesses that need some extra income right away, AdWords advertising might be just the solution they are looking for.
How Does AdWords Work?
You might hear several terms associated with this type of advertising. PPC (pay per click), SEM (search engine marketing), paid search, and AdWords are all essentially the same thing. AdWords is the name of the Google product that lets you create and manage pay-per-click ads on the Google search engine.
These ads typically appear at the top and bottom of search results. They used to be seen on the right side as well, but recent changes to Google have removed the right side ads. You can know which results are ads by the small yellow box that says “AD.”
The idea is that you choose some keywords that people might search when they are looking for what you sell. You’ll be competing with other advertisers using the same keywords, so you’ll have to decide what you are willing to pay for these ads, and experiment to make your ads as appealing as possible.
Having your ad seen costs you nothing with PPC, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. The cost of this click is referred to as the cost-per-click, or CPC. (Some types of ads charge by the impression rather than the click, but more on that later.)
Is AdWords Right for Your Business?
AdWords advertising has some clear advantages for most businesses, but it is not for everyone. Some reasons you might want to avoid this type of advertising include:
- Competition: If you are in a very competitive market (web design for example), ads might be too expensive to be worthwhile. If you are paying $10 per click, it’s extremely important that you are able to convert those clicks into a high-margin sale.
- No Searches: Some industries are new, or relatively unknown, and no one is searching for them. If your target market is not searching for your products or services, advertising to them makes no sense. This is also true for some very targeted niches, where search volume is just too low.
- Bad Website: Sending searchers to a website that is messy or not set up to convert is like throwing dollars in the trash. Set up your website ahead of time to have a clear message and call to action, so you can capture all these clicks you’ve paid for.
On the other hand, AdWords can be extremely effective, when done right.
One of the reasons AdWords advertising works so well is that a good chunk of people (around 40%, in fact) do not realize they are looking at ads, and cannot differentiate between paid and organic search results.
Establish Your Goals First
If you’ve ever played Candy Crush on your phone, you’ll understand the importance of keeping your goals in mind.
This game uses lots of special candies which have all kinds of fun capabilities. But if you’re not careful, you’ll get so caught up creating and using those striped or sprinkle candies, you’ll forget all about your goal.
AdWords has plenty of fun capabilities too. It’s easy to get caught up trying to use a lot of fancy functionality, and forget to accomplish your goals. We always recommend you set your goals FIRST, and let those guide your advertising choices.
Advertising Tips for Better Results
As with everything in life, a smart strategy can make all the difference. It’s easy to waste your AdWords budget if your ads are not setup to convert. Creating and maintaining efficient campaigns takes practice. Advertising should be structured to make every dollar count.
When we work with business owners on their AdWords campaigns, we always recommend the following actions.
- Have a goal in mind: Companies too often take no thought for what they want to accomplish exactly. Before you invest any money, spend some time deciding what your goals are. This, more than anything, can help you make smart decisions about your advertising. For example, you may just want to capture leads that you will follow up with by phone. Or you may have an E commerce store and you need more sales. How many leads / sales are you looking for? What will you pay for them? Decide which metrics are most important for you to measure.
- Prepare your landing page: Before you spend any money on ads, prepare a landing page to send clicks to. This landing page should match the messaging and branding on the ad, and create a seamless experience for readers.
- Choose the best keywords: Do some research to see how different keywords are performing. Your keywords should be relevant to your business and very, very targeted. Broad keywords typically don’t perform as well. Use your keywords in the heading and content of your ad. When a search is made using that keyword, it will show up highlighted in the ad, and become more eye-catching.
- Use negative keywords too: Negative keywords can help exclude your ad from searches you are not interested in. For example, if you sell an expensive product, you can exclude searches that use terms like, “free,” or “cheap.” This makes your ads more effective, because it helps you target exactly the kind of customer you are looking for, and weeds out the mismatches.
- Plan for mobile: Mobile searches make up half or more of all searches in the U.S., so take some take to prepare for how your ads will look and perform on mobile. You can actually create separate mobile-only and desktop-only ads, too, which makes sense for a lot of industries.
- Have a budget in mind: Small and large companies can both benefit from ad campaigns. Whatever budget you can set aside, be prepared to spend it for a few months to give yourself time to get the ads really well targeted.
