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Is social media replacing Google search and Google ads?

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A website client teaches violin lessons in the Santa Monica CA area. We just stopped using Google Adwords, which had gotten quite expensive, because she now gets most of her new business (beside word-of-mouth) from Yelp. This trend looks to be irreversible. Sure, Google is hugely useful. However social media is increasingly driving traffic. This change in how she gets new clients did not happen by accident. A while back I recommended to her she ask happy clients to rate her on Yelp, Google Places, Foursquare, and other location-based services. That strategy is clearly now working well.

Google Adwords ads appear before the search results and are labeled as ads. They are pay-per-click. I deliberately made her ads appear only in the Santa Monica CA area because why pay for clicks from people living elsewhere. Adwords worked fine for a while. However the click-through rate has dropped while the price is up sharply to $2.80 per click. Ouch. Yelp, by contrast, is free.

Stories like this ought to make Google nervous. Ads are how they make the bulk of their money. Facebook is now a major competitor to Google, and Facebook ads are completely inside Facebook, where Google can’t go.

I designed her website, with input from her. It’s obvious in the first five seconds what the site is about. Contact info is clearly displayed on all pages. She gets steady business from it, however now it’s mostly coming from social media not Google.

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