AdWords / Search – Jon Cross

Well, it’s what they are known for isn’t it? We had to talk search.

For Google search is all about reaching users at the point of relevance whether that is through sponsored ads (AdWords) or through organic results. There were 72 billion searches carried out in June 2009 which works out at just over 11 searches per month for every person on the planet.

So how does it work? Well, organic search is driven by an algorithm and no one person at Google knows the formula. It changes from time to time to combat spam or to take into account developments. But it’s basically a secret although having great content on good web pages seems to work out pretty well.

What about paid for then? Well, that’s a little easier to explain although there is still some GoogleMagic in the mix. Basically you start with determining keywords relevant to local gov and then Google generates which ads show for which query by scoring ads on relevance (quality) and willingness to pay (works on blind auction with local gov ads generally being around 20-30 pence) and a calculation of these gives the position of the ad on the results page (higher weighting given to relevance).

So, you’ve decided to pay for ads on Google search, how do you improve where your ad appears? Better content? Which would surely improve your position in the organic results too? And is paid for advertising suitable for local gov? @alncl kicked my brain into gear by mentioning how it would be relevant for services where we do have to compete like fostering. When he’s right he’s right – seeing as you can pick categories or specific Google partner sites on which your ad should appear it is a great way of making these services more competitive.

And what about geolocation ads? Google can now determine a users location with 80 per cent accuracy from their IP address (more GoogleMagic in the mix here).

How about a social model of search? So if someone searches for ‘debt’ they get paid for ads from councils about debt advice rather than simply debt collectors or loans? How does a council – who can’t pay as much for the ad space – be competitive when, socially, their result is appropriate? The answer, once again, is about improving that relevance / quality score so your ad is ranked higher even if you pay less.

I don’t think there is a simple answer to that one. It comes down to the holy grail of search – knowing exactly what a person was thinking of when they enter a generic or broad search term. So, in this search utopia, the search would know if you were looking for advice about debt or whether you were looking for a collector or looking for another loan all. Google is good but I don’t think it is quite there yet. It’s a bit of a puzzler then…

Anyway, them’s the facts then. Still not got it? Well, thankfully, you can watch the Paid Ads 101 rap on YouTube to help you out. And if you’re then with the programme we can have a little incentive to give it a go 😉

11 thoughts on “GoogleLocalGov

  1. Thanks for some really detailed notes. I just wanted to ask you to clarify what “The Ordnance Survey” question is, for those of us not in local government and who can only guess at what it might mean 🙂


  2. Ah, yes, sorry!
    It is around the issue of copyrighted information – I’m not completely on top of the details but understand OS have some issues with putting geo-information they see as theirs into Google or some other mapping systems. That is a very broad overview and may be slightly missing the finer point of the issue! Hopefully someone will correct if I am wrong / missing something!

  3. Great write up, Sarah! Just to elaborate on the OS issue, it’s basically that any GIS data produced by an OS system is then subsequently owned by the OS and cannot, say, be exported to use in GMaps. Microsoft seem to have an agreement with OS that gets around this and Google aparently do with their pro version of the maps API, however it’s not clear if these issues have been cleared up for the basic version. It’s kind of akin to Microsoft turning round and saying “Okay, you’ve made that Word doc. You can’t now turn that word doc into a PDF because we now own it. Kthxbai!”

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