Why Use AdWords? Here Are 10 Reasons


Why Use AdWords

The Effectiveness of Google Ads

“Why use AdWords” and "Does Google AdWords Work?" are pretty common keyword phrase searched on Google, which suggests that there are a lot of marketers and business owners out there who have heard about Google AdWords but aren’t sure if and how it can work for them. We believe that AdWords – Google’s enormously successful pay-per-click (PPC) advertising system – can work for almost any type of business. Using AdWords (or any PPC platform) requires time and money, but thousands of businesses have found that it’s time and money well spent, because AdWords delivers measurable ROI. We’ve devoted countless pages to how you should use AdWords. In this post, we’ll answer the question of why you should use it.

Before any of our SEO-loving readers get up in arms, let me preface this by saying that we’re not advocating that you do PPC to the exclusion of other marketing activities. As always, we recommend a healthy balance of marketing channels, including organic search (check out our recent 10-step guide to ranking for a keyword), email marketing, events, social media and other lead sources. How you allocate your marketing budget will depend on which channels turn out to be most effective for your business.

But if you’ve never used Google AdWords before, and you’re wondering whether or not it’s worthwhile, this post is for you. Here are 10 reasons to use AdWords.

1. AdWords Is Scalable

One of the trickiest challenges for any marketer is finding lead sources that scale – meaning, it doesn’t require five times the effort to get five times the leads. Google AdWords is highly scalable, which is why some business spend millions of dollars a year on AdWords advertising. If you create an AdWords campaign that is converting at a profitable rate, there is no reason to arbitrarily cap spend on that campaign. You can increase your PPC budget and your leads and profits will increase accordingly. This makes AdWords highly effective for businesses that need a lot of leads but are short on time and heads.

2. AdWords Is Measurable

Compared to traditional marketing channels like TV and magazine advertising, online marketing is highly measureable, and AdWords PPC is one of the most measurable of online channels. It’s difficult to make exact measurements in SEO because you can’t always know what actions led to increased or decreased rankings. Then there’s the whole “not provided” fiasco. Social media can be equally difficult to measure. In comparison, AdWords is more transparent, providing tons of PPC metrics that allow you to see at a granular level what works and what doesn’t. You can pretty quickly determine if your campaigns are sucking or returning ROI.

3. AdWords Is Flexible

AdWords provides tons of options so you can customize your campaigns and ads to your particular needs, hyper-targeting the audiences you most want to reach. For example, with AdWords you can:

  • Specify keyword match types – You can, for example, only display your ad to people who search for an exact keyword you specify, like “vegas hotels” – filtering out traffic on general terms related to Las Vegas or hotels. (SEO, on the other hand, is aspirational; you can’t define what you rank for, you can only hope for the best.)

AdWords Is Flexible

  • Use ad extensions to display product images, a phone number, a mega-pack of links to your site, your physical location – you can even initiate a chat or get an email address right from the SERP.
  • Narrow your audience by location, time of day, language, browser or device type and more. A good portion of your SEO traffic may be worthless to you (for example, if you only need US-based leads, and half your web traffic comes from Australia), but in AdWords, you don’t have to display your ads around the world.
  • Access an enormous network of non-search users on properties like Gmail and YouTube and tons of partner sites.
  • Leverage the display network, which is great for building brand awareness and often converts at a lower cost than Google Search.

4. AdWords Is Faster than SEO

For new businesses and websites, it can take months to see results from SEO. This perceived “penalty” used to be referred to as the Google sandbox effect – people assumed Google was intentionally filtering new websites out of the results. More likely the problem is that competition is fierce and it takes time for a website to “prove” itself and earn authority and links.  

AdWords is a great workaround for new businesses because you don’t have to wait around so long to see results. While working on your site’s SEO, you can put resources into an AdWords campaign and start getting impressions and clicks immediately. Because it’s so speedy, it’s also a good way to test whether a given keyword or audience is worth pursing via organic search – if it converts well in AdWords, you can deduce that it’s worth trying to rank for in SEO and build out your content in that area. (Just one of the ways that AdWords and SEO are two great tastes that taste great together.)

