For anyone that has spent time working in digital marketing, the variety of views on strategy, best practices, etc. that one comes across is staggering. I began working in the field in the summer of 2008. Times were different back then. There were legitimate debates about how much budget to allocate between Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft. In fact, I’d often recommend approaching Google AdWords second or third when it came to search advertising efforts, as the other engines (usually Yahoo!) provided more accessible low-hanging fruit. Now, I focus almost entirely on AdWords for one primary reason: the breakup of the Bing–Yahoo! search alliance. The layer of complexity added, plus the further dilution of each channel’s individual traffic, has made advertising there a nonstarter—unless I have a massive budget and hands-on assistance. There was enough value during the search alliance days that I’d always copy Google campaigns into Bing at a minimum, but the value has all but evaporated now that they’ve split (as with anything advertising related, your mileage may vary).
When I was just getting my feet wet, I encountered numerous experienced professionals, from SEM ad ops all the way up to the C-suite, that held very strong opinions as to how it really works as opposed to what Google et al. said or documented. For my top 5 misconceptions, I’ll begin with some more mundane “business as usual” opinions that I’ve seen considered as facts, and then work my way toward the tin-foil-hat-wearing opinions I’ve also heard. Without further ado, here are my top 5 search misconceptions.
Misconception #1: There are a correct number of ad groups per campaign or a correct number of keywords per ad group, so always/never do x
Misconception #2: Search campaigns create business on their own
Misconception #3: Search is the only channel that works for direct response marketing
Misconception #4: Savvy marketers can always find tricks to make money using Google AdWords
Misconception #5: Google is going to use your data against you to make sure you pay as much as possible for a click
The root of these misconceptions is in not appreciating just how fast the industry changes. There is no guarantee that what is true today will still be true six months from now. It’s what makes digital advertising both so challenging and so rewarding for those willing to do what it takes to succeed in an ever-changing industry.