Advertising your business in the "Sponsored Links" part of a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is surprisingly simple - and can be relatively inexpensive ... and give great return on your investment compared to many other forms of advertising.
The practice is called "Search Engine Marketing" (or SEM for short). In a nutshell, it involves a business choosing keywords or phrases which they consider relevant to their business, and then having their advertisements (ads) shown on the result page when a user types them into a search engine.
Some Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) companies pretend that their "Guaranteed First Page in Google" service isn't SEM-related. The fact of the matter is that the only real way to guarantee a first-page ranking for any keyword is to advertise (and to out-bid your competitors in doing so).
For example, typing in "web design Ashgrove" into Google.com.au will give you a bunch of results that fit the search term (including yours truly - Creative Intersection and KISSites) ... and will also show ads for businesses that believe some or all of those words (web, design, and Ashgrove) are a worthwhile thing to attach to their business advertising.
The advertising service offered by Google for this is called "Google Adwords", and other search engines have similar services (Bing and Yahoo! have their own systems). To keep this blog simple, we will just talk about Adwords - although most of the other services are very similar in their approach.
Anyone can set up an Adwords account and start advertising almost immediately.
You simple create the account, hand over a credit card for payments, and set up your campaigns, Ad groups, keywords, and ads.
How does Adwords work ?
How it works, then, is that you decide how much you are willing to bid for a successful click on your ad for each keyword or phrase.
The instant a user types in a search query that matches your keywords or phrases into Google, your bid is compared to those of your competitors and a ranking is decided based on the highest bids. If your bid is not high enough, you won't be on the first page.
You don't pay for the "placement" or "impression" of your ads. You pay when a user clicks on the ad and goes to your website (or wherever you send them).
Google also does some further analysis to ensure "fairness" and helps your ad get a little higher if it has struggled unfairly for some time. At the end of the day, though, you have to bid enough to be competitive.
Google also considers the "Quality Score" of your ads so that if your ads - and the service/product you provide - are more relevant to a user than your competitors' ads, you get away with paying less for higher rankings in the "Sponsored Links" area.
You can set other limits, such as a daily budget and a regional relevance (i.e. only users who are located within 40km of your business at the time they search will see your ad).
How much do I have to bid per click ?
The Cost per Click (CPC) that you need to bid depends primarily on the competition surrounding that ad.
For instance, some sources say that in 2009 the most highly priced search terms in the U.S. were (in USD):
- "mesothelioma treatment options" - $69.10
- "mesothelioma risk" - $66.46
- "personal injury lawyer michigan" - $65.86
- "student loans consolidation" - $62.59
- "car accident attorney los angeles" - $61.44
Whilst it is against the Google Adwords policy for us to disclose the amount Creative Intersection pays per click for advertising, generally-speaking most advertisers in Australia tend to bid less than $10 per click. Whilst this sounds like a lot, remember that a well-written ad with a good website behind it might bring in business at a 10-20% success rate (or higher if you're in the right field and your website does its job too). If each sale is worth $500, then you're easily making back your investment (at 10% success rate, your advertising would return $500 per $100 spent - a 500% ROI). That's probably a lot better than your local newspaper advertising is giving you right now ... and it's measurable!
So why would I need help with SEM ?
Some of the expert Search Engine Marketing help that Creative Intersection, and other SEM professionals in our field, offer has to do with:
- Tracking the performance of your ads to ensure that clicks result in actual orders or enquiries - ensuring Return on Investment (ROI)
- Reducing the number of "dead" visitors by providing ads that entice real customers and ignore those that are not really looking for what you are selling
- Improving the Quality Score of ads by taking into account the many factors that make up the Quality Score
- Advising on new opportunities (in keywords and places to advertise) that can help improve the ROI of your online advertising
Other places your Adwords ads can appear
As you can see on our blog, we carry Adwords advertising as a publisher. This is called Adsense, and will be covered in a later blog. Basically it shows ads just like on Google and then pays us a small commission when a user clicks on that ad.
Adsense can be a significant revenue stream if you have enough visitors coming to your site (like on a blog or other regular publication).
As an Adwords advertiser, you can choose to be shown on "content networks" (such as Adsense) and "search partner networks" such as Youtube.
This carries both great reward and great risk since the relevance of ads shown outside of the Google SERPs may not be as accurate as within Google SERPs.
Drop us a line if you would like to talk about how you can set up a Search Engine Marketing account for under $1,000 per month - including $500 actual advertising spend as well as monthly analysis, reporting, and optimising to improve ROI.