SEO

Google AdWords vs. Facebook Ads – Where Is Your Ideal Client?

It’s 2 a.m. and your ideal client, Angie, is up at her laptop researching baby eczema, because her 8-month-old son Conner is miserable. Angie is a conscious “earth mama” in Austin, TX and wants only the best, most “green” products or remedies for Conner. Is Angie more likely to Google “organic baby lotion for excema” or ask her Facebook friends?

The answer to this question can help you choose how and where to position your pay-per-click ad campaign for your new line of chemical-free, organic, pediatrician-endorsed baby care products.

For my clients, Facebook Ads is becoming a bigger part of the advertising strategy we create. Top reasons: besides the worldwide reach (200+ Million users), I am a big fan of Facebook’s targeting options. If you only want to have your ad  — about 150 characters of text plus a small image – displayed to married 25- to 35-year-old women who attended Arizona State and love soccer – you can be that specific!

This is where Facebook is different (and in my opinion superior) than Google.  Remember when you filled out your profile, complete with education and employment history, and then spent a long night listing your top TV shows? Facebook has that information and much more! As an advertiser, you can tap into this wealth of information and create uber-targeted campaigns. You can choose to only for clicks (for most of my clients Google recommends a bid of around $0.80 – $1.10 per click) or by impression (this means a flat fee regardless of how many people click over to your site).

So is this the end of Google AdWords? Hardly. Google is still going strong and processes about 60 Billions searches a day! And each search is an opportunity for an AdWords ad to be served up.  So when Angie, your ideal client is up at 2 am Googling “organic baby lotion for excema” she can see your ad for your new line of chemical-free, organic, pediatrician-approved baby products alongside other search results.

Here are some of the factors I use for deciding between Google AdWords and Facebook Ads for small businesses.

  • Your industry and competition: if your industry is dominated by big players with deep pockets (such as insurance, legal, or financial) AdWords can be prohibitively expensive for small businesses. The cost can be partially addressed by selecting more specific (i.e. “long-tail”) keywords and requires some research, planning, and possible an update of your website.
  • Your ideal client: is she searching for a solution to a specific problem (i.e. organic lotion of exzema)? Then Google is your ticket.  Or, is she part of a particular demographic you are trying to reach (college seniors in New York)? If your college senior prospect isn’t googling “nonprofit internship for Spanish majors in New York” he is likely socializing on Facebook and you can reach him there.
  • Bottom line: Facebook and Google have both created budget-friendly, easy-to-use platforms to help you get your message in front of your ideal clients. By doing some homework and research, you can pick one (or both!) and create a highly targeted and campaign to bring more visitors, leads, and sales to your website. I call that “connect with your ideal client.”

Google AdWords – Can You Afford It?

As I speak with entrepreneurs about the most effective way to bring new qualified visitors to their websites,  the top question about AdWords I receive is around cost.

It seems at one time or another everyone has been burned with spending too much on advertising without seeing a return.

Having managed as much as $100,000 in Pay-Per-Click budgets per month, I can definitely see how it’s easy to “blow through” a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars on Google. And, I have also worked with clients who are spending as little as $10 a day on AdWords. In both cases, there was a strategy for selecting the budget, and more than one checkpoint to make sure the investment (whether $10 or $10,000) generates a return.

So instead of asking “Can I afford AdWords?” I suggest you ask yourself:

  • How many people are currently visiting my site per month?
  • How many visitors, leads, or sales per month do I want?
  • What is the main reason people are coming to my website? What can they buy, sign up for, or experience that will be of value to them?
  • How much is a new lead or customer worth to me? what is the average order size on my site?

These questions will help you get clear on your website strategy goals. For example, you may decide you need 500 additional unique visitors to come to your website every month, in order to reach your sales goals.

You will also know that for every 500 new unique visitors, for instance, you can expect $500 in sales. (this is just an example, your numbers will depend on your business).

Next step? Set your Google AdWords budget. You will probably want to at least break even on your AdWords campaign, so if you expect to make $500 back, I recommend you plan your budget to be under $500.

