I’ve experimented with ads on Google AdWords a time or two, and it’s a bit tricky to figure out.
But it is big business, and it’s critical to many small businesses, as the New York Times reports:
For more than one million businesses, Google’s search advertising system is like a hose inundating Web sites with traffic. Managing it effectively, though, is as much art as it is science. It requires a mix of analytics and gamesmanship, a combination of skills that has become vitally important in the Internet age.
“It is critical,” said Ellen Siminoff, the chairwoman of Efficient Frontier, which helps companies manage their search advertising campaigns. “You have to have data and be able to analyze it. It’s a bit like playing chess, but you are blind to what your competitors will do.”
Many industry insiders say search engine marketing, as the practice is known, is one of the most effective forms of advertising ever devised. In just a decade, it has grown into an $11 billion business in the United States. It accounts for the vast majority of Google’s $22 billion in annual global sales.
No, it’s not sexy. But if your clients are asking about SEO and SEM, like mine are, you need the answers. Or someone else will provide them and leave you in the dust.