What are some good Google Adwords people have found that really work for getting qualified leads and finding good, cheap keywods? Or any other tips? Any great articles about it?
Also, for a concrete example, I have a site for which my current need to increase signed up users. I'd like to get traffic into for these things:
But since my site is free, would AdWords work for me? I'd probably have to try to compete for cheap keywords? What would be a good strategy for me?
- starting hiking groups
- joining hiking groups
- birding (and possibly various kinds of bird names)
- spotting trees (and possibly various kinds of tree names)
- spotting wildflowers (and possibly various kinds of flower names)
- hiking bloggers who want cool widgets for their blogs
I agree with Tilen. Using SEM (search engine marketing) may not be what you want to do. You'd be MUCH better off spending the money you might spend a month on AdWords farming out some blog posts on your subject: i.e. SEO (search engine optimization).
Take a look at Search Engine Optimization (SEO): An Hour a Day. It will help you hone your target market and behavior and then set you on your way to doing your own SEO.
Especially if you love the subject (hiking) and enjoy writing/finding resources for it, then you can serve your site and enjoy the experience all at the same time instead of paying Google for dribs and drabs...
Good luck and thanks for the site! I'm a hiker too (though on the other side of the country)...
This probably won't be what you want to hear, but i'll say it anyway.
All you will do if you start advertising your site on adwords the way it is now is burn through money and not get much response.
First you have to figure your conversion process, that takes first time visitors to become customers. Either offer them something for free, like an informational guide that will teach them something that isn't common knowledge in exchange for their email address so you can keep in touch and get them to use your product, or have a way more clear sense of direction on your site for people who just hop onto the first page. ( http://posterous.com/ http://basecamphq.com/ http://37signals.com/ all offer a great lesson of how a good landing page looks like)
Secondly... If you want to use paid advertising, you better be selling something, or you won't have a clue whether you are on your way on being profitable or just burning through your hard earned money.
These are my understandings of the content of your question:
In all of my experience with the PPC aspect of SEM -- what I have learned can be sumerized as the following:
And now, what may seem obvious -- but one of my key learnings:
I'm not a fan of the AdWords model. It's an auction system. It's unpredictable and it doesn't produce a lot of value over time.
If you want to build a community why not focus on organic traffic? Go to the people you want to attract and offer a value statement. Focus on the needs of the community and build something valuable.
You could for example try to educate your users about hiking. Start writing articles on that topic, and contact other bloggers who are passionate about it, and ask them if they would be interested in guest posting on the community blog. This usually is a win-win situation for both of you. You will both get exposure, and your community site would rank more appropriately in organic searches. Much more valuable and long lasting, that bidding for words.
My point is that just driving traffic to your website, won't be enough if there's nothing attracting and valuable to your users there, to make people come back.
Adwords can be used to pull extra traffic, but it's hard to get ROI on it these days. Its the wrong model for a site that's basically free.
You need to spend time adding content that will appeal to your target users, and increase the likelihood of them bookmarking and linking to you. It's basically a long game - trying to create quality content, and getting your user base to also create content via forums public postings and the like.
The more you can do to make your site "sticky" the better (ie give users reasons to visit regularly and join in). As your new there's obviously going to be that bit less content to start with, but people may still find you interesting, and think they'll come back in a few months and see how you're doing... Until you have critical mass of content you'll lose some early visitors as there simply isn't enough there. So while you're adding content and executing a traditional SEO process, you should create a great monthly email newsletter with the best content you can make, to try and retain those early visitors until your site has enough of it's own community for them to come back and join in.
So it's the long game for you over the coming months.
AdWords has various devices on its site that you can use to see what words draw high traffic, and you can test out different words to see what gets the most hits. I found it useful to know what people are searching for (unfortunately wasn't the phrases I had expected).
Blogging and ranking in the organic search results is a much better strategy to go after because it's free. You can use Google AdWords to run experiments though:
I agree with most here that adwords are not your best bet. Using SEO farms may also be a bad idea. With google coming out with the +1 ( http://www.seo.com/blog/googles-1-button-change-seo/ ) soon, you may want to focus on simply creating high quality content. Create a following on twitter and via your blog. Offer a newsletter to keep users up to date on new content. Build quality following over time.