It’s not easy for a small business to find a company that offers affordable Google AdWords advertising services. For many years I tried to provide low cost services for small businesses, but am now retiring and no longer offer these services.
As with other subsets of Internet marketing, such as SEO, this industry is plagued with scams. Google tries to monitor and police some of the management, but can only marginally do so for managers who are part of their Certified Partners program. Here is the best advice I can suggest for someone in need of AdWords management services.
The main problem that I’ve seen over the years is with companies who manage AdWords advertising through their own accounts, which the advertisers never have access to. Without access, you will never know the real costs and how much the management is costing you. In one particular case, a company was charging a client $700 per month and provided no monthly statistics. When the client came to me I asked him to obtain the list of keywords from the other company. They did provide that, as well as the wording for the ads. The client then cancelled the services with the company. I used that to set up an account for the client in his name. After running the ads in the new account for a few months we determined that the click costs (AdWords fees) for running the campaign was about $75 per month. The company had been pocketing around $625 per month for managing a very small campaign.
Another questionable practice is when managers charge a percentage of the Google fees for an account. My goal was always to keep AdWords as cost-effective as I could, but this type of management incentivizes the manager to drive your costs up.
Here are some options for people looking for an AdWords manager.
Hire a Google AdWords Certified Partner
Google has offered training and certification programs for several years. I was a Google Partner going back to the early days of the program when it was called Google Advertising Professionals. But over the years the program has turned more into a certification program for experienced managers, and less of a training program for new managers. I do not recommend that someone just starting out with AdWords jump into this program because it will likely be too confusing. But there are clear benefits with hiring an experienced manager who is certified.
The current Google AdWords Certified Partner program requires each individual member to pass at least two exams. One is an annual exam, the other is an exam taken every other year. There are several different exams participants can choose from. The main benefit with the exams is that they offer an in-depth study guide overview of all the AdWords systems and options related to that exam and can be viewed online prior to taking the exam. These study guides introduce all the new advanced options available in AdWords, most of which were never been formally announced by Google, but nonetheless do appear in the exams. In other words, the exams force participants to learn about new AdWords features that can be a direct benefit to advertisers.
To find a Certified Google Partner, visit the following page. You can enter a location and find partners in your area.
If you are working with an agency, make sure that the individual managing your account is certified. Company certification only requires that two employees pass the certification exams. Some agencies have 30 or more managers with various levels of experience and skill. Make sure that you verify the certification. Managers should be able to provide a link to their Google certification web page. I’ve run across several agencies who claimed to be a Google partner, but were not. Check it out to make sure.
Most management companies use the Google MCC (My Client Center) account management tool, which only requires the manager to log into that one account. You do not need to provide a password for managers using this tool. In fact, I recommend that you do not provide a password to your AdWords account if you can avoid it. You only need to provide your Client ID, which is found in the top-right corner of the page after logging into AdWords. The manager will then send an invitation to your AdWords account. A message will appear in your account, which after you approve will grant their access to your account through the MCC.
By not providing a password, you retain control of your account. That means you can block a manager’s access at any time if you are dissatisfied and wish to change to another manager. Giving someone your AdWords password also gives them access to any other Google accounts associated with that email address, such as GMail. Ever since Google went to a single sign-on system several years ago, you cannot separate AdWords access from other Google accounts using the same email address.
Learn How To Manage AdWords Yourself
AdWords is not hard to learn with the proper instruction, but it is not intuitive. You will need to learn how to use it properly. Almost every account owner who came to me over the years who tried to manage AdWords themselves screwed their account up pretty badly and drove their costs sky-high.
If you are going to manage your own account, the best tip I can offer is to beware of Google’s advice, which typically benefits Google much more than the advertiser. They will frequently prompt advertisers to run ads in the Display Network, which is rarely cost effective. I recommend using only the Search Network. The Display Network is Google’s cash cow. If you have deep pockets, the Display Network may work well for you, but that is rarely the case with small businesses. The Search Network focuses on Google and Google partner search pages, which drives more highly targeted traffic from people who are already searching for what you offer.
The Internet offers numerous online resources for learning AdWords. My favorite online training site is Udemy.com. You can find a number of courses, from beginner to advanced levels. There are usually a few free AdWords courses, if you just want to get a taste of AdWords management training. Some courses are initially offered for free in order to build up the number of students and to obtain reviews.
Here are a few tips for using Udemy. There is no relationship between the cost for a course and the quality of instruction. Watch the introductory video for a course and make sure the instructor speaks English as a primary language, and he or she will not put you to sleep while taking the course. Instructors can set any price they wish. After you sign up for Udemy, they will send emails touting promotions, which can reduce the costs for courses substantially. A recent promotion reduced the cost of almost all courses to $15. That means you would only pay $15 for a course that could have a normal price tag of $495. With Udemy, you basically buy your way in with the first course, then reap the real benefits after that.