Varying Perceptions of Google Tales from Business Owners and Their Customers

I’m often struck by how two clients in the same industry vertical and in the same city can have radically different perceptions about the effectiveness of Google AdWords Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising.

In order to understand these Google Tales, it’s important to look at the reasons why. Here’s a short list:

  1. SEO White Hats vs. SEO Black Hats.
  2. Word of Mouth Talk from Your Colleagues and Competitors―Real or BS?
  3. The Power of Millions of Dollars of Television Advertising to Persuade.

SEO White Hats vs. Black Hats

R.L. Adams a respected technology writer and is quoted in Forbes.com, Nov. 29, 2016 as stating:

Most people look at SEO the wrong way. They look at ways to do the least amount of work for the greatest initial return, when in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Obviously, SEO is one of the best skills that you can possibly learn, but in order to succeed with it, you need to do the most amount of work for the least initial return. It’s a slow, steady and painful process, but that’s also the nature of the beast … today, Google knows about all your schemes, so don’t even bother with them …

A “White Hatted SEO” pro will tell you it takes several months of hard SEO work, even years in some cases, to rank on page one of Google. The more competitive a search term is, the harder it is to rank. There are no shortcuts in SEO. However, with Google’s advertising platform called AdWords, you can have your ad on page one of Google search in any geographic location and time of day and not pay unless someone reads your ad and decides it is interesting enough to click-through to your website. You set any daily budget you want.

Of course, there is no free lunch. When your daily budget runs out, your ads come down for the day. The skill is to show the right ad copy/messaging/offers to the right prospects in the right locations to get a return on your investment.

Word of Mouth Talk–Real or BS Google Tales?

The stories below are real and illustrate why what you hear from others in your business and at trade shows may simply not be real.

  • One of my best AdWords clients, a large lawn care franchise owner that is currently getting over 19.30% conversion rate at a cost per lead of $23.81 told me recently “my colleague who also owns a similar franchise in a nearby city told me he’s getting over 600 leads per month doing non-digital marketing at a fraction of what I’m getting!” When we dove deeper into the numbers, it became clear this was quite possibly nothing more than BS.
  • Another one of my clients, a respected dentist, was getting some of the best results Google had ever seen in his industry vertical as told to me by my agency’s Googler. As a Google Agency Partner, I’m able to get insights the general public cannot. Even with terrific results, the dentist stopped his campaign because his internal colleague and business partner in the practice, his wife, told him they needed to use the money being spent on advertising for his daughter’s upcoming wedding.
  • A third prospect who sells furniture to colleges and universities asked me over a year ago to do a Pay Per Click (PPC) audit of their DIY AdWords campaign. It was immediately apparent the campaign had a number of amateur flaws that were negatively impacting the campaign’s success. Google itself continues to send this campaign’s administrator suggestions for basic improvement, but the campaign’s administrator and business partner inside the company refuses to implement them, acknowledge them, or hire a Google Certified Partner like myself to help. The last time I talked to the administrator she told me “Well … I see my ads on Google so I’m satisfied, even though I don’t know if they’re returning my investment.”
  • A large nationwide insurance company shut down one of their most successful agent’s AdWords campaigns which was producing five new never before seen policies per month within a five-mile radius of his office. Why? Their corporate digital marketing coordinator didn’t know the difference between organic search (SEO) and paid search (PPC). The agent was told that even though his ads were only appearing within a five-miles of his office and were clearly from an individual agent, not the corporate office, they might cause a “domain authority” problem for corporate. The ads were directed inside the corporate URL to the agent’s page at: “xyzinsurance.com/agents/myagentsname” and did not create any problems.

I am relatively certain the man who was bragging about 600 leads per month at a fraction of the cost knew very well he was fibbing but probably continues to tell this braggadocio’s story in his own versions of Google Tales. If asked about ending her AdWords campaign, the dentist’s business partner may or may not admit the real reason was to use the money for her daughter’s wedding even though the campaign was a success. The furniture merchant simply won’t admit the problems with their flawed AdWords set-up and may tell you if asked “Oh … we put a small amount of money in Google AdWords, but it doesn’t really produce much.” And the national insurance company’s misplaced trust in their digital marketing coordinator is shocking, and company may never know it passed over an opportunity to restructure all its AdWords campaigns nationwide along “local lines” for increased successful results.

The Power of Millions of Dollars of Television Advertising

Angie’s List (PR Newswire, May 2, 2017) reported “marketing expense was $9.8 million, a decrease from $19.1 million in the year-ago quarter, due to a reduction in advertising spend as we adjusted the level and timing of such spend in the first quarter of 2017 as compared to the first quarter of 2016.”

You may or may not know that Angie’s List not only spends millions on television ads like this one you can see on YouTube, but according to SEMrush, a competitive metrics provider, is currently spending $114,000 per month on Google AdWords. In the same PRNewswire article which comes from Angie’s List’s own Investor Relations department we read,

Angie’s List and IAC announced they have entered into a definitive agreement to combine Angie’s List and IAC’s HomeAdvisor into a new, publicly traded company; a separate release announcing the transaction was issued yesterday.

Angies List Real Numbers for Google TalesBecause Angie’s List and Home Advisor are merging into a new publicly traded company, many of us have also seen Home Advisor’s television commercials.

Similar to Angie’s List, Home Advisor is spending a huge $1.8 million per month on Google AdWords!

Home Advisor Facts for Our Google TalesClearly, both Angie’s List and Home Advisor are trying very hard to convince you they’re about the only place a consumer can go to find a local home service provider … and yet it is also clear they are pushing hard to convince you of this at a time when they are merging and trying to create value for themselves in the stock market. There’s nothing wrong with this as long as you realize as a consumer and a business owner the latest research from Google presented this month shows that only 15% of consumers use a ratings and review website like Angie’s List, Home Advisor, etc.

Google Tales: Only 15%25 of Used a Ratings System

Finally, the fact that Angie’s List and Home Advisor themselves spend millions of dollars advertising with Google AdWords should be a large clue to the fact Angie’s List/Home Advisor’s are taking business owner’s money and simply aggregating it and plowing it into AdWords when you can do the same thing for yourself and direct the clicks directly to your own website.

The graphic below illustrates Google is the undisputed market share leader among all search engines with over a 77% market share. If you find you’re getting a great return on your investment with an aggregator, ratings and review website, then, by all means, continue with them. Just know that only 15% of your customers are using them and you can have your ad directly on page one of Google yourself with AdWords.

Google Adwords with 77%25 Market Share