Playing the Field: Is It Time to Break Up with Google?
Hey Alexa, what’s my alternative to bidding on Google AdWords?
Here’s the thing about our world: There’s always an alternative. Yes, iPhones rock – but there are spectacular Android operating system options. No, Tesla is not the only electric vehicle worth drooling over. Have you seen what some of those “old guard” automakers are bringing to the market?
The Apples, Teslas, Amazons, and Googles of our world reign supreme. Especially Google. But they do have competition. While it probably doesn’t make sense to jettison Google – which currently maintains an 89.95 percent market share of the search engine market – there are some interesting opportunities to complement the king of all search engines. Here’s an overview.
Leveling the playing field
Let’s start by remembering how things work. Paid search, also known as Search Engine Advertising (SEA), revolves around your bid on selected search terms known as keywords or key phrases. If you win the bid, your ad is displayed to users who include that keyword or key phrase in their search bar. The assumption we all make is that we’re aware we’re talking about the Google ecosystem.
But let’s take a short stroll along the assumption pier. Google may have a nearly 90 percent market share lockdown of the search engine market – but that still leaves a bit more than 10 percent up for grabs.
The current world population is nearly 7.7 billion people. Statistics show that about 58% of the world’s population – or about 4.4 billion people – were active internet users in April of 2019. If we do the math, that means 440 million people just might be unreachable by Google. How are they making searches if they’re not using Google?
With a 2.45 percent share, Microsoft’s search engine remains Google’s biggest competitor. And there’s something to be said for being a big fish in a small pond. If your target keywords are the source of competition on Google, you’ll have less of a fight for them on Bing. If you’re a small company with a small budget, you can bid on keywords that would be unaffordable on Google.
If you’re used to creating Google AdWord campaigns, you’re all set to do it with Bing. The process is nearly identical.
OK, it’s now part of Oath, which is in cooperation with AOL, under the leadership of parent company Verizon. What would you expect from an internet connectivity provider that has transitioned to a content provider that owns media entities ranging from TechCrunch to the HuffPost?
Like Bing, Yahoo represents a complementary approach to the sometimes unaffordable highly sought-after keyword scramble. But speaking of Bing: Their ads are displayed in Yahoo search results. There’s no reciprocity – but it’s something to keep in mind.
Yes, the online shopping giant is actually a search engine alternative. People have become comfortable with searching by entering their problem or pain point, rather than by naming a product. Amazon has responded by offering advertisers different ad types. You can even have your ad appear as a sponsored feature on another product page.
Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) is available to anyone who is registered as a vendor or Amazon seller. If you’re used to the auction environment of Google, you’ll be at home here. Bid and win, and then only pay if someone actually clicks on your link.
Amazon is a true contender. It’s the way the world shops. Amazon’s smart speaker – featuring Alexa – is also the market leader, with more than 66 million users.
Sure, they’ve got a black eye because of a few unfortunate moves, but Facebook remains the undisputed social media leader. And let’s not forget that Facebook gets the majority of its revenue by selling advertising space.
The allure of Facebook is the growing array of advertising opportunities the social media platform offers. There’s also the social media darling du jour, Instagram. Advertising with Facebook gives you entrée to both.
The benefit of Facebook is that you can get granular with your objectives. Generate leads. Focus on brand awareness. Bang away on engagement. Your ability to precisely target the way you do with Google is matched by what you want your targets to do.
Unlike Google, the highest bid isn’t what snags the campaign for you. Facebook also looks at expected effectiveness and quality. You actually have a better chance of winning a bid on Facebook based on being a previous advertiser who got promising results.
Hedging your SEA bets
Google is the elephant in the room. You can’t boycott them. You can, however, make more-efficient paid advertising buys by complementing Google with competitors. It’s also important to consider your audience. What do they expect to find when they make a search?
Search Engine Journal advises that exceptional content may be more important than choosing between search engines. According to this organization, Google continues to reward sites that provide depth and relevance with content. So, even if you can’t outbid your competitors, you can beat them with organic search.
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