Every once in awhile I get the question: “Is Google Ads (formerly Adwords) worth it or is it just a complete waste of time and money?”
A totally valid question, and in fact you’re not alone – many others seem to have a similar concern – see Google-based images below.queries.
If you peel away a couple layers and investigate, you’ll see why Google Ads works for some and not others. By the time you reach the end of this article, both sides of the equation should become evident to you.
Before I dig down, keep in mind these facts in defense of Google Ads:
- Ads revenue is Google’s bread and butter – more than $100 billion yearly. If Ads did not work, their client base would have already dwindled, and they would not have such a strong Ads revenue position.
- Secondly, large companies like Netsuite, Sage and Intuit consistently spend more than $400k monthly on Ads. I doubt they continuously spend this amount if they did not get positive results.
- Even the smaller companies, such as Easyspirit, Shoesofprey spend more than $10k each month on their Ads advertising campaigns. Again, if they were not producing a positive ROI, I’m sure they would sink their funds into a different Marketing and Advertising vehicle.
I can point to hundreds (possibly thousands) of Adwords success stories, so I’m not going to belabour the point of Ads working. It just does!
However, let me dig a little deeper though, and explain why so many are NOT getting the results that they expect from Ads. More importantly, let me show you what you need to do, to make Google Adwords work for you.
Why Google Ads Does Not Work For You
Step number one, is to have a high online demand for your products and services!
Having a successful business offline does not imply online success. There are business models (and some industries) that perform better offline than online. These business models, typically rely on a high offline demand to drive their lead generation activities.
Those that have a high online demand for their product and services, have a relatively good chance of making Google Ads worth the effort, energy and cost.
But, this is where most people fail. Their emotions, instead of logic, dictate their actions, and they end up embarking on an Ads campaign, without quantifying the online demand.
You need to quantify online demand for your products and services before jumping into any online Marketing efforts. Otherwise how do you if and how much demand online there is for your products and services?
How do you know if an online market exists? How are you going to be able to put together a logical plan that quantifies your online success? Simply put, you don’t, unless, of course, you have real data to quantify your ‘feelings’.
Google Keyplanner & Google Trends are two easy-to-use tools, which can help you quantify your market. Use them!
For illustrative purposes, I randomly thought up a few search terms that people are keying into Google. The two tools I mentioned above, returned real results for these keywords, and give a reasonable ‘high level’ indication of their online demand. The words in the red box indicate a high online demand, while the words in the blue box indicate the complete opposite.
As you can see, demand using these tools can be quantified. Having high demand keywords for your online market, is one of your first steps towards your Google Ads success.
Low demand for your industry, situation or business model = walk away from Ads or dig deeper into other keywords to find a high demand.
Quantifying your online demand should result in your “go/no-go” decision.
As I mentioned before, many neglect this step, and end up failing hopelessly on Google Ads. They’re trying to chase something that does not exist.
As passionate as you are about your products and services, you owe it to yourself, to remove all emotion from the equation, and quantify the online demand.
Said perfectly by Abraham Lincoln: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe”. Prepare first, before getting down to business. Don’t jump over this step!
Make The Landing Count
The second, and perhaps one of the most important reasons why Google Ads doesn’t work for many people, doesn’t really have anything to do with Google Ads.
It’s where your Google Ads sends them…to a landing page.
If your landing page has any or all of the following qualities, it will cost you you big time, even if you have high demand keywords:
- has nothing to do with the offer,
- looks ugly,
- is confusing,
- has too much information,
- has too little information,
- does not tell the audience what to do next,
- does not give the audience a feeling of trust.
In fact, the combination of high demand keywords and a terrible landing page is the worst. You may as well just hand over your hard earned cash to Google, without anything in return, except increased web traffic.
Getting the landing page (the offer) correct is exceptionally important.
To illustrate, a mini case study for the 3 Google “Harmonica Lessons” Ads (high demand keywords from previous section). Hopefully the critique gives you a good idea about the landing pages elements that are required (and not required) for Google Adwords to be a worthwhile experience.
Example #1 – Google Ads Worth It – Howard Levy?
Let’s start with the last one first – “Best Harmonica Lessons – Learn Online With Howard Levy”.
When you click on Best Harmonica Lessons – Learn Online With Howard Levy”, his ad takes you to a landing page which, in my opinion, should perform reasonably well.
