I’m thinking about using Google AdWords, but I have the following
question. When someone Googles the name of my business my link come up as the top search result. If an ad for my site is also displayed, and someone clicks on that ad instead of the search result link, do I pay for that click? It seems like I might be paying for click-throughs on ads that aren’t actually generating business. Can I prevent this?
A very interesting question indeed, and rather than answer it myself, I’m going to pass the digital talking stick to my friend and colleague Joy Milkowski of Net Results. She’s a real AdWords wizard, and here’s what she says:
The answer to your first question of whether you would be charged by Google for an ad that was clicked on a page where your company was already listed in the “natural” (or “organic”) results is YES – you will be charged by Google any time a Sponsored Link is clicked. The larger question is whether you should be paying for a sponsored link on a page where you already rank in the Top 10 natural results.
In some cases, it makes sense to have additional exposure for your brand, offering, new products, etc. by placing a Sponsored Link where you already appear naturally. That is especially true because you can have more control and be a lot more creative and specific with your ad copy and URL based on a given query than you can be with the natural results which show simple canned titles of your web pages.
Remember, even though you might be ranked #1, you still have to compete with at least 9 other listings on the front page to get a click! Also, in a highly competitive environment where your rival might use an ad to be listed ABOVE you or at least on the page when YOUR company is searched, it may make sense to put an ad there. This will help to ensure that when people are searching specifically for you they don’t stumble onto your competitor and never find you.
On the other hand, if you are getting reasonable traffic from your natural ranking, you’ll have to carefully consider your ROI based on your web stats and your “conversions” to decide if you need a Sponsored Link. “Conversions” is a fancy term for “did they come to my site and buy online or contact me to get more info/buy”. (And if you don’t know your web stats, I’ll get that soapbox next time!) My advice is to experiment for 30 days with an ad (with a budget that won’t make you faint) on the page in question and carefully watch the traffic and conversions. You’ll be able to tell how the ad is affecting online purchases or inquiries and make an educated decision about the effectiveness of the ad. ROI is king when weighing this issue.
Your next concern seemed to be about paying for clicks that aren’t generating business. You can’t prevent extraneous clicks, but you can certainly minimize their occurrence with sound methodology. If you’re seeing many clicks on your Adwords stats and NOT seeing a corresponding increase in conversions on your site, there may be an issue with your ad such as the wording or page placement.
Furthermore, there may be a more troubling problem with your website that is preventing conversions such as the look of the site, the content or the landing page you’ve chosen. Put yourself in the best possible position to succeed with Adwords by learning everything you can about its best practices.
Google’s Adwords program is similar to any other marketing method in that it cannot guarantee business for you. However, in my experience as a marketeer, it is the most ingenious medium because you can control the content of each message displayed, the audience to which it is displayed, the frequency of display, and the amount you want to pay for that exposure. Try walking into your local newspaper and telling them to work with all those variables.
After they’re done laughing, they’ll tell you the way it works at a paper: they’ll place your ad (which looks the same to everyone) some number of days, and you’ll pay them a fixed price (a big one). All that with NO guarantee that anyone will even LOOK at your ad, let alone act on it by calling, visiting, emailing, smoke-signaling, etc. When you look at it that way, Google’s model, which may inadvertently allow for dud clicks, seems a heck of a lot better!
Thanks for your help and insight on the Google AdWords program, Joy!