On this episode of the Digital Marketing with Bill Hartzer podcast, I spoke with Mike Rhodes from Web Savvy about Google Ads. Mike is one of the authors of the Ultimate Guide to Google Ads book, now in its 6th edition. Below is the full transcript of this week’s episode. The video is above, on the Hartzer Consulting YouTube Channel, and you can also find the podcast wherever you get your podcasts, such as Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, and Spotify.
Bill Hartzer (00:02):
Hi, this is Bill Hartzer, and this is the digital marketing podcast with Bill Hartzer. This is episode number 47. You may want to check out all the 46 episodes I’ve done in the past. I’ve done episodes on everything from digital marketing, various topics from SEO to PPC, to social media and Google Shopping. But today I have the pleasure of having a Mike Rhodes here. Uh, Mike Rhodes is, is, you know, one of the, uh, uh, I would say the experts on Google ads and certainly Google ads has changed so much over the years, um, and probably, you know, will continue to change. Um, but, uh, welcome Mike, um, to the program this afternoon and episode number 47 of the Digital Marketing with Bill Hartzer podcast. So, Hey, um, I’m yeah. Yeah. Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background and you know, how, how you got into doing a Google ads.
Mike Rhodes (01:08):
When I was six, I wanted to be a helicopter pilot. Um, that was all I wanted to do for years and years. And, uh, when I was 20, I actually had the chance to learn to fly. I was actually in Hawaii for the summer. So I learned to fly in Hawaii, went back to the UK, ended up working for the most prestigious helicopter company in Europe that this guy called Lord Hanson, who is good mates with the queen and clients like bill Gates and Michael Schumacher. And I very quickly realized I didn’t want to be a pilot for the rest of my life. Um, crap, money, crap hours, never see your family, great fun flying around, but you’re basically a glorified taxi driver. And I decided, I think I’d rather be the guy in the back drinking the champagne. Um, so I left the UK, um, when it started my first business sold that a couple of years later and moved to Sydney thinking I was semi retired and started helping businesses grow.
Mike Rhodes (01:59):
It’s what I’ve always loved doing. But back then, all of these businesses, particularly, you know, anything smaller than a mid tier corporate, they were doing yellow pages and radio and letterbox drops. And they were just having a hard time getting people in the door. And then I saw this presentation 2004 by this guy called Perry Marshall, who I’d never heard of before. And he was taking the Mickey out of this thing called overture and how clunky their system. Wasn’t talking about this new thing called Google ads and how much better it was. And I just went back hair on fire. Oh my God, this is what all of these businesses want and need to only show up when people are searching for what they’ve got to only pay anything. If someone’s interested enough to click on this little ad and back then, all the clicks were about 5 cents.
Mike Rhodes (02:50):
So it was quite profitable to do so. And I ended up going to business with a mate and we sold a hundred grand’s worth of stuff in three and a half weeks and went, Oh my God, this stuff really works. And then I just started helping more and more businesses trying to teach everybody I knew about this thing called Google ads. Sorry, the sun’s getting very bright here in the morning and Australia coming at you from the future. It’s January the eighth, the seventh, um, beautiful summer’s day in Australia and yeah, and nine out of 10 people said, I don’t really care. I don’t care about whatever it is that you do with this Google-y geeky stuff. But if you could do it for me, for my business, that’d be great. And so web savvy, the agency was born and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 16 years is helping businesses grow by getting more people in the door and taking a completely different, but sort of parallel path, I think to your own because SEO, when I looked at it way back then was confusing to me and I, I loved the, the order and the mathematics of the Google ad side and the, the instant feedback loop.
Mike Rhodes (03:59):
So, um, yes, I know enough STL to be dangerous. I know that you’re an absolute bloody master at that, but that’s not my game. I like, like I like the Google ads and the instant feedback side.
