"Google Ads reputation as a marketing channel has taken a hit over the last couple of years. It went from being the darling of marketers to being expensive and unsexy.
While most of the headlines have shifted to new and sexier platforms like Instagram, Google continues to post strong revenue numbers. Currently they are still at more than 2x the revenue of Facebook ($28.95 billion vs $13.73 billion in Q3 of 2018).
And of all those dollars, a small part is spent by online stores that are making a killing with Google Ads.
But that’s a minority. Making sales with Google Ads is not all rainbows and unicorns. If you’re just getting started on the platform, Google doesn’t stack the odds in your favour.
In fact it will does exactly the opposite.
In this article, I’ll share 5 things that Google never seems to address, but that have a huge impact on your actual performance.
Fact 1: Google Ads Is Not A Fit for Every Store
While it is super easy to get started with Google Ads, it’s not so easy to run those ads profitably.
If you don’t have the right foundations in place, generating sales with Google Ads could be close to impossible.
So when tells me that Google Ads doesn’t work for them, the cause is usually one of these three things:
- Average order value: if your average order value is too low, you don’t have any room to pay for expensive clicks. It’s impossible to be profitable selling a $6 product if each click costs $0.5
- Margins: this is linked with the average order value. If your gross marginsare too small, or you have a great margins but a low AOV, there is nothing left to spend on advertising
- Conversion rate: since you are paying similar CPCs to your competitors, your conversion rate also needs to be in the same ballpark. If not, these competitors can easily outspend you.
These aren’t ironclad rules. But if your business suffers from one or more of the above, you will have a hard time on Google Ads.
Pause your campaigns and work on improving the foundations of your business before moving forward.
Fact 2: Google Ads is Hyper Competitive
Google Ads has been around for over 18 years and during this time the cost to advertise has gone up dramatically.
People around since those early days tell tales of $0.01 clicks. Today you should consider yourself lucky if you only pay 10x that amount.
Throughout the years, businesses using Google Ads have gotten smarter, learned what works and what doesn’t and adjusted their approach. This gives them a huge upside over stores new to the platform.
So if you want to compete profitably with them, you need to bring your A-game.
Very often there is little room to mess around and try things on your own.
So what can you do if you want to start Google Ads today? Here are my best tips:
- Take advantage of automation
- Start small
- Get smarter
- Get expert help
Take advantage of automation
Learning the nuts and bolts of Google Ads takes a lot of time. But luckily you don’t have to learn everything from day 1.
Google has a type of advertising called Google Shopping, where algorithms handle most of the heavy lifting.
You need to create a product feed from your store and Google Shopping will match your products to relevant search queries.
One store owner I recently talked to said this about setting up his Shopping campaigns: “I can’t say I feel good about this as it seemed entirely too easy.”
But he had in fact done everything right. It just goes to show how easy these campaigns can be.
If you’re selling hundreds of products, don’t start to advertise with all of them at once. Pick a set of products or a category where you’ve got better margins to give you some extra room to play.
A smaller amount of products will also reduce the overall cost. Because as long as you aren’t 100% sure what you’re doing, it’s better to keep your costs under control.
Then when the orders start to come in and the numbers make sense, slowly expand the products you’re advertising.
Learning something new always takes time.
Luckily you’re not the first one.
The best way to learn is to do. So if you’re running your first campaigns on a small subset of products, read up about how to improve those results.
You will find tons of free articles and videos to help you with every piece:
- Getting Started with Google Ads Guide
- Google Ads Best Practices
- Google Shopping Campaigns: tips & tricks
- Dynamic Remarketing Ads
And if you want to learn in a more structured way, there are great Google Ads courses to do so.
Get expert help
You can find freelancers and agencies that have been doing nothing but Google Ads for many years.
They can’t predict the future, but if they have enough experience, they will have probably worked in your industry or with your products before.
That means you can really shortcut your progress.
I’ve included them as the last suggestion in this list for a particular reason.
Getting a basic feel for how Google Ads works and what typical results look like will put you in a better position to hire the right person for the job.
