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What to do when Adwords doesn’t get results…

2009 August 1
by Greg Satell

Because Adwords has been so successful and popular, many people are surprised when they don’t get results they want from Adwords. Although Adwords or other SEM products can be an important part of a marketing strategy, there are some things that you should know before you spend your whole budget there:

1. Some categories are better than others: If you are in a competitive category (i.e. finance), the most obvious keywords will be bid up, and won’t be very good value. You can minimize this problem through various “long-tail” strategies, but you won’t be able to eliminate it.
2. Landing Page Optimization: At least as important as getting people to your site is getting them to do what you want when they get there.  Optimizing your landing page is a relatively cheap way to improve your results. There is a lot of advice about how to do this, but the best way is to bring users in to test your landing page as part of your overall usability research rather follow “rules” from experts or that you find somewhere on the internet.
3. SEO: In some cases, SEO can be much more effective than SEM, but again, in competitive categories this will be more expensive and more difficult to get results.

So while search engine strategies are important, they should be viewed as only part of your overall marketing strategy. Here are some things you can try if SEO/SEM isn’t enough:

1. Make your site a resource: Adding reference information gives users a good reason to come to your site and is usually pretty easy to do. It will also enhance any “long-tail” search engine strategy.
2. Narrow your target: Just because the internet allows you to reach the whole world, doesn’t mean you should actually try to do it. By highlighting a few communities you can not only focus the intensity of your marketing efforts, you can more quickly reach critical mass within those communities and promote word of mouth.
3. 20th Century Marketing: Once you’ve narrowed your target, you can concentrate more efforts on things like trade press, events, affiliate marketing, school newspapers, POS, etc.

I hope this has been helpful. Please let me know your comments.

– Greg

5 Responses leave one →
  1. August 12, 2009

    You have a valid point with regard to narrowing your target. When 45 MAGAZINE ONLINE first launched, we were receiving hits from across the globe and stretched our editorial content to match our unexpected readership. However from the advertiser’s perspective, this somewhat diluted their target audience.

    Since narrowing our target audience to a specific group, advertisers have indicated they are happier with results. We’ll continue to monitor our global interest of course and if we see any strong indicators, we’ll rethink our strategy.

    Great Blog, congrats!

  2. August 12, 2009


    I’m glad it worked out for you! Thanks for your comment.

    – Greg

  3. Orin permalink
    September 4, 2009

    To Athena (and Greg),

    How and when did you find out you were too broad or too global to be useful to advertisers?

  4. September 4, 2009


    I’m not sure I get your point, but thanks for visiting Digital Tonto and commenting.

    Have a nice weekend!


  5. September 15, 2009

    Hi Orin,

    Thanks for your question. We analyse our “standing, stats and advertiser feedback” monthly. I would say it was approx. 3-4 months after we began analyzing stats and feedback that we made the decision to narrow the field as far as target membership (we’re not talking viral readership here) . However recent evidence suggests we are getting increased global interest and from our stats, this is purely due to our articles which are fairly provocative in nature. Hope this helps!


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