My Marketing Thing

Google AdWords: The King and I

Google AdWords King cartoon

Have you heard people jabbering on about ‘Adwords’ and  ‘PPC’ as if you should:

(a) know what they’re saying, and
(b) care?

I know. ‘Adwords’ sounds like an uncreative copywriting agency. And ‘PPC’ sounds like an uncreative insurance company. But, surprisingly, they are neither of these things.

When the used-car salesmen of the internet holler ‘Be on the first page of Google!’, they are often referring to Google Adwords campaigns.

Google Adwords is one form of pay-per-click advertising (otherwise known as PPC).


What is pay-per-click advertising?

Unlike PPC, pay-per-click is exactly how it sounds. If someone sees your ad and clicks on it, you pay.

AdWords is a rather popular form of pay-per-clicking. Apparently Google made $20 billion from AdWords in 2008. What the advertisers made is another story…


What is Google Adwords exactly?

The Google Adwords ads are the sponsored link areas of a search results page (see the red circled areas below):


Adwords diagram


Adwords positioning

When talking about Adwords, people generally mean the ads on the right hand side column. So much of the AdWord ranking rant by search engine specialists is about being at the top of that column. King of the hill, top of the heap.

It’s as if they don’t want to be so bold as to mention ‘the other place': directly above the search results (see the other red circled area at the top of the diagram). This spot is Google’s royalty box.


Getting into Google’s royalty box

Having your Adwords ad at the top of the search listings means you are smack-dab in Google’s premium real estate. Ads go to this red-roped area when they have met an additional performance standard.

Like much with Google, this additional performance standard is shrouded in mystery. We do know, however, that it’s something to do with the relevance of the ad to the visitor. This seems to be strongly determined by the click-through-rate (CTR) of your ad while it’s sitting on the right hand side, waiting to be selected by the Google prince for a watlz.


How do you start this Adwords thing?

  1. Go to Google AdWords
  2. Set up an account
  3. Pay the $5 account set-up fee
  4. Create your ad
  5. Sit and watch your money flow out


Giving Google even more of your money

Google allows you to bid on keywords that you want to activate your ad. It’s kind of like EBay, but without getting anything tangible.

The higher you bid (i.e. more money you spend on a particular group of keywords) the more likely you will be placed at the top of the sponsored links column on the right hand side.

Some royal gossip

A good number of Google ranking specialists are now saying ‘Beware of AdWords’. Why? Because Adwords is fast becoming the domain of large organisations with big Adwords budgets. It doesn’t take much to use up a more modest Adwords budget – which, of course, then makes it to harder to spin your ad budget into gold.

How high up you appear on the sponsored links list depends, in part, on how much you’re willing to spend on your campaign.


Why AdWords might NOT be worth trialling

If you are a small business and have only recently launched your site, try other ways to raise your ranking before launching into AdWords.

Even if you have been around for a bit (online) but still have low visitor numbers, be careful. Try getting your numbers up before going down the Adwords track.


Other ways to raise visitor numbers before launching an Adwords campaign

Read the previous My Marketing Thing posts on search engine optimisation:


If you choose to go ahead with this AdWords caper…

A successful AdWords campaign hinges on choosing the right keywords to put in you ad.

To choose the right keywords, it’s best to embrace the‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ formula: not too broad (too expensive), not too niche (no one will search for it), just right.

Sound familiar? Yes I wrote about my Goldilocks keyword theory in SEO & Keyword research: Goldilocks meets the devil.

Obviously, many research keywords through the Adwords Keyword Tool.  However, there are other keyword tools that may also be helpful. See the Goldilocks post and read the bit about different keyword search tools near the bottom.


How much does AdWords cost?

You can set a price limit per day, but have a popular keyword and your campaign can get very expensive very quickly.

For more information: Visit Google’s pricing information here.


3 key tips to making AdWords work for you 

  1. If you are wanting to attract customers from a particular geographic area 
    incorporate the name of the suburb or city as a keyword to niche your campaign.
  2. Niche by having an exact phrase only
    Use brackets or quotes at either end of the phrase to let Google know that you are promoting a phrase (not a collection of single keywords).
  3. To inspire the searcher to click on your ad 
    Offer a free e-book or free mini-online course – i.e. offer something attractive to your target audience that is free if they visit your site (by clicking on your ad).


Something many forget about AdWords campaigns

The Adwords campaign is designed to send visitors to your website. So having a great click-through stat is fine. But what happens when the visitor arrives to your site?

Do everything it can to make that AdWords visitor welcome. Tea, coffee, cake?

Make the most of their visit. Encourage them to contact you directly, subscribe to your e-news or buy something on your online store.


Once started on AdWords, then what? 

Monitor how the clicks are going and make changes as you go. Keep refining your keywords and see if they’re working for you.

Google gives you performance reports that include information on where your ads appeared, conversion rates, cost, etc. – so you don’t have any excuses. You know the deal.


Have you done the AdWords thing?

If you have run a successful AdWords campaign, we’d love to hear (and profit from) your secrets.

If you have run an unsuccessful AdWords campaign, we are here as a sympathetic support group, poised to listen to your story…when you are ready to share.


This post was written by Megan Hills.  Megan is a writer, cartoonist, marketing consultant who is wondering how to organise a coup d’etat against the leader of the free world: Google. Find out more about Megan.

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One Comment

  1. Shauna Teaken

    Megan, how you demystify and illuminate tricky (for me) stuff is just wonderful. THANK YOU!

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