Thursday, April 24, 2014

Getting More Business with AdWards


In this article, you learn just what an AdWords ad is and how it works for users. You then start your journey behind the scenes to understand how an advertiser creates an AdWords ad, how it’s paid for, and some of the finer points of making your ads effective as well as how AdWords and search engine optimization (SEO) work together.

Identifying AdWords Ads
Google AdWords is one of the greatest success stories of our time. Just as TV advertising revolutionized television and made it a huge cultural force, for better or worse, so Google AdWords has revolutionized the use of the Internet.

AdWords has made the Internet highly profitable, both for Google and for many AdWords advertisers. The success of AdWords has also encouraged others to find ways of making money from the Internet that aren’t much like AdWords at all.
Google has recently introduced a new feature, Google Instant. With Google Instant, Google uses predictive search that is, it guesses what the user is going to enter, based on whatever characters he’s already typed. This tends to steer users toward popular results.
"What is Google Instant: Google Instant is a predictive search capability that makes search faster by guessing what the users are going to enter as their search query. It’s turned on by default in Google Search,but users can turn it off. (From the main Google search page,click Settings->Search Settings. Choose the radio button, Do Not Use Google Instant, and click Save Preferences.) Early indications,though,are that most users like it and will leave it turned on."
The page has four different kinds of search results:
Google Instant hints: Google’s recently introduced search feature, Google Instant, offers the user hints to common searches that are related to whatever characters the user has typed so far. The user can then choose the rest of the search from the drop-down list of hints or keep typing. These hints can steer the search away from what users might have come up with on their own, and they take up valuable screen real estate.
AdWords results: These are the new kind of search results originally found only out of the way, on the right side of the page, but now often found above the organic listings as well, although clearly marked. Note how the only AdWords ad shown, while Google Instant is working, is for the first term in Google Instant’s list of choices.
Organic search results: These are the original kind of search results, determined purely by Google’s algorithms, with no money changing hands. These pure listings are called organic search results. (Although this is an organic crop that’s often fertilized by money, in the form of investment in search engine optimization, or SEO, by companies that appear in the results.)
"What is Organic Search Results: Organic search results are the original kind of search results,the ones determined by search engine algorithms,with no money changing hands. The term is used to distinguish these pure search results from AdWords ads,local search results,and other kinds of search results displayed alongside the organic results."
adward-search-explaination
Local search results: When a search term seems to represent something that’s available to buy locally, Google provides local results. Business locations are shown placed on a map, with some results highlighted versus others.
"What is Local Search: Local search is search that’s influenced by the location of the user. The search engine guesses the user’s location by various technical means,and then uses the location as a central point for a local search. The search engine also typically enables the user to change the assumed location,in case it’s wrong. (Which is also useful if the user is currently at work,perhaps,in San Francisco, but wants to search near his home across the bay in,say, Oakland.) Both local and global search are useful for different purposes; for instance,you might search for cashews to learn about cashew production worldwide or you might just want to step out of your office and buy some cashews."
Companies use AdWords to complement or bolster the search engine results they get from organic search. You’ll often find, when you search on a company name, that there’s an AdWords ad for the company at the top of the search results and that the very next entry is an organic search result for the same company. An example of duplicate entries one from AdWords, one from organic search is shown in above snap.  An AdWords ad linking to the Toys “R” Us website, ToysRUs.com, is positioned just above the top organic search result, which links to the same company. If you click the AdWords ad, it costs the company money, but it wants the click so badly that it’s willing to pay for it if needed.
search-in-google-what-is-adward
Above snap shows the same search when the user finishes his search by pressing the Return key after entering just the word toys. Many more AdWords ads appear, and there are three organic search results, not just one. However, ToysRUs is still the leading organic search result and the second AdWords result.
"NOTE: Fewer Organic Search Results Above the Fold Because users don’t like to scroll,the area “above the fold" that is,in the first screenful of results that users see, without scrolling is vital. This area is now dominated by AdWords ads at the top and side,and local results,where applicable,at the bottom. Organic search results are reduced to just a few entries (sometimes only one)."
How AdWords Works for Users
What does Google AdWords do for users? Basically, it gives them choices. Google’s organic search results are good (which is why Google is the top search engine), but they have their problems. Websites that have been around for a long time, and are referred to by other older sites, get a lot of respect that is, high search engine rankings from Google. It’s difficult for something new, exciting, and potentially lucrative to quickly earn a strong position in organic search results. (Although there are a lot of SEO practitioners out there trying to help their clients do just that.)
For users who are of a mind to buy something, the AdWords ads that appear alongside their search results are often more interesting, and more valuable, than the organic search results. The AdWords results are lively and action oriented. They don’t relate to what is or isn’t a valuable information resource; they relate to helping you get a product or service that will help you fill a need of some sort or get something done.

