If you have a website for your small business (and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t) you probably know how important generating traffic is to your business. People will often find your website through search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing but it may take you a lot of time, money and effort to make your site worthy of being highly ranked on these search engines. If you’re in a highly competitive market, it’s likely that your website is buried under the leading competitors. So what can the little guy do? The answer for your business may lie with Google AdWords.
You might be thinking “I don’t have the luxury of a large advertising budget, how can I hope to make any impression on the online market?” The good news is that Google AdWords is not only an incredibly efficient form of advertising but it is extremely flexible to suit your budget.
Let’s take a look at how it works. Google Ads appear on top and on the side of the regular search listings and can be bought through Google’s auctioning system. Suppose that you are a computer consultant in Silicon Valley. With a limited budget you would have a very difficult time ranking anywhere near the top of the search results but with Google AdWords you can bid on having your ads show up nonetheless. There are a few factors to consider:
- CPC (Cost Per Click) – Google doesn’t charge you anything when somebody sees your ad (this is called an impression), you are only charged when somebody clicks on your ad. The amount of money that you pay depends on how many competitors you have in the auction (it will cost you more if a lot of people want to advertise for the same keywords) and the general quality and relevance of your ad
- CTR (Click-through rate) – This is the percentage of impressions (viewings of your ad) where someone actually clicks on your link. If you create relevant ads with strong keywords then your CTR will increase because you will be offering people exactly what they are searching for and they will click your link. If your CTR increases, then your CPC will decrease. This happens because Google assigns a quality score to your ad, the higher your score the better you will perform in the auction system
- Landing Pages – The power of Google AdWords is that it supplies you with highly targeted traffic. The people coming to your website have searched for something very specific and your ad has indicated that this is exactly what you will provide. The worst thing that you can do now is to link them to a generic homepage where you don’t deliver what you promised. If you do this, your bounce rate (rate of people immediately leaving your website upon arrival) will skyrocket and the quality of your ad will plummet. Each advertisement that you make should link the user to the page that is most relevant to the ad. If you are a computer consultant and your ad is about website design, you should link your visitors to a ‘landing page’ that addresses website design and not your homepage where you talk about fixing disk drives, installing antivirus software and creating databases!
- Analytics – The success of your AdWords campaigns will often depend on how well you observe and understand the patterns and behaviors of your visitors. A key part of this process will be using analytics software to track the behavior of your website visitors. The most popular free tool is Google Analytics
Finally, a word of caution: If you don’t invest some effort in fine-tuning your Google AdWords campaigns, you might as well throw your money in the trash. It will take some time to understand the nuances of the system so start with a small daily budget and increase once you feel comfortable with the results. With enough persistence you will be able to create a powerful advertising machine for a surprisingly low price.