Google AdWords

You Need to be Found: Google Adwords

Google-Magnifying-Glass1

Today’s economy is challenging for many businesses, but it’s an even bigger challenge for the SMB owner, who is forced to use increasingly smaller marketing budgets to increase brand recognition and drive sales through lead generation tactics. One such lead gen tactic is Google AdWords. You’ve seen those ads that appear on the side of the page every time you search for something on Google. Businesses bid for this online advertising through Google AdWords. All you have to do is create an ad, and choose specific search keywords which you would like to target, and, voila! Your ads might appear on Google, next to the search results. The idea is that people interested in your product/service can simply click on your ad to either make a purchase or learn more about your company.

Sounds simple, right? Well, from a conceptual standpoint, it is. In practice, however, we have found that for many of our small business clients, using Google AdWords is more of a science. Finding the “right” balance of key words, with the words used in the ad, together with the right bid amount takes many, many hours of ad monitoring, key word adjustment, ads revisions, as well as working to increase ad click-through rates and daily budgets.

Google AdWords is generally thought of as an ideal advertising “add-on” for small businesses with limited budgets, but even if you know what you’re doing, depending on your industry and keywords, it can be an expensive venture, and therefore needs to be closely monitored (in fact, hourly monitoring is best!).

Here are a few lessons that we’ve learned about Google Adwords for small business that I’d recommend to any small business considering investing in this advertising program.

  1. Before you create your ad, spend some time reviewing your web analytics to see what terms people are using to find you online at this point. Google Analytics offers this type of information.
  2. In combination with the keyword tool Google Ad Words provides, create a list of targeted keywords (narrow these down to focus on a specific service/product and your targeted audience).
  3. Create two very targeted ads. Always create two ads, so you can see which one is doing better, and simply replace it as the campaign evolves.
  4. Decide on your maximum monthly budget (I suggest being able to spend at least $100 a month).
  5. Direct the ad to link to a specific page on your site. Or, if you have the budget, create a landing page on your site specifically for this ad. For services, this page needs to have the ability to capture lead gen via a form or download. For products, this page needs to have a special offer.
  6. Launch the campaign, and monitor it hourly. Keep a close eye not just on your cost-per-click (CPC), and the Average CPC (how much you are paying on average per click), but also the first page bid estimate (which tells you how much you need to spend to be on the first page).  These three areas will help you to decide which terms you may want to pause, and which ones you might want to increase your bid rate on.
  7. You’ll need to make sure that you have metrics on your website to track the number of people that are actually coming to the linked page via Google.
  8. Run the ad campaign for a month (if funds permit), and generate a report at the end of each week to capture the CPC, which key terms did well, increase in traffic to your site via the ad, how many leads were generated (or products sold), and note if there is a pattern emerging. For example, you might notice that there are lots of clicks on Thursday and Friday mornings, and it tapers off over the weekend, and early in the week.  You can then decide to put more money towards your CPC on Thursday and Fridays.

I have tried to capture the basics to help create and launch your Google AdWord campaign, but it’s worth noting that this tool has a huge number of functions. There are other options to consider, including impression vs. clicks; how to increase your quality score; what is the advantage of display networks vs. search; what are filters and ad extensions; and how should you determine your campaign settings and so much more.

With such a deep online advertising tool with a multitude of variables you can see why, if used correctly, Google AdWords has the potential to increase your ROI. It does, however, require considerable thought, time and effort to make it work for your business.

Have you used Google AdWords in your small business? If so, have you found it helpful? Has it increased your ROI? Do you have any questions about how to set up a Google AdWords campaign? Please share your questions and comments below.

The ABC’s of SEO

seopuzzleWe all know the Internet is becoming increasingly competitive and it can be tough these days to get noticed on the web. This competition has spurred many changes to how we write, design and list websites. It has also introduced the need for ongoing web support to ensure your site is indexing properly and staying on the first page of search engine results.

As a SMB owner it seems as though companies who perform SEO have a decided advantage in visitors and customers, so how does a SMB get seen these days?

Before I go any further let me briefly describe what SEO is: SEO is the practice of improving and promoting a web site in order to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines. There are many aspects to SEO, from the words on your page, key words in your site tags and descriptions to the way other sites link to you on the web. Sometimes SEO is simply a matter of making sure your site is structured in a way that search engines understand.

Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing are only as successful as their ability to provide a user with links to the best websites related to the user’s search terms.  If your site uses those search terms then it has a higher chance of being listed by a search engine. The trick and all the buzz about SEO is that there are literally thousands upon thousands of companies all doing the same thing; competing for the same key terms. Your job is to find a way to show search engines that your site belongs at the top of the heap.

As the owner of Creativeworks, a marketing agency dedicated to increasing marketing results for SMB owners, I have a few SEO tips I’d like to share with my fellow SMBs to help you better understand and ensure you’ve covered the SEO basics on your website.

Write for SEO

The most important component of SEO is excellent content. Without strong content, SEO tips and tricks will only provide a temporary boost in your site’s ranking (at best). That said, your site won’t rise to the top of every search engine’s results based on content alone.

Get Listed

If you have a new website, submit it to the major commercial search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo!  If your site cannot be found by search engines, or if your content cannot be put into their databases, you’ll miss out on incredible opportunities available to websites provided via search.

Create Search Terms

Search terms (or key word terms) are the words that users type into the search box at Google, Bing or Yahoo and they carry extraordinary value. Search engine traffic can make or break an organization’s success. Investing in SEO, whether through time or finances, can have an exceptional rate of return when compared to other types of marketing and promotion.

Organic vs. Paid

In the world of SEO, organic does not refer to the use of toxic and persistent synthetic pesticides and fertilizers! It refers to listings that will appear because of their relevance to the search terms. Paid SEO is using key search terms tied to adverting which may have your website appear on the first page as well, but as advertisement listings. A common Pay per click (PPC) (also called cost per click) advertising tool is Google AdWords.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention another term gaining popularity these days: content marketing.  Many companies who have been practicing SEO for years and want another approach to help increase their rankings are now turning their attention to content marketing.  I’ll discuss this in more detail in next week’s blog.

Depending on your time commitment, willingness to learn, and complexity of your website(s), you may decide you need an expert to handle things for you. But no matter if you hire a SEO firm, marketing agency or handle your SEO yourself, the right SEO can net you thousands of visitors and attention.

I am always interested in hearing from you. Is your website optimized?  What types of rankings have you experienced? If you are not listed on the first page search results, is that acceptable to you?  Let me know in the comments below.

Google AdWords Made Simple

Today’s economy is challenging for many businesses, but it’s an even bigger challenge for the SMB owner, who is forced to use increasingly smaller marketing budgets to increase brand recognition and drive sales through lead generation tactics.  One such lead gen tactic is Google AdWords. You’ve seen those ads that appear on the side of the page every time you search for something on Google. Businesses bid for this online advertising through Google AdWords. All you have to do is create an ad, and choose specific search keywords which you would like to target, and, voila! Your ads might appear on Google, next to the search results. The idea is that people interested in your product/service can simply click on your ad to either make a purchase or learn more about your company.

Sounds simple, right? Well, from a conceptual standpoint, it is. In practice, however, we have found that for many of our small business clients, using Google AdWords is more of a science.  Finding the “right” balance of key words, with the words used in the ad, together with the right bid amount takes many, many hours of ad monitoring, key word adjustment, ads revisions, as well as working to increase ad click-through rates and daily budgets.

Google AdWords is generally thought of as an ideal advertising “add-on” for small businesses with limited budgets, but even if you know what you’re doing, depending on your industry and keywords, it can be an expensive venture, and therefore needs to be closely monitored (in fact, hourly monitoring is best!).

Here are a few lessons that we’ve learned about Google Adwords for small business that I’d recommend to any small business considering investing in this advertising program.

  1. Before you create your ad, spend some time reviewing your web analytics to see what terms people are using to find you online at this point. Google Analytics offers this type of information.
  2. In combination with the keyword tool Google Ad Words provides, create a list of targeted keywords (narrow these down to focus on a specific service/product and your targeted audience).
  3. Create two very targeted ads. Always create two ads, so you can see which one is doing better, and simply replace it as the campaign evolves.
  4. Decide on your maximum monthly budget (I suggest being able to spend at least $100 a month).
  5. Direct the ad to link to a specific page on your site. Or, if you have the budget, create a landing page on your site specifically for this ad. For services, this page needs to have the ability to capture lead gen via a form or download. For products, this page needs to have a special offer.
  6. Launch the campaign, and monitor it hourly. Keep a close eye not just on your cost-per-click (CPC), and the Average CPC (how much you are paying on average per click), but also the first page bid estimate (which tells you how much you need to spend to be on the first page).  These three areas will help you to decide which terms you may want to pause, and which ones you might want to increase your bid rate on.
  7. You’ll need to make sure that you have metrics on your website to track the number of people that are actually coming to the linked page via Google.
  8. Run the ad campaign for a month (if funds permit), and generate a report at the end of each week to capture the CPC, which key terms did well, increase in traffic to your site via the ad, how many leads were generated (or products sold), and note if there is a pattern emerging. For example, you might notice that there are lots of clicks on Thursday and Friday mornings, and it tapers off over the weekend, and early in the week.  You can then decide to put more money towards your CPC on Thursday and Fridays.

