Can You Pay To Show Up First On Google?

Location of writing: New Digs – Brisvagas.

Moved to the ‘big schmoke’. Settling in to a nice Queenslander style house in the leafy suburb of Paddington (pictured).

Luckily I am not quite in the grind of full-time yet so have been spending most of my time working on these side-hustles and also on the coast nonetheless.

I have scored a couple of legend housemates, one of whom has a yacht and sails to North Stradbroke Island to surf most weekends. Lovely.

I am also in the process of hunting down a camper-van to buy as my weekend escape portal. Fingers crossed I will be posting my next blog from the back of it, and I will of course be posting classic cliché ‘van life’ photos to accompany it.

Side point:

Lots of you seemed to appreciate the blog I did recommending some of my favourite motivational books and blogs. I have just finished reading “The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck” and found it a very, very interesting read.

Although at first I was sceptical, author Mark Manson allows you to turn everything you thought and based your life around on its head. I am now reading it a second time to make sure I really implement his suggestions rather than just acknowledging them.I think that it’s the ‘action’ rather than the ‘knowledge gained’ that makes these books ultimately worthwhile.

Highly recommend. Here is just one of the cool views he conveys:

Problems never stop. They merely get exchanged and/or upgraded.

Happiness comes from solving problems. The keyword here is ‘solving’. If you’re avoiding your problems or feel like you don’t have any problems, then you’re going to make yourself miserable.

If you feel like you have problems that you can’t solve, you will likewise make yourself miserable. The secret sauce is in the solving of the problems, not in not having problems in the first place.


So, Can You Pay To Be At The Top Of Google?

Short answer, yes, but no, but, kind of. I know – I wish it had a simple answer too.

But as I always say (probably shits you by now), if it was that easy, then everyone would be doing it – defeats the purpose no?

Here I will be giving a short (and very simplified) overview of ‘Google Adwords’ and Cost-Per-Click (CPC) advertising.

To get going, lets start with some basic explanations. For these explanations, I will be using the example of a Google search of the keyword “henna kit” and will show how one of my companies, Namaste Collective, shows up in various positions on the Google search page.

So, from Brisbane, I have Googled ‘Henna Kit’.

GOOD henna kit search GOOD


Above, there are actually three seperate variations of kinds of results that show up, some cost money, others don’t.

The ‘first’ result is us! Whoopah praise the lord!

However, you will note the green ‘ad’ signal in front of the top three results – these listings have been displayed as a result of Google Adwords Advertising, and will cost us money if you click on them.

Below those three ‘ads’, we show up again! We must be blessed?!

However here, when you see a listing show up without an ‘ad’ sign, it is an ‘organic’ listing. We are technically (sort of, kind of) not paying anything for this specific listing to show here, rather it is the result of lots of time spent, website credibility, links, amount of site visitors etc etc.

(I will be writing an in depth blog on how to get here, organically, another time – please just message me as normal if you want clarification on this)

And finally, on the right, there are separate listings once again, and yep, we show up there too. There, they are showing up as the result of ‘Google Shopping Advertising’ – similar to Google Adwords, but just a tad more specific. Won’t be delving into that today, perhaps another time.

Why Use Google Adwords?  

The advantage of Adwords is you can set it up now, and if you do it right, you can be showing up on the first page of Google for your respective relevant searches now.

Otherwise, to show up in the ‘organic’ results, you may need to wait over 6 months and be spending lots of time and effort to get there. And if you are trying to show up for mainstream product searches, ie, Sunglasses, you can expect to pretty much never show up on the first page organically unless you’re a business on-par with Sunglasses Hut, Ebay, Ray-Bans etc!

How Do Google Adwords Work?

So how did we manage to get our listing, our little Australian based Henna company, to show up first on Google, in front of the multimillion dollar Beachcombers and the evil-small-business-munching Ebay?

This is one major benefit of Adwords – Your position on a search page is not simply about how much money you’re willing to invest into your ads, rather, it is about setting up your ads for specific searches, and making sure that the Google Users get what they are looking for.


Google Adwords work on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis. This means that each time someone clicks on one of the listings with ‘ad’ on it, it will consequently cost that business (us) something between 20 cents to three dollars, depending on numerous factors, some discussed below.

* Now you know this, please don’t ever click on my sponsored ads for no reason, it’s costing me $$$ each time! Click on the ones which do not have ‘ad’ please and thank you.

Funny story; a kid in the U.S. actually thought this system meant that he got paid the amount of the bid each time someone clicked on his ad, rather than it costing him each click. He subsequently set an excessive budget of $10,000 on his dads credit card to have people clicking to his brass-band blog. Free money!?

Fair to say his dad was ‘disappointed’ when $10k disappeared over the span of a week.


Within your own Adwords advertising portal (quite easy to set up), you will be able to set your own ‘bid’ limits for how much you’d like to spend for someone to click on your ad, and how much you’d like to cap your spending at each day.

