AdWords: The First Step in Online Marketing

What’s the best way to drive massive amounts of qualified traffic to your website? Blogging? Hiring a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) consultant? Social networking? Banner ads? Offline ads? Branding campaigns? Dropping leaflets from airplanes?

All of these (all right, almost all of these) strategies can be effective, but too many small businesses rush to embrace the “free traffic” strategies without knowing who they’re trying to attract, or what to say to them once they get there.

The sad result: a rush of unqualified traffic (people who are not good prospects for your product or service), or even worse, a stampede of qualified traffic who take one look at your website and get bored or turned off by your message or design.

That “free” SEO and Web 2.0 traffic can get pretty expensive when it wastes your time and misses opportunities to make sales.

Enter Google AdWords, the biggest and most successful pay-per-click search engine. How big? This one program represents almost all of Google’s annual revenue of USD 16 billion. And it’s the perfect medium to begin advertising your online business, for several reasons.

Pay Per Click – One by One

“Pay per click” means, literally, that you as the advertiser pay Google when – and only when – a prospect clicks on your ad and is taken to your website. Unlike most other forms of advertising, you pay Google only for results. Depending on your sales cycle, you may recoup the advertising investment before you have to pay Google with your credit card.

Keyword Based

Search engines understand the web via keywords – specific words and phrases that describe every page of content that exists. When a person types a particular keyword into a search engine, that word or phrase is a shortcut to an entire conversation going on in their head. You choose the prospects who will see your ads by selecting the keywords you think they will use when they search. The very act of placing an ad demands your intelligence and empathy, two qualities that can improve every aspect of your marketing.

Instantly Flexible

Unlike some advertising media, once you commit to your ad, you can’t change it whenever you want. If you advertise in the phone book, you’re stuck with that ad for a year.

You can change your AdWords ad at any time, and the changes take place almost instantly. If an ad or a keyword is losing money for you, pause it, delete it, alter it. If you pay attention, you can eliminate negative-ROI elements from your marketing.

Easy Testing

Not only can you change your campaigns quickly and easily, AdWords allows you to test more than one ad or landing page at the same time. You can show two different headlines or offers to 1000 people; 500 see Ad #1 and 500 see Ad #2. Google allows you to compare the responses to see which ad is more profitable.

If you always test your best copy against new challengers, you will continually improve your ROI.


Because your offers and your prospects’ actions are so easy to track online, Google can offer a robust “dashboard,” complete with tables, charts and graphs that can show you at a glance exactly what’s working and what you can improve.

Once you get used to this level of data, your brain with demand it in all your advertising. You’ll learn how to evaluate every opportunity in ROI terms, so you’ll never again be an “advertising victim” who spends money without knowing if the return is worth the expense.

Today Google, Tomorrow the World

AdWords can be a marvelously effective advertising and testing medium for your business. Depending on your market, you may find that AdWords provides all the customers you need at bargain prices, or it may just give you enough traffic to improve your targeting and website process so you can now effectively use the other traffic-generating strategies I mentioned in the first paragraph of this article.

There are several beginners’ mistakes that can damage your AdWords efforts, but these are easily avoided if you spend a little time learning about the medium.  Just as you wouldn’t start driving a new, unfamiliar car without learning how to operate the turn signal or brakes, you wouldn’t jump into AdWords without learning how to operate it profitably.

Once you’ve mastered AdWords, you can take what you’ve learned at apply to virtually every other advertising medium on the planet with minimum risk and maximum chances for success.


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For more valuable information for businesses struggling to succeed online, visit Discover powerful tips, tricks, tactics and strategies, all shared with humor and compassion by Howie Jacobson, author of AdWords For Dummies

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