On four different occasions I received coupons in the mail from Google. Each one was worth $10 to $25 to be used on Google AdWords. I started researching how to use AdWords. I learned about different search terms and how some terms will be more expensive than others.
For instance, the word “toys” was going to cost me far more per click than the word “crayola”. The more generic the search term, the higher the cost to get clicks.
Wait, let’s back up a moment. For those of you who have never used Google AdWords, here is how it works. You select a word or phrase you wish to use. If someone searches for that particular word or phrase, your name will appear in the paid section in the search (above the organic results) if—and this is the key—you agreed to spend as much per click to be one of the top three to five businesses who also chose that word.
Yes, it is a bidding war to get eyeballs to your link and clicks to your website. The more you are willing to pay-per-click, the more likely you’ll make it onto the page. That’s why it is important to pick the proper words. The more common the word appears in searches, the more businesses will pay to get on that page. The more obscure the word, the cheaper the pay-per-click.
In other words, Google AdWords is a game you play. You can pay more for the more common search words and fight the crowds trying to reach the masses, or you can choose cheaper words that might not get the overall traffic but can still draw people to your site. You have to find the right mix.
Oh, but it is far more complicated than that.
First, you have to choose the right words. Second, you have to write a short blurb—shorter than a tweet—that might actually convince someone to click on your paid link rather than the organic results. Finally, you have to have your AdWord link to a page that has the actual solution the searcher desires. Your account gets charged every time someone clicks, whether they spend ten minutes or ten seconds on your site.
Here is the truth about paid search results …
The only person who clicks on a paid search result is someone who has a problem and is looking for a clear-cut solution.
If you are considering using Google AdWords, you need to ask yourself the following questions …
- Do I have a solution for a problem people are actively searching?
- Is that solution on my website or can I create a web page with that solution?
- Is my solution one that can be easily described in 96 characters or less?
- Is my landing page optimized to convert traffic into sales/solutions?
- Will I make enough money with my solutions to cover the cost of acquiring clicks?
Those are some tough questions. The last three are the heart of the matter. Not only do you have to have a solution, you have to have a landing page that the searchers go to that not only solves their problem but convinces them you are the best solution and gets them to buy from you right away.
In other words, this isn’t the place to put your Branding Dollars. This isn’t the place for building Top-of-Mind Awareness. This is the place for solving problems for customers desperate for a solution. If you can do that, you can drive a lot of traffic via Google AdWords.
If you’re going that route, here are some things to do:
- First, work on the solution. Make sure your solution is simple, clear, easily understood, and exactly what customers will want.
- Second, work on your landing page. You choose where the searcher lands when she clicks. You want her to land on the solution page. Make sure that page is optimized to be clear and simple and easy to navigate. She shouldn’t have to click more than once to know everything she needs to know. Take down as many barriers between the customer and the solution as possible.
- Third, once you have your solution, figure out the most common words and phrases someone might type into a search bar if they are looking for that solution. The more exact you are, the more likely you’ll get the right people clicking. This, more than anything else, will help your conversion rate go way up.
- Fourth, determine exactly how much you are willing to pay for each click. Google will give you a range of what to expect. Make sure you are getting your money’s worth.
The cool thing about Google AdWords is the analytics. They’ll tell you exactly how well your campaign is running. You’ll know how many people are clicking, what it is costing. You can figure out your conversion rate from there. (Conversion rate is simply the percentage of how many of those who click actually use your solution.) According to this article, the best ecommerce sites are converting over 6% of their pay-per-clicks. Your ROI, then, is to figure out what each conversion is worth to you, and whether you are getting the conversions you need for the money you spend.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is all about Direct Marketing. The return on your investment is in the strength of your solution and your ability to find the people with the right problem you can solve. Google AdWords is a powerful tool for that purpose, but only if you have a great solution people need.
Before you embark on Direct Marketing, though, please read this article from Roy H. Williams. It will help you understand a little more about the solutions you might want to offer.
PS I call them solutions instead of offers. That is the mentality you need to take if you are going to use PPC advertising effectively. The people searching aren’t looking for “offers”. They are looking for solutions. Make sure you give them one or your money will be wasted, and wasted quickly. The first $100 I spent on Google AdWords was gone in less than an hour at an average rate of about 33 cents per click. They all went to my home page where they stayed an average of less than eight seconds. There was no solution on that page. No conversion.
PPS A lot of businesses like mine (speakers, consultants, etc.) will use PPC advertising to get your email. The method of operation goes like this. You search for something. I offer you a free solution. You click on my link. I make you subscribe with your email before I give you your free solution. Then I bombard you with emails trying to convince you to sign up for my paid services. It is the tried and true method for many in my position. (Well, okay, I don’t know how “true” it is, but it is tried by several people.) It also isn’t me. I believe if my free content helps you, I’ll get enough paid business to keep doing what I do.
PPPS The analytics that Google offers in their AdWords program is one of the best tools out there. You can A/B test your solutions, your blurbs, your landing pages, your budget, and every other element of the campaign to see what works best. But if you don’t first have a great solution and know exactly what words people are using to search for that solution, nothing else will move the needle enough to make it worthwhile.