An old IBM ad sums this up well. A couple of consultants tell a CEO a great plan for turning his business around. The CEO tells the consultants to make it happen. One consultant looks at the other and says, horrified: “He wants us to do something?” The advice-givers then leave, shaking their heads in disgust at the idea of actually being responsible for making something happen. Organic search results can be like these consultants who just want to tell you information.

AdWords ads help users do something. As a creator of AdWords ads, you will benefit by keeping the user’s perspective in mind. You don’t need to trick or mislead users into clicking your AdWords ad; often, the user wants to find an ad to click. You just need to make your ad promising in relation to what the user wants to accomplish at that moment, and to the kind of product or service that will help her do that. Look at the AdWords ads in above snap. They’re action oriented. Your ad should be similar.

How AdWords Works for Sellers
AdWords ads seem simple from a user’s point of view. However, from the vendor’s point of view, there’s a fundamental principle and a few wrinkles that you should be aware of. The fundamental principle is that you focus on keywords. Let’s say that you have a raft of hot dog stands in Chicago called Frank’s Fast Franks. You want your AdWords ad to appear anytime someone in Chicago enters certain keywords (which can be a phrase or just individual words). Here’s a list of keywords that might apply, from most specific to least specific:
  • Frank’s Fast Franks
  • Frank’s
  • Franks
  • Hot dog stand
  • Hot dogs
  • Hot dogs lunch
  • Frankfurter
  • Sauerkraut
  • Chili dog
  • Cheap lunch
You can imagine that a lot of people are competing for these keywords, because there’s money involved lunch money. (Chicago has about three million people, so if each of them were to spend $10 on lunch, that would be $30 million up for grabs every day at lunchtime.)
When you do search engine optimization for organic search for your website, you’re competing for placement with everyone in the world who might want to sell hot dogs (or who might be named Frank) and who might want to get their share of that $30 million or so of Chicago lunch money. You might guess that, as a local hot dog vendor, you would probably lose out, in terms of search engine placement, to companies that sell hot dogs in supermarkets or national hot dog chains. (Google local search is slowly changing this situation, but that’s still a work in progress. See my book Teach Yourself Google Places in 10 Minutes for more about Google local search and how to win there, as well.)

Below snap shows actual search results for hot dogs for a search made from Oakland, California. Note that the top organic search result is from Wikipedia. This is increasingly common as Wikipedia gets linked to from more and more sites that want to offer a definition or background material relating to a term. Wikipedia is a great example of a search result that scores high for being informative and low for enabling the searcher to actually do anything, such as buy and eat a hot dog for lunch right away.
google-search-result-for-adward
As an AdWords vendor, you bid on a keyword, such as hot dogs. You might agree to pay, say, up to 10 cents every time someone clicks your ad that shows up when a Google user enters hot dogs as a search term.
One great thing about AdWords is that you can just bid locally. With local bidding, you don’t need to beat every AdWords vendor around the world interested in promoting their hot dogs or related products. You just need to beat the ones in, say, Chicago. You can place your AdWords ad in Chicago only or even in specific areas of Chicago.

Finer Points of AdWords for Sellers
You probably understand now, if you didn’t before, the basic process with AdWords: You bid on specific keywords (which includes phrases as well as individual words), and if you bid enough, your ad shows up on search results pages. There are some fine points of this, though, that are worth mentioning, to help you be more effective with your use of AdWords. Three main points stand out.

