How I improved my SEO by scrapping AdWords

Joshua Kamil started Ready Steady Print to cater for what he believes is a lack of quality services for businesses and individuals. By combining traditional printing services with online features like the ability to customise as much of the product as possible, the company has carved out a solid niche.


Revenue is growing at over 40% a year, with the company set to turnover about $1.4 million this year.

But Kamil says while he once spent thousands of dollars on Google’s AdWords to drive traffic, he has now scrapped nearly all of that budget. Instead, he says relying on SEO and improving your conversion rate will get you better results.

How’s the business been travelling this past year?

We’ve exceeded last year’s growth rate, but that having been said, we’re not spending nearly as much as we were on advertising. I’m pretty confident that we can smash 45% out of the ballpark again.

So what made you decide to get rid of AdWords spending?

Once you get to a level of traffic where the business is making a lot of money, and you’re building traffic… it’s taken me a good couple of years to realise this is all about the conversion rate online.

Even if they’re driving traffic, you may need to kill them because the focus needs to be on the conversion.

When did this whole strategy begin?

We’ve just cut back our AdWords spending, I’d say over the past 12 months. We’ve tested certain keywords but haven’t been running them on a day-to-day basis.

It’s been after a combination of spending so much time working on our own SEO, which is now starting to generate good amounts of traffic and is just getting busier and busier. And it made me think why I was spending so much money on AdWords when we’re flat out.

We’re just allocating that money elsewhere, developing the website. The better focus for us is really on how we can increase our conversion rate. Traffic is not costing us anything, but AdWords is.

Was it holding you back from making money?

I don’t believe it can make you as much money as SEO can, just because of the cost per acquisition per customer. When customers come the first time they might not buy something but when they come back we really reap the benefits.

So what does that SEO involve?

A lot of link building, a lot of writing articles and a lot of content from adding new pages to the website, adding keywords and making that content relevant.

Could you give an example?

We might be targeting the keyword “cheap print”. So we put a page up discussing cheap printing. It doesn’t necessarily have to be mean poor quality when you do this. The content is relevant, and you just try and make it readable.

We’ve done work with a lot of SEO companies since we started six years ago. I have a close eye on what we do, and I think that type of content offers something.

Did you get any outside help?

I probably tend to get an SEO company once a year to go through things, but they act as more of a consultant than ongoing stuff.

How long have you been focusing on building that type of content?

It was probably about a year ago. It was when we started to do the redesign, and there was a much bigger push on conversion. We were already getting good traffic, but then we starting converting it and as we got busier we were able to spend a little more money experimenting with different techniques.

I’d use short courses and mind maps just to see what people were talking about. But we’ve actually signed with a firm now, and I’m confident in their ability to triple the size of our business within the next 12 months.

What’s your conversion rate now?

The conversion rate we are getting is great, and from what I’ve read is above industry average. Many people I’ve read only have about a 2% conversion rate, but think about a retail store – if you have 100 people come in and two people buy something, there’s something wrong.

What do you need to keep in mind when you’re trying to improve conversion through SEO?

Really one of the biggest factors driving SEO is really just how much time you spend on it. And that’s determined by whether you’ve got someone employed to do it. If I spend an hour a week on it compared to someone who spends 10 hours a week, I dare say that every single time the person spending more will get better results.

It’s just all about making things relevant.

Will you ever go back to using AdWords?

We might test a keyword here and there, and some ad copy, and spend a few thousand dollars over a day or two and then we turn it off. But it’s nothing at all like what we were doing, and one of the things that has been driving me towards that path is it’s just hard to find good staff.

The amount of work that’s going on, we’re really well and we’ve just grown in size from organic traffic. But we think we can improve our growth rate this year and knock it out of the park, as we put more resources into SEO and start using some AdWords again.

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