I have tried to capture the basics to help create and launch your Google AdWord campaign, but it’s worth noting that this tool has a huge number of functions. There are other options to consider, including impression vs. clicks; how to increase your quality score; what is the advantage of display networks vs. search; what are filters and ad extensions; and how should you determine your campaign settings and so much more.

With such a deep online advertising tool with a multitude of variables you can see why, if used correctly, Google AdWords has the potential to increase your ROI. It does, however, require considerable thought, time and effort to make it work for your business.

Have you used Google AdWords in your small business?  If so, have you found it helpful?  Has it increased your ROI? Do you have any questions about how to set up a Google AdWords campaign? Please share your questions and comments below.

Steps to Making Your Online Campaign a Success

A large part of marketing these days involves developing some type of online marketing strategy. Online marketing can mean something as simple as using Google AdWords, or placing an ad on LinkedIn or Facebook, to generating an ad to be placed on a trade publication website.

The goal of online marketing is no different than that of any other advertisement: to increase brand awareness and find potential customers, in order to increase revenue and growth.

The huge advantage of online campaigns is that they are digital, and you can improve and adjust them throughout a campaign to help you achieve your objectives.  The other advantage of online marketing is that you have the ability to easily track and measure your campaigns by the day, hour, or even minute (if you really wanted to).

Generating leads and customers not increasing site traffic are indications of success and by tracking and measuring the success of your campaign, you can determine if your objectives are being met, and if not, you can adjust your campaign to meet them.

One example of how quickly you can react to an online campaign is to run an advertisement on a trade publication’s site, make note of the click through rate, use Google Analytics to track the traffic to your site and referral sources, and finally, to look at the conversion rate of traffic to leads.  If you see that there is a low click through rate, you might need to rethink your ad. But if you find you have a high click through rate, and high traffic, but see no leads being generated, then something is happening on your site that stopped a potential customer from becoming a lead. This might mean you need to make a change not to the advertisement, but to the mechanism that was designed to convert the traffic into leads.

Before you start planning your next online campaign, determine if you have the time and resources to properly monitor its development and success.  You might want to consult with a marketing agency, which can provide you with the insights and expertise necessary to make your campaign a success.

Over the past 20 years of marketing for small and mid-sized businesses, I’ve developed a number of questions that you should take under consideration before launching any online campaign:

  1. Clearly outline the goals and objectives of your campaign (e.g. increase leads by 5%, 10%).
  2. Identify which publication the ad should appear in (target the campaign to the audience).
  3. Clearly outline the time your campaign will run (1 day only, 1 week, etc.).
  4. Create an incentive offer, whether that is free product or service; leads increase depending on incentives.
  5. Put a tracking mechanism in place. That way, you can measure the results and make improvements to your marketing strategy as you go.
  6. An ideal tracking mechanism is Google Analytics. It is free to use, and is one of the most powerful online analytics tools available today. (It tracks much more than website traffic, as displayed in my example).
  7. Before the campaign launches, offer your campaign offer to existing clients.
  8. Post in your social networks the day you launch the campaign.
  9. Track your campaign by the hour, day, minute, etc.
  10. If you are not seeing the results you want, look at the flow of the campaign. Are there any ‘sticky’ places? See if you can make any adjustments to get your campaign ‘unstuck’.

Online marketing can generate the leads you are looking for, but you need to consider not just the message you’re sending, but also how you have planned to convert the message into a lead gen tool.

Do you have any questions on Internet marketing? What has been your most successful online marketing campaign? Or have you had any negative experiences with online marketing that have helped you to re-strategize your methods for future online campaigns? Feel free to share your questions and stories in the comments below.