When I launched my first business six years ago, I was smitten by the Google ads offer of £75 in free advertising for Pay Per Click in return for a £25 investment. Seemed an absolute no-brainer back then. I sculpted an enticing advert within the set Google parameters, paid my money and watched as the business (an independent estate agency) appeared at the top of page one for various search terms for over a month.

The £100 quickly expended and we had the grand total of one fairly pointless lead from a couple who’d viewed a bungalow in nearby Lowestoft and wanted us to drive to Ipswich to value theirs. We didn’t as it’s too far and Ipswich was never our Google PPC target. It taught me back then that, in my experience at least, PPC for an estate agency was fairly pointless.

I know too that as a consumer, when I’m surfing Google, I don’t click paid ads – along with most other people it seems. My subconscious somehow kicks in and nags “don’t click”.

Don’t get me wrong – I have connections who swear by PPC and its success, but it hasn’t worked for me and I’m reluctant to spend money on it again, as I’m not sure I’d get clicks for “web design Norwich”, “web design Great Yarmouth” even when sitting above the big web design agencies in Norwich.

I prefer the organic growth of blogging and social media, providing answers and value in a series of researched (and sometimes random) articles that take more time to generate than a Google ad and yet seem a better proposition long-term.

Content marketing should be high on your business priorities, along with an inventive social sharing strategy, so people recognise your brand, begin to trust your advice and when the time comes for them to buy a product or service they pick you.

Because of the information you’ve provided consistently, and not simply through a 50 word Google ad, you get selected in front of others. 

In theory at least.

In my own freelance web design business, I always advise this strategy.

Create a blog / news / information page and write articles on there – not for the sake of it, or to kill time, but because Google rewards fresh content and customers love reading new stuff.

If you’ve not got the time or ability to write, there’s legions of copywriters out there, able and willing to craft engaging, optimised copy.

Like web designers, some take the piss with price, but most have a reasonable hourly rate that shouldn’t cause too much financial strain on a business. Mine is here. Discounts too for bulk orders. 

If you don’t want to succumb to PPC, invest in a company blog which can go in your newsletters, email campaigns and printed literature, as well as across social media channels.

Trust me, it works.