Online Marketing at the small business level is getting tougher
It’s been a super busy October for me, with lots of new customers coming on board with Simpler Digital to get their online business systems ready for all of the huge changes going on within the digital business landscape. For example, today (April 21) is the day Google has started to roll out its latest search engine algorithm update code named Pigeon.
As I write this, the Pigeon update is scanning all Australian websites that Google has in its index, and is deciding which are ‘mobile friendly’, and which are not. And to cut a long story short, you don’t want your business website to be in the not mobile friendly category, as it will be negatively impacted by receiving a lower position in Google’s search engine results; in many cases, much, much lower!
Fortunately, those people who took me up on my mobile-friendly upgrade offer now have business websites that will pass the Pigeon test with flying colours when it comes rolling through town.
New clients have also been coming in on a regular basis looking for help with getting various forms of ongoing content publishing organised for their business websites. This is in response to these people noticing that their Google search result listings have been dropping steadily over recent months due to the effects of another Google algorithm that’s been running for some time now code named Panda.
The Panda algorithm ensures that websites providing their visitors with fresh, original and high-quality content published on a regular basis get ranked higher in Google’s search results and those providing scanty, low quality ‘filler’ type content, which will experience consistent demotion week after week after week. To help small business owners stop this devastating decline, I’ve been setting them up with traditional blogs or video blogs, and then teaching them how to use them to best effect.
And of course, if you haven’t already noticed, the free advertising ride businesses have been getting from Facebook has just about come to an end. Facebook has made it quite clear in a variety of ways that if you want to acquire leads through its service, then you’re going to have to pay for the privilege.
The organic reach of posts that Facebook can easily detect as such has plummeted to pitiful levels over the last six months, with Facebook’s own press releases of late announcing that this is exactly what was going to happen. Although it’s still possible to get good penetration by placing business advertising type posts into the user groups, I have no doubt the bean counters at Facebook will put the brakes on this as well as too long.
So, if you want to use Facebook to do much else other than tell your disinterested family and friends about what you had for lunch, or to share a quote with them that they already seen a thousand times, then you’re going to have to pay.
Another recent update is the Helpful Content Update – read more about it here
Small business interest in Google AdWords as an online marketing tool has soared
And it is in this environment of a rapidly disappearing portfolio of free or very inexpensive online marketing opportunities that I’ve noticed that a great many small business owners are taking up Google AdWords, or seriously considering doing so. And this concerns me; seriously, seriously concerns me. But why? Well, it’s simple really. Google AdWords is a great way to blow a serious amount of money with little or no return on investment, with the latter being most often the case.
How does Google AdWords work – a simplified explanation
For those small business readers not aware, although there wouldn’t be too many of you out there these days, AdWords is Google’s paid advertising product. You’ve all certainly seen them, the ads that appear at the top or side of the Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) whenever you go looking for something by entering two or three keywords into the search box.
These listings are clearly marked as ads, sporting the orange Ad box at the bottom left-hand corner. At most, three of these AdWords ads appear at the top of the search results, just above the organic listings, or the Google My Business listings, should any be present.
The AdWords ads that appear in this location have been selected by Google based on two (2) key factors:
- The Cost per Click bid that has been set, which is the amount of money the advertiser has declared they are willing to pay Google if the searcher actually clicks their ad
- The degree of relevancy of the ad to the keyword search just performed by the searcher; the more relevant the ad being, the more likely it will be selected for display
When someone performs a search on Google, Google looks up the keywords entered in the Google Advertisers Pool and decides if there is sufficient correlation between the two to run an auction. Google decides this based on whether or not any of the advertisers have indicated an interest in the keywords entered by the searcher, and whether there are several advertisers bidding on those keywords. If Google finds that both of these conditions apply, it triggers an auction.
Now, the winners of this auction will be those lucky few that have the best aggregate combination of maximum bid and quality score. The maximum bid is the total amount of money you have stated that you are prepared to pay to have your ad displayed at the top of the search results. Your Quality Score is Google’s determination as to how relevant and useful your ad is to the searcher based on Click through Rate (CTR), relevance and the landing page that has been set as the destination of the ad if it is clicked.
Of the two metrics, the Quality Score your ad receives carries the most weight in Google’s decision to show your ad or not, so the higher this value the better. This makes sense, as it is consistent with Google’s driving philosophy to provides its users with the most relevant and useful results at all times; a philosophy that takes precedence over the actual monetary sums bid by advertisers.
Therefore, an advertiser that bids only $2 a click, but has a quality score of 10, is going to be placed much higher in an auction result than an advertiser that bids $8 a bid, but only has a quality score of 1.
So as you can see, AdWords involves much, much more than how much you bid, but rather, the techniques and strategies involved in targeting your ideal customers, zeroing in the keywords they are likely to use when searching for the products and services you offer, and most of all, creating ads and corresponding landing pages that meet their needs and expectations as closely as humanly possible.
And it’s in not being aware of the sophistication and finesse that it really takes to do AdWords well where businesses go wrong, blowing a great deal of cash in the process.
Google AdWords: Seductive But Dangerous!
And this is where the problem with Google AdWords becomes apparent. The simple fact is that even though Google AdWords is without doubt one of the most powerful online marketing tools in existence today, if not the most powerful, to use it correctly and generate the incredible financial rewards it genuinely offers, , requires:
- A substantial initial time investment
- Some highly-specialised knowledge
However, those businesses that enter into Google AdWords campaigns without the benefit of these four (4) key items, almost always get well and truly screwed! And by screwed I mean that they spend thousands, and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars on AdWords campaigns, without generating so much as a single dollar in revenue. In other words, not only is there no ROI, there is more often than not a negative ROI, that is, a huge and painful financial loss!
In fact, there a term used in US online marketing circles known as the “Google Idiot Tax”. This somewhat derogatory description is applied to those business people who take on Google AdWords by themselves without having first fully prepared themselves to do so. By doing this, those business people who enter into AdWords campaigns without the necessary skills and knowledge, are those that end up paying a whole tonne of money that they will never see again, aka The Google Idiot Tax.
It’s not Google’s job to tell you what you’re doing wrong
And if you think that good people at Google will warn you that the AdWords campaigns you are setting up are ill-conceived, poorly structured and have less than a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding, then think again – they won’t. When you enter into a campaign, they will happily take every cent you throw at it, regardless of whether it’s realising a return or sending you broke. When you take on an AdWords campaign, you do so at your risk, and with full responsibility for doing so well and truly on you, and you alone!