Old Apple computer
While not an exact replica of what we had for the early years of my childhood, the mouse and keyboard sure bring back a lot of memories. I was so proud when I first figured out where Carmen Sandiego was.

Growing up, my parents were early adopters of computers. My mother utilized her IBM computer for genealogical research, documenting her findings while I sat nearby in the upstairs bedroom that was her office, reading various books.

My father acquired a Macintosh in the early 1990s which he used for his grant writing. Being much more appealing and user friendly than the black screen, orange text, and basic interface of the upstairs IBM, it also came with Solitaire! My brother, father, and I would race for the fastest finish times, and other games soon joined it.

A few years later, one of the contests Dad entered as a hobby netted us a new PC. Suddenly, Windows 98 was the new king of the household, and we found ourselves with considerably better access to the Internet. While caution was the watchword for this new experience, I learned the Internet, even in its infancy, was a very big place.

While playing games online was my favorite use of the Internet (Java on the Brain being my go-to site of the time), my teachers took full advantage of it as well, assigning projects that taught us how to create and present with Microsoft Office, cite sources, and use search engines to find information.

AltaVista was my search engine of choice during these early years, but Google was an up-and-comer that had found significant traction by the time I started high school. Since their humble beginnings, they’ve dominated the world of search engines, and if you want to succeed, the blessing of their algorithms is required.

Google, like any other successful company, quickly decided it was not allergic to money, and introduced a fast track for search engine success in 2000 – a paid option called AdWords. Throughout its iterations, companies and organizations have been able to show up in the first few listings of a search, with companies being charged per click on these results.

Good AdWords campaigns require a sizable investment, and the price for success can vary pretty wildly depending upon your industry, location, and market. That’s why we’re taking time today to give you tips tailored toward getting the most bang for your buck. Our areas of focus are going to be:

• Knowing what AdWords are tailored toward
• How to budget for them
• Cost-benefit analysis
• Keyword assignment
• AdSense

AdWords are designed to get you more customers – they are not branding tools.

The single most important word to analyze for your AdWords campaign is conversion. Ideal campaigns present a solution to a customer need, convince said customers to click the link, and then either purchase online or contact you to initiate the process.

This matters significantly because if a customer is searching for this solution, odds are they’re in a frame of mind where they are more inclined to proceed. This can be especially true for professions that offer emergency services, such as plumbers and electricians. Putting your ad within easy reach gives you a much higher chance of making the sale.

AdWords campaigns spread a hefty monthly budget across each day of the month – in order for them to be of any benefit to you, they must be solely focused on making your company money. If you enter a campaign with the mindset of it improving your branding (which you can do with banner ads and social media FAR more effectively), you’ll be wasting time and money better spent elsewhere.

How hefty a monthly budget are we talking?

This is where your industry, location, and market come into play. For many small businesses, as little as $500 – $600 a month is sufficient to start. Some fields, like legal or insurance professionals, will be looking at as much as $25 – $50 per click instead of the average of $1 – $2 for typical keywords.

Google offers some tips for how to set up your budget and how to bid for your position on a maximum cost per click basis, as well as some information on how the quality of your ad can impact your placement. Like any successful venture, a bit of planning beforehand can have a tremendous impact on your results.

Much like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), this is something you should be considering for a minimum of 6-12 months prior to starting. While this looks daunting, a well-executed campaign is going to make your extra spending a non-issue in relatively short order.

Having trouble settling on how much to spend? Let your cost-benefit analysis be your guide.

There are two different approaches to a cost-benefit analysis when determining your Google AdWords budget. Both must be critically reviewed before you spend so much as a penny on creating your campaign.

The first is the more traditional approach – calculating the cost of your AdWords against the benefit each new client brings to your company. Figure out the lowest conversion percentage that will allow you to come out ahead, and determine whether your campaign can realistically achieve it.

One crucial point to bear in mind when calculating this is a percentage of your market will refuse to click ads on principle. Statistical reviews like this one estimate this to be about 33%, or 1 in 3 people. Ad blockers will cut into the remaining 2/3rds, despite Google’s best efforts, meaning you’ll be marketing to less than half the people online from the start.

The other approach to calculating your cost-benefit analysis is scalability. How much new work can you take on if you start an AdWords campaign? If you’re at 90% of your current labor capacity and are just looking for a couple extra clients, you shouldn’t be considering a campaign – especially if you have no way to manage the heavier workload success will bring.

Be as specific with your keywords as possible.

When you’re paying for every click, the last thing you want is to watch your budget be devoured by window shoppers. This means your AdWords campaign should be designed to reach customers with as much immediate need as possible – targeting just anyone simply won’t do.

Going back to our earlier examples, keywords like plumber and electrician should be avoided at all costs. These are very, very broad terms that will come up in a lot of irrelevant searches and receive a lot of clicks that will not be profitable. This is a major reason why we advise you not to treat AdWords as a way to improve your brand – it is like using a hammer when you need a screwdriver.

Keywords like Iowa City plumber or Cedar Rapids electrician are a bit better. These narrow hits to a specific region and are tailored to people searching with a higher chance of needing professional local assistance.

Keywords like 24 hour emergency plumber and Iowa City water heater specialist are better still, as they drill down to either urgent matters that require immediate attention or specialized niches that are designed to fulfill an exact requirement. The percentage of window shoppers will be at its lowest here.

What is AdSense, and what does it have to do with AdWords?

The stage for AdWords is exclusively on Google – someone puts in a search term, and AdWords puts the paid search results up front and center. AdSense ties in with AdWords campaigns, but is set up to operate on individual sites instead of Google’s search results.

These banner ads will vary quite a bit more than the search results you’ll see on Google. AdSense, encompassing text, images, and video, and can show up off to the side like traditional banner ads, as part of feeds, or hovering at the bottom of mobile devices. A wide variety of variation exists for formatting and size as well.

Another major reason not to utilize this as a branding tool is present here as well. This ties in with the lack of control over where these ads will be displayed. You can create the most amazing ads in the world, but if they only show up on seedy websites that place them in inconvenient places, they’re doing you no good.

By comparison, banner ads you manage independently will be added to the sites you pay for them to go. This allows you to plan for where they’ll have the greatest visibility and impact from the start, which will allow you to reach the audience you target more reliably.

How do I know which keywords I should use for my campaign?

A good way to start narrowing these down is through an SEO audit. These audits involve analysis of your niche, competition, and popular keywords to help you come up with a game plan to move forward with your advertising.

To review the full process and charges involved in hiring our SEO experts, swing by our Contact page to schedule an appointment or call 319-229-5225 to speak with our team today!

Braden is one of the founders of Midwest Websites, and has been professionally writing and developing websites for over 6 years. His blog posts often take an experience from his life and showcase lessons from it to help you maximize online presence for your business.