For local businesses that don’t have a clue about AdWords and want to increase traffic to their sites, AdWords Express in an option that lets them quickly and easily set up campaigns for their business and drive traffic to their site.

But is this the right option for most businesses? This is how Google describes AdWords Express:

“Creating an ad is easy. Select your audience, write three lines about your business and set your budget. AdWords Express automatically manages where and when your ads will appear in your local area. No keywords to choose, no ongoing maintenance.”

Now obviously this sounds very appealing with “no keywords to choose” and “no ongoing maintenance”. Advertisers simply set their maximum budget (Google provides a recommendation for what could be spent), write their ad copy and they are away.

But advertisers must remember that the budget they are setting is going straight to Google itself and they have no control over what that budget is being spent on.

When done correctly, setting up an AdWords campaign should take a lot of time, thought and research to set up. It is not a ‘do it once and then leave alone’ exercise, campaigns need closely monitoring, testing and optimising.

This is something that Google Express is promising to do for you, hence the appeal for people that are new to AdWords, but would you let someone bid on something on your behalf, that you haven’t chosen, especially when that person is making money out of every purchase (click)?

They sell the service, saying that advertisers “only pay for results”, which isn’t strictly true as they don’t allow advertisers to track results. Anyone can get visitors to a site by paying for it, doesn’t mean that traffic is targeted and will result in business for that advertiser.

Setting up an AdWords campaign requires thought and careful planning. I appreciate that Google is pretty clever at working out what websites are about and it does want to show the most relevant results to its searchers. However, at the end of the day, it is there to make money out of AdWords and is not going to be able to make the same, ROI-led decisions as the human brain.

When looking through its suggested ‘opportunities’ the other day for a client I discovered these suggestions:

keyword opportuniities

 

Some of the suggestions provided were appropriate, but our client provides a particular service in Amsterdam and here Google is suggesting we spend €15 per click on the term [Amsterdam] and [major cities near Amsterdam] which are not specific to the service that our client offers at all and shows that Google can get it wrong.

Paid search campaigns can be extremely profitable and effective for businesses, but both a thorough understanding of the business and the keywords that people might use to find the service/products is needed. In order to build refined campaigns that are going to achieve maximum efficiency, a lot of thought and research must be go into the creation of the campaigns and Google does not have that knowledge.

Is it good that Google lets advertisers write their ads and set their own budget, so they can ensure their USPs are put across, something Google would struggle to do automatically, and not spend more than they’d want to. But, if you do have a reasonably sized media budget to spend on AdWords, you are much better off hiring someone that knows what they are doing as you’ll ultimately save money in the long run. If you don’t have the budget for that then do some training and manage the campaigns yourself, it’s better than letting Google have free-run by using Google Express.

Have you used Google Express? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.