Category Archives for "PPC"

Even Many Successful Business Owners Don’t Understand These 2 Key Concepts

A few weeks ago I was eavesdropping on a conversation between 2 successful business owners (both of whom I know) at an Open House for a friend’s new office.

One has built up a huge business that serves clients locally in over 40 markets around the U.S. We’ll call her Jill.

The other has built up a successful business that just operates locally here in St. Louis – among the largest in his industry. We’ll call him Mark.

Jill was asking Mark about what he’s doing marketing-wise, specifically online, and the conversation went like this:

Mark: We have a guy that’s doing some things online for us.

Jill: What’s he doing?

Mark: Some SEO and some PPC.

Jill: How much are you spending on PPC?

Mark: I’m not really sure. I think we budget about $500 a month.

Jill: Are you getting any business from it?

Mark (unsure): I think so.

Jill: If you are, how come you’re not spending more money on it?

Mark: That’s just what we budgeted for it.

Jill: But if you’re spending $500 on it and it’s getting you customers, why would you cap what you’re spending? Why wouldn’t you keep spending more to get more customers?

Mark (a little uncomfortable at this point): I don’t know, that’s just what we have budgeted.

Jill: I’m spending about 300 times what you are each month on PPC and we track all our leads carefully and know that the campaign is profitable so we keep spending more and more because we know it’s getting us more and more clients.

Mark: Well, I don’t really know if it’s getting us clients or not.

Jill: Are you tracking calls from your PPC campaign?

Mark: No, we can’t do that.

Jill: Sure you can. You can use call tracking.

Mark (getting a little defensive at this point): I don’t want to do that because if a client keeps that tracking number, they won’t be able to reach us if they try to call us again in the future.

Let’s stop things right there.

There are 2 concepts about marketing that Mark (again, the owner of a very successful business) still doesn’t understand… and he’s not alone.

The first is the idea of marketing as an investment.

If you had an investment of any kind that was generating $1.50 or $2 or $5 for every dollar you put in, would you cap how much money you’d invest if you can keep getting that same return?

Of course not!

Why is your marketing any different?

Any budget you assign to your marketing is a STARTING POINT. It’s a number you’re comfortable with losing (only if your marketing campaign is a total flop… which can, and does, happen).

But think of this initial investment as R&D (research and development). This is money you put out there to see if prospects respond to your marketing campaign.

If they do, you can start trying to improve and expand your campaign (ie. invest more into it) so it generates more leads and clients for you.

If they don’t, then you can try different messaging, a different kind of campaign, etc. to find something that does work.

But here’s the key to all of this… YOU HAVE TO BE TRACKING AND MEASURING YOUR RESULTS!!

If you’re a local business owner that means tracking leads for EVERY contact form or lead form you have on your site.

It also means using call tracking because most of your leads are going to come by phone.

And that leads to the 2nd concept that Mark didn’t understand.

It’s regarding call tracking.

First, you can sign up for call tracking numbers and hold onto them as long as you want to. So if you’re worried about clients calling an old tracking number that doesn’t ring at your office, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Call tracking numbers are pretty cheap these days. In fact, if all you want to track is the total number of leads you’re getting, you can get a local tracking number from Twilio for $1 a month + $0.0075 a minute. At that price, there’s no reason to ever give that number up!

Even if there WAS a risk that Mark loses that number, is it really that big a deal? By using a call tracking number, Mark would have a clear picture of which marketing campaigns are working for him and which ones are not.

In fact, if he were to use Dynamic Call tracking on his AdWords campaigns (like we use for our clients) he’d be able to pinpoint the EXACT keywords and ads that are making his phone ring!

Think about how valuable that data is… it would allow Mark to stop spending money on ineffective advertising campaigns, keywords and ads.

And he’d be able to take that money he saved and invest it into the advertising campaigns, keywords and ads that ARE bringing in new clients.

With this information he’d have the information he needs to grow his client base and business even more.

Isn’t that MORE than worth the risk of losing your call tracking number and having a few clients here and there who aren’t able to track down your contact info?

Mark is a smart business owner and a great salesman. Just one look at the company he’s built and you can see that.

But even smart business owners have blind spots. And Mark’s blind spots when it comes to marketing are the same ones that many business owners have.

