I had a prospective client contact me with a question. He said that an online internet marketing company had told him that he could “guarantee me to be on the front page of Google everyday 24 hours a day/ 356 days a year”. The prospective client had told the online marketer it wasn’t possible and was surprised when an ad for his company showed up at the top of the sponsored links column. What happened?
This is a lovely example of how an unscrupulous internet marketing person was using Google AdWords to impress a naive business owner. The business owner was completely amazed when he saw his business at the top of the sponsored listings column for particular keywords. He was stunned, and very tempted to hire the obviously talented internet marketing company.
But let’s look at this closer, and hopefully avoid some of you from being taken by this same “trick”. I use the word “trick” loosely, because in fact, ANYONE can put up an ad that will temporarily appear at the top of the Google AdWords paid listings. It’s all a matter of what you’re willing to pay for a click. So if you’re trying to impress the heck out of a small business owner, it’s a pretty cheap trick to be willing to pay a very high bid, maybe $10 or $25 for the one or two clicks you’ll get while you’re running this trial to convince the person you’re a pay-per-click expert.
Keep in mind we’re talking about “paid listings” or “sponsored listings” – we’re not talking about the “natural” or “organic” free listings on the left – but rather the paid listings on the right. When they say “first page” of Google, they leave this teeny detail out.
Let’s review how ads show up on Google’s paid listings. First you open a Google AdWords account. That costs $5. Then, you start a campaign, and you can put up an ad that links to a website. Doesn’t have to be your website at all, in fact many folks make their living out of managing the ad campaigns for other folks.
So here’s the plan. You have an AdWords account. Then you go fishing for small business owners and you tell them you can get them onto the “first page of Google” – every small business owner’s dream. They nibble. And then to make them bite, you post an ad on behalf of their business, for some low priced keywords and you bid really high so that they show up high on Google. The small business owner is amazed and signs up for a monthly contract that costs them $XXX per month – without being guaranteed any traffic.
Let’s review again. Google AdWords is pay-per-click. This means that the AdWords account holder doesn’t pay Google until someone clicks on the ad, generating a visit to the website listed on the ad. Having an ad show up in the column COSTS NOTHING. It’s the click that generates the cost. Paying for someone to put your ad up is fine. It could lead to traffic. Paying for real live human traffic (by putting the ad up yourself), is way, way better, from a cost standpoint. That’s the beauty of advertising on the internet, you don’t have to pay for “impressions”, you can pay for clicks!
And let’s also look at the “front page of Google” statement. How many paid advertisements show up on Google’s first page. This varies, but right now, it looks like it’s around eight (8). So you could be #8, at the very bottom. There may be a huge difference in the cost of a bid to be #1 versus #8, and if they show you #1 to get you hooked, but promise “front page”, pay attention. Ask exactly what “first page of Google” means – and get it in writing.
Another thing to remember, this placement is for keywords that the company picked, not you. There are many different keywords that a business might think would bring them clients. If you’re a dog trainer, you might want “dog training” or “dog school” or “dog kindergarten” – but which should you pick? This is why you do some experimenting when you set up an ad. But “dog trainer” is going to cost a heck of a lot more than “dog school”, because the competition is greater. So these companies could select the cheapest words to use in their trial – so they can charge you more, and pay the minimum for each click. Google has some excellent free keyword analysis tools, check out the keywords they are, and aren’t recommending.
So in summary, if someone contacts you and says they can get you onto the first page of Google, do your homework. You might do much better to open your own Google AdWords account, and take advantage of the online learning center. Or to hire a reputable professional that will explain to you how the process works. Luckily, the prospective client who sent me this question didn’t sign up, and instead is running his own Google AdWords campaign for much, much, much less than they were going to charge him. And he’s only paying for clicks, versus paying a middleman. Granted, it takes time to learn how AdWords works, and it takes time to manage the account yourself. But Google really does have good tools. If you are going to hire someone, check them out with the Better Business Bureau and also make sure they are an Official Google Certified Person/Company.Jill
Aldebaran Web Design, Seattle
Jill Olkoski has a BS in Engineering, a BS in Computer Science and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She delights in using her advanced technical and psychological skills to help small business owners develop cost-effective and successful websites.