When Google AdWords works for retailers and when to use other online marketing tools

gim_loe_smallE-tailer Gim Loe shares her experience using Google AdWords and says that while this is a useful marketing tactic during some phases of a business' life, it is not the be all and end all of online marketing.

If you’re thinking of starting an online business, you would have heard of the term Google Adwords.But just in case you're not familiar with AdWords, they are - as the name suggests - ads on Google.

The ads appear in your search results on sidebars and on boxes. They operate on a pay-per-click basis meaning that you pay Google when your ad has been clicked on by a user. There are other similar ad programs available on other search engines but as Google is the most popular, Adwords gets the most publicity. Depending on the amount you pay, competition and your site content, Google Adwords will slot you into different positions along Google’s search results for terms/words that you have selected to pay for.

Gim Loe

Many e-stores use Google Adwords to maximise their exposure to potential customers. But is Adwords needed?

Like any business, the aim of an e-store is to move stock. For an e-store one of the major obstacles to success is a lack of visibility and awareness. For e-stores, visibility is especially difficult due to what I call the ‘first- page syndrome’. We are all guilty of it. ‘First- page syndrome’ involves browsing the first page of the search results leaving millions of other relevant pages behind. It for this reason for being on page one is king.

While we would all like to be on page one, getting there is another story. There is an entire industry dedicated to lifting page rank. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is that industry. If you are interested in e-commerce, SEO is one of those terms that you will hear frequently. It basically is the art of optimising or maximising your site for search engines. SEO increases the probability that your site will be found by your target audience. It can incorporate natural and paid results. SEO has literally become a science because Google and other search engines are forever changing their algorithms to stay relevant to search terms making it difficult to stay on page one.

Google Adwords is a good way to stay ahead of the game. But how effective is it?

Well, in my experience, not really.

When I started Hip Industries with Ben, everyone was recommending and using Google Adwords as a reliable go-to for immediate SEO success. And so we studied Adwords and attended many seminars on the subject anticipating success. When we started using Google Adwords however all was not as rosy as we were led to believe.

Google Adwords was in high demand and it was expensive to achieve a decent position on the Google search results. This was a few months ago. The popularity of Adwords is only expected to increase as more and more people turn to ecommerce. Even though we had good intentions, in the end, we spent a lot of money for minimal return. After a few months of Adwords, we figured that it was more important to build on the natural SEO of our site and so quit the campaign. We hired an SEO company and are now ranked 4th on the Google search results for our main search key term, ‘man bag’. When we stopped Google Adwords, searches on Hip Industries plummeted and although it hit us hard we stuck to it.

My advice: Google Adwords is great during a business’s infancy. Adwords is fantastic as a tool in building an initial client base and public awareness. But just like all ads, the success of a Google Adwords campaign will be dependant on your planning and budget. For us, although we planned it right, it did not succeed because of budget constricts. The important thing is to study Adwords to see whether it is for you and your business needs.

Thanks for reading, next month I will talk about off- line marketing.

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