As Mark has proved, you can build an impressive business without treating marketing as an investment and carefully tracking your leads.

But I’d say he’s the exception rather than the rule.

Marketing comes down to the numbers. Get to know yours and watch the investment in your marketing lead to many happy returns.

PPC, SEO and Bisexuality

The other day I came across yet another sensationalistic article pitting PPC against SEO.

The article, and particularly the comment section, was chock full o’ SEO experts bashing PPC as expensive, complicated and ineffective. And PPC experts bashing SEO as expensive, complicated and ineffective.

It’s garbage – on both sides.

Why? Well, to get to the heart of why I’m gonna use a quote from Woody Allen…

“Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night.”

Listen, I’m certainly not qualified to dispense dating advice here. But I think I’m certainly well qualified to give out marketing advice – especially when it comes to SEO and PPC. So, here goes…

SEO vs PPC is NOT an either / or choice. And, for many businesses, if you’re doing one and then add the other, you immediately increase your chances of getting qualified prospects to your website.

There’s a misconception out there that if you have high organic rankings, you don’t need PPC. Or, conversely, if you’re killing it with PPC, you don’t need SEO.

The issue with this thinking is that the results you get with one doesn’t erode the results you can get with the other.  The reality is you’re reaching DIFFERENT prospects with each.

And studies have found if you have top organic rankings and add PPC to the mix, you’ll get a lot MORE LEADS that you wouldn’t have gotten from just your organic rankings alone.

Now, unlike what Allen says about bisexuality, doing SEO and PPC probably won’t DOUBLE your pool of prospects, but still, doing both will drive more prospects to your site than just doing one or the other.

SEO vs PPC is the WRONG question.

The right question is… can you do both SEO and PPC profitably? Cuz if so, by just sticking with one and ignoring the other, you’re  missing out on revenue that could be yours and you’re giving your competitors a bigger opening to steal prospects away from you.

If you own a local service business and would like to see if your business may be a good fit for our unique ROI-driven PPC and SEO programs, either fill out the Contact form on our site or call us at 314-329-1422.

3 Top AdWords Alternatives

Getting all your paid traffic from Google AdWords?

Most business owners who rely on AdWords to drive most of the traffic to their website don’t realize that AdWords ain’t the only game in town.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love AdWords. I’m in it every day and, all things considered, I think it’s the greatest advertising platform around.

But, you shouldn’t be relying on Google for all your paid traffic.

Why? Well, for any one or more of the following reasons…

  1. Relying on a single source of traffic – no matter what it is – is a very dangerous position to be in
  2. AdWords is getting more competitive by the day and click costs can be extremely high
  3. If you don’t play by their rules, Google can and will ban your account
  4. There may very well be other sources of traffic you’re missing out on that can deliver more traffic and/or more sales at a much lower cost per conversion than AdWords.

So, if you’re looking to diversify your traffic sources and/or have maxed out AdWords and still want to drive more paid traffic, here are the first 3 places I’d recommend you turn to…

Bing Ads

This is the most obvious option out there. Bing Ads is basically Bing’s version of AdWords. It serves traffic on both Bing and Yahoo! which, together, account for about 30{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of search engine traffic.

A few years ago I would try to avoid Bing Ads at all costs because it had a clunky interface, a horrible feature set and all sorts of bugs that would drive me crazy.

But they’ve really cleaned up their act in the last few years. It’s still not quite as elegant as AdWords, but it’s much closer.

The good thing for AdWords users is that because Bing knows AdWords rules the paid search marketplace, they’ve made it extremely easy to import your AdWords campaign into Bing Ads. They have a handy import feature that allows you to connect directly to your AdWords account or, the method I prefer, you can export your AdWords campaigns from the AdWords Editor and import that file into Bing.

Either way, you don’t have to recreate the wheel and can have your Bing Ads campaign up in less than 30 minutes.

(Quick Tip – After you import an AdWords campaign into Bing, double check your settings. At the very least I’d recommend lowering your bid prices by at least 10{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} and make sure your geographic targeting settings were imported correctly.)

Bing Ads is not going to drive nearly the amount of traffic that AdWords does but we’ve found, especially for B2B type niches, you’ll find higher conversion rates with Bing.