As an added bonus, you can often get started on AdWords very cheaply – Google often offers vouchers (basically free PPC budget) for new advertisers. Right now it’s running a special for AdWords Express: Sign up by December 16 and get a free month of advertising.


5. AdWords Is (Usually) Easier than SEO

Larry has argued in the past that SEO is much harder than PPC. His arguments were met with disagreement, but probably more because of how he said them than what he was saying. Here are WordStream, we’re seasoned practitioners of both SEO and PPC. And now that our PPC campaigns are built and in place, we find they require much less effort to maintain than our SEO efforts. Not only is our enormous beast of a website very difficult to keep up to date (which plagues me), but in order to increase organic traffic, it takes a team of 3-5 constantly churning out SEO content, working on optimization and building links. It’s fun, creative and rewarding when it works – but it’s also a relief to know that we can depend on PPC to deliver leads without all the hoops to jump through.

AdWords is also probably easier to learn because there’s less contradictory information out there. If you’re not inside the industry, it can be hard as a marketer to know which sources are honest and which are just selling proverbial snake oil. On the other hand, there isn’t a whole industry built around “gaming” AdWords. Check out our AdWords Learning Center for help getting started.

6. AdWords Is Taking Over the SERPs

AdWords is Google’s baby (it should be – it accounts for about 97% of their revenues), and over time the SERP has changed so that more and more above-the-fold real estate is given to ads rather than organic results. This can be frustrating both for SEOs and users. But if you engage in PPC, it’s not all bad! It’s an opportunity for you to get your message high up on the SERP in a highly clickable way – it’s a myth that no one clicks on AdWords ads. For queries with high commercial intent (hint: those are the ones you’d want to be advertising on), sponsored ads take up to 2 out of 3 clicks on the first page.

Why Use AdWords PPC

7. AdWords Formats Can Be More Engaging than Organic Results

Google has rolled out lots of new ad formats in the past couple of years, such as product listing ads and in-video ads on YouTube. Google is motivated to do this because shinier, more engaging ads get more clicks and that means more revenue for Google. But higher clicks are good for the advertiser too, so take advantage of these new ad formats and extensions. Organic listings look pretty boring in comparison.

8. AdWords Traffic Might Convert Better than Organic Traffic

Hey, organic traffic is great, we don’t knock it! But there’s some evidence that paid search traffic converts better than organic trafficwith conversion rates up to two times higher. (Conversion rates vary by industry, and as always, this may not be true for your particular business, but you won’t know until you try.) This is probably due to the fact that paid search traffic is more targeted and qualified (due to those targeting options we talked about above), and that queries that result in ad clicks are much more likely to be commercial in nature, rather than informational.

9. AdWords Complements Your Other Marketing Channels

AdWords is complementary to your other marketing efforts. Remarketing is an especially powerful way to use AdWords to target people who have shown an interest in your business. With AdWords remarketing, you can track past visitors to your website with a cookie (these people may have found you through social media, your blog, a click on a product page from a forwarded email, etc.). Your display ads will then “follow” them around the Internet, so your brand stays top of mind. For example, the Land’s End and Priceline ads below are both retargeted – I visited those websites in the past 30 days.

AdWords Remarketing

You can even show them the exact product that they searched for. Along with cart abandonment emails (same principle), retargeted ads have super-high ROI compared to other marketing channels.

10. Your Competitors Are Using AdWords

Finally, there’s peer pressure: The old “Everyone else is doing it, so why not you?” argument. It doesn’t work for jumping off a cliff, but it is persuasive when it comes to search engine marketing. Covario recently reported that global paid search spending increased by 33% in the third quarter of 2012, year over year. According to a study by NetElixer, which looked at data from 38 large U.S. retailers and 120 million search ad impressions, "revenue driven by paid search on Black Friday rose an impressive 31% year-over-year as advertisers invested 21% more in keyword advertising than they did in 2011." Do a few searches on keywords you care about. Your competitors are likely there in the sponsored results at the top of the SERP. Can you afford not to be?




