Google AdWords

September 22, 2005 in 5 out of 5 stars, A service

What is it?

Google AdWords: Google's advertising service. It's the ads on the right hand side (and top sometimes) of nearly every search results page.

Google advertising works on a simple principle. You pay Google each time someone clicks from the search results page over to your site. You pay a certain amount per "click" or visit. In return, the search engine places your ads in the results of relevant searches (you get to say what is relevant by selecting keywords).


Who makes it?

Those zany Google people

Why is it the killerest?

Google AdWords is Google's way of allowing the little guy to advertise to scads of highly targeted prospects. It's killer because you can use it to grow your business. Yes you Mr. or Mrs. barely-has-a-budget entrepreneur. Google has put effective advertising within reach of the everyman (or woman) for what is arguably the first time in history.

It's super simple to signup, super cheap to at least test it out, and once you get the hang of it, it can be deadly effective at helping you grow your business.

I would probably put this resource in the top 5 killerest resources available to entrepreneurs, particularly those who use their website for something more than a digital brochure.

What could be improved?

Their traffic and click estimator blows chunks. The only way to really know is to run ads yourself and see what happens. Some of the quirks in the AdWords algorithm that determine where and when you show up in listings can be frustrating because placement is somewhat unpredictable.

How much does it cost?

Only $5 to activate an account, then you pay a cost per click which varies based on the keywords you wish to purchase clicks for.


Reviewed by Carson McComas

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"Their traffic and click estimator blows chunks. The only way to really know is to run ads yourself and see what happens."

That's because Google cheats a little, and changes your traffic depending on whether you're upgrading or downgrading to discourage the latter. One guy tried paying Google $1 per click, and then downgrading to 10¢ per click. He got 1/10th the traffic that his other, *identical* site got when it started at 10¢.

Posted by: Paul D | Sep 26, 2005 10:28:33 PM

Yeah, all those Google "tricks" -- and even your claim is really a guess, not documented policy -- are what can make Google annoying. I've had it blow chunks from the start though, no down or upgrading at play at all.

It's the Google voodoo that keeps SEO's guessing (and employed) but I think it's at the expense of customers. Overture has no such voodoo and I love their predictability (i.e. you pay a certain price and you WILL show up as expected).

Although I will note that they've cleaned some of the voodoo up in the last couple months with guaranteed listing at certain prices.

Posted by: Carson McComas | Sep 27, 2005 7:25:33 AM

We recently tried out adWords .. After 3 days almost *all* of the traffic is from SEO, placeholder, or other spam-related sites with dozens of adSense blocks plastered all over the place. No feedback. No sales. Pretty disappointing to be honest.

So much for targeted advertising coming from, you know, sites relevant to your product.

Posted by: Craig | Sep 27, 2005 9:05:25 PM

Hi Carson,

I just came across your blog via the Campaign Monitor site (, the email marketing tool which you featured a while ago.

I wanted to tell you that your blog idea is truly great. Who did the WorkHappy illustration for you, by the way? I might be able to send them some extra work if they're keen :)

Anyway, I must tell you I'm staggered to see that you only posted about Google Adwords on Sep 22nd, nearly three years after it hit the mainstream!!

FrogBlog has given some good tips about Adwords first-timers.

And a tip for Craig who complained about Adwords - turn off the "Content Network" & "Search Network" settings in your campaign. That will ensure you only get traffic via Google. It should thus stop most spam clicks you were receiving.

I know that so far it didn't work for you but it's a bit harsh to completely write off a system that works for 10,000s of other businesses, yet you only tried it for 3 days???!!

That's like me saying a Leica camera is useless because I personally can't take quality photos with it. You are correct that Adwords DOES have limitations but try my suggestions above and it stands a better chance of working for you. Good luck!

Posted by: Tim Macdonald | Oct 6, 2005 1:16:25 AM

Hi Tim, thanks for the kind words. About the art: it's actually just some clipart that I found on the MS Office clipart site (another resources I'll have to review).
About reviewing AdWords 3 years late:
a) I might have done it sooner, but is only 4 months old. :)
b) I don't just review newly released resources. Anything that helps entrepreneurs is fair game for review here.

Posted by: Carson McComas | Oct 6, 2005 7:28:28 AM

The amount AdWords wanted me to pay tripled when I decided not to use their services any longer. Upon recieving my E-Mail stating that I wanted to pay only what I owe and close my account AdWords sent me a nasty E-Mail telling me to basically shut up, pay within 15 days or they are sicking the wolves on me. Nice customer relations! If they have your credit card information they will use it however they see fit.

Posted by: Greg Lightcap Jr. | Jul 31, 2006 2:40:13 PM

Hi Greg - can't quite make out what your challenge was... how could fees triple if you aren't using them? You lost me... Plus note that Google doesn't charge in advance, only for clicks delivered (at least in the US).

Posted by: Carson McComas | Jul 31, 2006 2:44:38 PM