And click costs are generally much lower on Bing because there’s not as much competition there. In fact, in some highly competitive markets, you may want to start with Bing Ads to try to generate leads at an acceptable ROI before trying to battle it out on the killing fields of AdWords.

Before we move on, one last tip for Bing Ads… only run your campaigns on Bing and Yahoo! and NOT on the ‘search partners’ sites. We’ve found the search partner traffic to be rather poor quality and usually avoid it.

Facebook Ads

Facebook is another platform that’s really upped its paid advertising game lately. In fact, there are situations where the quantity and quality of the paid traffic you can get with Facebook will leave Google in the dust.

In fact, earlier this year we set up an AdWords campaign for a friend of mine who was using Facebook paid advertising to get a few hundred sign ups a month for his offer. We tried Google Search traffic, Google Display Network and even YouTube advertising through AdWords but the traffic was WAY more expensive and we couldn’t even come close to generating the number of sign ups he was getting from Facebook (despite our best efforts!).

There are a few main reasons Facebook paid ads have gotten so much better lately.

First are the News Feed ads. It used to be that your ads on Facebook would only show up on the right side of the screen and were easy for users to ignore. Now, you can show ads right in people’s News Feeds along with updates from their friends, companies they’re following, etc.

It’s much harder for people to ignore the News Feed ads and their clickthrough rates dwarf the clickthrough rates of the ads in the right sidebar.

Second is the introduction of the Power Editor. Among other things, the Power Editor gives you access to data from a few Big Data providers which allows you to target people in ways that were never possible before.

Facebook advertising was always an interesting option because you could target people based on information in their Facebook profiles. So, for example, things like Relationship Status, favorite movies/books/etc., and the Facebook pages they like were all fair game (and still are).

But with Big Data, you can now target people by data about them gathered from offline sources too. So, for example, you can target people who are “cereal buyers”, those who have donated to certain categories of charities, those who take “Casino vacations” and much MUCH more!

This opens a whole new world of demographic targeting options that aren’t available to most advertisers any other way. If you’re trying to reach a specific demographic or people with certain buying behaviors, Facebook paid ads are definitely worth experimenting with.

Retargeting platforms

Yes, Google has remarketing but you can do retargeting campaign on a number of other platforms as well.

Even if you’re not familiar with the term retargeting, you know what it is. If you go to a website looking for shoes, household items, software, etc. and then leave that site and are immediately bombarded with ads for the products you just looked at, that’s retargeting (though not necessarily done well!).

It works by having code on your website that places a cookie on the machine of visitors to your site (Hint: you can place the code in HTML emails or FB pages too). Then, when they leave your site, you can show ads to them for your products/services when they visit other websites that display ads on them.

AdRoll is probably the best known 3rd party retargeting platform around these days, but there are plenty of others including Retargeter, Fetchback, and more.

Personally, we’ve not had good results with AdRoll. They seem to charge a premium for traffic and there’s not a lot of transparency in your campaigns. Of the 3rd party options out there, right now we’re focusing our efforts around Perfect Audience (which allows you to retarget to users on Facebook and Twitter), though it’s a little too soon to fully endorse them.

If you’re already getting a decent amount of traffic to your website and are NOT using retargeting, you’re missing out. It’s a great way to get people back to your site who’ve already shown an interest in what you offer but weren’t ready to pull the trigger yet. It can also be a great way to market to current clients with upsell and cross sell offers.

Also, retargeting clicks tend to be fairly inexpensive, especially when compared to AdWords Search traffic.


If you’re looking for additional sources of paid traffic, the above would be my top 3. But there are plenty of others out there. Do you have a favorite? If so, please share it in the comment section below.

The Huge AdWords Opportunity Hiding in Plain Sight

Quick question…

When you hear the word “AdWords”, what do you think of?

If you’re like most people, it’s probably the ads that appear above and/or to the right of the organic search results on Google.

And, you’re absolutely right. That is AdWords.

BUT…there’s a whole nother side to AdWords most people don’t think about.

Now you’ve surely encountered these AdWords ads while surfin’ the web (they’re seen by 80{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of all Internet users). You just may not have recognized them as being part of AdWords.

