What we will focus on this time around is a simple checklist of considerations for PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising. These are the paid ads that appear at the top and the right of a search results page. These ads, unlike their natural listings to the left are the result of a paid campaign whereby the advertiser pays a certain amount for every click the ad receives.
PPC provides a highly measurable marketing medium. To know the value of a click, you need to decide what the goal of your advertising is. If you are just branding, then you should expect to lose money to gain mindshare. If you are using pay-per-click to generate direct product sales you need to know how much each click is worth. Most clicks end up being failures so even if you have a 30% conversion rate, 7 out of 10 clicks did nothing for you (and they cost you money). When you begin PPC advertising you stand a good chance of losing money before you start making it.
Well that sounds really positive, thanks, sign me up.
Keep reading! PPC is a highly measurable way of reaching your market and whilst it can be run at any point to boost traffic, where most agencies will almost always recommend a paid search strategy to clients is when their sites have just launched.
The logic behind this is that PPC will start bringing traffic to their products or services before their site has even been indexed by Google (let alone ranking for their target search phrases).
It can be very daunting starting out with paid search since every click is going to cost money. However, the process can be broken down into some key considerations that remain relevant whether you are just starting out or whether you are a weathered sea-dog on the voyage of paid search success. You shouldn’t embark on a paid search campaign without considering the following five steps.
Step 1 — Select & Refine your Keywords
Whatever market you are in and whatever type of product or service you sell, someone will be searching for it using a search engine and they will apply some form of logic to the search term they enter. By using keyword tools you can find the likely phrases being used and then understand the volume of searches matching those phrases. This will enable you to find the phrases which are used most often or indeed, those which have less competition. WordTracker and the Google Adwords Keyword Tool are great places to start. Once you have selected your keywords, run some searches using them and find out who is bidding and what they are saying in their ads. Getting a feel for this will help you in the next step.
Step 2 — Write & Review your Ad Copy
Your ad needs to work like a magazine cover. It needs to be bold, sensational and attract attention, but you also want to make sure that anything you claim on the cover can be found inside. Many search engines highlight the words in ads that match the users search phrase. Placing the most likely search phrases in the ad will help your ad stand out more and improve your click through rate.
Ad copywriting is a careful balancing act and one that will require some careful ROI measurement over time. On the one hand you want to make your ad copy as appealing as possible to improve your click through rate and ultimately get the maximum number of visitors to your site. However, you also want to limit the amount of clicks which are less likely to convert. For instance, if you are an online retailer and you advertise the fact that you have free postage you will encourage a greater number of clicks, however, if users land on your site and find that they have to spend £50 to get it, you will vastly reduce the number you convert. Don’t forget that you have paid for every single user who comes via PPC; over promising could be an expensive mistake!
Step 3 — Build Landing Pages
One of the key indicators of quality in the calculation of Google’s Quality Score is the relevance of the keyword to your ad and the location you take a user to after they have clicked it. For this reason your homepage, whilst being the front door to your site, will likely not be the best target page for a PPC visitor. In fact you will usually find greater success taking them far deeper into the site where they are immediately presented with content that closely matches their search phrase. The benefit of getting this right extends well beyond obtaining a good Quality Score, it will leave you better placed to convert a visitor. Think of it this way, you will always critique your site and make changes to ensure that a user can find what they want quickly and easily and to secure a sale. You will be doing the same thing with PPC although rather than just trying to secure revenue from a sale you are also trying not to lose money because every visit has cost you something.
You need to test your landing pages continuously if you want to make the most of your paid search marketing efforts. Tools like Google Analytics can be vital in this area.
Step 4 — Be Brave!
When you first launch your campaigns you will find that your CPC (Cost per Click) is higher than you might expect. This will slowly come down if the earlier steps have been successful. As your ad copy is refined to become more relevant to your keywords and your click through rates increase then Google will give you a higher Quality Score. The higher you can get this quality score the lower your cost per clicks should become or the higher you will climb for your bid. Also, by measuring what works from an ad copy perspective and monitoring individual keyword performance you will learn a lot over time.
What is great about PPC is that you have full measurability, you can amend your site to convert the highest possible percentage of visitors and then when everything is working well you can ‘open the tap’ by allocating more budget to your campaigns rather than capping your daily spend. Once you have run your new campaigns for a few weeks, take some time to reflect on how they can be improved. There is a lot more to learn than is described above but this should give you a good start.
The key once you have considered these tips is to continually test, measure and refine, then we can help you look at Geographic Targeting, Dynamic Keyword Insertion and Content Network Placement!