If you use the web, you're familiar with the advertising that Google places on both their website and many others. But have you ever considered placing your own ads to draw traffic to your site? We show you how.
Internet Advertising: Dominated by Google
In spite of the rise of Facebook, Google is still the dominant advertising platform on the internet. Load a site at random and you're likely to see Google ads in the sidebar, just like you do on Google's search page. These sites are part of the Google Adsense program, which allows webmaster to sell advertising space and share the revenue with Google. The advertiser side of that, where you can place ads to show up in the Google search results and optionally on other sites throughout the web, is called Google Adwords.
In concept, the program is simple: you bid on keywords that you want to trigger your advertisement, and Google shows the ad that's worth the most to them. In practice, it gets a bit more complicated; for example, Google may charge you less to display an advertisement that gets clicked on more often, as they want to display relevant content (including advertising) to their users.
Pay Per Click
In the beginning - that is, back in the 90s - internet advertising was driven by views. You set up your banner ads, paid for so many thousand views, and hoped that people clicked through and bought something. This gave us the term CPM, or cost per thousand impressions, as a way of measuring the cost of advertising on a site.
This form of measurement isn't gone; indeed, Facebook still allows you to bid for ad placement by the amount you're willing to pay per thousand clicks. They also give you the option of going with the same model Google uses: pay per click (PPC). You bid the amount that you're willing to pay for a click, and that's all you pay, regardless of how often your advertisement is shown. That's another reason why Google charges more for less effective ads: they have to show them more often to get the same number of clicks.
Before you can start advertising with Google, you'll need to get approved. Google has certain requirements that your site needs to meet to be linked to, and they will check that your site meets those requirements before allowing you to advertise. Additionally, Google will approve each ad you write before it goes live.
Most of the requirements are pretty straightforward: you can't advertise, or link to a site that provides, adult services, spam tools, or anything illegal. Of course, Google also retains the right to deny any advertisement or site for any reason. Similar restrictions apply to the other side of the fence, Adsense: Google doesn't permit Adsense on adult sites, hate sites, etc., so you don't have to worry about your ad appearing in inappropriate places. Note that even though AdWords and AdSense are opposite sides of the same program, they're still different parts of Google; your website might make use of one or both, and you'll manage them separately.
Relevant Searches, Relevant Clicks
Since you're generally interested in getting people to your website, and since ads that get clicked on more often cost you less per visitor, you naturally would like to write your ads to recieve as many clicks as possible. One way that you do that is by targeting them accurately; you want to put your advertisement in front of people who are likely to be interested in what you're selling and whose attention you would like to get.
For example, if you were advertising a brick & morter store in Denver, one that doesn't sell online, you probably wouldn't want to advertise nationally because people outside the Denver are are unlikely to be interested in your store, and if they do click through you're paying for someone who's unlikely to buy your product. Similarly, if you're selling cat food, you would want your advertisement to show to people who are searching for cat-related terms, but probably not people searching for other animal-related terms: you want a narrowly-defined audience who's interested in what you're offering right when they see your advertisement. To that end, make sure the text of the ad will actually appeal to people looking for that search term!
Track, Revise, Repeat
Of course, getting your ads up and running is only the first step in the process. You need to track how successful your campaign is, discontinuing the ads that aren't giving you a good return on investment and tweaking the ones that are to perform even better. Getting the best value for your money means continually tweaking your ads to keep them fresh and relevant.
If you're really serious about making money with AdWords, start out by reading the terms and conditions to avoid breaking any of the rules. For example, Google specifically disallows arbitrage, where you advertise a site for the sole purpose of getting people to click other ads. That doesn't mean you can't have advertising on your site, only that its main purpose must be to provide unique, relevant content. Violating Google's policies can lead from anything to having an ad disapproved to having your account, and any other accounts you create, permanently banned...so don't do it! Profit awaits..