As a digital agency, it is common to have a client discussion that starts with this question: Where do we start? Ultimately the discussion leads to scarce marketing resources, AKA, money. Many clients believe that they should start with search engine optimization (SEO) and Social Media. The belief is that these are fast, free, and easy but let me tell you, they are none of these.
We always start with Google Ads (formally, Google AdWords) Search and here’s why. Customers come to us after their website design is finished and are unhappy with the traffic volume. Advertising on Google is a good way to get traffic flowing. Additionally, Google Ads has real data and THAT is the foundation of all digital marketing strategies. The data gathered from the advertising can help focus the direction of your digital marketing efforts.
Google Ads provides you with data, data, and more data. This includes impressions (number of time an ad showed), impression share (percentage of times the ad showed to total traffic), clicks, cost for a specific position, and the competitors (Insights) that target a specific keyword. Combine this with the data in Google Analytics and you can calculate the organic opportunity. Now you can build out a digital strategy that includes the market value and true volume of your targeted keywords.
SEO’s will tell you that you can get this data from other tools but in reality, that’s not true. The problem with these other sources is that they have very little control over the data. They also lack negative keywords and good geographic targeting. These tools can provide important data but all marketing sources have their problems and Google Ads is more accurate.
Google Ads gives us more data than just keywords. For example, it can tell you where your customers hang out on the internet. This allows you to target other individuals that frequent the same web locations that your customers do. The worst kept marketing secret is: Great Prospects look, act, and respond just like your best customers. Google Ads Remarketing can help isolate traffic that acts the way you want (like buying products) and then use the sites in your display campaign to create placements based on these actions. This type of campaign is very powerful because it provides a much lower cost per click than search traffic with a high ROI.
Google Ads lets us test marketing messages that can help us in SEO. Text ads are structured very similarly to Organic listings (headline=page title & description=meta description). You can test out different headlines and descriptions in Google Ads and gather data much quicker (and more accurate) than testing out different page titles and meta descriptions. You can use these results to build the Organic listing that will increase your Organic CTR. This is very important because Google says that the CTR on your organic listing is more important than anything you can do on your site. Our estimate is that as much as 65% of the SEO rank comes from the Organic CTR.
Google Ads starts to work almost immediately. A typical SEO expert, if honest, will tell you that it takes 6-18 months to get dependable traffic (and I use the word “dependable” very loosely here). Google constantly updates it’s algorithm and what got you on top before may not work now. We’ve heard stories that started with, “we used to be first on Google,” followed by a sad story about how that no longer is the case.
SEO and Social Media are commonly referred to as earned traffic and it’s earned by the freshness of your site content (i.e. blog articles, new pages, website update, etc.). As it pertains to Social Media, the more (interesting) content you post, the more activity you will get through that channel.
This is a great question and that varies depending on the traffic patterns of the website. In most cases, this will be either SEO or Social Media. The performance in Google Ads should be the benchmark for these channels. SEO and Social Media generated traffic is not free unless you have a source of free professional labor to do the work.
Google Ads, SEO, and Social Media all are integral parts of your digital marketing strategy. Google Ads is where you start because from there, you can use data to narrow your marketing focus. We do all the other digital marketing as well but we start with Google Ads.