Bringing Traffic with Google Adwords

January 17, 2009

Every new site much initially start with no users and no content. For sites which are community based, no users means no value. How then do new sites bootstrap to overcome this first hurdle? One way is to convince all your friends to come try it out; another way is to fake it by talking to yourself. At Chesspark we used Google Adwords to accomplish this quickly and cheaply.


Phase Zero

We first tried to recruit friends and friends of friends to help populate Chesspark during the early days. Unfortunately, there was just too much time to fill for a site where games are live for our friends to do the job.

We decided to try and throw money at the problem.

Phase One

Our first attempt to use Google Adwords was pretty naive. We set a reasonable daily budget, bid on relevant keywords, and started a campaign.

The campaign successfully brought new users to our site, but unfortunately the rate at which they came was low enough that they rarely overlapped. One user would come, look around, see an empty site, and leave. Moments later this sequence would be repeated by another new user.

We tried getting everyone in the company to hang out and play with new users, but they quickly grew board with only a handful of opponents.

We had to get smarter.

Phase Two

In order to make more people show up at once, we configured Google Adwords to spend our entire daily budget in a single hour. We picked an hour that we were all willing to be around and playing games.

This had an immediate effect. Instead of a long trickle of new users over 24 hours, we had a short flood of new users when the campaign started every day. All those new users saw the site was alive and well even though all the other users were new as well.

This was enough to maintain their interest, and our users began to stick around!

Over the next few weeks we accrued more new users, and we were able to expand our Adwords campaign from one hour to a full 24 hours. Pretty soon we found ourselves with a site that had a life of its own.

More Than One Way

There’s many ways to build communities, but those initial days are tough for everyone. Making use of cheap Internet advertising worked well for us.

I’ve been meaning to write about this for some time, but had forgotten all about it. I had the good fortune to speak on a community building panel today for NM MIX, and the memories of the early days popped into my head.

I heard many good stories of how other local Albuquerque communities got their starts. Please share yours in the comments!

Bringing Traffic with Google Adwords - January 17, 2009 - Jack Moffitt