- Clear & to the point,
- Congruent with the actual Ad. You see exactly what you’re expecting – “Harmonica Lessons with Howard Levy”,
- The Call To Action Is clear, visible and above the fold,
- Supporting information such as social proof, lessons, etc., which are easily accessible on the same page, without sacrificing the original intent of the ad,
- Some links have the potential to move the audience away from the offer, but it seems that ArtistWorks, as a company, would achieve their objective.
Overall, the landing page is well constructed, and has the necessary elements to perform well. The Artistworks Advertising team just needs to ensure page optimization – achieved via A/B Split testing. They can experiment with different button colors, different headlines, different text placement, etc. and gauge what works best.
I’m guessing that Google Ads is a worthwhile endevour for Artistworks (and perhaps Howard Levy), as their ad spend has increased to approximately $3.9k monthly (according to Spyfu) over the last 12 months. One does not spend this amount of money on Ads without a positive ROI (unless the objective is online branding).
Example #2 – Google Ads Worth It for Adam Gussow?
The second case study is “Beginners Harmonica Lesson – ModernBluesHarmonica.Com”
Those that know me, I’m all about helping. My critique, about this page, is meant as a constructive criticism; It shouldn’t be taken as anything more or anything less.
With that being said, and to be totally blunt, this landing page sucks. There are many issues with the landing page, with room for lots of improvement.
- The landing page is actually a derivative of the home page. If you are going to send someone to a landing page, it has to count – a single message and single objective. If you miss the green Lesson Plan button at the top, right of the screen it’s game over for Adam.
- Even if you click through to the “Lesson Plan” page, you are hit with a sea of densely packed text, with “shiny object” links that take you to various page locations – some are monatizeable pages, while others are video, and text links to a bunch of ‘freebees’.
- The website is extremely dated. It has a 1999-2000 look and feel. Not may will stick around on this site too long. It needs a more modern, “less is better” structure.
- You have to go digging (and I mean really digging) to purchase books, music, book Adam for a gig, etc.
- The layout is confusing, with way too much information. If there is a plan that guides the audience to purchase “stuff” – I don’t see the plan. The content flow needs to be reworked so that it’s easier and less confusing for the audience.
Even though Adman Gussow has an interesting story, and plays a real mean harmonica (yes I found some of his music videos), I do not understand what he’s trying to accomplish on his website.
What’s the objective?
Is he trying to share his story? Does he want to sell his music? Does he want to…
Perhaps a clearer objective would produce better Google Ads results for Adam.
Example #3 – Google Ads Worth It for JP Allen?
The 3rd and final mini case study is “Easy Harmonica Lessons – Harmonica.Com”.
JP Allen does a pretty good job at aligning his Google Ads with his offer, and feel that the approximate $1k monthly that he spends on Ads (according to Spyfu) is a reasonable indicator that his Google Ads are worth his while and producing a positive ROI.
However, like most things, there’s room for improvement, especially in the arena of A/B split testing (if he’s not yet doing it). A/B Split testing would give him an opportunity to maximize his ad spend, by using the landing page copy that works best.
- His landing page video is awesome, but (in my opinion) way too long. Even though, JP has lots of energy, he will probably lose the audience half way through the video.
- The Add To Cart Button that he mentions at the end of the 20 minute video should be alongside or close to the video, not at the very bottom of the page.
- JP uses remarketing tags, which can serve as an excellent vehicle to pull in a highly targeted audience. I’m now looking forward to his ads popping up on Facebook or other Google Partner sites that I visit. 🙂
- If I were to make a change, it would be the Advertising objective. I would change it from “sell lesson” to “deliver 1st two lessons free”. This would allow the video to be a shorter duration, with the ability to sell his full harmonica lesson via remarketing or email marketing.
Overall, good, solid, landing page!
Can you see the importance of a landing page with all the important elements? A solid, well structured, non complicated, relevant, landing page will help towards your Adwords Advertising cause; And should be considered as part of the Adwords success eco system.
Your Advertising GPS
When creating an Advertising campaign for my clients, I typically start at the end, and then reverse engineer the solution.
Starting at the end, forces you a) to reconcile your actions with your objective, and b) lay in metrics to help you measure the success of your objective.
Make sure you have a rock solid advertising objective; Know why you are developing an advertising campaign. Your objective will give you the direction, and the ability to navigate towards your advertising destination. Kind of like your Advertising GPS.
