Most posts in the mainstream media about Google AdWords are little more than boosterism. Unfortunately, recent posts in the New York Times, follow this trajectory as well. They treat AdWords ‘as if’ it should be dealt with independently from SEO. I feel very strongly that this is a mistake: you should get what you can get – for free – from Google via SEO, and then build your AdWords strategy upon that. Otherwise, you are funneling hard earned money to Google on AdWords. Google is happy to take your money via AdWords and has no official program to ‘help you’ synergize AdWords and SEO. Here are some thoughts.
By Jason McDonald
Senior SEO Instructor – JM Internet Group
Posted: December 13, 2010
Smash Party Entertainment and AdWords
SEO: The Forgotten Part of an Effective Marketing Mix
Synergy between AdWords and SEO
Smash Party Entertainment and AdWords
Sunday’s New York Times, has an article entitled, Mastering Google AdWords, with a glowing picture of Smash Party Entertainment owner Amy Gottesman, and a glowing quote, "If I stopped advertising that way, the business would instantly die." The article proceeds to talk about how great AdWords has been for her business, with at least a little refinement that she tries to focus on ‘effective keywords’ rather than ‘general keywords.’ A quick search of Keywordspy.com reveals she is advertising on –
impersonators new york 1
party entertainment nyc 2
corporate entertainment new york 1
party entertainment new jersey 2
party entertainment new york 1
new york impersonators 1
casino party new york 4
casino party ny 5
ny casino party 4
corporate events nyc
The New York Times author, David Freedman, then reaches out to a Google AdWords Evangelist and has this to say –
But you don’t know until you try. And if you do try, here’s a big mistake to avoid: Giving up too quickly. According to Frederick Vallaeys, whose title at Google is “AdWords Evangelist,” new advertisers often try putting up an ad or two based on a handful of keywords — but when they don’t get many people to click on them, they just figure pay-per-click isn’t for them. Sometimes they’ll spend too much money on this initial discouraging experience before fleeing for good. Instead, counsels Mr. Vallaeys, put in just a little money for several weeks — as little as $1 a day if that’s all you feel comfortable parting with — and don’t make any decisions until a few hundred people have clicked on your ads. At that point you’ll have enough data to enable Google’s tools to advise you on how to improve your results. “A fair number of advertisers lose money at first,” Mr. Vallaeys said. “You have to wait until you see what’s really going on with your clicks.”
Some decent advise. Even better –
- Focus on buy keywords
- Organize your AdWords groups in a keyword centric way
- Structure your Landing Pages to generate results
- Use geotargeting to focus on your most likely paying customers
Without access to Smash Party’s AdWords accounts, we can’t say whether she is doing everything correctly. But we can click on one of her ads for ‘Impersonator New York,’ which ends us up here. The landing page is completely non-optimized, violating all of the basic rules… First and foremost, it doesn’t easily CONFIRM the search term with a BIG PROMINENT re-mention of the SEARCH TERM. Beyond that the desired action is rather vague – just a phone number.
The fact that the landing pages are so poorly put together, makes me worry that poor Ms. Gottesman is wasting a lot of money on her Google AdWords ads. We can’t say for certain, but what bothers me about these sort of mainstream articles is how they portray AdWords as a wonderful strategy for small business and never really ‘dig deep’ into how AdWords can cost you a ton of your hard earned money, unless you optimize your AdWords campaigns.
Moreover, a ‘Google Evangelist’ is the last person you should turn to for impartial advice. Do you ask the car salesman for advice in pricing your car? The insurance salesman for impartial advice in how much insurance you need? No. But somehow the mainstream media is so ga-ga for Google that they give the company a free ride in terms of tough journalistic questions. (Read the New York Times article, here).
SEO: The Forgotten Part of an Effective Marketign Mix
So the campaign doesn’t appear to be well optimized for AdWords. It’s a shame to see a small business spend inefficiently for Google AdWords. Google has enough money – we don’t need to keep shoveling our funds to Mountain View, people!
But, what’s worse, is the SEO strategy of Smash Party Entertainment. I of course immediately Googled her website, and found it at http://www.smashpartyentertainment.com/. The very first page, the Splash Page, tells us that the site has zero SEO going on.
The use of ‘Splash Pages’ is a huge no-no in SEO as beyond the TITLE tag, the site gives up every major SEO opportunity. The home page, of course, is the most powerful page on any website, and here we have a graphics-heavy, text-weak home page with no H1 / H2 tag, no keyword heavy text, no use of the home page to act as a ‘gateway’ to targeted, focused landing pages. The rest of the site is heavy FLASH and an unmitigated SEO train wreck.
So the bottom line is that the site is completely wasting its opportunity to get to the top of Google for FREE using SEO, and we have a hard-working great small business shoveling money inefficiently to Google for AdWords advertising. What’s worse is that we have the mainstream media – the New York Times – holding the company up as an example of effective small business marketing.
Bottom line: SEO should be used FIRST. Your SEO should sequester the free opportunities on Google, and then your AdWords should build upon your SEO strategy to compensate for your SEO weaknesses. Every dollar is precious, and the two should work together!
Synergy between AdWords and SEO
Here’s an effective strategy. First, identify your target keywords. Smash Party seems to have done an OK job on this front. Look for high value, high volume keywords that match your unique value proposition with those of your customer search queries. Second, build these out into defined Landing Pages that are SEO-friendly, and use every SEO trick in the book to climb to the top of Google, such as positioning these on your site’s home page, blogging, generating news, and building links.
Third, analyze your site’s performance for your keywords in SEO. Where you are doing poorly – say, not in the top three or top ten results for free on Google / SEO – then advertise for those keywords. Fourth, set up an AdWords keyword-centric campaign that targets your SEO weaknesses. In this way, you are getting the maximum benefit for the dollar.
And, when setting up AdWords, don’t forget to follow the best AdWords principles, including setting up targeted AdWords landing pages. AdWords is a great program, but it should NEVER be used independently from SEO. If you do, you are just throwing money down the toilet to Google. Sadly.