The first point is that Google was the first major vendor of online ad inventory to commit strongly to what is called pay-per-click advertising. Other vendors wanted to charge you everytime your ad was shown. Google committed to charging advertisers only when the user clicks the ad. Pay per click is great for advertisers. It means that a lot of the risk for you is removed. You get lots of free brand-building with users who see your ad, and perhaps even read it fairly closely, but don’t click. Google puts your ad onscreen all those times without getting paid. You only have to pay when the user does click your ad. You can get a lot of exposure without paying too much money. When you do pay, it’s only when you’ve at least gotten the user to do something.

However, this leads to the second major point, which is the placement of your ad. Google AdWords advertisers are endlessly confused that they don’t get the top AdWords position simply by paying the most for a specific keyword. (Often, Google will put its top one, two, or three AdWords ads above the organic search results, as shown in first snap. This kind of placement is golden for the AdWords advertiser, and advertisers are willing to pay highly for ads that appear there and get clicked.)

However, Google puts your ad on top of the AdWords list only if you have a fairly high bid on your keyword and lots of people click your ad. That’s because Google wants to make money, and it makes more money from 1,000 clicks at just 10 cents a click that is, $100 than it does from 100 clicks at 20 cents a click, which is $20. So, your ad placement is a combination of something you do control your keyword bid and something you don’t directly control, which is how many people click your ad.
The final point is something that marketing experts have been aware of for a long time but that you’re going to learn now in a way that’s very specific to your business: conversion. It’s not worth paying for people to click your ad if you don’t make money from at least some of the clickers over time. Below snap is a conceptual diagram of the conversion process. It’s like a funnel. Here are the steps in the funnel, with some made-up numbers as an example:
  • 1,000 people see your AdWords ad.
  • 5% of the people who see it, or 50 people, click it (which costs you $5 total, if you pay 10 cents per click).
  • 50 people thereby see your landing page, which tells them where they can get a hot dog from you.
  • 0 people actually go to get a hot dog from you.
  • You make $1 profit per customer, so you make $10.
Now you’ve just spent $5 for the clicks and made $10 in immediate profit. This is a pretty good investment, especially if some of the clickers keep coming back for your hot dogs overtime, increasing your profit from the ad.

However, it’s a lot of overhead and hassle to know, or at least guess, just how much profit you made from a direct result of your AdWords ad. My own observation is that AdWords is now popular enough that most of the easy money is gone. You aren’t likely to sell 1,000 hot dogs by paying $10 for AdWords ads. Results that are more like the example given you double your investment in the short term, and get additional benefits from repeat sales over time is a more realistic target for your AdWords advertising efforts.

What this means, though, is that fairly close tracking of the results of your AdWords spending is important. You need to at least be able to quickly separate your AdWords efforts into three groups: clearly profitable; borderline profitable, depending on the long-term impact; and clearly unprofitable. If you don’t have a firm enough grasp of your conversion process to at least be able to make this kind of distinction, it can be quite easy to waste money on AdWords and not even know that you’re losing money as you go along.
how-you-can-earn-from-adward

Search Engine Optimization and AdWords
You are likely to be hearing a lot about search engine optimization (SEO), which refers to trying to get high search engine rankings for your website on the keywords that best fit your areas of interest. Some SEO techniques border on the illegitimate, such as creating little webs of more or less fake sites to pump up the number of people following links to your real site. Perhaps you’re wondering how SEO affects your AdWords effort.

AdWords is an effective and legitimate quick fix for SEO problems. You might have a new outboard motor to sell in the United States that’s perfect for boats used for waterskiing. AdWords is an obvious shortcut for getting a link to your website in front of key audiences in the specific geographic areas you care about.

Also, the things you learn from creating and deploying your AdWords ads are applicable to your SEO work for your website. Your work on your AdWords ads will show you which keywords are most hotly contested, what gets users to click, and more. This will inform your SEO work for your website.

Conversely, the results from your SEO work can also go into your AdWords efforts. Each can complement the other. One trick is to identify odd, but powerful, keywords and use them across all your effort.

For instance, one business that I helped sells a book and training sessions about reducing your foreign accent when speaking English (see last snap). Of the many keywords that are possible for this business, one powerful one turned out to be elocution. (Perhaps influenced by the musical My Fair Lady, about a lower-class girl who becomes a hit socially largely by mastering an upper-class English accent.) Elocution worked first on AdWords, but now it’s about to be integrated into the main site, as well.
simple-tricks-adward

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