Should You Be Using AdWords?
Why Are Clients Adverse To AdWords?
Many clients that come to us do not want to use the Google AdWords Pay Per Click (PPC) platform for a variety of reasons, including:
Organic Clicks Are Free
While it is true that you are not paying per click for organic traffic, it is not true that the clicks are free. After all, you probably have continual SEO investment in order to maintain the search engine ranking position that generates this traffic; it’s just a different form of payment.
AdWords Is Too Expensive
The cost per click (CPC) can vary enormously, depending on a variety of factors including advert position, target search term, quality score, etc. However, it stands to reason that the more competitive the target keywords, the higher the cost per click. This will be true regardless of whether you’re paying for AdWords clicks or trying to rank organically.
AdWords Does Not Work
This is perhaps the objection that we hear the most – clients telling us that they tried AdWords but didn’t see any results. In all our years in the business, this has never been down to the AdWords platform, but a result of a badly planned AdWords campaign. We regularly highlight problems such as:
- The website has not been set up to convert visitors. So, the client is paying for good, targeted traffic through AdWords, but the visitors don’t result in any business.
- The client is paying for the wrong search terms (e.g. a realtor paying for “houses for sale” instead of people actually looking for a realtor) or paying for search terms where the website doesn’t have appropriate landing pages. If you’re bidding for “pink polka dot widgets” you better make sure that the advert link points to your Pink Polka Dot Widget page.
- The campaign has the wrong geographic settings – for example, the business only expects clients within a 10 mile radius, but has the campaign settings for the entire state.
- The keywords have not been setup correctly. Most clients should avoid using broad match keywords. Exact match, phrase match, or broad match modifiers are typically preferable. Beware of Google themselves here, as we’ve noticed their representatives have a habit of encouraging the addition of broad match terms.
- On a similar subject, most clients do not monitor their campaigns closely enough, checking the keyword search terms and adding negative keywords as appropriate. Here again, Google’s interface is quite sneaky. The default method for flagging a negative only adds an exact match negative at the Ad Group level. More usually it’s better to add a broad match negative keyword or keyword phrase at the campaign level.
There are other problems, but these cover some of the main issues we encounter.
Traditionally organic ranking has been less expensive than PPC over time, but that could be changing.
Google makes most of its income from AdWords, so it naturally wants to maximize these. There are plenty of studies that clearly demonstrate how Google has slowly been making the adverts far more intrusive, especially during the last 7-10 years. Tactics show that Google is:
- Placing more adverts at the top of the page. It used to be just a couple of adverts, then three, then four, then advert(s) within the Local Pack. This trend will continue
- Making the adverts less obvious. They used to have an obvious colored background. Over the years this became less and less visible before disappearing completely.
- Making the adverts bigger. With longer descriptions, call outs, etc. adverts are taking up more and more space at the top of the page, forcing the user to scroll in order to see organic results. This is particularly obvious on mobile searches with limited screen space.
An oft-mentioned statistic is that, even with the adverts, approximately 85% of clicks from a search engine screen are on to the organic results. If this is true, then it would make sense to spend five or six times as much on SEO as on AdWords. Unfortunately, while it can change between keywords and searcher intent, this statistic is probably no longer true. Intrusive advert creep will have far more people clicking adverts, so investing in AdWords becomes almost a necessity – exactly what Google wants.
Is It Time To Use AdWords?
Although Google has proved to be a very competent, innovative company, we’re not trying to advocate for them. Yes, there are plenty of things that Google does that frustrate us. We are primarily a company focused on successful SEO, so Google’s advert creep is certainly detrimental to our business. Though, Google is in the business of making money, so we totally understand why adverts have become more intrusive.
PPC AdWords do also have some advantages over traditional SEO, such as:
- SEO is a long-haul strategy, where we slowly build up your organic rankings over time. With sufficient budget, AdWords can start generating traffic immediately.
- AdWords can be switched on and off at will to accommodate changing business circumstances. For example, you lose an employee and have too much business? No problem, reduce or pause your AdWords campaign. Need more work? Just add more keywords, switch on paused Ad Groups, restart seasonal campaigns, and so on.
The truth is that a good marketing strategy should always include a mixture of both organic and paid advertising. For paid advertising, there are many options now available, but AdWords is undoubtedly one of the core elements.