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Website Design Blog

June 1, 2018
Google AdWords - Just What Are They Anyway?

Google AdWords LogoWe've all seen them on Google... those listings that appear at the top or bottom of your search results page with the word "Ad" enclosed in a little green outlined square box with rounded corners. What are these things?  How did they get there?  What's their purpose? Do you have to pay for them? and... Are they something I should be thinking about to better promote my website on Google?

First of all, let's take a look at the structure of a typical Google search results page.

Below is a page sample for a Google search on "web designers kitchener waterloo" showing the 3 different listing types where businesses subscribing to Google AdWords appear at the top (and possibly also at the bottom below the search results).

Google page structure example for web designers kitchener waterloo


Google AdWords

Google AdWords are paid advertising and are commonly known as "PPC" or "Pay-Per-Click" advertising.  These listings normally appear at the top of the search page and are therefore more likely to catch the attention of the user doing the search.  The first step, when embarking on an ad campaign, is to make a list of the keyword(s) that you feel potential customers would likely key in when searching for a product or service such as yours on Google.  If your business tends to service a specific geographic area, your city, town, region, province, etc. should be included as a keyword.  For example, as "web designers", we always welcome customers from virtually anywhere on the planet but, realistically, we know that the majority of our business will come from "Kitchener Waterloo, Cambridge & Guelph" etc.  Therefore, in our choice for Google AdWords, we would add a geographic qualifier to end up with "web designers Kitchener waterloo".

The next logical question is "How much will it cost me to get my ad to appear at the top of the page when a user searches using my keywords?" The simple answer is that the cost can vary and will depend on how many other businesses like yours also want to appear at the top of the heap based on the same or like set of keywords that you are using in your ad campaign. It's just like an auction where a number of people are bidding on an Item and may drive up the price depending on how badly they want that item.  In our case, the "item" is "ad position" based on specific keywords entered by the user. If your business service area is limited within your city or region... like "Web Designers Kitchener Waterloo" for example, your ad campaign  will be competing with businesses in your area who also subscribe to Google AdWords using like keyword(s).  In this case, your cost could be fairly low where the typical cost for a small business would likely be a few hundred dollars per month.  However, businesses that are competing on a grander scale... say an eCommerce website or life insurance company selling nation-wide or even worldwide, could be up against a much larger number of competitors which could dramatically drive up the price of their Google AdWords campaign.

"But I don't want to open up my wallet and get into a bidding war with my competitors!  I want to put a cap on what I spend each month."

Google AdWords charges you based on a "Cost Per Click" or CPC.  This means that, when you sign up and provide your desired keyword(s), Google will tell you how much you will be charged when a user clicks on your ad.  If you are in a relatively small local market with a moderate amount of competition also on Google AdWords, the CPC could be as low as $0.25 per click which would likely peg your advertising cost at under $100 per month... pretty reasonable if a percentage of those clicks result in sales.  On your AdWords account, you can also tell Google to set your "Average Daily Budget" to a specific amount.  So, if your average daily budget is set at $10, your overall monthly cost will not exceed $300.  Some days your search traffic may not be heavy enough to use up the $10 allotment but other days may see more activity that could use up more than $10 in click traffic.

Google explains their charging policies on daily advertising budget along with examples.

Google explains their Cost Per Click Definition along with examples.

Google states on their website "With AdWords, you choose a daily budget for each campaign based on your advertising goals and the average amount you're comfortable spending each day. You can change your budget at any time."

In a nutshell, the broader your search keywords, the more competition you will be up against and the higher your CPC will be.  If you can tailor your keywords to be more specific, say to your local area, the cheaper your CPC will be.

Google is at least honest and transparent with search users by clearly indicating which listings are paid for and which ones are not.  Some users purposely skip past the paid ads on the premise they are bought rather than arriving at their search rank or position naturally or "organically".  This is something to think about before embarking on a Google AdWords campaign... that is, "Should I invest in my SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to achieve better "organic" results rather than opt for paid advertising?"

This also begs the question "Will investing in a paid (PPC) advertising campaign also improve my organic ranking?"  According to Google and SEO experts, the answer is "No."  There is apparently a "wall" between the two and neither should affect the either.  However, some business owners claim their organic ranking improves when subscribing to an ad campaign and falls again when they terminate or suspend their campaign.

"How do I prevent my competitors from repeatedly clicking on my ad just to use up my advertising budget?"  This is a legitimate concern and Google assures they have technology in place to detect multiple clicks originating from the same IP address to prevent a drain on your advertising budget.  However, a "sneaky" competitor could access your ad from different IP addresses which could theoretically erode your ad budget.

Below are 2 videos outlining both "Pros" and "Cons" of Google AdWords.