This side of AdWords is a largely hidden opportunity flying under most business owners’ radar screens. And that’s a BIG mistake cuz the potential here, depending on your business, could dwarf the traffic and sales generated by a plain vanilla Google AdWords Search campaign.

So what is this opportunity?

It’s the Google Display Network (GDN).

The Display Network is made up of over 2 million websites that run Google ads on them. These could be huge sites like The New York Times and or they could be small sites like someone’s personal blog.

(These sites put Google ads on them to make money…if someone clicks on an ad on their site, Google gives them a cut of the action.)

And you, as an advertiser, can display ads on these websites to target your prospects in a myriad of mouth watering ways (we’ll get to those in a minute).

An Avalanche of Traffic

The GDN, done right, can trigger an avalanche of traffic to your site. And do it at a cost per click that’s often much cheaper than an AdWords Search campaign.

Now GDN traffic tends not to be as high a quality as Search largely because you’re dealing with a different mindset on the part of the searcher (more on that below). Even so, it’s very possible to get a ton of traffic at a very acceptable Cost Per Conversion.

Better Than Ever

While I’ve mainly focused on Search over the years, I have dabbled in the GDN. But recently, I’ve found myself spending a lot more time there.

See, Google’s been improving how things operate on the GDN (especially the targeting options) and it’s getting harder and harder to ignore. Now, I find there are few campaigns and niches where it’s not worth at least testing GDN traffic.

So I’ve been running more and more GDN campaigns, having good success for clients, and having a blast doing it! (Hey, it may not fit your definition of fun, but I geek out on this stuff!)

How Most People Screw Up the GDN

When you set up a new AdWords campaign, Google’s default is to have the campaign run on both the Search Network and the GDN. This is where many advertisers get in trouble.

You should NEVER have a campaign running both on Google Search and the GDN. They’re totally different beasts.

On Search, people are actively typing in keywords related to a need they have at that very instant. So when you’re ad appears, it’s positioned smack dab in front of a highly motivated audience.

On GDN, people are consuming content on a web page. They’re not actively searching for what you offer. So they’re in a very different mindset than a prospect on Search.

And this is why a GDN campaign needs to be set up quite differently than a Search campaign. It requires:

  • Different keywords (if you use keywords at all).
  • Different ads.
  • Different campaign organization.
  • Different bid strategy, etc.

But most people treat them the same. And that’s a big reason why so many fail with the Display Network.

They set up one campaign that runs on Search and GDN. The campaign (if it’s optimized at all) is optimized for Search. They blow through a ton of budget on GDN clicks that haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of converting.

And they think GDN (and often AdWords in general) is an expensive waste of time and money so they give up.

Let them…just means more opportunity for those of us who know what we’re doing! 🙂

Ahh, the Possibilities

A big part of the key to a successful GDN campaign is in how you target your prospects. Here’s just a taste of the possible ways you can target people on the Display Network and leverage this largely untapped opportunity…

Contextual Targeting

This is just a fancy GDN name for targeting people using keywords…but it’s VERY different than using keywords for Search. Basically you want to choose much broader keywords for GDN than for Search and group them into themes. Then Google will find web pages across the 2+ million sites in the GDN related to the themes of your keywords and your ads can show up on those pages.

Topic Targeting

No keywords here. With Topic targeting you select topics (Google has a list of hundreds to choose from) that your target market is likely interested in.

For example, if you’re selling a health product for women you could test topics ranging from “Vitamins and Supplements”, “Women’s Health”, “Weight Loss”, “Fitness”, and more. Google will find pages on the web related to these topics and potentially display your ads there.

Interest Targeting

This is similar to Topic targeting but it’s not based on the content of the website. It’s based on the individual searcher’s interests based on their browsing history.

Unless you’re a GDN pro I’d recommend you stay clear of this option because there’s big potential for trouble (ie. The Creepy Factor) here. For example, if you’re selling an Erectile Dysfunction cure, you probably don’t want your ads showing up when your prospects are on sites related to Kitchen Appliances, Asian Cuisine or Christmas!

Managed Placements

Managed placements let you target the specific websites and/or web pages you want your ads to appear on.


This is where you target people who have previously visited your website. These can be people who came to your site through AdWords Search ads, organic search listings, email lists, social media, etc.