If you don’t have any experience with the job you’re trying to outsource, your BS detector might not be well tuned. This could result into a lot of wasted time and money.
Fact 3 – By Default, Your Ads Will Show In Mobile Games
The first 2 facts were pretty strategic. The next 2 are a lot more tactical.
Both are part of the nasty default options that Google employs. These make it easier for Google to earn more, but harder for you to profit from Google Ads.
There are two places where Google can show your ads:
- Search network: the search results page
- Display network: set of third party websites, apps and YouTube
These are very different places to run your ad. On the Search Network, people are actively looking for a solution to their search query. On the DisplayNetwork, people are doing something else and are interrupted by ads.
Most new advertisers want their ads to show up in the search results, not on video sites, games or random mobile apps.
But if you’re not careful while setting up your campaigns, your ads will show in those places.
Here is the checkbox you need to turn off (it’s turned on by default):
While it might seems like a small difference, switching this option off will save you a lot of wasted ad spend.
Fact 4: Your “Keywords” Aren’t Your REAL Keywords
Advertisers often put a lot of thought into the keywords with which they want to show their ads.
I have even encountered corporations where keyword lists were debated in executive meetings
Imagine their surprise when Google Ads will actually show their ads for a bunch of very different keywords.
This is due to something called keyword match types. A match type is something that’s added to a keyword and it decides how much close Google will stick to that keyword.
The biggest problem is Google’s default option: broad match.
Here is how Google defines broad match:
Ads may show on searches that include misspellings, synonyms, related searches, and other relevant variations. So if your keyword is “women’s hats”, someone searching for “buy ladies hats” might see your ad.
But the reality is that Google is a lot more aggressive than mere synonyms or related searches.
The example of “women’s hats” might very well trigger ads with a search for “women baseball caps” or even “yankees baseball caps”.
A simple fix for this is to use different match types like modified broad, phrase or exact match.
A curious thing happens when you try to add negative keywords. Then the reverse happens and Google will add it as an exact match negative keywords.
This means that only searches for that exact keyword will be filtered from your campaigns. If the search query is a little bit different, your ad will still show.
How to Make Google Ads Work
It’s clear that there are many pitfalls when it comes to being successful with Google Ads.
And if you are sloppy or clueless, you’ll pay for it and get nowhere with your campaigns.
But if with the right approach and patience to learn, Google Ads can still deliver good results for your online store."
5 Reasons You Shouldn't Use AdWords
We love Google. Seriously. Where would we be in both our personal and professional lives without it? Because Google is such a powerhouse, you would think that we would be big supporters of a service like AdWords.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, here’s a brief reminder of what exactly Google AdWords is.
In a nutshell, AdWords is Google’s paid advertising product. Have you ever seen those ads that appear at the top or side of your screen? Those are AdWords ads that a company paid for so that people will notice their business whenever they’re searching Google. And, they only have to pay whenever someone clicks on the ad. This is known as cost-per-click advertising (CPC).
In theory, this sounds like a great opportunity to expand your business. After all, people are on Google all the time and when they catch your ad, they will head to your site and you will gain more customers. Besides claiming about 80% of internet users, AdWords is also easy to launch and you can set a budget. Also, ads are placed at the right place at the right time.
Note: I am a huge Adwords fan and manage millions of dollars in Adwords spend a month for some very large companies. I love it. But despite how much I love Adwords, it's not for everyone. Here are the top 5 reasons why your business shouldn’t be using AdWords.
1. You Pay For Clicks
Of course, you know that with Google AdWords you’re paying for clicks. This wasn’t a problem a long time ago when rates were more reasonable, you know, pennies instead of dollars. The problem nowadays is that a startup or new business is dropping $5 or more per click to get people to visit their site. Sure. That may increase visitors because you’re appearing at the top of the Google search page, but it’s not guaranteeing customers. Some clicks can be as high as around the $60 range per clicks.
Digital Transformation Is Changing Youth Perspectives On Business
What that boils down is that whenever someone clicks on your ad, you still have to pay Google, regardless if a sale was made or not. And, that becomes an issue whenever you have visitors who are just browsing the web with no intention of ever investing in your product or service.
