It is a common theme of any new venture or new site launch to consider paid search as a way of boosting traffic, increasing brand awareness, and driving up sales, paid search is a legitimate way to do this, but it has its pitfalls. In this article, I discuss what you, as a business owner or company director, the need to consider when looking at paid search as a way of increasing sales and what alternatives could be better for you.

Let’s address the pitfalls first, it is very common for a business owner/director, to set up an AdWords campaign (Google’s paid search offering) to help grow the business. The most common mistake is to create a campaign that is very general without giving thought to your target audience and to whether certain keywords, although they feel right, are too expensive, too broad or aren’t targeting your principal products and services.

Recruitment keywords

I have worked on countless campaigns, with the remit to optimise them, often with the client stating, ‘it’s too expensive and I am unsure if it really effective’, and the most common issue here is that they have used very high-level keywords that are expensive and too general. Let’s take the recruitment sector as an example, you may feel that keywords such as ‘recruitment’ and ‘job candidates’, describe your services, and in many ways, they do, but consider who is typing in those searches and what they are looking for.

Someone who types in ‘Recruitment’ could be researching the subject, they could be looking for courses, books, videos, a job in recruitment, setting up a business, seeing the competition out there and so on. So, an AdWords campaign using these high-level keywords can attract all sorts of searches that aren’t necessarily looking for your service. You are essentially putting your business in a huge pool of other businesses, that not only drives the cost up of the campaign but is essentially going to yield a lot of interest (clicking on your ads) that aren’t relevant to your products and services.

So, there are a couple of tips to consider.

  1. Remember to always consider exactly who you are targeting and the keywords that are specifically targeting those people, so, if you are a corporate recruiter, then keywords such as ‘middle management jobs’ or ‘IT Director Careers’ could potentially narrow the field and keep the campaign cost-effective and focused.

Is paid advertising right for you at this stage? This is vital as, a paid search campaign is an ongoing cost and needs to be justified, are there other techniques and processes you can utilise before starting an AdWords campaign?

Online growth without paid search

As part of our business, we specialise in helping you understand who you are, who your customers are and how to reach them, and there are many instances where we have helped businesses grow without paid advertising simply by following a process that helps to focus the business and its online presence. So let’s get this straight, I am not saying paid search doesn’t have its place, we have created or helped to create many campaigns that are very effective, but, what I am saying is, if you don’t have a handle on who your target audience is, thought through what it is you want to say and how you want to say it, you could end up spending a lot of money.

Example recruitment client strategy

A good example of a targeted recruitment online strategy is SLR Marine Recruit, one of our valued customers. The owner wanted a new brand online presence which included a new website and she also wanted to create brand awareness and attract more candidates and clients.
After creating a website for them (, and working with Sarah to work out the brand, her ideal clients and create a content strategy that was effective and really targeted her ideal clients and candidates (read more here from our awesome Content Director Caroline), we started to build the brand and increase awareness in the major search engines.

Adding content and targeting very specific keywords and localised searches the website has gone from strength to strength.

We use an online tool called SEMRUSH, and it is a very powerful tool, the graph above shows you the visibility of the website from the time the new site was launched until now, the site currently has a visibility score of nearly 30%, of which, when we started, it was around 1%.

We use an online tool called SEMRUSH, and it is a very powerful tool, the graph above shows you the visibility of the website from the time the new site was launched until now, the site currently has a visibility score of nearly 30%, of which, when we started, it was around 1%.

SEMRUSH gives this definition of visibility:

Visibility can be defined as a metric showing how often your website is found on the Internet.

SEMrush has a metric called Visibility % seen in Position Tracking campaigns that we use to estimate a website’s trend of visibility for the set of target keywords currently being tracked in the campaign.


So, essentially, we have increased the site visibility to 30%, increasing brand awareness, clients, candidates, and business without the use of paid search campaigns. I must reiterate paid search is a very effective tool in helping to increase business, but the point I am making here is that paid search is a facet of online marketing, whereas knowing who you are, who your customers are and broadcasting content that speaks to those customers is a staple of online marketing. That is fundamentally where you should start to be able to utilise other avenues, such as paid search but if you started with paid search, without having a focused website, a great customer journey, useful/compelling content and a brand that works, it would be like hiring a salesperson and not giving them information about the product and just saying ’sell’ to them.

Published On: July 14th, 2022 / Categories: Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, Marketing Strategy /

About the Author: Joe James

Joe has been working in the world of online marketing for 15 years, he has a large amount of experience in SEO, social media, paid search and content marketing.