Most businesses are doing some kind of online advertising but is Google Adwords worth the money?

With the cost per click sometimes exceeding $25 or more for some termite keywords, many companies have stopped using Google Adwords altogether.

After carrying out a quick straw poll at the recent Pestech roadshows, it would appear that less than 20% of small pest control companies are actively using Google Adwords as part of their marketing activity.

‘Too expensive’ was the common feedback. Indeed, at $25 per click you need to be very good at converting those clicks to customers to get a worthwhile return on investment.

And that’s the problem. If you can’t turn potential customers into actual paying customers (the ones we like!), Google Adwords will be expensive. So how can we improve our return on investment with Google Adwords?

The quality score

If you are monitoring your Google Adwords campaign you need to understand the importance of your keywords’ ‘quality score’. When you set up a Google Adwords campaign, each keyword you choose is connected to an advert you create, which in turn is connected to a landing page on your website. Google assesses the quality of the ad and the quality of the connected landing page on your website, to arrive at a quality score for that keyword. The quality score will be between one (bad) and 10 (guru level!). You can find the quality score for each keyword in your campaigns tab.

Why is the quality score important?

When someone searches using your keyword, the ads with the highest Ad Rank appear at the top of the page. Google uses a number of factors to calculate your Ad Rank, with the quality score being a key factor (see main image above). Without a high quality score, you are unlikely to have your ad appear in a high position in the search results, no matter how much you are prepared to pay. In fact, a high quality score often means you pay less per click – you get rewarded for providing an ad and landing page experience that the customer likes.

Your quality score will determine whether you pay more or less than the ‘going rate’. You want to be getting a quality score of seven or higher as this starts to give you a price discount, with a score of 10 giving you a 50% discount on the going rate. On the flip side a score of one will see you spending a premium of up to 400%!

So the question is, how do you create winning ads and matched landing pages that drive conversions? Here are a couple of key tips.

Long-tailed keywords

Long-tailed keywords are typically a group of words or phrase that target customers that are further down the sales funnel, that is, customers looking to make a purchase.

For example, ‘termite’ is a very broad keyword and could be entered by a wide range of people, looking for a wide range of information. Searchers clicking on your ad when searching for ‘termites’ are unlikely to be a potential customer.

In contrast, ‘Termite inspections Redlands Bay’ is a specific long-tailed keyword. The searcher is likely to be a potential customer looking for a service.

Long-tailed keywords will generate less traffic than broad keywords, but the quality of the traffic will be higher – meaning more potential customers. By using long-tailed keywords it is easy to create targeted ads that better match the keyword, leading to higher click through rates (good for quality score) and increased conversions (good for business).

The importance of the landing page

The landing page is the page on your website that you link with the Google ad. The most common mistake many companies make is to link the website homepage with the ad. This generally provides a poor conversion rate. If a customer is searching for ‘Termite inspections in Redlands Bay’, you should be sending them to a page that talks about ‘Termite inspections in Redlands Bay’, not your homepage, however wonderful it may be!

Matching your landing page with the ad and keyword is key to maximising your conversion rate. The average conversion rate for online businesses is around 2%. For companies with well-matched ads and landing pages, it can be as high as 10%! So by getting it right, you could generate five times more business without increasing your ad spend!

So is Google Adwords expensive? Well, with the high cost per click for some keywords, it certainly can be expensive if you are getting a poor conversion rate. So for small businesses, I would not be putting all my advertising eggs in the Google Adwords basket. However, it certainly should be considered as part of your advertising effort. But, as with all advertising you need to understand the media you are using, analyse the data from campaigns and then optimise to improve. This takes time, knowledge and skill.

Phil Ridley, Director, Bug Doctor Media

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