What is Google AdWords?
Ever heard of a TLA? It’s an acronym for ‘Three letter acronym’. Ridiculous, right? Well hold your horses because the world that AdWords is a part of is a haven for TLA loving nerds like myself who like to use complicated jargon to make things look far more complicated than they ever need to be. So if you thought an acronym for an acronym was a joke, wait until your CTR increases your CPC, pushing up your CPA until your budget for PPC is exhausted!
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Anyway…AdWords…well, wait for a second; before we go there. What is paid search? And what is pay-per-click advertising (or PPC 😉 )? Pay-per-click is a pretty self-explanatory term that refers to digital marketing ads where the cost of that advertisement is only incurred when the user clicks on the ad. You might have PPC ads all over the internet but you only pay when someone actually clicks those ads, and the biggest provider of this type of advertising is Google, and the main product they provide is a subset of PPC called Paid Search. PPC pops up in other places too, like most of the Social Media platforms, with in-app pop-ups, interstitial ads, and across the web with display advertising.
So, back to the question. What is AdWords? Well, it’s a platform that allows you to set yourself up as an advertiser on Google, build, and manage your ads.
Next question: why bother? I’m glad you asked. For any company I’ve worked for or with, the number one source of traffic and subsequently sales has been Search Engines. It’s not difficult to understand seeing as ‘Google’ is used as a verb in modern global vernacular. When it comes to Search Engines as a traffic source we have Organic (appearing on the results page because Google’s algorithm recognises your site as relevant to the user’s Search Term), or the aforementioned Paid Search ad (where the advertiser pays Google to show their ad for that particular user and/or Search Term). Both sides of this coin compliment each other and more than likely integral to your online Marketing success.
Not to make it a competition, as both have their strengths and weaknesses but here are six way’s PPC beats SEO:
With SEO, Google acts as a middle man. You tell Google what you would like them to say and where to send traffic for what keywords, and Google can take it or leave it, leaving you with your fingers crossed. With PPC, on the other hand, you have complete control. You write the Ad, you decide what search terms you are targeting, and you get the final say on what landing page to send the user to, depending on what search term they used. This means you can create A/B tests to show what ad copy is more effective, what keywords drive sales, what landing pages perform best, and you can use this knowledge to hone your marketing and your product as a whole, not just for PPC.
Achieve paid rank where organic rank is difficult/impossible:
This is especially true for startups and in very competitive industries because if you don’t rank well organically in Google then you lose out on a huge opportunity for traffic. If you’re an early stage start-up sessions are lifeblood and without Organic rank, you’ll find it extremely difficult to gain momentum. A well-planned PPC strategy on a tight budget allows you to bypass the process of working towards Organic rank and can actually help fuel it. While there is little evidence to suggest that PPC directly affects SEO it is always true that traffic begets traffic. As in, if you build brand awareness and content that attracts people to stay on your site, and even share that content or their experience, with others, then you will have more people searching for your site and more links around the web.
Increased traffic, backlinks, and searches for your brand or product all boost SEO:
A perfect example of this is our own site. When Digedu started it took 3 months before we ranked the first position for our own name. In the meanwhile, we couldn’t wait around for people to magically start visiting our site so we used social media, email, word-of-mouth, and PPC to drive traffic to our site while we grew our Organic presence. The big danger is that you grab people’s attention and then they go to Google and search for your brand. In 2016, if someone searched for Digedu they wouldn’t see us until page 3. Imagine someone wanted to take a course in PPC online after hearing about us but couldn’t find us, even after Googling us. It still sends shudders down my spine…
AdWords offer a series of Ad Extensions for your PPC ads which are either not available for SEO, only show in the top Organic position or are very difficult to persuade Google to show. Ad Extensions in PPC like the review extension allow you to leverage social proof that your site is valuable to others and encourage people to click on your ads, or the ‘Call’ extension which allows people to skip the process of navigating to your site, finding your contact page, and give them the option to call you directly if you are on a mobile device. This can be especially handy if you are, say, a plumber and someone is in an emergency, or a restaurant and someone simply wants to make a booking.
PPC is quick, SEO is slow:
This is a big one. With PPC, if you release a new product, or new blog post, or just a new page on your site you want people to see, you could have a PPC ad running in under an hour. SEO can take months (and in some cases, where the search landscape is competitive, years) to reach a decent rank, which is no good, especially if your release is time sensitive like with a promotion, or seasonal product. We can’t wait around in the hope that our businesses will grow, and PPC gets results quick, including data and feedback on the effectiveness of the marketing and the product or service you’re promoting. Which leads to the next point:
In 2013 Google stopped providing data for Organic search terms in Google analytics, a major blow to SEOs worldwide. Where previously there was a Nirvana of keywords with attributed data like session volume, landing pages, and all your events/goals, such as conversions, sales registrations. It’s all gone (sad-sigh). On the other hand, PPC data is becoming more diverse as the AdWords platform is developed further (no surprises there; AdWords is how they make their money 😐 ). AdWords will give you insight into what keywords drive traffic, and more importantly which drive your sales and which cost you the most!
No unknown algorithms:
This is a big one. The SEO algorithm in Google is complex, multifarious, but most importantly you don’t know it. With PPC you can focus on writing the best ad copy, working on keyword discovery, testing landing pages, using Google’s feedback on user experience, ad relevance and so on to improve your PPC efforts and spend less for a greater return. There are no unknowns.
Despite the structure of this post, a good PPC strategy will feed into your SEO, and vice versa. Keyword research is one of the most important elements of SEO but with limited keyword data, you can only do so much. With an effective PPC strategy you can glean all the data you want about what keywords you should optimise for in your SEO, and this is only one example.
Good PPC is about driving conversions/sales on your site, maximising return, and supporting your overall Marketing goals and development. Getting good at PPC is about understanding how to use data to squeeze every single drop out of Search Engines to make your business thrive. Getting YOU good is OUR job, so you can do yours 🙂