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William Yates
William Yates 28 July 2015
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Google AdWords: Does It Really Deliver SME ROI?

Optimised search visibility, the mission to appear high in search engine rankings, is critical to all businesses as time-poor web searchers will generally go for returns that are close to the top of page one on a search return.

Optimised search visibility, the mission to appear high in search engine rankings, is critical to all businesses as time-poor web searchers will generally go for returns that are close to the top of page one on a search return.



There then appears to be a good, logical reason to utilise Google AdWords to optimise your enterprises’ visibility. This is certainly the case in many instances, but Google AdWords isn’t for everyone and in a lot of cases, can actually waste money.

Search visibility or search oblivion?

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Superficially, for a small to medium size enterprise (SME), Google AdWords seems like a perfect solution to search visibility. By bidding for a certain number of words, with a limited number of characters, 25 in the headline, 35 each in the two lines of text and 35 in the display URL, you have your paid search terms.

You may have bid as little as €0,50 per click for a word, or number of words relating to you enterprises’ products or services, but if you’re an SME, you can be sure that unless you placed a substantial bid, you will have almost certainly been out bid by a larger competitor for popular terms.

A PPC performance test

There’s a very quick way to demonstrate this and you don’t even need a certified AdWords consultant to help you with it, and in fact with only two quite simple examinations per year, you might as well get certified yourself and save money.

This quick and uncomplicated test requires nothing more than some fingers, a keyboard and commonsense. Now, think of your business, and think of relevant and common search terms, then put these into Google.

You’ll notice that most, if not all of these, are in Google AdWords use, and if you click here and enter these terms into Google’s Keyword Planner, you’ll see what they cost, and what you will need to pay to out bid your competitors for top spot rankings.

Is PPC really cost efficient?

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It is if you’ve got a large budget, and can bid for the words and phrases that will give you true, top-of-page-one visibility. Otherwise it’s questionable. And there are two more critical issues you should address in terms of cost efficiency.

Firstly, if you’re using a certified AdWords consultant, where did the AdWords click take the visitor – is it to highly relevant content on your website? It may sound crazy that it might not, but remember, these folk aren’t necessarily skilled digital marketers.

Secondly, you may have paid for a certain number of clicks, but how many of these actually resulted in a valuable visit to your website – average statistics indicate a click through rate of around 5% for every PPC ad shown – and how many ended with a sale?

A better way?

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To me, search engine optimisation, creating on-page marketing content that people actually read and are persuaded by, and match search terms people freely use (and therefore very expensive to pay for in Google AdWords) seems a better way. Indeed, a piece of Nielsen research from a couple of years ago found that only 6% of searchers will click on a PPC result over an ‘organic’ search result. This isn’t to say that PPC shouldn’t be a part of your marketing mix, but looking at these results, it should probably be a small one.

While you may need input from a reputable digital marketing agency, unlike Google AdWords no one can out bid you on search terms, and anyone aimlessly and pointlessly clicking on your search return won’t be costing you money.

So dig deep, ask yourself some hard questions about not only PPC-generated website visit rates and sales uplift – that’s easy to calculate – and pretty quickly you will know whether PPC is right for you and your enterprise.

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