- Consider using retargeting: Retargeting, or remarketing, is a type of ad that helps you re-capture those who have already shown interest in your brand by visiting your site. It can be a powerful tool for turning strangers into customers, and customers into the type of loyal fans we all want.
Retargeting To the Rescue!
Retargeting, also called remarketing, can be an extremely effective tool. Have you ever searched for a product on Amazon, then gone to a different website, only to see ads everywhere for the Amazon product you were just searching? This is retargeting.
Imagine that you have a brick-and-mortar store, and you try as hard as you can to collect customers addresses, so you can thank them for coming, and mail them coupons periodically. This type of marketing turns one-time customers into repeat customers. Your mailers remind them about the store, and the coupons and sales ads give them a good excuse to come back.
But if your store is a website, how can you accomplish the same goal?
Retargeting is a type of advertising that helps you do just that. A small piece of code is added to your website that tracks people who have visited the site. You can incorporate this code into your AdWords ads, and it gives AdWords the ability to show certain ads to people who have already visited your website. It gives you the opportunity to offer them coupons, show them similar products to those they have already viewed, or give them a good excuse to come back.
Retargeting is also ideal for industries in which conversions often take time. Some larger purchases, or B2B projects, require research and collaboration before purchase. In these cases, keeping your company name in the memory of your prospects can make a big difference to your bottom line.
Setting and Measuring Specific Retargeting Goals
Just as with other types of PPC ads, it’s important to have goals for your retargeting ads. Some common goals might be:
- To recapture lost sales and abandoned shopping carts.
- To encourage secondary purchases or upsales.
- To generate sales among those who have already researched your brand.
- To start branding a new business.
It’s also important to understand what retargeting won’t do. Retargeting probably won’t bring in the same amount of traffic that regular PPC ads do. You’ll probably see fewer one-per-click conversions. And, it can be tough to measure because with repeat customers, your ads will bring your brand to their memory, but clicking the ads may not be the method they use to navigate back to your site.
Once you have clearly identified your goals, it’s important to decide how you’re going to measure your progress.
- Impressions: If you are only looking for branding, and to keep your company name in the minds of your potential customers, impressions themselves might be an important metric.Your AdWords campaign will tell you how many impressions you have received, how many clicks, and the average position of each ad on the page.
- Number of clicks: If your goal is to bring in new customers, raw numbers of clicks might be your most important metric.
- Click-through rate: If you want to discover which words, products, and ideas sell, click-through rate will tell you how many clicks you receive as compared to impressions.
- Conversions: One of the truer measures of the effectiveness of your ads is to track not only clicks to your site, but also how many of those clicks also filled out the contact form or downloaded the free sample. By integrating your AdWords with Google Analytics, you can follow people from impression through to purchase.
- Dollars spent: Another important metric to watch is whether the business the ads brought in, the real dollars of revenue, are higher than the money spent on the advertising.
Remember that measurement has its limitations, too.
Sometimes a customer might find your website through an ad, then leave, bookmark the site, or remember the name. When they come back a second time, it may not look like they have found you from the ads, even though it was their initial point of contact.
Google is working to provide advertisers with more specific demographic information, but unlike Facebook, many Google users are not signed in when they are searching. This makes it difficult for Google to advertise to people based on age, income, gender, career, or anything else.
This is why we focus on keywords. It filters users based on intent.
After all, finding people who are searching for what you provide is the ultimate demographic.
Are Display Ads Worth My Effort?
We can’t really discuss ads without touching on display ads.
Rather than focusing on words, display ads are images. They appear on all kinds of websites. Lots of websites run display ads, because they can make some income from them. They come in several different sizes, so it’s a good idea to have images designed in the most common sizes, at least.
Display ads typically do not convert well. They have lower click-through rates than other types of ads. However, they do have one very distinct advantage, and that is the ability to show users what your product looks like, or make a clear emotional connection to your brand in a visual way.
This is particularly helpful if you are trying to establish a new brand, or launch a new product line. They also work well when paired with remarketing efforts.
Ongoing AdWords Advertising Management
Whatever option works best for your business, ongoing ad management and optimization is a big job. It’s a good idea to consider hiring an expert to manage your ads. Here at Be Locally SEO, we are Google AdWords partners, which means we are fully qualified to create and manage business ads, and we do it well.