Victor Pan
Dec 03, 2012

11. AdWords combined with SEO generate a return greater than the individual parts.Although some may argue there's some cannibalisation (especially so when you're #1 on SERPS (50%) for a given keyword accordingly to Google, but most of us aren't - actually, read the report if you're got time) let's not forget that AdWords keyword data supplements SEO extremely well - especially with the rise of keywords not provided. Just my 2 cents ;)

Elisa Gabbert
Dec 06, 2012

Thanks Victor for adding an 11th reason! Google's report (assuming it was accurate!) showed that using AdWords doesn't cannibalize your SEO traffic -- you end up with more clicks overall.

Rick Noel
Dec 03, 2012

Nice piece Elisa. The predictability of AdWords vs. SEO is attractive to many marketers and small businesses. You can spend a lot with SEO and due to changes in the search algorithms or poor practitioners, miss expectations on results. Internet on search is such a powerful conversion engine and paid search gives all businesses access to that for less than the cost of a print classified. The key is to ad setup, testing and actively managing your paid search campaigns to maximize leads and ROI. Thanks for shaing.

Elisa Gabbert
Dec 04, 2012

Thanks, Rick!

Aug 14, 2014

Nice article, but I found most was just SEO business clicking on our keywards to sell us SEO!

Apr 19, 2013

Adwords is an extremely useful and cheap tool, but im suprised that many people haven't discovered how to effectively use it yet...I've been working fulltime with adwords for 6 months now, in control of 5 figure sums to advertise with each day,and a short time ago i figure out how to get us/us/ca/au traffic for less than $0.01 per person, for almost any keyword...Now i'm sat on this golden egg of a secret, wanting to tell everyone, but knowing if i do then the method will become polluted, and It won't work anymore :(That is possibly the only downside of adwords, its far to popular, if you stumble across a method like I have, you can't share it to the masses without making it ineffective, and causing the prices to rise.

Robert Riggs
Feb 14, 2014


Do you still believe this holds true now in 2014. I'm interested in using Adwords but I'm new to owning a business. Thanks Robert

Oct 09, 2013

Adwords has been a great tool to establish my website.  It creates a brand awareness of your company.

Jan 16, 2018

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Alfred Winston
Dec 05, 2012

Great post and its really informative one. You mentioned in this post that adwords is easier than SEO. So gonna try to work on PPC related works to realise the efforts of working in Adwords. Thanks for sharing this useful post to your readers

Elisa Gabbert
Dec 06, 2012

We do think PPC requires less effort than SEO -- but as I mentioned in the post, the challenge of SEO can be fun if you're up for it :)Best of luck!

eric cartmell
Aug 01, 2013

Brilliant article Elisa. I agree that it PPC is easier than SEO, and I used Adwords for three months before I got around to navigating through the maze of SEO material. My business and website are new-ish and I am nowhere near the first page of SERP for most of the keywords I need to convert, but for a usually tiny fee, I am the TOP of the FIRST page for the same keywords in the paid results. Very cool. 

Elisa Gabbert
Aug 01, 2013

Nice, happy to hear that Eric!

Jan 12, 2018

Drink lots of water throughout the day to eliminate contaminants and also enhance results.

Jan 15, 2018

Do you mind if I quote a couple of your posts as long as I
provide credit and sources back to your website? My blog site is in the exact same niche as yours and my users would definitely
benefit from a lot of the information you present here.
Please let me know if this ok with you. Thank you!

Elisa Gabbert
Jan 15, 2018

Of course, be our guest!

Article Marketing
Dec 05, 2012

Intersting blog related to article marketing.....:)

Dec 05, 2012

This is a great article, you provide some very compelling information in favor of adwords. I agree that it is an incredible tool that is very beneficial to any company. Thanks for sharing!

Elisa Gabbert
Dec 06, 2012

Thanks, Sam!

Dec 25, 2014

Great post! We will be linkikng too this particularly
great article on our website. Keeep uup the good writing.

Carlin Stanton, the East Texas Google Guy
Dec 06, 2012

It's a shame that marketers who are not using PPC to bring clients to their customers have tried to muddy up the water by acting as if searchers who are wanting to make a purchase prefer organic results.  Searchers, by and large, don't know a paid ad from an organic result.  They just look at what's on the screen and click on what liiks the most like what they need.  The people who are saying searchers seldom click the ads are ignoring the fact that truckloads of searches every day have no buyer intent.  Searchers, so often, are just looking for some information or are looking for a particular website they have heard will meet their needs. 
The searchers looking to buy products and services will gladly click on an Adwords ad because it specifically addresses their need and the reason they went online for this particular search.  That's why Lowes, State Farm and Phoenix each spend over $40 million a year on Adwords ads.  It works extremely well for small advertisers too, especially if the advertiser sells a shippable product nationwide and cannot afford to be in 2000 telephone books.  For under $1000 per month in many industries, a small company can rule a market!