Google puts a cookie on their computers and you can then show ads to them on the Display Network as they surf the web. It’s an amazingly powerful way to stay in front of people who showed at least some interest in your products/services.


Yes, you can even run ads on YouTube – the world’s second largest search engine – through GDN. On YouTube, you can do demographic targeting, topic targeting, keyword targeting, remarketing and more.


Where things can really get interesting is when you combine the different GDN targeting methods – like combining remarketing with topic targeting so you show ads to those who’ve been to your website already, but only when they’re on sites related to specific topics.

Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to GDN. But hopefully it gets your brain stirring on the potential that lies within this hidden corner of the AdWords world.

If you’d like to explore the specific possibilities for your business that may lurk in the Display Network, you can either sign up for a consulting session with me to develop a GDN strategy for your business or contact me about managing a GDN campaign for you.

What is Google Remarketing and Why You Should Care More Now Than Ever

Imagine you run a bakery and a customer walks by your front window and stops and stares longingly at the goodies you have on display.

You watch them closely and can see the internal debate raging inside them about whether or not to walk in the door and buy something. After a minute, through a great display of willpower, they decide to move on without making a purchase.

But when they leave, you have a secret advertising weapon up your sleeve. You have special technology that flashes an image of that Bavarian Crème Pie they were drooling over on every billboard and bus stop poster they pass.

Gonna be hard for them to get that pie out of their mind, right?

Well, so far as I know, no technology like that exists in the “real world”. But online, you can accomplish the same effect through remarketing.

A remarketing campaign is run through Google AdWords.

Here’s How It Works…

When someone visits your website, they get a remarketing cookie placed on their computer. Then, when they leave your site, you can show ads to them that promote your products and services when they visit other sites around the web that display Google ads.

(Google has what’s known as the Display Network that allows websites from the New York Times down to someone’s small personal blog to display Google ads on them. These ads reach about 80{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of internet users. Remarketing ads are displayed through this network and can be text ads, image ads or video ads.)

Remarketing eliminates one of the big challenges with online marketing…mainly that most people will visit your website and leave without ever taking action.

Before remarketing, these visitors were lost and gone forever but with remarketing, you can create a campaign that keeps your company name and message in front of them to subtly (or not so subtly) remind them you’re still around.

And one of the coolest things about remarketing is you can target people who visit your site no matter what traffic source they come from. It could be from a PPC campaign, organic traffic, social media, or TV ads.

Doesn’t matter.

If they land on your site, you can reach them with remarketing.

Running Highly Targeted Remarketing Ads

And you can get pretty strategic about how you structure your remarketing campaigns.

Say you run a digital camera store. You can have a remarketing campaign that specifically targets people who visit Canon DSLR related pages on your site. The ads this group sees through remarketing could be for a coupon or special offer good toward the purchase of a Canon camera.

And you can have a separate remarketing campaign that does the same for those who visit Nikon DSLR related pages on your site, only offering a coupon for a Nikon camera.

You can also prevent certain groups of visitors from seeing your remarketing ads. Using the digital camera store example, you don’t want customers to see that coupon for a Canon DSLR after they’ve made a purchase. Remarketing lets you exclude those who have made a purchase so they won’t see your ads.

(Or, you could get really clever and start running ads promoting Canon lenses to people who bought a Canon camera from you.)

Until recently, remarketing required multiple codes (depending on your strategy) that you had to manually install on one or more pages of your site.

And It Just Got Even Better…

However, you can now run remarketing through your Google Analytics account. Doing it this way provides some intriguing advantages.

First, you just have to install one Google Analytics code on your site that can be used to control all your remarketing campaigns.

Second, and even cooler, is you can now use data from Google Analytics to get even more strategic about your remarketing campaigns.

For example, you can now decide to only show ads to people who visit certain pages on your site AND stay on those pages for more than 1 minute (indicating a higher level of interest compared to those who only spend a few seconds on your site).

In a recent article I wrote for the Daily Egg, How Remarketing Just Got Even More Remarkable, I outlined a number of different ways the Analytics–remarketing link can be used to help a website run a highly targeted remarketing campaign.

You want to make the most of the traffic you get to your website. And as PPC ads get more expensive, as the game is changing for SEO and other changes take hold over the online marketing landscape, that’s truer now than ever.

