Google AdWords (the sponsored listings seen at the top of most search result pages) have taken a lot of flak from business owners over the years for being overpriced and even for being supposedly associated with internet scams or some less than ethical promotions.
The fact however that they are Google’s single biggest source of income has encouraged Big G to clean up their reputation and add a few features to help make them a more enticing proposition for small business owners.
This might also be a good opportunity to admit that I have been one of AdWords’ biggest hecklers in recent years, but as with most things Google related, I have learned to accept that there is little other option but to adapt and get involved, or risk being left behind!
For those that aren’t already aware, AdWords works on a bidding system whereby advertisers bid on the maximum they are willing to pay for a click to their website from a user that has searched for certain keywords. Naturally, the highest bidder gets the most visibility and therefore more clicks to their website. Also understandably, certain keyword phrases are a lot more competitive (and expensive!) than others.
Setting aside Google’s shameless monopolisation of how we use the internet, they have actually taken some pretty decent steps toward making AdWords a viable option for local small businesses.
They’ve improved ad targeting so business owners can make sure their ads are now only served to people within their service area and have started integrating with the new improved Google+ Local business pages to offer some great mobile ad formats.
The great thing about using AdWords for local search marketing is that there is little or no competition for ad space for the majority of keyword phrases. Little competition means low prices, and cheap ad space is hard to come by these days. It’s also essentially a pay-as-you-go format which can be paused or ramped up almost instantly.
Another undervalued use of AdWords is driving traffic to a site for the purpose of optimising the conversion rate. A new website can take a while to gain traction in the normal search results and it’s a great way to test at an early stage if the website “works”. If a business owner gets 200 clicks to their website in a month but haven’t had a single phone call, the website obviously isn’t converting into enquiries into sales and therefore needs to be improved.
Although it requires a little set up time and fairly close monitoring otherwise it can be costly, AdWords provides a virtually risk free source of traffic to a website and can provide an excellent return on investment when used and monitored correctly.
Google is also currently running a €300 match spend promotion which expires on 30 September so there has never been a better time to check it out.