Most businesses have a fairly limited marketing budget. Companies look to improve their ROI, but many also subscribe to the idea that marketing has diminishing returns. If you continue to doll out money to the marketing department, you’ll eventually be spending more than you take in. Marketers, then, are expected to make the most with what little budget they have in order to ensure the long term success of the company.
Most marketers recognize the importance of creating an Internet presence. If you hope to attract potential clients, you need them to be able to find you online, since that’s where most people research new companies and products. What people don’t understand is how to get people to find you online.
The Google AdWords Folly
Companies seem to think that the best way to get found is to invest thousands into Google AdWords. Google AdWords can be useful, but only for a select few businesses offering a select few products. There are some companies that spend advertising budgets of $5,000 per month on Google AdWords, using keywords so vague that most of the visitors that used up the budget were looking for something completely different.
My favorite example was for a company I worked with about 4 years ago. They were an enterprise survey software company. Their product costs nearly $100,000 a year and is designed specifically for companies that perform high level research and analysis. They decided to spend their 5k a month budget on one keyword: Online Surveys. The results were disastrous.
Clicks were costing nearly $5.00 each. They were used up in 2 hours every morning by people in India that were hoping to find online surveys they could take in order to make money online. Every month they would spend $5,000 on these keywords and every month they received no business from the results. They invested $0.00 in copywriting. To this day, they do not show up anywhere in the first 30 pages of Google.
Problems with Google AdWords
Google AdWords is a useful tool. Like most SEO companies, we recommend that our clients use it if they have some excess advertising budget. But AdWords has a variety of problems:
- Keywords are fickle. You really need to know what keywords to target if you want to make a profit. Often long tail keywords are the best, but they receive the fewest searches, and most people want immediate results. But if you pay top dollar for competitive keywords, chances are you will hemorrhage money if your keywords are not perfect.
- Similarly, the AdWords payoff must be immediate. There is no long term benefit of AdWords. If you’re not making sales off each click, that money is gone, and it won’t come back.
Adwords as an investment is interesting, but it should never be your primary means of gathering clients. What you need to do is find a way to maximize return on investment, and to do that you need to invest more of your advertising budget in SEO.
Benefits of SEO
Presumably one of the main reasons that companies choose Adwords over SEO is because they want to see an immediate payout. One of the challenges we face as an SEO company is that while the payoffs are enormous, reaching those milestones is a process that takes time. Even if you created thousands of pages of excellent content, Google doesn’t like to award high search engine rankings right away. They tend to give credit over time, boosting your ranking over a period of months, not days.
But that boost will come, and when it does, the ROI is incredible. When you show up high in search engines, you receive exponentially more targeted hits than you do with Adwords, all for the low, low price of $0.00 a click. Every visitor you get is free.
Larger Payoff, Bigger Rewards
As a business, it’s important to remember that “return on investment” is not synonymous with “immediate earnings.” Your investment needs to be something that brings you the most revenue for every dollar spent. For that, there is no better investment than SEO, as the payoffs are larger, the customers are free, and there is no chance that you will accidentally waste your money on a hilariously misguided keyword. Use Adwords as a complement to your online marketing, not the other way around.