Bill Hartzer (04:11):
Yeah. I mean, definitely. But you know, you have to, I’ve realized over the years though, that you actually do need to optimize landing pages and that there is some part of, you know, part of, you know, some messy, old basics that really haven’t changed. You know, a lot of these SEO SEO basics haven’t changed even when in the nineties with, you know, it comes down to a keyword and optimizing a title tag in a, in a page and having the content on there. Um, and you know, certainly now with, I don’t remember when it was that, um, that Google started actually, you know, in, in this whole process, you know, it’s changed since so much since, uh, 2001 or so when Google started with, um, Google ads, you know, Google AdWords and that, um, you know, that I believe around, I think it was around two, you know, 2006 or 2007, they started to electorally look at not only just the keyword you were bidding on and the ad copy, but also the content of your page. And so you had to kind of, you know, now opt, you know, kind of optimize your page and your landing page. Uh, now it’s, it’s boosting your quality score, um, you know, with, with the appropriate content on the landing page, that that’s kind of the, probably the over-simplified, um, version of that, is that correct?
Mike Rhodes (05:39):
Yeah. I mean, there’s huge parallels between SEO and SEM. You know, the content of the page matters the speed of the page matters more than ever. And I think SEO is we’re the first people to really say, Hey, look, speed is a really important thing. It’s part of the quality score algorithm. Now it’s part as a big part of Google ads and we’re seeing more and more clients that, that focus on speed and get a website sub three seconds. Google will magically go and find more impressions. It didn’t tell you in any of your reports, your impression share numbers, look good, everything seemed good, but when your site is fast or faster, Google will magically find more traffic to send to you. The flip side of that, just like in SEO, if your site is slow, certainly compared to your direct competitors, then Google can say, why would I bother?
Mike Rhodes (06:29):
I will send that traffic somewhere else because I want to give my users a great experience. So you can’t have that anymore. So, so yeah, there’s, there’s a ton of parallels between the SEO and SEM, worlds. I mean the same things effectively matter at the end of the day from Google’s point of view, I want to give someone a great experience, this searching for this thing, which website should I take them to? Not just the one that maybe has, you know, back in the day or those SEO tricks, you know, it’s got the keyword in the title. Google is way, way smarter than that now, obviously, and it understands semantic intendant and all of those things and understand what people are looking for. And obviously it knows more about us than our spouses most of the time.
Bill Hartzer (07:15):
Yes, definitely. I mean, we definitely want to make sure that, um, I mean, one thing we were talking earlier about, you know, it’s actually, you know, is, is the search results themselves. I mean, you know, certainly those have changed, certainly. Yeah. We started off with everybody primarily be being on a desktop, uh, you know, desktop or laptop and Google ads being on the right-hand side. And, you know, if you weren’t in the top 10, um, then you know, then basically, you know, your, your, your ads weren’t showing, I mean, you wouldn’t really get many quicks. Um, and so now it’s now, you know, now it’s really just those few ads at the top. And then the few ads maybe at the bottom of the page, um, depending on, you know, certainly on mobile, um, yeah, that can change as well.
Mike Rhodes (08:09):
Yeah. We’re, we’re one ad can fill the whole screen and yep. Three or four ads above those organic listings probably fill a couple of screens and people are lazy. A lot of people don’t scroll. A lot of people don’t read. So they’ll see that keyword bolded they’ll go. That’s what I was after click. And that’s how Google make money. Obviously. I mean, a lot of you were, you were saying when we were chatting before that most people, and we only really knows the exact numbers and it obviously differs by vertical, but most people are going to scroll past the ads and click on an organic listing. Yeah. Let’s say 20, 25% click on an ad in total, which leaves about 75, 80% on the organic side. And the lion’s share of that obviously is going to go to those top three positions and a huge chunk to the top one.
Mike Rhodes (08:56):
Yup. Um, we were chatting about before the, the incremental benefit to your business, even if you have that all high organic listing of running an ad, even if you’re in position one, you are almost always going to add to your bottom line by having both, you’ve got a perception of leadership. You’re blocking your competitors from bidding on your brand name or whichever other keyword and you’re gathering data, which is what we all live and breathe. Doesn’t matter whether you’re on the free side or the pay side, we want more data. We want to know that we’re getting our clients the best result, not guessing and picking a keyword at random. We want to know that it converts and it converts profitably for our client and puts money in their bank account.
