ICS Magazine

Google Adwords and PPC

December 12, 2011

Google is changing. And their pay-per-click program, Google Adwords, is part of the change.

Over the last few years I’ve written a few ICS Web Exclusives about Google Adwords, but there are some new things you should be aware of if you’re spending money on Adwords. Google Adwords can be a great return for your advertising dollar if you do it right.

What is Pay-Per-Click Advertising?

Basically, pay-per-click is an arrangement where you pay a fee each time someone clicks a link to your website. Typically they are set up in search engines when a user searches for a particular keyword phrase. For example, if a user goes to www.Google.com and searches for “Carpet Cleaning Atlanta,” pay-per-click Google Adwords ads show up in the listing.

Note: For this article, we’ll talk about Google Adwords since it’s the most popular pay-per-click service. However, other pay-per-click services like Yahoo, Bing, and Microsoft pubCenter are similar in nature.

Why Use Pay-Per-Click Advertising?

First, your cleaning website may not naturally rank in Google for all keyword searches in your city. If that’s the case, paying for a Google Adwords campaign can help you get ranked in Google for any keyword phrase you wish. Second, if you’re already ranking in Google, you may want to have an additional listing to get even more traffic. 

Caution, Buyer Beware!

It’s important to realize that you can waste a lot of money on pay-per-click advertising if you’re not careful. Not setting your Adwords account up correctly and failure to monitor your spending are often a problem. When I look inside a client’s Adwords account, I typically see little errors costing hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. We’ll talk more about avoiding these errors next time.

Another important thing to understand is that your website must have a good sales strategy to turn your web lurkers into paying clients. If your sales strategy doesn’t convert prospects into clients, you’re wasting money on pay-per-click advertising. You pay for the traffic whether or not the web lurker ever uses your cleaning service. (for tips on getting your website to sell, see my September “Web site Makeover” article.)

What Are Average Pay-Per-Click Rates?

It depends on your city. Smaller cities can sometimes have rates per click as low as one dollar for cleaning searches. In most medium sized cities the cost can average $3-$5 per click.

Also, watch out if your area has abnormally high pay-per-click costs. Some areas, such as Phoenix, Ariz., are notorious for having high pay-per-click rates for cleaning searches. If your pay per click rate is more than $10 for cleaning searches, you may want to consider limiting use of the service. For restoration searches, anything over $15 is abnormal.

When is Pay-Per-Click Worth the Money?

When your site is new, you’ll need traffic. This is a perfect time to test out your web site sales strategy by doing a small pay-per-click campaign. And if you’re starting on a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign to naturally rank your website better in Google, it’s been noted that running an Adwords campaign can help slightly. Also, if you want to do a little extra advertising to boost sales on any given week, Adwords is great for that too. It’s perfect because you can start and stop your campaign any time you want.

What Boosts Your Ranking?

Money talks. Typically, the biggest factor is the amount that you bid for a click. If you beat your competition, you could get higher ad rank. Higher ad rank means you’ll show up higher in the search. But there’s more to it than that. I called Google and spoke with one of their reps just to clarify. Here’s what he said:

“Each keyword (phrase) gets a quality score and we multiply that by your price per click. Quality Score x Your Bid Per Click = How High Your Ad Ranks.”

The higher your quality score, the less you pay per click! Your quality score is derived by how many clicks you get, keyword relevancy, and your landing page.

Let’s talk about what your landing page should have. Fast load time and a professional appearance is the key. Google wants the users who click your Adwords ad to have a good experience. Sites that take 6 seconds or more to load make for user frustration. And ugly, unprofessional websites are a repellant eyesore. Besides getting more cleaning jobs booked, a professional website can lower your cost-per-click.

Here an example:  Company A with a low quality score could pay $5 per click to rank in the third position. But Company B with a really high quality score may pay only $4 a click to get first position ranking for the same keyword phrase.

Should You Outsource?

In some cases, outsourcing could be best. Not typically though; you can often save $100 a month or more by doing it yourself. Plus, I’ve seen campaigns set up by Adwords “professionals” that were set up poorly. So it depends on who you use. The folks at Google can set up your campaign for you, but it’s not necessarily the most refined campaign you can get. It’s better if you learn to set it up and monitor it yourself.

Now you’ve got a general idea of what Google Adwords pay-per-click is about. Next month I’ll be giving you some specific strategies and examples of Google Adwords ads that get good response. Then we’ll dive into what it takes to start a profitable Google Adwords campaign.