Should we use Google AdWords even though we rank well organically?

We recommend that Google AdWords be considered for inclusion within all online marketing strategies, even if a company has a mature and well optimised website. There are many reasons for this:

Wider Targeting

Google AdWords can be used as a highly focused tool to appear in your potential customer's web search results without worrying about whether you will rank well organically, or what content Google chooses to show in those organic search results. Ranking for the big spread of search terms that people often use when looking for products or services is hard. AdWords means you can ensure that you appear in the results for a large number of niche search terms where you would struggle to rank for all of them organically.

Controlled message

Unlike organic content you are able to choose the exact words and landing page to display for each given search term, leading to more relevant results and better user experience once they arrive on your website by ensuring they are directed to the most relevant content.

Consistency

SEO professionals often talk about the “Google dance”. This is where organic pages move up and down repeatedly in the organic results as Google updates it’s view of the web. This can be frustrating and also lead to inconsistent returns from the web. AdWords very rarely suffers from algorithm shifts.

Mobile results

Google claims that over 50% of all searches are now conducted from mobile devices. That information has to be seen in context, however, the volume of ‘useful’ searches on mobile is still high and ever increasing as phones displace iPads as people’s “go to devices” for search. Google now displays FOUR AdWords paid search results at the top of many mobile search results. This means even if you’re ranking number one organically you might not appear ‘above the fold’ on a smaller smartphone screen.

Ranking position

When Google introduced ads above the organic results they crossed a line. Generally people searching on the web don’t look at hand crafted title tags and enticing meta descriptions (a core part of SEO), they just click on the first thing they see and work their way down the list. Being ranked number one organically might therefore mean that you’re the fifth thing they click on – presuming they get that far down the search results. (This is also a key reason that AdWords have to be very tightly focused on relevancy – searchers don’t think when after a search, they just click).

Controllability

AdWords can be turned on or off, or up or down when you want, so you can be much more strategic in your thinking and push visibility in search results on a new product launch or at a key time of year for your potential customers. SEO can AND should be done, but it is a long slow background job – it simply can’t be made to react quickly (indeed if Google sees too high a spike in organic ranking signals then they look at that with suspicion).

Brand protection

It might seem bizarre that companies pay to list themselves in AdWords for their own brand name even when they very naturally, rank organically as the first organic result. This can be part of a strategy to protect their brand and to control the brand message precisely. It also protects you in some form from other advertisers advertising when people search for your brand name (which legally is fine as long as they don’t mention your brand in their Ad text).

Information gathering for SEO

Google doesn’t share all the keyword data that people searched for your site by organically (they do share SOME of it); they say this is for privacy reasons. The real reason is because it is commercially sensitive and valuable to you. If you’re running a Google AdWords campaign then you DO get to see all the search terms that people searched for you by and then clicked on your ads (privacy doesn’t seem so much of an issue here then!) You can capitalise on this and run short campaigns that advertise more widely than you might choose if you’re only interested in direct ROI, but get back a lot of keyword data that you can use to build a great AdWords campaign, to give you better intelligence of what people are actually searching for AND to apply those to your background SEO work. So there are many compelling reasons why Google AdWords is a great tool that you should consider using to support your business – even if you rank well organically.

A final word on being cautious. The days of AdWords being a ‘self-serve’ platform for businesses are long past – get professional help to make sure you get the maximum return and avoid some of the awful ‘gotchas’ that can cost you dearly (obviously we WOULD say that given that we offer Google AdWords support and training) – but we have seen so many businesses wasting large sums of money delivering little, if no, return that we firmly believe that employing professional Google AdWords help is well worth it.

 

Gerald Thulbourn, Head of Search at Igentics