webThis year’s Wet Leisure survey showed an increase in businesses in our industry using AdWords and pay-per-click advertising so here is a beginner’s guide.

Pay-per-click advertising is a simple way to attract more customers to your website.

Using Google AdWords is a way of marketing your website – and therefore your business – that can offer almost instant results. AdWords – or pay-per-click (PPC) – marketing is also highly measurable and easy to adjust so that you can monitor those results and make changes accordingly.

There are of course lots of on-line marketing firms who will manage a PPC campaign for you, but Google pretty much designed the system to be simple enough that business owners and managers could do it themselves.

This is a simple guide to how it all works.

It starts with a search.

When someone performs a search on Google, the results are assessed and ranked in a way that puts the results that Google think are most likely to be appropriate at the top of the list.

These results come from what is known as ‘organic’ search and are ranked on a number of criteria.

Even just a couple of years ago, search engine optimisation (SEO) was the complicated business of getting a website to the top of that list for a range of key words and phrases.

SEO was all about ‘keyword richness’, meta tags and meta descriptions, inbound and outbound links and much, much more.

Google has always tried to give the best results that the person performing the search could hope for and so has been constantly trying to move away from these strange, technical areas and simply see a website and rank it more and more like a person. Well, they now have come pretty close to that.

SEO is important to make sure that your website isn’t loosing out on any traffic, but it can no longer really be used to gain much extra traffic.

Which is where PPC comes in.

Let’s look at that search again.

On the search results page there may well be sponsored links at the top of the list or on the right hand side of the page.

These links are generated by Google AdWords.

Businesses will bid on particular search terms, keywords and key phrases and if their bid is the winning bid for that particular search, their link will appear. So if you are using AdWords to promote your business, when someone makes a Google search that is relevant to your business, a link to your website can appear at the top of page 1.

The business only pays when a customer clicks on the link and through to the site that is being promoted – hence pay-per-click.

So how do you make all this happen?

Getting started.

Google AdWords is designed to allow you to target as accurately as possible, the people who you want to market your business to.

If you have a pool and spa business in Leeds for instance, you can ask AdWords to only show your advert to people who live in Yorkshire. In fact, you can limit the area down to within 25 miles of your postcode.

Firstly you need to open an account with Google; which is pretty straightforward.

Then you can begin.

AdWords divides your marketing efforts up into ‘Campaigns’ and each campaign may have one or more Ad Group or advert in it. It’s simpler to have just one ad in each campaign, but if you want to compare different ideas and copy then use multiple Ad Groups.

Your campaign can be directed to Search networks, Display networks or both. If you start with Search networks – that is just aiming at people searching on Google – then you’ll find it easier to target users searching for your keywords.

You can then choose whether your adverts will appear on mobile devices – probably a good idea these days – or not and you can choose the geographic area that you want to cover.

Finally you need to set a maximum that you are prepared to pay for each click and a total budget for your campaign.

Your ‘Bid’ is what you are prepared to pay for each click on your ad. The more popular your keywords are and the more competition there is for them, the higher that amount will need to be.

Your ‘Budget per day’ is exactly that; how much you are prepared to spend each day.

You can adjust these values – along with the content of your actual adverts – as you go along until you get the amount of traffic that you were hoping for.

Display networks.

Google Display Network allows you to advertise in a variety of formats – a text advert, an image or a video – and that advert will be displayed on websites that closely match your chosen keywords or key phrases.

It’s a more complicated system, both in terms of building the adverts and getting the targeting right but it can be very effective. For instance it would allow you to display an advert talking about the benefits of hot tub hydrotherapy on websites that had content about sports injury, day-to-day stress or arthritis pain relief.

The next step is to write the advert itself.

AdWords will ask you to write a headline and two descriptive lines about your business and include your website address – the site that you want people to click through to.

This is almost the digital equivalent of those little, small space ads in your local paper. It needs to be simple, to-the-point and make it clear just what you are offering.

After you have done that, you need to choose the keywords that, when searched for, will trigger your ad to appear.

It’s important to choose these words carefully as the more accurate you are in guessing what words your customers might be searching for, the more successful your campaign will be.

Obviously ‘pool’, ‘spa’ and ‘sauna’ are going to be quiet popular words but can you think of anything more specific to your business? You might want to include a location – where your business is based – or an area that you specialise in, such as ‘hydrotherapy’.

Don’t use the name of your business though, if someone searches for you by name, they will find your website and you don’t need to use PPC advertising to help them.

So there you are.

Google has designed AdWords so that it’s easy to use.

It is also very good at giving you feedback on how your advertising efforts are going; views, click-through rates and spend. You need to use that information to modify and tune your campaigns to make them as effective as possible.

Of course, doing that takes time and skill and you might decide to pass that work on to a digital marketing agency.

AdWords certainly can work well for any business in the wet leisure industry, whether you go for the DIY approach or call in the professionals.

We hope that this article has been of use to you.

If you have any ideas or insights that you would like to share, then please use the reply box below and get a discussion started.

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