In today’s technology-driven world, having a presence online is essential for any business to grow and succeed. Most people now use the net to search for vendors from their personal computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone so if your business is not accessible via these devices, chances are you are missing out on a large segment of potential customers.
Gone are the days when a regular ad in the local paper or the yellow pages was enough to get the word out about your business, so how do you get into the world of advertising online? Luckily the internet ‘giants’ like Yahoo, Microsoft and Google are working very hard to make it easy for you to just that.
Google is arguably the world’s most popular search engine, and its online advertising platform Google Adwords is set up to enable businesses to cultivate an online presence and drive keyword-specific, niche-market advertising campaigns on a ‘Pay-per-click’ (PPC) basis.
Google Adwords is a very complex, but highly rewarding advertising and lead-generating mechanism – if you can work it. If not, it can be a nightmare of confusion. That is why in 2011 Google introduced Google Adwords Express.
Google Adwords Express (previously called Boost) is a lighter version of Adwords that works on the same basic PPC premise, but sets up automatic management so that a lot of the confusion that Adwords was criticised for is taken out of the equation.
Let’s take a closer look at the difference between the two.
Google Adwords and Google Adwords Express – What’s the Difference?
Google Adwords has advantages and disadvantages, as does Express – it depends on what you want from your online advertising, and how much time and money you are willing to invest as to which one will suit your business best. In order to properly understand the difference, of course it’s essential to have a basic understanding of how Adwords as a whole works:
Google Adwords is complex; there are no bones about it. It’s one of the most popular platforms for pay-per-click marketing, enabling users to buy advertising space from Google. It’s not quite the same as traditional advertising, where you buy space in a newspaper or on a website. With Adwords, you are buying an ad in response to somebody’s search query. So if you want to advertise for your accounting firm, then you can tell Adwords to show your ad when someone types in ‘accountant’ or ‘accounting’ and you can give a list of such terms that your ad will show for. You can be more specific than this even, and designate an area of specialty or place, so you can add ‘Sydney accountant’ or ‘tax accountant’ to the searches your ad will be displayed on.
You can also designate negative search terms – or terms you do not want to show up for. For example, if you offer premium accounting services, you would not want to show up for a search of ‘cheap accountant’ because you know that those searches will not match your service, but you will pay for any clicks received through that search, so designating this as a negative keyword will hone your target audience and give you clicks that will be more likely to generate leads or hard business and not waste your money.
This is just the basics of what you can do with Google Adwords. At the back end you have to bid on keywords, and prices vary according to the popularity of your keywords and the quality of your site and once you get into how to bid on keywords, manage your account and ensure your PPC campaign is generating leads; you really need an expert onsite to understand it all. If you want a closer look at how bidding on keywords works with Adwords, this infographic simplifies it well.
If you zoned out at ‘bid on keywords’ you’re not alone. The complexity of managing an Adwords account is why Google has introduced Adwords Express. Express offers users much the same services – ads displayed with search queries that match keywords, with a few main differences. Express is automatically managed – which means you don’t have to worry about any of the back end stuff, you just specify your keywords and your monthly budget and the rest takes care of itself. This convenience comes at a bit of a cost to the fine-tune-ability of the service. For instance you cannot designate negative keywords and instead of being able to designate place-associated keywords, Express utilises a locality radius of 15 to 40 miles. This makes it ideal for local searches and for customers wanting the service without the fuss.
The other plus of Adwords Express is that you don’t even have to have a website to use the service. Google Adwords requires you to have a website if you want to set up marketing campaign, but Express allows those businesses without websites to still utilise online advertising with a PPC campaign.
For an accounting firm wanting a no-fuss solution to its online marketing strategy, it’s pretty hard to go past Adwords Express. You can bypass even setting up a website and still have a powerful presence online, meaning no complex SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), no complex Adwords, just a very simple solution.
Express may not be the fit for every business, but for an accounting practice wanting to target local clients, its ideal. Express will give you the ability to specify your monthly budget, so you never spend more than you have budgeted for, and you can pretty much leave it to do its work without worrying.
The difference at a glance:
|Pay Per Click|
|Ads on Google Search|
|Use Without Website|
|Advanced Ad Format|
|Ads on related websites|
But Isn’t SEO the Way to Go?
Many will tell you that the best way to bring customers to your website is to use SEO. SEO is important to become that enjoys a high natural search ranking, and it’s very important if you have a content-driven website that doesn’t sell a product, but is monetized via advertising spaces. However, for sites that sell a product or service, SEO, while still important, is not the ‘golden ticket’ many would have you believe for bringing you customers.
There are several drawbacks for using SEO only to bring customers to your website. Firstly, SEO is very work-intensive, and takes a number of months to be effective. If you have a site in a competitive niche, then it is even harder to crawl up the rankings to end up on the first page of results, let alone the first result particularly with all the recent changes to search algorithms and the sheer volume of competition for rankings.
With SEO targeting keywords is all part of the game. But the most targeted and therefore harder to rank keywords are those that have the most volume and are keywords where the searcher is in “buy” mode. Hence, a lot of SEO is done on less competitive keywords but these can tend to be more “research” based phrases – good to attract people and convert them into long-term prospects to nurture, but not great if you can’t wait 6-12months to convert some of those leads!
SEO can also bring you “local” traffic but it needs special work done to be very effective.
SEO will take time to get you high on rankings, and if you don’t have the skills or time to optimise the website yourself, this means employing an SEO expert to do the work for you. This takes away the number one reason people give for using SEO versus PPC: it’s seen as free. SEO is a big undertaking if you plan on using it as your primary means of driving traffic, and you need a big budget if you want to employ someone to do the work for you. By big budget we mean typically $1 – 2,000 every month for 12 months minimum then you can probably get away with reducing the budget by half….but you’ll need to pay out for it continuously to keep ranked no matter what. SEO therefore is not really free at all!
It is also difficult to measure the efficacy of your SEO campaign, whereas in contrast PPC campaigns are simple to measure and simple to budget on. In fact the whole purpose of a PPC campaign is to generate conversions from clicks.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with having an optimized website, in fact a good-quality website will also help you in your Adwords account, but for an accounting firm, the ROI benefits of SEO may well be much less when compared to PPC. You are selling a service, not providing content on accounting as your primary revenue generator from the website. This means that visitors to your website if you use only SEO will not necessarily be looking for your service.
On the other hand, the benefits of using Adwords as your primary means of driving traffic are twofold. Firstly, you are bringing traffic instantly as your ads are displayed as soon as your account is up and running and you’ve created your campaign. Secondly, those who click-through from your ads are more likely to convert to a customer because they are targeted by your campaign as those looking for your service. SEO can’t give you that.
There are many ways to strategise your online marketing and advertising campaign. Some will take a lot of time and effort to pay dividends, like SEO, some will require complex knowledge and concerted effort to understand, like traditional Adwords. For those looking for a viable solution that produces results and doesn’t need an IT expert to understand, Google Adwords Express is ideal.