The holy grail of marketing would be for your company, products and services to appear on the first page of Google for all of your primary phrases but unless you have the budget of a global brand, that’s very unlikely. Content marketing offers a medium to long-term solution but as Mark Schaefer pointed out in his Content Shock article “there is no shortage of content out there”. So what’s the solution? If you want to get out in front of your audience quickly, raise brand awareness, generate leads or need to adjust your marketing to seasonal demands then you may need to consider online advertising.
Google AdWords, Bing AdWords, PPC, Pay-Per-Click, online advertising there is no shortage of labels for what is becoming an increasingly important factor to consider as part of your marketing strategy. But discussing AdWords is a bit like asking people if they like Marmite, they normally either love it or hate it and there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground, but perhaps as buyer behavior changes, this view also needs to change.
Much of this opinion stems from previous experience, good or bad, personal search behavior (e.g. I never click on Ads so I don’t expect anyone else to), the costs involved in advertising or the view that searchers place more trust in organic results.
There is no doubt that searchers click more often on organic results than paid Ads, by a large margin, but it’s not as clear cut as we’d like it to be. In 2014 Econsultancy published a post that stated “36% of people still don’t realize that Google AdWords are ads” but those Ads still get clicked and visitors arrive on that site.
From an SEO perspective it’s becoming ever more difficult to appear on the first page of search for organic results as Google pull in results from a number of sources such as websites, review sites, Google My Business, social media sites, news articles and paid Ads. In addition the space taken by Ads has increased over the past 18 months with the introduction of sitelink extensions and callouts so there is a limited amount of real estate to fight over.
Whether you like it or not, online advertising is something that you’ll seriously have to consider if you want to raise your online profile and get on that first page of results but don’t take that decision without considering the benefits of incorporating a combined paid AND organic search strategy.
According to expandedrambings.com there were almost 12 billion monthly searches on Google in 2014. By incorporating a Paid, Earned, Owned strategy through a mix of content marketing and PPC you’re increasing the potential of getting your organic results AND your Ads seen by searchers, increasing the likelihood of traffic coming to your site and visitors buying more products or services.
Further information and arguments as to why this is a good approach were highlighted in an article I posted at the end of last year “Why you need to consider Content Marketing and PPC Advertising”
Online advertising options
There is no doubting the benefits of implementing a paid and organic search strategy so if you’re considering using paid advertising there are three options to consider. You can:
- Set up and manage your own AdWords account
- Pay someone to set up and manage your AdWords account
- Pay a Google Partner to set up and manage your AdWords account
Option 1: Managing your own AdWords account
It’s quite easy to set up an advertising account and implement campaigns and many businesses or individuals manage their accounts reasonably well. However the AdWords platform changes on a very frequent basis as Google make improvements and introduce new features. Many accounts I’m asked to audit have been set up and left running for quite some time without any management or TLC, resulting in poor performance and wasted spend. So unless you have the time or this becomes a key part of someone’s job there’s a chance you won’t be able to devote as much time as necessary not only to managing the account but keeping up with the changes.
Option 2: Paying someone to manage your AdWords account
Again it’s very easy for someone (anyone) to offer to set up and manage an account for you, I get emails everyday offering to do just that, with all sorts of promises thrown in. The difficulty comes when the account is not set up or managed properly because the account manager lacks the knowledge and experience to maximize the performance of the account. This in turn leads to the stories I regularly hear e.g. “tried it once, didn’t work and cost me a fortune”. This issue doesn’t just apply to small companies or one man bands that offer AdWords services. I’ve come across several accounts managed by large agencies that have been very poorly set up and managed. AdWords is not for everyone but it does work when implemented properly so it’s up to each business owner/manager to carry out their due diligence before making any engagement.
Option 3: Paying a Google Partner to manage your AdWords account
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that at Rame Marketing we believe in the importance of keeping our skills up-to-date and we participate in regular training events and courses. Rame Marketing is a Google Partner and we’ve worked hard to achieve the required criteria including sitting regular AdWord exams. In order to pass those exams we need to be up-to-date with changes to the platform, which means regular study. I personally have certification in Google AdWord Fundamentals, Advanced Search and Advanced Display. Further Google Partner criteria includes:
- Certification: This shows you have advanced AdWords knowledge, which means passing the AdWords Fundamental exam and at least one of the additional advanced exams. These exams expire every 12 to 18 months so have to be retaken regularly.
- Spend: Google has a spend threshold to ensure each agency has a healthy amount of activity. Currently this sits at $10,000 (or local equivalent) over the previous 90 days.
- Best practices: Google review your client accounts to ensure you’re maximizing the performance of each AdWords account.
Each Google Partner has to adhere to the criteria to stay in the Partner Programme. So a certified Google Partner has the training and experience to set up, manage and deliver a bespoke online advertising plan to suit your business needs. Being associated with the Partnership Programme helps build trust and credibility in the agency’s capability to deliver and provides a benchmark to compare against.
Social Media and PPC
The merits of a working knowledge of PPC becomes ever more relevant as the days of free access to all of your social media connections begins to dwindle with most of the key social platforms moving towards monetizing their offering. Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter all offer PPC advertising options and YouTube Ads can be placed through the AdWords platform. The amount of personal information held by each social platform provides precision targeting opportunities to aim at your ideal audience.
As business owners, managers or marketers we need to separate our own behaviours, views and prejudices from the decision making process and concentrate our marketing strategy on targeting our audience, using the most appropriate marketing tools available. In many cases this will include online advertising across Search, Display and Social channels.
PPC or AdWords can be viewed as a marketing tactic or for some businesses it’s seen as a key strategic component of the marketing plan. When considered as part of a multi-channel offering it makes sense to have this managed by an individual or agency that understands and has experience not just of PPC advertising but also marketing strategy and digital marketing in general.
Those businesses that breakdown the silos between marketing functions, take a holistic view and implement a multi-channel, integrated marketing solution will be the ultimate winners.