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Do Google Ads Work?

Updated: Sep 10, 2021


We're often asked this question by prospective customers, "do Google Ads really work?" and should I advertise my business in Google? Often they say "but, I never click on those ads, no-one does".

It's all about relevance

Well, the reality is many people do actually click on the ads (an average of 6% of all searches result in an ad click), and here's why. The success of Google is based on one simple factor - the algorithm that determines what search results will be displayed is all about relevance. When we use Google search, we want to find what we're looking for, and we want to find it quickly without having to make too many searches.

If the search results we see displayed were not relevant, then we'd soon lose faith in that search engine. Google rose to dominance because they provided the most relevant search results and they made it quick and easy for users. And that’s why today Google has become our default goto for when we want to find information about pretty much anything and everything.

Ok, but what does that have to do with Google Ads formally known as AdWords? The primary reason we click on the ads is because more and more of us are finding that these ads are highly relevant to what we're looking for. When we complete a search on Google, our eyes scan the results page for the headlines that are the closest to what we searched for. Most often we'll click on a listing that is at or near the top of page one because it’s convenient and we tend to associate quality listings with a higher ranking.

Google Ads at the top of search results

Google Ads are typically placed above the natural or organic listings. To many searchers, they don't distinguish the difference between Google Ads and organic listings as they are more interested in finding the most relevant result to their search query. With the advent of Google shopping ads, we now see these ad formats outrank traditional Google ads for product type searches.

Aren’t organic listings better?

So why would search engine ads likely be more relevant than organic listings? The organic results displayed below the ads placed in a ranking order that Google determines based on their very complex ranking algorithm. Website owners and search engine marketing businesses have no direct control of how high up the list they appear because the Google algorithm is a secret. Search Engine Optimisation will help to improve the rankings of a website, but it's by no means a science. However, what website owners and advertisers can control with accuracy is the positions of their Google Ads on the first page.

How Google Ads works

The Google Ads platform is principally a live advertising system where the advertiser places a keyword 'bid' in to secure an ad position. This live auction is competitive, and depending on the prices bid by other advertisers, the advertiser either achieves the desired ad position or is relegated to a lower position if outbid. The advertisers bid can then be adjusted up or down, based on the competition and the ad position they want. Keyword bidding can be managed manually and or by a range of automated options which also now leverage Googles artificial intelligence platform.

So unlike organic results, Google Ads are very controllable. And even better, Google 'rewards' advertisers with discounted per-click costs for AdWords campaigns that 'perform' well through its quality scoring system. i.e. the ads are well targeted and highly relevant which means searchers click on them often.

Good performing ads are also rewarded with higher ad ranking positions and are more likely to show in top placement above organic listings. Having your ads show in top placement means they are considerably more likely to be clicked on, and deliver more visitors to your website.

Maximising your share of Google traffic

Finally let's touch on the notion of dominating Google 'real estate' or share of traffic. After a period of advertising in Google it will become apparent that there are certain keywords that are key generators of enquiry for your business. Maximising your opportunity and share of traffic for these must win keywords will be a marketing imperative for you.

Now imagine if your Google Ad was displayed in position #1 and your organic listing was also near the top? That's right, you're highly likely to attract the click of that searcher and it communicates trust if they see you listed twice.

A well targeted Google Ads campaign in conjunction with a strong SEO strategy will increase your level of presence in search results. This will increase your share of click traffic from those keyword searches that are most important to your business.

How much do Google Ads cost?

And a Google Ads discussion wouldn't be complete without mentioning the cost of clicks. Search engine ads are displayed for free and are paid for only when a searcher clicks on them (that's why they are also called pay-per-click advertising or PPC). Many of our prospective customers also ask, "but how much do clicks cost?".

Because the Google Ads system is a live, click prices are determined by the amount of competition, and how much the competition is willing to pay for a click and hence a visitor to their website.

The average cost per click for our clients is in the range of NZ$1.20 - NZ$1.40 at present. Clicks can be as low as NZ$0.04 or over NZ$5.00, again depending on the competition. While the cost per click is important, the viability of using Google Ads should be determined by return on investment (ROI) not cost.

The Google Ads system is fully measurable and so you should be able to measure the average cost to generate an enquiry. For every dollar you spend on Google Ads, you should know what that is delivering to your business in terms of leads or sales generated.

Many businesses have found that Google ads is their most cost effective advertising initiative and it has become their primary generator of leads and enquiries. Success however is not automatically guaranteed as the platform is complex and requires a good marketing strategy together with expert operational management.

And what about competitors clicking on my ads?

This is such a concern to some that it will even put them off trying Google Ads in the first place. Google however has this well covered with their advertising system identifying invalid click activity and crediting the associated costs back to your account every month.

Most successful advertising platform ever

Google's advertising revenues (circa USD$147b in 2020) make up the majority of Google's annual revenue (Alphabet revenue $183b in 2020), making Google Ads the world’s largest and most successful advertising platform. Yes, people really do click on Google ads. Google is a business unit within the publicly listed Alphabet - read more about Google's revenue.

And if your advertising campaign is properly researched and professionally managed, we know from our extensive Google Ads management experience with many NZ businesses, that it will generate leads and sales for your business.

Adhesion is a Google Premier Partner. Please contact us if you have any questions or if you would like to discuss your Google advertising strategy.

Fully certified, year after year.

Our reputation goes hand-in-hand with our team’s dedication to best practice. As a registered Premier Google Partner, our team refreshes our certifications every 12 months — A tradition we started over a decade ago. To stay ahead, we are always looking forward to upcoming certifications for online advertising, website development and search engine optimisation.