Remember, chances are someone that clicks on your ad will not actually purchase! You need to remember that only perhaps 5% of clickers will end up buying a product if you’re lucky, so work out you’re your average order value, and monitor those profit margins!


You may set bids on a number of different ‘keywords’ and keyword variations. For the example above, the keyword was ‘henna kit’.

Within my Adwords portal, I have listed that as a keyword I would like this campaign to target and have set a maximum amount I am willing to pay when someone clicks on an ad triggered by that keyword search.

So what actually happens behind the scene (explained in the most basic way), is when someone Googles ‘henna kit’, Google instantly sorts through all the businesses and companies bidding on having their ad show up for that keyword in that specific location (Australia), and decides which ad, or ads, to display, if any at all.

It’s Not All About The Moolah!

Ad Quality

As mentioned above, it doesn’t simply mean that if you ‘bid’ the highest, you will show up first. What is more important than this is your ‘ad quality’. In the end, Google wants it’s users to actually find what they are looking for. It wants the user experience in searching for ‘henna kits’ to be as relevant and seamless as possible.

So Google will be systematically checking what happens when your ad is displayed:

  • Will the users who clicks on it remain on the page for a while, or leave straight away, perhaps suggesting it was not relevant for the ‘henna kit’ keyword after-all?
  • Will the user end up purchasing what you were advertising, indicating it was the perfect match for that keyword search, and meaning they will show it more in the future?
  • Will the page load quickly, or will it be a shitty spammy page blasting pop-ups?
  • Will the page include the keyword ‘henna kit’ in it, or will it re-direct to ‘tattoo removal’ related content and ultimately piss off the searcher that they wasted 2 seconds of their day clicking to an irrelevant site – and ultimately blaming Google’s shitty search capability?

Google looks at these factors above, along with many, many more, to give you a ‘quality score’ and ‘ad ranking’, for all of your separate ads and corresponding keywords) to decide if you will show in the ‘advertising’ allocated section of Google searches.

Keywords – Match Types

It is worth noting that keyword selection is extremely important. You can list keywords based on numerous match types, ie, ‘exact matches’ meaning that the ad will only be eligible to show if the ‘exact’ keyword is searched.

Or alternatively, broad match types, meaning that for the Google search of ‘where can I get henna kits or something semi-permanent to draw on my dads face while he is sleeping’ my keyword ‘henna kit’ will be triggered to show the ad selling my Henna Kit.


To explain this in full it would take another essay – lots of good keyword information here.

So if you can show up first on Google, are you guaranteed business?

Even after all of this, it’s not that easy! I know, I know, if it was, then everybody yada yada yada.

I have been experimenting with 10 separate campaigns on my Charlie Spike Adwords Advertising account.

So far only two have been profitable, meaning that for the successful campaigns, I have earned more in sales resulting from ad clicks, than I have on paying for clicks. The rest have been losing money – plain and simple.

Why continue? Well I am experimenting with different countries, different products, different keywords, and over 80 variations of ads. Sometimes simply your ad design can make the difference. Sometimes simply including the word ‘free shipping’ will get them to click through and finish that purchase.

And sometimes, it’s not the fault of the ad at all – it’s simply your product is too expensive, the photos are too dodgy, the shipping offer is too slow, or, they just never wanted the shitty product in first place!

For me, I will keep tinkering the ads, targeted locations and advertised products until I can find that sweet spot where I know that it is worth investing $100 a day towards having people click the ads, because it will bring in more than $100 in sales.

If I cannot make it profitable, I will accept defeat and give up on that campaign, and move on.

There is huge potential for success, if you’re willing to spend the time

Whether the site you are trying to get people to is an ecommerce store like mine, a blog, a photography site or anything else, there is huge potential to benefit from Adwords.

As you’ve seen above with the Namaste Collective account, I have managed to optimise keywords, bids and ad quality scores to enable us to be pasted all over the page for our most common and relevant search keyword – ‘henna kit’.

In some busy periods, this means we are able to yield a 400-500% return on investment in Adwords advertising.

For example, spending approx. $1,000 on cost-per-click listings that result in $5,000 in sales.

namaste adword spend.png

Takes lots of time, and lots of trial and error, but it is possible.

Of course, diminishing returns is present, and it’s not a ‘get rich quick’ scheme guaranteed for success, but in the end, ‘each new customer is a returning customer waiting to happen’.

And when they are a returning customer, you can reach them time and time again for $0! Get my jist? Worth losing money at first for?

Here is another quote from Mark Manson’s book which will hopefully get you through the painful initial ‘failures’ with Adwords!

“We can only truly be successful at something we’re willing to fail at. If we’re unwilling to fail, then we’re unwilling to succeed.”

That’s it for now, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, always happy to trade favours.

*  Please check out the new Netted Hammocks and let me know your thoughts!

Whoopah, adios.



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