Google Adwords Big Change Coming?

Upcoming Adword Format Bad for SMBsWhile catching up on the latest SEO articles, a disturbing post showed up today. It appears that Google is testing the effects of showing how many clicks an Ad or Advertiser has previously gotten.

While we promote Google Adwords to many of our small business clients, there are various aspects that are real disadvantages to them. The overall complexity and several default settings are definitely an issue for SMB and independents without some type of Search Engine Marking (SEM) resource.

Well, Google is trying an Adwords experiment that may indeed be another major problem for small businesses. There are apparently two types of displays being tested, one that just says “Clicks”. The other one says “clicks from this advertiser”. In this image, notice the difference between the two almost identical Ads for the same basic product/brand:Google Adwords Click Display Experiment

Showing “Clicks for this Advertiser” in the Ad will create a very unfair advantage for large brands, big Ad budgets and National Ad agencies.

Notice that the top Ad has 156,000 previous clicks and the one below it has 59,000,000. Which would you click?

We’ve been very successful pitching SMB Ads against major brands with deep pockets. We rely on niche targets, whether time spots, longer tail keywords, more refined and selective demographics or sites. If successful, our Ad typically shows higher than the wider casting net of the big check books.

Think of it another way. A big budget allows for less granular keyword bids, less related Ad text to keywords they are bidding on and finally, paying a bit higher due to a lower quality score. If we are able to place our SMB Ad alongside the more generic text from one of their Ads, we stand a better chance of getting the click due to our more relevant copy and keywords.

Unless that other Ad has 59,000,000 clicks displayed and we only have 156,000.

The real shame? All 156,000 of our visitors could have bought a product, while 200,000 of those other clickers could have bounced away from that site’s competing product immediately without buying anything. If that Advertiser’s 58,800,000 of those clicks are for Ads that send them to another page, not that related to our client’s product, then they won’t even be penalized much. And the users that might have clicked and bought, will instead gravitate towards the Ad with more clicks due to the Lemming Effect.

This also means longer running Ads and Advertisers could have better click through rate (CTR) advantage.

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Good Adwords case studies and tips from article in New York Times

The New York Times has just published an article that provides a decent overview, tips and case study of four small business and their experience with Google Adwords, even though it glossed over some issues a bit incorrectly (but mostly corrected at the very end of the piece). The biggest error suggests one owner had huge runaway costs before realizing it. That’s just flat wrong as you have to set a budget, which isn’t confusing or misleading, and Google doesn’t exceed it. Otherwise, it shows one business that likely isn’t appropriate for Adwords, one that did well after analyzing and adjusting the keywords being bid upon, one that modified a campaign to just target potential customers near his two brick & mortar stores and finally one small business that hired a professional.

There are several great lessons in this article, especially around geographic ‘local’ targeting and using specific keyword and negative keywords.

A few quotes from the article:
“… Monitoring an AdWords campaign requires a lot of effort. That’s why some entrepreneurs, like Rick Smith, prefer to outsource the management of their campaigns. … After attending an S.E.O. trade show … Mr. Smith hired a firm to run his campaigns for him. … They update or change the ads on pretty much a weekly basis, adding in seasonal or holiday hooks when appropriate, and they monitor the results… “I’m spending less than I did when I did it myself,” said Mr. Smith, “and I’m getting more sales as a result.”