In other words, AdWords potentially isn’t worth the investment because the bids that you are paying for are lower than the revenue that you’re receiving from each visitor. So, you may want to explore other options that aren’t as expensive, such as advertising with Bing Ads or other lower costing solutions.
2. Hard to Compete With Big Companies
Because AdWords is a bit on the expensive side, most small businesses and startups are unable to compete with larger companies. In fact, Robert Kenney even wrote an article called “Google AdWords - Destroyer of Small Business.” But, what are the reasons that made Kenney have such strong feeling against AdWords?
Kenney argues that in the beginning, AdWords was effective for small businesses. Anyone could launch a campaign and drive in high-quality traffic at a fair price. However, as we previously mentioned, AdWords got pricey. Which means, for a budding company, there’s no way that they can compete with established and well-known brands.
Because larger companies have a consistent cash flow, they can afford to drop well over $300,000 per month on an AdWords campaign. They have the resources and time to do that. This means by the time an up and coming business launches, all of their relevant keywords have been taken, which in turn, raises the price.
Kenney uses the example of working with a skincare startup. He states that everything was good, such as the product and brand message, but major companies like L’Oreal and Estee Lauder already locked down terms like “moisturizer,” meaning that this startup would have to spend $5 or $7 per click for that term. That’s just too much for a startup to spend when competing with a bigger company.
3. Limited Number of Characters
One gripe that you’ll hear about AdWords is that there is a limit on the number of characters that you’re allowed; 25 in the headline, 35 each in the two lines of text and 35 in the display URL. While this isn’t exactly the end of the world, this restriction can make using AdWords a bit tricky.
On top of all the other tasks you have to do, you now have to brainstorm and come up with an attention-grabbing headline, keywords, the benefits of your product and some sort of call-to-action. That can be challenging to accomplish with a set amount of characters. When I'm coming up with headlines, especially if I'm doing dynamic keywords insertion it becomes very hard to fit everything in there. This can be a large problem for companies with longer names or keywords that are 25+ characters in just the name...think of the medical industry? You may not even have enough characters for 1 word.
In short, you have to choose your words very carefully if you want to get the most out of AdWords.
4. Mistakes Can Cost You Dearly
We’re all human and it’s easy to make a mistake here and there. For example, there has probably been a time in your life where you failed to turn off the stove? Adwords is much like the stove. You're paying for gas no matter if you remembered to turn it off or not. I've forgotten to turn off ads for a client and cost myself thousands. I've seen clients wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on ad spend because they forgot to turn ads off.
Another problem. Let’s say that you made a spelling error in a keyword or neglected your landing page because you’ve been doing this whole AdWords campaign, Google is going to penalize you. While we understand that Google only wants to feature high quality websites, mistakes happen. And, you don’t want to lose your presence on Google because of a simple oversight.
I see people take down landing pages while directing clicks to these pages. Google catches this, but sometimes you can spend thousands before this happens.
And, that’s not even getting into making a mistake during the implementation of the AdWords Conversion Tracking, like confusing it with Analytics. What this means is that you won’t be able to get real-time information, which could cost in gaining those so-important conversions.
5. It Doesn’t Fit Your Niche
Just because you’re working with the largest search engine in the world doesn’t mean that your audience is going to find you. Why? Because AdWords can be broad because it’s focused on the most relevant choice on the page. So, let’s say that you’re a landscaper that does everything from mowing, cleaning up a yard in the spring, planting trees and snow removal. How can you let people know all that information? They may search for “lawn care service” and get results that don’t reflect all of the services that you offer.
Of course, you could use Broad Match Modifier, but Google probably doesn’t want you to know because you’d be giving them less money.
For some markets, AdWords just doesn’t fit. It’s better to find an alternative that actually gels with your niche. For example, if you’re audience speaks Spanish you might want to try Intextual because that’s the market that they aim for. If you were in the software industry, then AdLandmark could be a better option than AdWords.
Before investing in an AdWords campaign, do some research on your audience and how to effectively reach them. It could turn out that they aren’t going to be effectively reached on Google.