With remarketing, there’s no reason to let people who come to your site (indicating at least some level of interest in what you offer) to slip away without ever hearing from you again.

A Relatively Inexpensive Way to Boost Conversions

Because Display Network clicks tend to be relatively inexpensive and the traffic from remarketing ads is from “warm” prospects, I’ve found remarketing to be a very cost effective way to boost conversions for many of our clients. If you’re interested in giving remarketing a try or finding out more about it, contact us today.

Image courtesy of Mundoo

Why It’s Now Worth Considering PPC on Bing

Without fail, it would ruin my day.

While my main focus with PPC (pay per click advertising) has always been Google AdWords, I’ve also managed some PPC campaigns through Microsoft’s adCenter (adCenter is Microsoft’s equivalent to Google AdWords where your ads run on both the Bing and Yahoo! search engines).

I hated those adCenter campaigns. Even making seemingly simple changes would result in lots of wasted hours, cursing and head banging for me.

This was mainly because the adCenter management interface didn’t work as well as AdWords, wasn’t as intuitive as AdWords, and didn’t have many of the helpful features/options that AdWords has.

Partly due to my frustration and partly due to adCenter not having nearly the traffic potential of an AdWords campaign, I never encouraged clients or prospects to take a serious look at using adCenter for their businesses.

Big Improvements in AdCenter

Things have changed though. I had to launch a few new campaigns in adCenter recently and was very pleasantly surprised by how smooth an experience it was. No head banging, no cursing, no wasted hours of work!

The user interface, experience and performance both online, and in their desktop tool, has improved dramatically. Plus Bing’s added a bunch of welcome features like Modified Broad Match, ad extensions, exact/phrase negative keywords that give you much more control over your campaign and help improve your results.

In fact, I’ve been so impressed that I started running a campaign to promote my own business!

While there are still improvements that can be made (as is the case with AdWords as well), I’ve started recommending adCenter to prospects and clients for the first time.

5 Other Reasons to Consider Adding adCenter to Your Marketing Mix

Besides the improvements to the user interface, here are 5 other reasons to consider adding adCenter to your marketing mix:

1. Cheaper clicks

The competition in adCenter is not as great as on Google so you’ll generally pay a lot less per click. I’ve seen situations where clicks costing $7+ on Google go for under $2 on adCenter.

2. Less competition

This is highly related to lower costs per click, but also gives you the chance to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. Small companies may not have the budget to compete with the big spenders for their best keywords in AdWords, but they may be able to carve out a nice niche they can dominate in adCenter.

3. Variation

I’m constantly harping on the concept of having variety in your marketing mix. Relying on just one source of traffic for the majority of your leads is a dangerous game to play. Adding adCenter to your marketing mix gives you one more source of traffic/leads you can leverage to put your marketing on more secure footing.

4. 30{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} Share of Search

No question Google dominates the search engine world with 66{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of market share. But combine Bing and Yahoo! and they add up to just about 30{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of the market. When you consider that billions of searches are done each day, 30{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} is still a big number and is hard to ignore.

5. More desirable demographics

Depending on your target market, adCenter may let you reach a more desirable demographic group. In comparing Bing vs. Google users, Bing users tend to be older (35+, especially 55-64), are more likely to have children and tend to be less sophisticated from a technical standpoint.

I don’t think adCenter will ever catch up to AdWords in terms of reach or functionality, but they’ve certainly made some impressive strides recently. If you’ve got a limited PPC budget and/or want to enhance/supplement your PPC efforts over and above AdWords, it’s definitely worth adding adCenter to the mix.

Is PPC Optional Any Longer?

The assumption by experts (myself included) and laypeople alike is that when it comes to getting the most clicks on Google, the organic results is where most of the action is.

However, new research by Wordstream provides some interesting stats that cast some doubt on that assumption.

Here are the stats…

64.6{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of clicks for high commercial intent keywords are from Google ads vs. 35.4{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} from organic results.

The top organic listing gets just 8.9{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of the clicks, the top 3 ads on the page get 41.1{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of the clicks.

45.5{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of people couldn’t identify the search engine results page if there wasn’t a right column.

