Google AdWords

Google AdWords: What Are They and Should You Use Them?

I am often asked about Google AdWords. Sometimes by people who are unsure of what they are and how they work. Often by people who have tried them without success.

Spend 1 minute reading the following. It should give you an understanding of what Google AdWords are and how they work, and you should then realise that they are not a magic bullet.

Most people will be aware of Google AdWords, even if they are unsure of what they are. They often appear to the right of, and sometimes above, the search results in Google. Historically they appeared on a light blue or yellow background. Recently those have been replaced by an "Ads" heading. Note that such adverts can also appear on other, non-Google, sites.

Unlike normal search results, which are based exclusively on Google's assessment of the most relevant sites for what you are searching, and which are displayed for free, Google AdWords only appear if someone has paid for them. Yes, they should have some relevance to what you are searching for, but with very different criteria.

Most people are inherently wary of these results. Typically perhaps only 5% of people ever click on them. When did you last click on them? This is unlike the results in the main search list, where almost everybody clicks on number one.

So why does Google display these "lesser" results? They are running a business, and this is how they make their money.

Think of them as a traditional classified advert in a newspaper. You have very little space to convey your message. However, the two major differences that arguably make them better, are that they have a long shelf-life, and that they are displayed to people specifically looking for whatever they are about. In addition, you only get charged when someone clicks on your advert.

So how much do they cost? As much as you are willing or able to pay, and it is an auction.

One factor that influences where they appear on the screen, is how much you are willing to pay. In its simplest form, the more you are prepared to bid, the higher you will appear.

A second factor is how often they have been clicked in the past. This makes the text of your advert very important.

The third, and often overlooked factor, is the relevance of the web page to which the advert click takes you. This is where it ties in with traditional search engine marketing of web pages.

It is this combination of ranking factors, coupled with the small percentage of searches that result in clicks, along with the concerns of spending too much, that make Google AdWords potentially difficult to convert into profitable enquiries.

If you fancy giving AdWords a go, then there is nothing to stop you doing it yourself. Google will even set up a campaign for you. While probably not ideal, that is probably better for you than any cheap offers you may receive from commercial providers. The time it takes to set up and maintain a successful Google AdWords campaign is such that there are unlikely to be any true bargains.

If you have an existing Google AdWords campaign that is not performing, please get in touch to discuss how we could help.

By Kenneth Mackay, 6th May, 2013

This is one of a series of articles that deal with common issues when promoting your business online. We hope that you found it useful. Go to our online marketing tips to see previous pieces of advice. If there are any topics that you would like covered, please let us know.

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