Should Your Business be using Google Ads?

How Google Ads work and how to get started

When you spend money on advertising your business, how do you know whether you are getting a return on your investment? Traditional advertising agents for TV, radio or print publications might say, “You should see your business increase.” But how do you know which business action caused a change? The great thing about digital marketing is its extreme trackability.

Google Ads (formerly AdWords), is at the top of the results pile when it comes to pay-per-click advertising (PPC). In my opinion, Google Ads can be effective for virtually any type of business with an online presence.

Your business should still use a healthy mix of marketing channels to funnel business to the action desired—buy from your website, call your phone, come to your store and others. It is just a heck of a lot easier to quantify results for marketing spending with PPC.

Let’s examine what Google Ads are, how they work, and why you should use them.

Google Ads—a definition
If you have a new website, or one that does not show up on the first page of Google search results, employing Google Ads is like taking an express elevator to the top of the page. Advertisers pay Google to display brief advertisements, service offerings and other content which appears in search results on Google and through Google’s ad network to internet users.

On a Google search engine results page (SERP), a Google Ad looks very similar to a nonpaid, also called organic, result. The word “ad” is in green text next to the URL.

How ad results are displayed depends on search words purchased, which I’ll explain in the next section.

Google also offers Display Ads, which appear on the Google Display Network. Display ads can be text, image, video or rich media format, and appear across a wide array of third-party websites that have partnered with Google.

Ever wonder why when you are shopping for a specific product, you will then see ads for that product on other websites you visit? This is called remarketing—an option if you participate in the Google Display Network. With remarketing, a customer’s visit to your website is tracked by cookies. When they visit other websites in the network, they will see an ad for your business, serving up your advertising message to them again and again.

However, this article focuses on Google Ad paid SERP campaigns, the common starting point for most businesses.

How Google Ads work
Google Ad keywords are “bid” upon in a type of auction. As an advertiser, you choose a short string of keywords that are relevant to your business. These words should be what searchers would type into Google to find your business. You would then decide how much you are willing to pay for potential customers to click on your ad. There is also competition for ad words. This makes some search terms more expensive than others.

A successful ad words auction
Success means having your Google advertisement appear at the top of searches for relevant keywords. Your Quality Score in conjunction with the bid amount directly affects placement on the search results page.

Quality Score is a measure of how useful an ad is to the people who see it. It’s based on several factors, including:

  • The ad’s predicted clickthrough rate (CTR)
  • Quality of your landing page
  • Relevance factors, such as the relevance of the ad’s keywords to your site
  • Geographic performance
  • Overall historical ad performance

The higher your Quality Score, rated 1 to 10, in conjuction with your bid amount, the better your ad position will be.

Google Ads Costs
The cost of Google ads varies based on a number of factors, including how much competition there is for your keywords and industry, your geographic location, the quality of your advertising campaigns and more.

At the end of 2018, the average cost per click for ads in the Google search network was between $1 and $2.

Why Google Ads work
Google ads are cost-effective because you only pay if your ad is clicked on or seen. The ads are targeted to people who you are interested in your products or services because they’re searching for the keywords you selected, unlike the shotgun approach of traditional advertising.

When you bid on keywords, you’re paying to have your site listed in the results for that keyword search. It’s a way to pay for placement rather than trying to earn your way through organic search engine optimization.

Statistically, searchers click on paid ads at the top of search results more frequently than organic results.  They are looking for the quickest most relevant information to meet their needs.

Organic search engine ranking without ads
Organic content is text and accompanying media that you create on your website. Web crawlers scan your content and algorithms decide where to place your content in search results. You can (and should) include key words when creating your website text, especially in content that is updated frequently, such as blog posts. Google algorithm updates in 2018 revealed that content quality still ranks high, so well researched and annotated information that provides value to the interactor will do well. Google is also evaluating content for overall in-depth coverage of topics on your website, with authoritative information backed up by credentials.

Anticipating what Google algorithms are looking for is often a moving target, as algorithms are updated frequently.

However, having consistently optimized organic content can also help you rank higher with paid Google ads. A big part of Google Ads Quality Score is relevance. Having Google Ad key words relate to current and relevant articles on the website should raise the Quality Score.

Set up your first campaign
To start your campaign, go to https://adwords.google.com, find the Get started now button, and sign up for an AdWords account. Once you’re logged in, click the “Create your first campaign” button.

If your eyes glaze over at the thought of figuring out a Google Ad campaign, Google is happy to help. An account representative will walk you through setting up your account and first campaign at no cost, and online help resources are also decent.

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