Wordstream is a very well respected firm though, to be fair, is very much focused on the PPC side of the equation. So, as with any research, you have to take the source into account.

There’s also some additional data that would be nice to see here such as the conversion rates of PPC traffic vs. organic traffic as well as getting some breakdowns by industry/niche.

That said, those are some pretty big numbers in favor of PPC being the place where most of the action is these days for “high commercial intent” keywords.

However accurate the data is or isn’t, there are two big things going on here that you need to factor into your online marketing strategy.

First is that Google, quite purposely, is shifting the focus of the search engine results to paid search and Google AdWords. Take a look at this screen shot I took for a search for local plumbers in St Louis. The areas is the red boxes are paid search.

Notice how, above the fold, only 4 local search results show up. And this is using a pretty good size monitor. People on laptops and iPads are going to see even fewer of the local or organic results.

Here’s another screen capture from a product search for the Canon Rebel t3i.

Again, look how much of the above the fold space is taken up by paid ads. Google recently transitioned Product Search to all paid results so if you sell products online, you pretty much have to use paid ads if you want to show up on page 1.

The second factor to keep in mind is something I’m constantly harping on (and will continue to do so!)…diversity.

Relying on just SEO, just PPC, just Facebook, etc. is a recipe for disaster.

It always has been (just ask those that have had an AdWords account banned or got slapped by the Panda or Penguin organic algorithm updates) and is only becoming more so.

If the data from Wordstream’s research is accurate, then paid search results are now getting about twice as many clicks as organic search results for high commercial intent keywords. Based on the screen shots above and seeing how the paid search dominates the above the fold results, it certainly seems like those numbers are quite plausible.

If you’ve been ignoring Google AdWords, I hope this research will encourage you to consider adding AdWords to the marketing mix for your business. Because these days, if you want to stake your claim to a spot on page 1 of Google, AdWords may be your best, if not only, option.

Which of These Ads Would You Click On?

Check out this screenshot from the AdWords search results for the search phrase “house painters albuquerque”…

Sure seem to be a lot of “painting experts” in Albuquerque…which one would click on?!

All 3 of these companies have their AdWords campaigns and websites managed by the same big online Yellow Pages type firm that “specializes” in local business marketing. Clearly this firm just inserted their standard “house painter” ad copy into each campaign, added a phone number and website URL and they were done.

Your AdWords copy is your chance to stand out from the competition. Let people know what makes your business unique. Show them that you’re the company that’s best suited to address their needs/problems.

If your ad is virtually identical to the other ads running next to them, you have no chance of doing any of those things.

These business owners (who I can only assume haven’t checked out their ads) are missing out on a lot of leads to other AdWords advertisers who have ads that say something unique and compelling.

The real shame is that, after trying this for a while, the owners of these businesses are going to stop using AdWords because they think it doesn’t work. But chances are good that it would work quite well if they had a properly managed campaign.

If you’re running an AdWords campaign managed by another company (especially a big, national firm), take some time to do some searches on keywords your ads should pop up for.

Make sure your ads are popping up.

Make sure they’re not the same as the other ads their competing against.

And make sure the ad copy contains a benefit, offer, and/or call to action that gives people a reason to click on your ad instead of your competitors’ ads!

When managing AdWords campaigns, we spend a lot of time digging into a business to find the unique qualities that will make it stand out…even if we have to drag it out of the business owner! Whether you’re managing your own campaign or have another company managing it, do your reflect what truly makes you unique?


I Really Want to Recommend Google AdWords Express, But…

The other week I posted an article with some words of warning about Google AdWords Express.

I really want to be able to recommend it to small business owners. Truly I do.

Google AdWords is a great marketing tool and having an easy, efficient and effective way to use it would be a huge help for many small local businesses.

Since writing that last article, however, my view of Adwords Editor has not gotten any better. Two reasons why…

1. A very pushy Google AdWords Express rep called a client of mine. The rep had my client on the phone for a long time and, despite the client telling the rep he was already using AdWords, the rep persisted. More to get him off the phone than anything, my client relented and signed up for Express.

But here’s what really got me about this situation…

AdWords Express targets searchers in your local area. 99.5{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of my client’s customers come from outside his local area so spending money advertising on a local level does him little good.