Bill Hartzer (09:40):
Yeah, I mean, and you know, like I said, there’s, there’s not too many biz, you know, not too many opportunities out there. Um, the, where you can actually really start, you know, within, I’d say two or three days, be up and running it, you know, with a, with a brand new business. I mean, literally you can put up your website and, and, you know, let’s say, yeah, the first day, the second day you get your Google ads running, um, and get that traffic. And then, you know, then third day you’re tweaking that, you know, that traffic to get those conversions, um, and you get that instant data, you know, SEO certainly will take, uh, you know, by the time right now, indexing indexing is slow. So it actually could be a week or two by the time, you know, you, you know, or a few days before the indexing actually occurs.
Bill Hartzer (10:32):
And then I’m seeing now with brand new sites, it’s taking a good six to nine months to really start to get some really good traction. Unless of course, you’re, you’re able to start, you know, get that traffic going and getting that traffic going is, are Google ads is through, you know, the D G display ads and the whole ecosystem, you know, Google ECOS that paid ecosystem, if you will, um, you know, from, from shot, you know, shopping to display to, you know, YouTube ads and so forth. And so that actually, you know, getting that traffic yeah. Can definitely get definitely help.
Mike Rhodes (11:14):
And, and, and, and we were chatting before we recorded this, but even then, even at that six, nine month period as your SEO kicks in a lot of people at that point think, Oh, well now SEO is working. Now I can turn ads off. And what I would suggest to your listener is test that don’t assume that not running the ads is automatically going to save you money. Yes, you’re not spending anymore, but you’ve got to have the, the, the mindset of investing, not ending, we’re investing in. If you’re getting a profitable return, then only stop. If you can get a higher return elsewhere, the bank’s going to give you about one and a half percent. These days, if Google ads is giving you a hundred percent on your money, a hundred percent is not a good return in Google ads. It should be, you know, 400, 500, 600% often.
Mike Rhodes (12:04):
If it’s giving you a hundred percent return and you haven’t got any better place to invest it, then I would say, keep investing grow faster. If you can get more traffic, you can test your website faster. You can test your email sequences faster. You can test your author faster. And an SEO and SEM worked really well together. It’s not a, an either or proposition. It’s like, you know, humans and machines Hollywood, and the news media would have it all be like us is the machine. It’s not, it’s smart people working with smart machines. That’s the, that’s the future.
Bill Hartzer (12:37):
Yeah. I mean, definitely, you know, just consider a new blog, post a new, any new content, um, you know, any new products, any, anything that, you know, any kind of, you know, new pages on the site, you know, certainly, um, you’d want to get those in the app. You know, you get those in the, you know, Google ads and get that traffic going, um, and, you know, get, get, get that, you know, get that going. Um, and then it’s also the tweaking and tweaking and changing, you know, with, with conversions and watching that closely.
Mike Rhodes (13:09):
Absolutely. We, we not, I’m sure your listeners will know, you know, changing one word in a Google ad can have a huge impact in the number of people that click similarly, a character in a search term can have a huge difference. Um, Glen Livingstone, you know, I remember him one of the grand masters of marketing from last decade, um, used to use this search, this case study all the time between Guinea pig and Guinea pigs. And there was a three X difference in how people converted. So there’s loads of tools, SEMrush, and others out there that are going to tell you roughly directionally, at least how many people are searching for each search term in your target location every day or every month. But what none of those tools are gonna tell you is how does that term convert for you, given your website, your offer, your particular set of all of those different things.
