This is a question we get asked quite a lot.. A local business comes to us desperate to rank on Google, be competitive online and spending money they simple don't have on Adwords (PPC) in an effort to out rank their competitors and bring in work.
When we see that they are a small local business, usually a tradesman - more on why they are a tradesman later - we ask them why they have not done organic marketing to get their business on page one and get FREE visits to their website rather than paying every time someone visits them? The answer we often get is that they have been told that organic SEO no longer works and PPC was their only recourse?
Our first response is to show them the first page of Google for their keyword/area and point out that there are 10 organic results on page one so if organic SEO doesn't work how have these websites managed to rank?
Of course they don't have an answer and seem a little bit bewildered to say the least, but they stick to their beliefs and simply don't believe that organic results are possible for a small business with limited marketing funds and seem convinced that these are all large companies with massive marketing budgets.
The next thing we do is show them real results achieved by some of our own organic SEO clients, small businesses, independent tradesman and the like, it does take a while but eventually with the irrefutable evidence displayed in front of them we slowly begin to convince them and 9 times out of 10 they turn into one of our many satisfied organic marketing clients.
It's all down the rise of the sales driven unskilled PPC marketing companies targeting small businesses and tradesmen with their Adwords management services.
Adwords was designed by Google to be a DIY marketing solution, their system is simply, sign up, choose your keywords and bid on them to get your paid ad displayed on page one of Google. For some companies and niches it is actually cost effective but this does usually depend on the cost of your end product or service as only around 3% of clicks typically convert into business. But is it right for a small business or a tradesman? Not really... A small business or a tradesman should only use PPC as an addition to organic marketing; they should keep their budget tight, use PAYG, only target locally and only choose keywords with a high conversion.
PPC marketing companies are simply teams of salesmen who target small businesses and tradesmen, the type of businesses where the decisions are usually down to one person so they can sign them up there and then to a minimum term contract.
These companies are not skilled marketing companies, they have no knowledge of organic marketing and search engine optimisation they simply set up an Adwords account and charge extortionate set-up and management fees. Their salesmen will cold call small companies and convince them that organic marketing and SEO is dead and the only way their site can rank on page one and get business is to use their services, if you don't sign up with the first company that cold calls you there are 100's of others ready with the same sales pitch, eventually convincing you that this must be true.
The problem lies is the fact that these companies have no experience in the industry that they are working in, this is why these companies only ever offer PPC and never offer organic SEO as organic SEO requires skill and knowledge of the industry, knowledge of Google guidelines and even coding skills needed for on page optimisation.
What you have done is put an unskilled person, a salesman, in charge or your money and here lies another problem.. It's not their money it's yours so they won't care whether your ads are converting or even targeting the correct area and as you have probably signed up for a 6, 12 or even a 24 month minimum term contract there is very little that you can do about it and they know it.
The victims we have personally spoken too say that when the PPC fails to bring in any work at all they are convinced to increase their spend and increase the number of keywords to get more impressions which is simply not the correct thing to do. We even had one small business tell us that the marketing company told them that his rivals where clicking on his ads every day (Google has fail safes against this sort of thing) and he needed to sign up to another of their services to stop this.
I'm my opinion Google are not blameless, they'll recommend keywords that get a high number of searches yet hardly ever convert - I'll speak about Adwords in depth in an up coming article - and to be honest I don't think they should have ever encouraged third party Adwords management, although it's all money in the bank for Google...
If you want to have a go at Adwords to see whether it does in fact work for your business then set up you own account, opt for PAYG so you can't overspend and learn the system. Believe me when I say that you'll do a better job than these amateur PPC marketing companies.
At the end of the day local businesses targeting the local area can rank high on page one of Google using organic marketing and SEO for far less money than they would need to spend on PPC they just need to avoid the amateur PPC marketing companies and enlist the services of a professional organic marketing company.