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What’s The Cost To Be Seen Online?

How Much Should I Pay to be Seen First Online?

At Rad Websites, we get a lot of the same questions when it comes to creating search engine marketing strategies are profitable, sustainable and all around RAD.

How much does it cost to jump to the first place on the search engine results page?

Can’t I just pay to be seen first?

If I’m running paid ads, I’ll be seen at the top anyway right? I’m paying to be there!

Isn’t SEO included when you build my website? How can we possibly need monthly updates?

And guys, honestly- we get it. If you don’t live and breathe the Internet like we do, it’s actually quite overwhelming to understand and build marketing strategies for search engines that make sense to both us (the nerds) and you (the much cooler customers.)

It’s because online marketing has crafted it’s own set of rules over time. While we can apply a lot of off-page marketing principles to online marketing, there’s entire concepts we must keep in mind to get you seen among the noise.

The Internet is a really weird place. But it’s not going anywhere, anytime soon at least- and to be consistently seen online requires a whole lot of work on the back end.

The general theme of this particular blog? You can’t buy search engine ads and expect to triumph your competition with those alone. You just can’t.

It’s Not All About Cost with PPC Ads

Consider the Online User Experience

At the end of the day, people often forget that Google/Bing/Yahoo are businesses. Yes, they get a tonne of revenue from paid ads- but, they rely on people coming back to their online space to make money.

Search engines get people to come back by being a quick, consistent and accurate source of answers for online users with pressing, immediate concerns.

(There is a slight hint of sarcasm in there. We get to see the stuff people search on Google on a daily basis. Entertaining doesn’t quite sum it up.)
But really though; search engine strive everyday to present the best solutions to those who continually use them. It places onus on the search engines to audit, categorize and filter websites to make sure each search gives you what you were looking for. They care about the user experience, because a positive user experience makes them return.

Google Decides First Place on the SERP by Their Everchanging Algorithm

In order to audit, categorize and rank websites to see just how well it will answer a particular search query, Google has an internal algorithm that they stick on their crawler bots who scan millions of websites a day.

Does anyone know the entire in’s and out’s of the Google algorithm? Of course not. They would never make it that easy.
Does it stay consistent so you can figure it out?

An even harder NO- they make minor changes to the algorithm up to 100 times a day.

However; there are many principles that leading Kelowna web development and SEO agencies know to be true, tried and tested. Of course, they all lead back to the user experience.

Now, we don’t want to overwhelm you (or quite frankly, bore you) by spilling the entire scope of our understanding of the algorithm.
(Trust us- we’ve tried at least ten ways to make alt tags sound cool and hip. They just don’t.)

Okay, so stick with us. In order to understand why paying your way to the top just isn’t going to work, you need to understand the mechanisms of paid advertisements and how your organic website plays a vital role in anything you do online.

The Quality Score of Pay-Per-Click Advertisements

A lot of times, we see businesses who throw a large chunk of money at paid ads and think “hey, that’ll do. I’m paying a good chunk of money, I’ll be seen.”

Unfortunately, no.

When you type in a search term- lets say web developers Kelowna- Google brings you two set of results. The first is a few paid ads at the top and the rest are organic search results (not paid.)

Paid or not, Google has crawled through your website and ad to see if you are a relevant and high quality candidate to show for that search query.
With organic results, Google scans hundreds of different items to decide your “worthiness.” With paid ads, it really boils down to three things which make up your online campaigns quality score:

Ad Relevance + Landing Page Experience + Expected CTR
Shooting back to “web developers Kelowna”:

  • Does your ad talk directly about web development in Kelowna?
  • Does your website or landing page talk directly about web development in Kelowna?
  • Are people clicking on your ad when they search web development in Kelowna?

It circles back to two main concepts.

Your ad campaigns must be designed, written and executed flawlessly to show up amongst millions of advertisers.

Your website has also has to be designed, written, built and executed flawlessly to show up amongst millions of advertisers. Google puts a hefty weight on how relevant your website is- 60% of your quality score will depend on your website.

We are sorry to say- if your website isn’t rad, it will struggle to show up in both paid and organic search results no matter how much you pay. If your website isn’t clean, relevant, up to date and built properly- even paid ads won’t show very much.

Do People Still Click Paid Ads?

Absolutely! Paid ads are a great addition to your online marketing strategy. Around 40% of people will go directly to an ad over an organic search listing.

But it’s important to remember they are an addition, not a solution. Without putting a good amount of effort into your website- or picking a web development company that does- you will simply be wasting your money paying for ads that Google still won’t show much.

PSA: This is a really, really good measure for search engines to put into place. Giants, like Amazon and Coca-Cola have billions to throw around online and it wouldn’t really be fair if only the biggest and richest got seen online whenever they wanted.

Plus, how annoying would it be to search for a web development company in Kelowna and you get ads for Vanilla Coke?

(Because cherry Coke is better. That’s what we meant.)

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