Watch this short video, explaining the details of starting at the end – helping you answer 3 basic questions:
- What’s my campaign goal?
- How much do I want to spend on the campaign?
- How will I measure the success of the campaign?
Answering these 3 basic questions, before launching any Ads campaign, will give you the necessary fuel for a meaningful campaign, and a better chance of Adwords success.
Under The Hood – Making Google Ads Work
Up until now, everything I’ve explained, will be meaningless if you do not use the Google Ads tool effectively.
Advertising with Google Ads is not a set and forget process, which is what many do. If you take the set and forget approach Google Adwords will not not be worth your while. Guaranteed! To get positive results from Google Ads, you will need to use the Google Ads tool (almost) on a daily basis.
Google Ads is a fully functional online advertising tool, but unfortunately it’s unnecessarily complex. Get to know what’s under the Ads hood. It will make the world of difference between a campaign that works and one that does not.
Here’s are the most important management functions of Ads. Understand how to apply them:
Keyword match types
Keyword match types help control which type of searches trigger your ads. There is a sweet spot between broad, phrase and exact keyword matches. Knowing how and what your audience searches for, will give you the knowledge to adjust for the correct keyword match types.
There are certain keywords that your audiences enters, which incorrectly trigger your ads. These type of keywords add unnecessarily to the cost of your campaign, and display your ads to an irrelevant audience. Google provides you the ability to negate these keywords, by placing them on a ‘negative keyword list’. Doing so, will help prevent your ads from being triggered, and ultimately keep your campaign costs in check.
A/B Split Testing
You should be continuously testing your Ad and Landing page copy in order to establish which performs best. Split testing your Ad Copy with variations will ultimately help towards achieving the best campaign conversion rates. Landing Page split testing will help towards the highest ‘page objective’ conversion rates or lead flow. Adwords and Analytics have the necessary tools to perform Ad Copy & Landing Page A/B split testing.
Bid adjustments allow you to show your ads more or less frequently based on where, when, and how people search. Adjusting bids on ad group and keyword levels, allows you to better position your ad and keep costs as low as possible. You can further adjust bids based on day of week, time of day, location, and the type of device your ad displays on.
Ad Group Splitting
With larger Ad Groups it becomes more difficult to maintain ad relevancy. Splitting keywords into relevant Ad Groups will help you achieve advertising relevancy, which in turn keeps your quality score high, gives your Ad better visibility, and lowers your CPC.
Capitalize on new search terms by ‘owning’ these new keywords. Add new and relevant keywords to your advertising groups, while placing the irrelevant keywords on negative keyword lists.
The Ad extensions is a type of Ad format that shows extra information about your business, such as phone number, site links, address, etc. Relevant extensions help with Ad visibility and increased click through rates.
A solid remarketing strategy has the ability to bring the ‘lost’ & ‘targeted’ audience back to your site, helping you get closer to your overall advertising objective. A remarketing strategy should be a fundamental component within your campaign.
Know when to call it quits with non or under-performing keywords. Under performing keywords end up filling Google’s pockets at your expense.
Time is a valuable commodity. Learning how and when to automate within Ads will free up huge amounts of time to do other meaningful business tasks.
Analytics & Metrics
Google Ads and Google Analytics provide important metrics. These metrics is the window into your audiences behaviour. Knowing their actions to applying them towards specific metrics will help drive your campaign towards success. Setup campaign goals, and make sure your campaign is edging closer to your defined objectives.
Reporting & Display
Use the reporting tools to prune or expand your campaigns. The tools will help you keep an eye on important items such as: quality score, impressions, clicks, cost per lead, total conversion value. Customize for metrics that are relevant to your campaign.
Google provides their “automated” recommendations. Sometimes they are right on the mark, while other times totally off. Nevertheless, pay attention to each recommendation and act on the ones that are sensible.
So there you have it – Google Ads does work and can be worth your while, but you need to make sure everything, end-to-end, is lined up correctly for your campaign:
- You have significant online demand,
- You have a master plan & objective,
- You have a well constructed Google Ads campaign,
- You have landing pages that are meaningful, easy-to-understand, and actionable,
- You are actively involved in your campaign – fine tuning, adjusting, seizing opportunities, capitalizing on performances, shutting down non performers.
Google Ads can be worth you while. Do all these things, and you have a better chance of success with your Google Ads campaigns.