You develop a different perspective when you live more of your career as a client versus on the marketing agency side. Seventeen years ago, I was a manufacturing client searching for a digital partner to help make sense of search engine optimization (SEO) and Google Ads, formerly AdWords. These tools were foreign concepts to me. Charged with growing a start-up business division, I had to learn what these marketing tactics were all about in short order. Today, I help clients navigate this process, ultimately connecting their marketing and sales plans into sustainable systems that consistently grow revenue over time. In this article, I provide a foundational understanding of SEO and Google Ads, best practices from my experience, and how to navigate these constantly changing tactics as a small business owner or C-Suite leader.
Aren’t SEO and Google Ads the same thing?
Short answer: No, not at all. It’s essential to understand SEO and Google Ads are not apples-to-apples. Both have distinct purposes, characteristics, and approaches that can help boost awareness of your business. All businesses should try to implement an SEO strategy. SEO is an “unpaid,” long-term marketing strategy used to increase organic ranking to the first few pages of a search engine results page (SERP) by incorporating keyword research into the copy. In simple terms, this helps expand a brand’s visibility when a person is searching on the internet. It also involves strategy-based, multi-tactic execution, which includes developing technical and off-page SEO and great content for your organization. You will need an expert (internal or external) to guide and implement the strategies around SEO, such as necessary keyword research to inform content creation. SEO is a long-term strategy to help you build a trustworthy brand online.
On the other hand, Google Ads is a paid advertising strategy to get your brand to appear on the first page of a SERP while also getting leads to convert (i.e., land on your website and contact you). The execution is more straightforward and similar to a light switch. You create a new campaign based on keyword research, complete the technical set-up, and determine a budget. Boom. The results are often quicker bursts of traffic to your website. When complete, turn it off. Turn it on when you need some more attention. Google Ads are best for time-sensitive campaigns, and new product launches into new markets. Your main goal is to gain interest and convert leads leading to a boost in revenue.
An example may help. For our start-up business, I wanted to create awareness of our medical cart development services. I sought the help of a vendor who did the keyword research for me. Then they helped set up and execute my first Google Ads campaign. When I started to receive results, there was a problem. Hospitals called to purchase our carts, but I didn’t sell to them. My target was medical device OEMs. There was a disconnection between who my target audience was and how the vendor executed my campaign. Not their fault by any means, but I had to reevaluate what was broken in the process. I realized the vendor didn’t truly understand who my target customer was and how they searched. The vendor was a technical expert, not an expert in my business.
My most valuable lessons learned:
- It’s hard to keep up with algorithm changes, crawls, and Google transformations when you’re already handling the operations, finances, and a team of employees. Ask for help.
- Stay engaged! No one knows your business better than you. Vendors are there to provide the expertise, and it’s okay to say, “No, that’s not right.”
- Conduct Google Ad campaigns in three-month pilot runs and collect the metrics. See what’s converting and what isn’t. Measure and adjust!
- The more niche your ideal customer, market, or services are – more often than not – the keywords you compete for could cost less.
- When writing for SEO, consider how your ideal customers are searching. Write to them while staying relevant and accurate.
- There is no perfect budget for an SEO or Google Ads strategy. It depends on how many leads you need to fill your pipeline. I’ve seen companies spend thousands, and some spend hundreds.
You’re trying to predict human behavior and, even more importantly, your customers’ behavior, so give yourself grace when in the trenches of Google Ads and SEO.
Are you stuck on where to start with your own SEO and Google Ad strategies? Contact the KnotMagic team!