Mike Rhodes (14:04):
How does that convert for you? Is it a profitable keyword for you and are enough people searching for it that it makes sense to go after from an organic point of view, because correct me if I’m wrong, but for me, SEO is a, is a time and effort, um, industry, right? You’ve got to put the work and you’ve got to create content. You’ve got to make sure you’re on page and all your technical stuff is right. That takes work and people think, Oh, it’s free, but it still costs to, to do that. Right. So let’s make sure we’re doing it for the right things that are actually going to put money in your pocket.
Bill Hartzer (14:38):
Yes, definitely. And you’re definitely gonna see, you know, the other benefit really is, you know, now that we, on the organic side and the SEO side, you know, we don’t have the keyword data. Um, that’s one, the big problem is for SEO’s is I remember, you know, back in, before not provided, you know, we had, we did not have we had all the keyword data. Um, now we just don’t and now through Google ads. So we, in theory, we do, um, you know, we have all the keywords that people clicked on it.
Mike Rhodes (15:15):
It’s, it’s shrinking. It is shrinking. Yes, they, they did that. The not provided what was that seven years ago or something and GA um, under the guise of privacy. Well, they’ve just done a similar thing in it for the last seven years. It’s been, if you pay for it. Yeah. Forget privacy. We’ll give you all of that data. But September the second, last year, they’ve started hiding more of that search query data, even inside of Google ads, about 30% give or take of that data is now disappeared. The insignificant search terms. Well, that was significant enough for you to charge us for them. But, but there’s no point when Jen, um, friends of mine put out a petition to Google four or 5,000 people have signed that petition. I tried to get a whole bunch of people to sign it, but it’s not gonna make any difference.
Mike Rhodes (15:58):
Google aren’t gonna change their mind. You know, there’s nobody in the machine, learning genie back in the bottle, they’re going to continue to hide data from us. We need to, as smart marketers, figure out how to work around these things and work with the machine and stop and moaning that, that Google keep doing these things. We need to understand why going through Google’s a crash course in machine learning. I’d highly recommend to all of your listeners. It’s a free course. Google put all their employees through it, and it will help you think like a machine learning engineer. It’s not going to turn you into a data scientist overnight, but you can start to understand why they do things. And then you can play with the machine much better because you understand why the machine is doing what it’s doing. You understand that it’s fuzzy, that it’s probabilistic.
Mike Rhodes (16:47):
It’s not deterministic anymore. There aren’t a whole bunch of if then rules, which there were in Google right back in, I can search back in the day, they got up to about 4 million rules in 2011. And then when we can’t keep doing this, people are searching for these weird things called mobiles. We think voice will be a thing in the future. Supposedly 15% of the individual search terms that we see every day are completely new. No one’s ever searched for them before. How the hell do we build rules for all of that? So machine learning, here we go.
Bill Hartzer (17:17):
Yes, definitely. So, um, we’re just about, just about out of time here on the, uh, uh, does your marketing with bill Hartzler podcast. So for the, uh, episode 47. So thanks again for joining me this afternoon. How do we get in touch? Um, we didn’t really talk too much, you know, about, um, the ultimate Google ads book. So how do we get, uh, working to find this, uh, you know, the ultimate Google ads, um, what we’re in the sixth edition, right? Is that correct?
Mike Rhodes (17:44):
Oh my God. The Google ads. Yep. Buy it wherever you buy your books. Obviously Amazon Barnes and noble it’s everywhere now. Um, and yeah, together with that, but we give away a three hour video course to, um, if you go to that supplement in the book, you can get that. So it’s me teaching you visually and showing you inside of a Google ads account where all of the things are. If you have any questions at all around Google ads hit me up. I love talking about this stuff. So send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org that’s w E B S a V V y.com.au. Cause I’m here in Australia or find me on Facebook, facebook.com/ Mike Rhodes. Hit me up, ask me a question more than happy to help.
Bill Hartzer (18:24):
Okay. Thanks again. Thanks again, Mike, uh, Mike Rhodes from web savvy.com.au. Thanks again for joining me this afternoon.
Mike Rhodes (18:33):
My pleasure. Thank you for having me.