If the title strikes you as a touch grandiose, consider this: Google generated $31.4B in the first 2 quarters of 2014, and 97% of total revenue was accounted for by advertising proceeds in recent years. That’s a lot of paid clicks, and, as Google’s policies and updates continue to favor their golden goose, just about everyone involved in the realm of digital marketing will agree that there is no end in site for the rise of PPC (Pay Per Click) Advertising.
When I started building and managing AdWords campaigns in 2012, I really had zero notion of the sheer scale of the paid search industry. I’ll even admit that I was a little incredulous that anybody clicked paid ads; why favor someone who paid for their page rank over someone who didn’t have to?
To be fair, high-ranking organic results didn’t always yield stellar user experience back then either. Old-school SEO (Search Engine Optimization) methods like keyword stuffing and irrelevant-linking were still in play (this was prior to the Google Penguin update, and before Panda had really taken hold), and you would often find yourself on pages that looked like a loosely themed random word generator had been left on overnight. Google has done a good job, in my opinion, of “curating” organic results, and as a result, SEO has become what it always should have been: creating and maintaining quality, relevant content.
But for most businesses, especially those who haven’t been working at it steadily, trying to elevate their online presence through SEO is no longer quick nor easy. The amount of space taken up by top-of-the-page ads has been steadily growing over time, pushing organic results further and further down the page. Then there’s the competition: you’ll be rubbing shoulders not only with your competitors, but also directory sites, research resources, and review forums. Make no mistake, SEO is still an important part of the digital marketing scene, but unlike PPC efforts, it’s not something that will turn into increased business overnight.
Meanwhile, Google has continued to increase the user-appeal and functionality of it’s search ads. Ad Extensions will dynamically display a business address if a searcher is nearby, or a telephone number if they’re searching on a phone. Re-marketing allows businesses to reengage with previous visitors who may have gotten distracted mid-conversion. Call-Outs allow businesses to easily feature special offers and disclose unique selling points. And these comprise just the tip of an ever-growing iceberg of features; if a tool is good for your business, it’s in Google’s interest to provide it.
The real advantage of advertising on Google is reaching users who are ready to buy, and with 79% of American adults searching for products and services online, there are quite a few of them. Instead of the traditional scatter-shot approach to advertising, you are in direct control of who to target and how much you’re willing to pay, as well as having all of the corresponding data easily accessible to further optimize your efforts.
Consider this: ads took up an average of over 85% of the space above the fold (the area of the page that doesn’t require scrolling) on search result pages for user queries that displayed commercial intent. On these same searches, which are exactly where businesses have the highest chance of converting clicks into sales, almost 65% of clicks go to paid advertisements. Essentially Google is doing everything it can to advantage it’s advertisers, and it’s showing: Google advertising generated $111B for 1.5 million businesses in 2013 in the U.S. alone.
And as such, I feel it’s apt to say that we’re living in the Age Of Adwords. With hardly any barriers to entry, it’s high time that you join in; your competitors are.