You have almost certainly seen Google's Adwords in action, even if you don't realise it. This month, we take a closer look at how this system works.
Do pretty much any search on Google, and you're likely to find one or more Adwords links at the top of the results. They frequently change the look of these on the page. Currently, they're marked with a green (Ad) next to them, and there can be up to 4 before you get to what is known as the "organic" results for your search. There's also currently up to 3 ads at the bottom of the page.
Before we explain the adwords system, it's probably worth explaining what "organic" results are. These are the actual links for your search term. They are the ones that have been ranked by Google's alogrithm to best match what you're searching for. As a rule, these are the results you should skip to when searching for something specific.
So how do the Ad links get there? These have been created by people using Google's Adwords system. Anyone can create an account to start displaying these. The more relevant the advert is to the page it is linking to, the cheaper the advert is to run.
Within this system, you can target one or more keywords or phrases. The specifics can get complex very quickly, but at a basic level, you just pick the phrase you want to trigger your advert, and then (assuming it gets approved), the advert will appear.
Exactly where the advert will appear will depend on many factors. The biggest of these are the popularity of the phrase and the amount you've authorised to be spent to show the advert. If you've picked a very popular search term (say "IT Support"), naturally, there will be thousands of other companies vying for that term. Whoever is willing to pay the most for someone to click on their advert will win the "auction" that determines what ends up in your search results. Normally, the advert creator only gets charged when their advert is clicked on (although it is possible to set this up in other ways).
Targeting more specific phrases usually starts reducing the price for the advert (say "IT Support in Horsham"). These are called "Long Tail Keywords". As things get more targeted, the number of competitors for that phrase tends to decrease.
This covers the basics of the Adwords system. However, it is highly configurable, and setups can become hugely complex and hard to understand in some cases. If you are interested in running an ad campaign on Google for your business but you don't know where to start, just let us know!