Armed with this information, you can log in to your Google AdWords account and put a few checks in place:

  • Your maximum pay-per-click bid should be at $1 or just above, on average. This way you can get 500 visitors (or “clicks”) for around $500.
  • You can also set your daily budget to around $18/day (which works out to approximately $500/month).
  • Set an End Date for your campaign (30 days out) so Google does not auto-renew on your behalf.
  • Install Google’s Conversion Tracking code on your website so you can track the sign-ups and sales your campaign generates.

Then, you can turn your campaign on and relax, knowing that you are in control of your AdWords spend.

At the end of the campaign, compare the actual results against your projections (500 visitors, $500) and adjust your future AdWords strategy accordingly.

There are many nuances to AdWords, and staying focused on your business will help you control your cost and ROI.

SEO and Your Website: 3 Questions to Ask Your Webmaster, part 3

In this “SEO begins with your website” series, we have covered meta data, and what to ask your webmaster regarding potentially-invisible images on your site.

The 3rd question I’d like for you to ask your webmaster is:

Is there any Flash on my site?

Flash is what enables the beautiful animation and interactive features on most websites.

The problem with Flash is that Google can’t read what’s inside.  The analogy I like to use is to see your website as a book: your URL is the title, your tabs are the table of contents, and your content is the text of the book. Then image that in the middle of the book you have a gorgeous insert.  Google doesn’t know how to read it so it simply skips it!

So if your mission statement, product names, or important news are hidden inside Flash, they are invisible to Google. Which also means they are invisible to thousands of potential customers who are searching for what you offer.

SOLUTION: There is a technical workaround that may or may not be part of your website code. Much like an <alt> tag for your images, this solution allows you to explain to Google what’s inside your Flash feature. Hint: ask your webmaster about something called <noscript>.

SEO and Your Website: 3 Questions to Ask Your Webmaster, part 2

In part 1 of the “Ask Your Webmaster” Series, I described how to maximize the use of meta data on your website.

Today I’d like to continue with another commonly overlooked “visibility blocker” on your site: images!

Question to ask your Webmaster: Do My Main Images Have <ALT> Text?

FACTimages are invisible to Google. Which may be ok. (Do you really want Google to index that picture of a lemon you used to go with your blog entry about turning lemons into lemonade? which was actually a post about breakups?)

It is NOT ok when your top SEO keywords are hidden inside those images. I just reviewed a brand-new website where the menu of services was one giant image.  Which means that an opportunity to let Google know what services you offer was wasted.

SOLUTION:  If you must keep this information inside an image, please ask your webmaster to add an <alt> tag with a description of what’s inside that image.

This will allow Google (and other search engines) to read the text and decide whether your website should be on page 1 or page 100 for your top SEO keyword.

SEO and Your Website: 3 Questions to Ask Your Webmaster, part 1

Just like victory, charity, and many other good things, SEO (or Search Engine Optimization – the process of making your website more visible on search engines) begins at home.

The biggest SEO surprise for many entrepreneurs is that SEO begins on their website.

Before you invest into linking and other “off-site” SEO strategies, make sure your “house” is in order.

In the coming posts, I will be sharing key areas to address with your webmaster or designer.

Today I’d like to start with the area most commonly associated with SEO: your meta data.

Please ask your webmaster:

What are the current site title, description, and keywords for my home page? And, how can I change them?

Your goal is to include your top SEO keywords — the way you want to be found by your ideal customers — in each of these areas.  If you sell modern diaper bags, your keyword is “modern diaper bags.” If you are a fitness expert in San Francisco, your keyword is something like “personal trainer San Francisco.” If you help your clients overcome ___ (fill in the blank), your keyword is ___ (fill in the blank).

Your site tile and description are prime SEO real estate!

Yet, by default these “meta” fields are filled out with your company name,  or even left blank!

[Meta Keywords, once the hallmark of SEO, are much less important as of late 2009, when Google announced it no longer took meta keywords into consideration when ranking websites. I still recommend filling out 5-8 SEO meta keywords because they still matter for other search engines.]

The good news is that meta data update is usually a basic task that should require no more than 30 minutes of your webmaster’s time. It may even be an administrative option that you can update yourself.

For bonus SEO points, repeat this exercise for every key page of your website.