There’s nothing truer than the old adage that a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing and when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), Google’s AdWords, and increasing website traffic, nothing can be truer.
Website owners often see AdWords as an all-solving panacea to increasing website traffic. While the internet is full of arguments for and against the use of Google AdWords, versus the benefits of optimizing a website for organic search results, there are some pretty well defined facts and it is largely dependent upon what you wish to achieve and how deep your pockets are.
Google AdWords has the ability to almost rapidly increase the number of people visiting your website, but also has the ability to suck up a lot of money. An operation the size of Google doesn’t come cheaply and in 2009 Google generated more than $US23 billion in revenue from AdWords, it’s primary advertising revenue stream.
On the other hand, spending the effort creating and posting original website content and optimizing a website for organic search results takes time, money and generally more time, before that flood of visitors starts to be seen.
With Google AdWords you pay for every visitor
Basically it comes down to this. With Google AdWords you pay for every person who clicks one of your ads and is sent to your website – the equivalent to standing on the street and handing anyone who enters your store between one cent and $30 or more just for walking in the door.
Click-fraud is something that also can’t be overlooked, and while Google claims the amount of fraudulent clicks is about 10 percent, other industry monitoring companies claim the figure is up to two and a half times this figure.
If your daily advertising budget is $100, up to $25 a day could be being thrown away. Even using Googles figure of 10 percent means you could be throwing away $10 out of every $100 you spend.
Click-fraud has become an increasing problem in recent years, with companies established in India, Romania and China to name just a few, whose sole purpose is to track down a competing company’s AdWords and click merrily away until the total daily ad budget is depleted.
While Google continues to battle click-fraud, whatever level it is brought down to still represents wasted money and website owners need to carefully factor this into the conversion rate before beginning or continuing an AdWords campaign.
It should also be remembered though that while AdWords has the potential to bring those interested in your product or service to your website, if your content is terrible, your website badly designed or the user experience is not enjoyable, it is unlikely to result in conversions. Once again, the secret to good conversions is driven by good website content.
Search engine optimization on the other hand has the ability to bring you free traffic forever – once it has been implemented.
Generally those who make there money from implementing AdWords campaigns will push this option to potential clients, while those who work in the field of SEO push the alternate method.
If you have a super-hot product with good margins and a large amount of inventory that you want to move quickly, AdWords is an option for bringing people to your website without a lot of effort. However, as soon as you stop paying for Ad-clicks, your website traffic will stop.
Social Media as an alternative to Google AdWords
The growing importance of social network platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Hi-5 and others is seeing a change in Google’s dominance as a source for directing traffic to websites though.
Just recently a UK travel company tired of the increasing cost of attracting customers via Google AdWords introduced its own campaign using social network marketing (SNM), that directly rewards those sending people to its website that results in a sale.
The On Holiday Group-owned Holiday Nights website has been emailing it’s existing customer base and offering to pay them £25 ($US39) for every click through that results in a booking.
The group is providing its customers with promotional offers and asking them to post this information on their websites, blogs, Facebook pages, etc., as part of its Google Bypass Scheme.
Though still in its infancy, the first stage of the On Holiday Group’s Google Bypass Scheme saw 4,000 customers emailed with details, resulting in 150 people becoming active participants. At a 3.75 percent conversion rate the results are not stellar, but also not terrible.
According to On Holiday Group head of online, Rebecca Shipstone, the 150 active participants in the program have so far generated nine website visits, resulting in nine bookings. With the average cost of an Holiday Nights cruise costing £420 ($652) the first stages have still generated a modest return.
On Holiday Group CEO Steve Endacott said, “the initial indications have been very positive and we expect to ramp the usage up dramatically over the next few months, once we have established the best format”.
Clearly there is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to what is the best strategy for increasing website traffic. The right mix of methods is dependent on many factors, with each having arguments for and against.
No doubt many companies though will be closely monitoring the success or otherwise of the On Holiday Group model to see if it’s strategy provides a viable alternative to Google AdWords. In the meantime, before rushing out and embarking on an AdWords campaign, sit back, take a deep breath, and look at what mix will work best for your business.
search engine optimization (SEO) • user experience • website content • AdWords • social networks