As Google celebrates 10 years in business, it’s amazing to consider what the company has done in that short time to change the way we interact with each other and with the world at large, writes Robert Clay of Marketing Wizdom.
Google started out as a better way of searching for information on the internet, and while they now offer an array of different products and services, their prime focus has always remained on search, and on making the whole search experience ever more valuable and relevant for users.
Today nearly one billion people around the world use Google search to connect them to an untold range of topics. It has become so essential to the day to day lives of hundreds of millions of people, that many now feel lost without it.
With that many regular Google search users, it’s hard to believe that any other advertising medium on the planet could be capable of drawing such a vast crowd on a day to day basis.
From an advertising perspective, almost anyone looking for your product, service or expertise will perform a Google search, either to find specific sources or to research who and what is out there in the marketplace. In industry after industry we now find that after personal recommendation, Google search has become one of the most important sources of leads and prospects.
That being the case, you’ll be at a severe disadvantage if you do nothing to harness the power of this amazing medium. If you’re unfamiliar with the way it works, here’s a basic explanation.
Google AdWords basics
You need to start by carefully considering what keywords or phrases people might use when performing a Google search for your product, service or expertise. Once you’ve listed all the possibilities, you can use those keywords—and any others that may emerge out of subsequent research and testing—to set up one or more Google AdWords campaigns.
By splitting your keywords or phrases into logical groups, each of your campaigns can contain one or more of these groups of keywords. These are known as ad groups.
You then create one or more ads for each ad group (i.e. for each group of keywords). To maximise your response these should be tailored to the keywords you will be using in each ad group. Your ads will then appear alongside the search results every time someone performs a search using one of your keywords or phrases.
If you use several different ads in each ad group, your ads can be shown in sequence whenever the specified search terms are used. Whenever someone clicks on your ad, you pay, and they will be taken to whatever landing page on your website you specify.
The position of your ad on the search page is determined by two things. Firstly, the relevance of both the ad itself and the landing page you specify. Secondly by the amount you’re willing to pay for each click. That’s because AdWords works on an auction system, and you can bid different amounts for each keyword or phrase. You can also set a daily limit on how much you spend.
The relevance of your ad and landing page are the most important factors. Google measures relevance by the percentage of people who click on your ad. The more who click on it, the more relevant it is considered to be. Google, quite rightly, is paranoid about quality and delivering the best possible experience to its users. They want to avoid anything that could put someone off using Google again.
If your landing page, or any of the products or services it promotes, are in any way suspect, your ad will be disabled. The more relevant your landing page, and the better the products and services it promotes, the higher your ad will rank.
If you have a highly relevant ad and landing page, you will pay a lot less for a top position on the search page than if you simply try to outbid everyone else, but have a less relevant ad or landing page. This rewards anyone who takes a quality approach to what they do and penalises the cowboys, sharks and suspect operators of this world. It is a brilliantly elegant system that ensures that you only see relevant results when you search with Google … and is one of the reasons why Google is one of the world’s most trusted brands.
Why use paid search?
Many people believe that it is better to reach the top of the organic search listings using a search engine friendly website and search engine optimisation than to use the pay-per-click model on which Google AdWords is based. And if it were easy to get to the top of the listings with all the search terms that people are actually likely to use, I’d agree.
But with anything from thousands to millions of other websites out there competing for the same users, it can be a daunting, time consuming and knowledge-intensive task to get your website anywhere near the top of the organic search listings. And if and when you do, Google only has to change its algorithm, which it frequently does, and your search listing could disappear out of sight, only for you to have to start all over again. In other words, you’re leaving a lot to chance, and you also have to be very good to be better than all of the other sites you may be competing with, some of whom may be throwing £ millions a year into getting to the top of the listings.
In that context paid search has a massive role to play if you want to develop new leads, prospects and clients, or you want to test your marketing messages and assumptions, as mentioned in my previous article. For a very modest investment you can generate a constant flow of leads. I have clients who spend less than £10 a day to develop a high percentage of the leads they need. I also have clients who spend more than £100K a month on AdWords. It can produce excellent results at either end of the spectrum, depending on the scale of your business.
Advantages of paid search
You can, to a considerable extent, control where and when your message is displayed. You can display your message to prospects who are likely to be interested while showing nothing at all to those who are not, i.e. you’re advertising in a highly targeted manner that is entirely relevant to the person who has just typed in a search term that contains or correlates with the keywords or phrases used in your campaign.
You don’t have to engage in the “spend and hope” that applies to most other advertising, or console yourself with merely achieving exposure. Results from AdWords are totally measurable and you only have to pay for what works. The minute an ad stops showing a measurable return on investment you can shut it off … while leaving the rest of your ads running if they are performing well.
You can choose your own pricing, campaign duration and a host of other campaign elements, at any time of day, from any location; You can change your ad copy on the fly if it isn’t performing well or if you simply don’t like it; You can carry out direct response testing on a much more rapid cycle than traditional media.
Above all, you can build a superior lead- or sales-generation machine for identifying and attracting targeted customers.
Please share your thoughts and add your questions to the comments below. I’ll try to provide as many answers as possible in my future online videos, seminars, workshops, masterclasses and blog posts.
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