I just sat through almost three hours of a tortuous presentation by a web company who had an outdated PowerPoint presentation, inaccurate information… and the audience soaked it up like they were preaching the Gospel.

SMH.

Part of the presentation was given over to discussing Google AdWords, and the various elements of how to create an AdWords campaign. What he neglected to mention is that basically, it’s gambling. You’re betting that 1) you’re willing to pay one of the top three highest amount for a particular keyword; and 2) you’re willing to sustain paying per impression, click or whatever until it’s worthwhile. If you don’t understand what this means, please contact me and I’ll be more than happy to explain it until you do.

But here’s the thing: starting with the AdWords is doing it backwards. In any venture, whether it’s a sports event, military campaign, or educational career, you have to first identify your goal. Otherwise, your team won’t know where to send the ball, your soldiers will march around aimlessly, or you’ll wind up with a Liberal Arts degree.

What is your keyword advertising meant to accomplish? Do you want more newsletter subscribers, Facebook likes, product purchases, or inquiries? Do you need to target a particular demographic? Is your goal seasonal? What is your target audience searching for?

How Keyword Advertising Works

This is not a cheap venture. Let’s say, for example, you want to open up a business hub. The keyword monthly search volume for “business hub” is just under 3,000 searches. The suggested bid is about ₪9.00. Per click. A paltry 100 clicks through to your website will cost you ₪900. A month. If each of the keyword searches actually resulted in a click, you’ll get about 3% of the monthly Google Adwords traffic. Do you click on every search result you perform? So that percentage drops fairly quickly when you base it on the number of clicks, not searches. Of course, if you land enough business so that you make back the money you spent on advertising, then your return on your investment (ROI) is justified. Otherwise you’re out ₪11,000 for useless advertising. To be fair, this is a worse case scenario, and there are ways to manage the risk.

What You Really Need to Know

The first thing you need to do is have a clear picture of who your three or four ideal customer types are, before you start your keyword advertising research. It may be worth it to send out a marketing survey to your existing customers or to potential customers first, so you can gauge their responses and use the information to decide on more specific, or long tail keywords.

The second thing you need to have is a budget for your keyword advertising. You have to be able to know what your cost of acquisition is per customer, and that’s revenue/budget per time period, albeit grossly oversimplified. If you’re spending hundreds of shekels per month on advertising, you’d better make sure you’re getting the customers you want.

The thirds thing is that you have to be able to accurately understand your traffic to see whether it is effective or not. Usually this is manages through your statistical analysis. Google Analytics (yes, Google plays on both sides) will help you set and track goals.

Now, the presentations were in Hebrew, and my Hebrew skills degrade in the evening, but I’m fairly certain that none of these points were mentioned. That didn’t stop the presenter from enthusiastically touting the wonderment that is keyword advertising.

It sounds cynical, but the only people who really make money in keyword advertising are Google and whoever you’re paying to do “research” on keywords. I won’t use the word charlatan, but the sin of omission, especially when you are considered the subject matter expert, is in my opinion, unethical.