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Renting online traffic by purchasing ads is one way to acquire new customers. However, the cost of ads in the online bidding used by digital ad markets is being influenced by something you can control --  your website. Your website plays a major role in how much you will have to spend in order to bring in the right flow of reliable, quality leads. In most cases, websites aren't doing their job to keep ad costs down, and usually do the opposite by driving up your ad budget. It's a much better investment to use low cost website data and update strategies, than to continue being dependent upon ads.

How Low cost website strategies reduce ad costs

The buying process that starts online only begins with the search or social page. If a buyer finds you and clicks when they search or surf social media, then the rest of the process all comes down to  what happens on your website. Here are two significant ways that your website brings ad costs down or causes them to go up.

1. Ad platforms measure the quality of the website experience and adjust costs

The way that ad platforms measure relevance is by viewing the ad and web experience from the searcher's perspective. The algorithm asks, "do the key word, ad contents and website page all align?" This is designed to give the searcher the best experience and to deliver what they were looking for. It helps to reduce the presence of "click bait" ads which deliver something that you weren't really looking for. The algorithm puts these factors together into a quality score which goes into how much you'll have to pay for ads. Poor website experience following an ad click will drive down your quality score and drive up your ad cost.  

The big mistake that many people make when running their ads is to simply push all of the ads to their home page or to an offer or product page. This is like handing a customer who is interested in buying a huge catalog of options instead information that is tailored to their needs.


Google Announces Update Measuring Website Experience

In May of 2021, Google will add additional website experience signals to the way it crawls and ranks websites for search. These new measures will look at website performance, visual consistency and interactivity. These changes will be added to existing user experience measures.


Practically speaking, using the right website system is what allows you to develop a website that maximizes the value of every visit. Websites are never launched at the same level of performance that they can reach if you have on-board tracking, A/B testing, and the ability to quickly make changes based on data. Plus you need to have an ongoing evaluation and iteration plan.   


Do the math: Low cost website updates vs. rising ad costs

Having a website that will track conversions and engagement at a granular level and be easy to update will make every ad visit more valuable. This is far less expensive than continuing expensive ad campaigns that land on a low-performance website.


2. YOur Website has to pull its weight by growing in domain authority

Winning new customers online begins by helping them find you when they search or surf social media. The higher you show up on the search page, the greater the number of clicks. This is what drives the SEO industry (search engine optimization). But traditional SEO approaches that promise greater organic rankings (code for search listings that you earn which don't require an ad), don't deliver on the requirements for domain authority.

Here's the big problem with the traditional SEO approach- it has to address more than 200 ranking factors used in Google's algorithm. The most direct path to improve and get listed on page one without ads is to use a website is designed with two critical factors:

First, your website should be built around a content strategy that is tied to the unique process that your buyers go through when they make a decision. That is both a design strategy and a technical capability that effective websites should include. Content is a low cost website strategy because it builds value over time, increasing organic search rankings that can reduce long-term ad costs. It moves your website into the asset column.

Pain Free Guide to Your Next Web Redesign

The content strategy goes a long way toward increasing your ability to reach a greater part of the potential audience. Ads really only compete for people who are in the last part of the buying process, perhaps 3% of the potential audience. Reaching the rest with the right content strategy will expand that reach beyond 3% to as many as 60% of the audience. 

Developing a content strategy that is effective starts with a brand story, not just a list of keywords.

Second, your website should be designed to increase in domain authority over time. Domain authority grows based upon the quality of the content strategy above, plus the way that the website improves the visitor experience over time. The links that your website earns, and the amount of time people spend on your website before leaving can all be improved based upon how you improve not only the quality of the content, but the way that visitors experience that content. Domain authority also depends upon links that point to your website- but those rely upon the quality of content as well. 

Domain authority is a competitive measure. How strong your domain authority needs to be depends on how strong your competitors are. 

Websites that don't have the tools to measure and improve the user experience at a granular level (not just the page stats, but the elements of the page) are much harder to improve. Domain authority requires ease of content delivery, on-board content strategy and measurement, and granular measures of page activity. The question is not whether you can assemble the right list of add-ons to your website and do the work of constant measurement and improvement, but will you have the combination of easy measurement and improvement tools to be able to make these improvements. The higher the time and financial cost of evaluation and improvement, the less likely we are to actually work on domain authority. The costs of multiple software, complex and disconnected data tracking, reliance on developers to slowly make changes, and the technical skills and time to get this done works against our ability to build domain authority.

Website performance is directly connected to ad costs. The path to a more manageable ad budget, and stronger growth is found in how you build and improve your website.

Pain Free Guide to Your Next Web Redesign

David Mills

Written by David Mills

David is one of the founders of Story Collaborative and serves as the Chief Growth Officer. He is passionate about finding the right strategy for each client and helping them move into sustainable growth. He is a veteran of organizational development and communications and has worked with thousands of businesses and nonprofits across the country.