Elisa Gabbert
Dec 06, 2012

Carlin, I absolutely agree with this statement: "Searchers, by and large, don't know a paid ad from an organic result.  They just look at what's on the screen and click on what liiks the most like what they need." Especially when people are searching for products, I think the ads are often just as relevant as the organic results, if not more so (the product listing with pictures make it especially clear that you're getting what you're looking for).

Carlin Stanton, the East Texas Google Guy
Dec 06, 2012

Is there a place to download a good copy of that infographic?

Elisa Gabbert
Dec 06, 2012

Is this the one you're looking for?http://www.wordstream.com/articles/google-adsWe don't have a PDF version for download, but you can right-click the image to save a copy. We just ask that you give us credit if you post it elsewhere!

Dec 12, 2012

I think you shouldn't over rely on PPC too much. You must work for SEO in parallel as well. Impressions through PPC are temporary, but if you work smartly on SEO techniques I am sure you will not going to look for Adwords anymore. I would like to share one interesting blog on this topic and I want views of you people on this. http://www.dpfoc.com/blog/does-adwords-really-work

Perry Belcher
Jan 04, 2013

Thanks for sharing the knowldge on adwords with us.And, this type of post really helps me.

Robert Smith
Feb 21, 2013

Awesome article, thank you so much for providing lots of good information about Adwards. 

Apr 08, 2013

This is probably the 5th or 6th article I've read that is in reference to Adwords and I'm still an idiot!That's because I honestly don't understand why I would want to 'bid' for a keyword!I have a marketing site and as an affiliate for various retailers, I receive a small percentage if someone clicks on a banner and then buys something from them.I write review articles, (specific to the product line/category of the retailer I have an affiliate membership with), so my keywords reference to the topics. Why would I want to buy keywords?I got into the SEO of my site and placed 'suggested keywords' from the retailers in the "Title" box and then a few others in the "Keyword" box, (actually, as many as I was permitted).So I just don't understand what it is they're selling in the way of keywords that require an auction-like approach. I suspect that what I think is a keyword is not what this is about.Could it be that the "keywords" you're all speaking about is a kind of 'marketing slang'?I don't know if this will be answered any time soon if at all, but I figure I've nothing to lose by asking anyway. :)Thanks, Rich

Elisa Gabbert
Apr 09, 2013

Rich,The point of including "keywords" in your articles is so those pages can be found in search, when someone googles the "keywords" you're going after. When you bid on keywords in AdWords, you're paying a sum to have your site listed in the search results for that keyword search. It's a way to pay for placement rather than trying to earn your way through organic search engine optimization. Google is not actually "selling" the keywords themselves-- you can put whatever words on your website you want. But that doesn't mean you're going to rank for them!By the way, the meta keywords field has been devalued and Google has admitted it's not even part of their algorithm anymore. Too easy to game.Elisa

Kelsey Vere
Jul 13, 2015

Wow! This is a great article outlining the many benefits of using Google AdWords. A couple more that I would mention is that it's cost-effective because you only pay if your ad is clicked on or seen (depending on the advertising method you choose: PPC or PPM). The second is that the ads are targeted to people who you KNOW are interested in your products/services because they're searching for your keywords. Unlike radio ads where its heard by a wide range of people who may or may not be interested in your products/services.

Elisa Gabbert
Jul 13, 2015

Thanks Kelsey! Definitely true that PPC allows you to really infer a lot about intent of your audience.

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Jan 14, 2018

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Sep 17, 2016

does add word or express helpful in deriving footfall inside Mall or stores

Sep 17, 2016

Pl tell does Google Addwords or Express work to derive customer footfall inside mall or stores.

Oct 31, 2016

You've linked to seomoz.org in your content at number 8 which redirects to moz.com . Please fix that a-little-broken link :)

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