Google’s pushing this service really hard, but, unfortunately, at least some of the reps are just looking for the sale and don’t even take the time to see if Express can actually help a local business get clients or not.

2. Take a look at this screen capture…

These are the results of a Google search I did for the term “drug crime lawyer” (and, in case you’re wondering, this was for research purposes for a client NOT because of any drug crime I committed!).

Notice that last result on the bottom right with the blue pushpin looking icon next to it? That’s a Google AdWords Express ad…and it’s for a bankruptcy lawyer.

Yet the AdWords Express algorithm is showing this ad for a search related to drug crime lawyers. Not the best targeting there!

And, unfortunately, there’s nothing this lawyer can do about it because, unlike with “regular” AdWords, in AdWords Express you can’t go in and tell Google not to show your ads when certain words show up in the search query a user types into Google.

I do have faith in Google and believe(hope!) that this algorithm will improve over time.

Until then, I can’t recommend Google AdWords Express for the small local business owner.

Dirty Diapers and Google AdWords Express (formerly Google Boost)

It sounded good like a good idea.

Before our first daughter was born my wife and I thought we were going to use cloth diapers on our daughter.

We’d be doing our part for the environment, they’re supposed to be better for the baby, and we wouldn’t be plopping (pun intended) $1000s into the Diaper Industrial Complex. After doing our research into cloth diapers we were excited (or, at least as excited you can be about changing diapers) to go the cloth diaper route.

What sounded good in theory turned out to be not so great in practice. With the cloth diapers there were lots of leaks, they were inconvenient when we were out of the house and they required us doing lots and lots and lots of laundry.

So we changed course and went the disposable diaper route.

And that brings us to Google AdWords Express. But before I explain why, we need…

A Little Background on AdWords Express

Google’s rebranded their Google Boost program for local businesses and is now calling it Google AdWords Express.

Google AdWords Express is a ultra-simplified way for local businesses to advertise through Adwords (Google’s Pay Per Click advertising program).

AdWords is a powerful way to target local prospects searching for the products and services you offer… and you only pay when someone clicks on your ad (compare that to TV, newspaper or magazine advertising where you pay a set price no matter how many eyeballs fall on your ad or how many of those who see your ad care about what you offer).

AdWords is also a complex beast that’s hard enough for those of us who use it every day to keep up with, let alone a small, the local business owner who has plenty else to worry about.

That’s where AdWords Express comes in. You set a budget, write an ad and then Google runs things for you. Easy peasy.

Sounds great, right?

Well, like the decision about using cloth diapers, what sounds good in theory may not be so good in practice.

With AdWords Express you get simplicity, but that comes at a price. In this case, that price is control. And control is one of the biggest benefits of using AdWords.

When you manage your own AdWords campaign (or have someone manage it for you) you have control over…

  • The keywords you target
  • What you’re willing to pay for each keyword in your campaign
  • When your ads appear (24/7, only during the week, only on weekends, from 10:30 to 1PM to promote a lunch special, etc.)
  • Where your ads appear geographically (a state, a metro area, specific cities, a 20 mile radius around your office, etc.)
  • What keywords you DON’T want your ads to appear for (ie. A dentist that only works with adult patients can prevent their ads from appearing when the words “kids”, “children”, or “Pediatric” appears in the search term
  • Testing of different ad copy to see which one gets the best response
  • Tracking of conversions to better measure the effectiveness of the campaign

Using AdWords Express, Google controls all these things. You’re largely leaving these important marketing decisions that affect the quality of the traffic coming to your website up to Google’s algorithm.

The Bottom Line for Local Businesses

AdWords is a great way to generate leads and local businesses should definitely try adding it to their marketing mix.

If you have a very small budget, then I’d definitely recommend giving Google AdWords Express a try to test the AdWords waters.

But if you’re going to spend more than a few hundred dollars a month on clicks, then learn how to manage it yourself or hire an expert to do it for you. It should end up saving you money (I’ve seen accounts where keywords cost 50{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} more in Boost compared to the exact same keyword in a “regular” AdWords campaign) and you’ll ensure you’re getting the most highly relevant traffic to your website.

Otherwise you risk paying for some traffic that’s a pile of, well, the stuff that ends up in diapers (whether they’re cloth or disposable!).