Business development · 15 September 2015

Using Google AdWords – What is it, and how can your business make best use of it?

The main advantage to using PPC is that it is highly targeted and can deliver immediate results
The main advantage to using PPC is that it is highly targeted and can deliver immediate results

Our sales and marketing expert, Becky Campbell, provides an in-depth introduction to the paid search marketing platform, to help you assess how it can best serve your micro business.

What is AdWords?

AdWords is Google’s paid search marketing platform. You will often hear this referred to as PPC (pay per click) advertising.

AdWords allows an advertiser to show targeted ads to users who use specific keyword phrases when searching on Google.

You will have likely noticed these paid ads at the top and to the right hand side of your search results when using Google yourself. These ads appear when the keywords a user searches for match the targeting options set by the advertiser. This allows PPC advertisers to be very specific with their targeting and deliver ads whose text is highly relevant to the user. This increases the likelihood that a user will click on the ads and be taken to the advertiser’s website to hopefully action the particular goal the advertiser wants to achieve for that site.

Which businesses are best suited to Google AdWords?

AdWords is a very flexible platform and can be used for almost any business type. That said, the structure of an AdWords account will vary wildly depending on the business goals. Businesses that have a product or service that can be purchased online by the user are the most obvious choices for an AdWords campaign because they are the easiest to track for performance and return on investment. Businesses that operate on a lead generation basis can also benefit greatly from AdWords targeting but the performance tracking can be a little more involved and the use of third party software to track the source of phone calls is advised.

Benefits of AdWords versus other marketing channels

No matter the business type, the main advantage to using PPC is that it is highly targeted and can deliver immediate results. Whereas an SEO campaign can take months of work to deliver trackable results, with PPC you can decide to switch on a campaign and see your advert appear immediately for the applicable search terms. The AdWords platform also allows you to track, amongst many other things, the number of impressions your ad has received, the number of clicks it has generated and with the use of tracking code placed on the website, the number of conversions it has driven. This allows for immediate statistical results and the ability to continually optimise the campaigns over time to generate the most business for the least amount of outlay.

Just to be clear, PPC is not an alternative to a robust SEO strategy. SEO and PPC are very closely interlinked and the site improvements that SEO optimisation demands have a direct positive impact on the effectiveness of a PPC campaign.

Relationship between onsite optimisation and AdWords

Just like the algorithms that affect SEO (you may have heard of the algorithm updates Penguin & Panda), AdWords has its own algorithms to ensure that advertisers are serving users with relevant advertisements and landing pages. This is known as Quality Score and it is reported on a scale of one to ten.

A keyword’s Quality Score (QS) directly impacts the cost per click of your campaigns so it is important to ensure that your QS is as high as possible. As mentioned previously, QS is influenced by the relevancy of your campaigns so ensuring that your advertisements and landing page include the same keywords you are bidding on is very important. Quality score is also highly influenced by Google’s perception of user experience on your website. This is determined by how quickly the site loads, the overall content of the landing page, the structure of your site, the number and types of links on the landing page and much more. These are all elements that an SEO team will focus on as part of its on-site optimisation strategy, so it pays to use PPC and SEO in unison rather than attempting to use just one or the other.

Advanced capabilities

AdWords is not just limited to targeting users who are using Google search. By using remarketing tags (cookies) on your site, you can actually advertise to users who have already visited your site with banners that will appear on websites as they browse the web. You may have noticed this after searching for items on Amazon for instance. This can be a very successful way to encourage users to come back and convert with you when they are further through the purchasing funnel.

Display advertising can be used to target new customers too and AdWords offers a wide array of targeting options to really drill down your demographics. These include gender, age, location, interests and by the content of web page the user is looking at.

Things to be aware of when setting up a Google AdWords campaign

AdWords can be a hugely powerful way to generate quality customer leads, with an efficient positive return on investment. However a poorly set up AdWords account will waste money very quickly. Whilst it is important to create a tightly focused list of keywords to target with your ads, it is far more important to think of the search terms you don’t want to appear for. These are known as negative keywords and will prevent you appearing for search terms that are either not related to your product or service or for keywords that do not drive a conversion on your site. Like positive keywords, your negative keyword list will evolve over time as you optimise in line with the terms you see your users using.

Vouchers

Free money. Who doesn’t want that?

Google almost always incentivises companies to create new AdWords accounts with promotional credit. This only works for new accounts that are less than 14 days old but if this fits your situation it makes sense to take advantage.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Becky Campbell is the founder and managing director of digital marketing agency Reflect Digital – which she set up from her flat aged just 24. Four years later, the agency now delivers market-leading solutions and campaigns covering everything from web design to e-commerce, to a range of clients such as Premier League football clubs.

Q&A

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