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Does Analyst Praise for Google Miss the Point?

In a word, yes. Although market pundits herald ad revenue for producing higher-than-anticipated Alphabet earnings in Q2, let's not overlook where the real value lies. Google Search brings in billions of visitors daily, but are ads the best way to garner attention?

Aug 11, 2022

5 m read

ICYMI: Market analysts are exultant about Google’s recent revenue reports, touting Alphabet as a “highly impressive” stock based on the value of its paid advertising business.

I’m not here to argue against how impressive this revenue generation is. It’s great! Marketers in the US are on track to spend $70.2 billion on Google ads in 2022. That’s up 67.8% from three short years ago.

Digital marketers know what works, and they don’t want to spend money on ad tactics that don’t deliver. There’s real value to being seen by a cross-section of Google’s users. But where does that value come from?

Why Do Marketers Use Google Ads?

Digital marketers favor Google Ads over other paid ad platforms for reasons that include:

1. PPC Conversion Rates Are Easy to Measure 

With visibility into the impression and CTR metrics that produce on-site conversions, marketers can draw an undeniable connection between the effort and impact of each campaign they run.

2. Google Ads Have a Predictable Attribution Window 

While every business will experience a slightly different timeline from impression to conversion to revenue, the consistency of that cycle helps marketers predict how long it will take for ad campaigns to impact the metrics they are accountable for. 

3. Paid Advertising Has an Easy-to-Calculate ROAS 

The simple attribution factors mentioned above make marketing ROI for Google Ads a straightforward calculation. When you stack the revenue generated by an ad campaign on top of the amount it costs to run, you produce a simple ratio that puts a fine point on the value of your efforts.  

4. Google Ad Campaigns Can Produce Intent-Focused Results 

By carefully choosing your campaign keywords, you can theoretically target your ads to specific search users with a clear need. Finding potential customers at a particular point in their journey helps you more easily usher them into the next stage of your funnel. This feature makes Google paid search unique from other paid advertising channels that are used for “discovery” such as social media, where even with demographic targeting, it’s a heavier lift to move an impression to conversion.

5. Google Offers Enormous Impression Potential 

Google controls 92% of the search engine market. Although it doesn’t publicly share its traffic numbers, market experts estimate that Google processes approximately 8.5 billion searches a day. That’s a whole lot of eyeballs that could land on your ad.

8.5 Billion Organic Searches per Day

So, now we’re getting to the heart of the matter. Google has leveraged the enormous success of its free organic search product to build a revenue generation machine in the form of an advertising platform.

So, with billions of people on Google every day, it’s a no-brainer that you should advertise there, too, right?

Yes. And no.

I don’t want to get into the weeds of an SEO vs. PPC debate because I’m fully aware of how powerful both channels are as the head of marketing at an SEO agency. It’s time for people to stop pitting these two against each other.

But as everyone celebrates the value of Google ads, I can’t help but get up on my soapbox (and probably the shared soapbox of SEOs around the world) to remind everyone:

The value of Google ads is based on the value of organic search.

The Value of Organic Search

1. Organic Search is Built on Intent

You know the keywords you use for PPC to target your ads to user intent? That page comes straight from the organic search playbook. Even  while the algorithms used in Google’s organic search become more and more sophisticated, the algorithms used in Google’s paid search still require painstaking optimization and management (by you) to cull out negative keywords. For this reason, SEO has become an increasingly valuable way to increase your reach and deliver your site to the people who need your products before they’re fully aware they need it.  

2. The ROI of Organic Search Compounds Over Time

While the ROI of Google Ads is a more straightforward calculation with a predictable attribution window, your business immediately stops benefitting from an ad campaign the minute you stop investing in it. 

By contrast, an investment in search engine optimization produces compounding returns as you build topical authority over time. 

While it’s easy to posit that you can’t draw a straight line from money invested in SEO to revenue generated, I’d contend that if you can’t measure the ROI of your SEO, you need an SEO partner who can help you directly measure those returns.

A highly strategic SEO campaign should target your most lucrative conversion points and drive qualified traffic directly from search to purchase. Your ROI comes from the investment in that campaign and the increased revenue produced by that organic traffic.

While top-notch keyword research informs the high-impact SEO activities that drive revenue, that’s just the beginning. That same keyword research propels additional SEO activities — like content creation and link-building — that build topical authority. And, for a business that wants to future-proof its pipeline, topical authority is the gift that just keeps giving.

In stark contrast to a Google Ad campaign that functions like your kitchen faucet — turn it on, and the leads pour out — building topical authority in your industry with a long-term SEO campaign may take more time, but the benefits are more far-reaching and long-lasting. 

3. Organic Traffic Converts Better than Paid Traffic

Research on SEO vs. PPC conversion rates reveals a significant gap between how users move through each channel to enter the revenue pipeline. In some industries, organic searches convert at as much as 3x (and sometimes 4x) the rate of PPC campaigns.

Why? Credibility could be the key. 

At the same time that searchers become more skeptical of advertising, Google is gearing its algorithm to favor trusted and authoritative content. The bottom line? Users who come through the organic search channel arrive primed toward trust (and conversion).

How to Leverage Organic Search to Outperform the Market

Marketers might hesitate before diving head first into an SEO campaign because it can seem more complicated than paid advertising. 

It can be. But, it doesn’t have to be. 

Reaping the benefits of SEO is as simple as 1,2, 3.

1. Clarify Your Goals 

Whether it’s lead generation, sales revenue, or brand awareness, craft your approach to SEO with the same focus you do for a paid search campaign. It’s a common mistake to think you should just be “doing SEO” for your whole site. Sure – there are many site-wide activities that can support your SEO goals for targeted pages, but if you haven’t identified the best places on your site to drive new traffic, and strategized how to rank those pages, you won’t be able to measure the impact of your SEO campaign.

2. Start Sooner, Not Later

Remember how all-important topical authority pays dividends over time? If you’re not building it, your competition is. The longer you wait to compete in organic search, the more customers you lose to other businesses.

3. Find a Trusted Partner

If you have an in-house SEO team, a worthy partner can expand on their capabilities, supplementing your resources with a deep bench of experts to deliver targeted on-page and off-page SEO recommendations. If you don’t have an in-house team, the right agency can grow your organic reach with diversified SEO services that functionally increase the impact of your marketing department.

How to Get Started with SEO

Getting a free site analysis is the perfect way to evaluate the potential value an SEO campaign could deliver on your marketing goals.

When you reach out to us for a free SEO consultation, one of our consultants will analyze your site, check out the competition, and present you with recommendations before you sign a contract or pay a dime for our services. It’s a low-stakes way to experience the benefits of being found on the biggest search platform on Earth — and enjoy the sustainable gains that come with it. 

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