SEO (search engine optimization) takes time, and it is highly unlikely anyone can optimize their site for all the keywords they would like. In these situations, using PPC (pay per click) advertising is a good option (see organic vs. PPC). However, anyone using it should consider the following so that their advertising dollars go as far as possible.
The basic process
While getting the maximum value out of PPC requires some in-depth knowledge, the basic process is relatively simple.
- The advertisers choose the services they will use. Google Adwords is the biggest and where most people start.
- Advertisers choose the keywords they will use. Ad networks have keyword suggesting tools and the following keyword research tools can also help.
- Bids and budgets are set.
- The ads are created and the campaigns started.
Impressions and click through
The first goal of PPC adverting is for your ad impressions (how often your ads appear in search engines) to generate clicks. This is called the click through ratio (CTR). Test the appeal of your ads by rotating them (most PPC services offer advertisers the option of displaying more than one ad).
For your PPC campaign to be cost effective, you must also consider your conversion ratio (the amount of clicks that actually lead to sales). While a high click through ratio is good for your quality score (explained below), it can be bad from a business point of view. Watch your conversion ratio to measure exactly what kind of return you are getting for your advertising dollar. To get the best conversion ratio, the pages visitors are sent to need to be adjusted and tested. In addition, the keywords the visitors use to get to the ad are another important factor, and monitoring and categorizing keywords is necessary to find out which ones should be used for different ads.
Low conversion ratio
If your conversion ratio is low, you might consider adding more specific wording to your ads to weed out those who might not be interested in or able to purchase your product before they click. You can also set your ads to appear only in certain geographic regions or at times where you have found higher conversion ratios. Finally, it may be necessary to redesign your site or consider if your product is really practical to sell through PPC.
ROI (Return on Investment)
Just because an ad may have a good click through ratio does not mean the campaign is successful. The cost of the campaign needs to be subtracted from what is generated to find the ROI.
PPC campaigns work like auctions with advertisers bidding for top positions. The CTR is much higher for ads within the top three listings and drops dramatically after the first page. The second listing is considered best by many advertisers because the top spot often generates many impulsive clicks that have a poor conversion ratio.
Advertisers occasionally drop out and the price of tops bids can sometimes decrease. Periodically check your bids to ensure you are not paying any more than needed.
Google has a quality score that also determines when and how high ads will be placed. Those advertisers whose ads, keywords and landing pages are determined to be most relevant will get the highest scores. Since having a higher score can bring more traffic to ads at lower cost, keeping this score as high as possible through good ads, and good, related content is very important. In other words, ads the perform well will get higher rankings at a lower cost.
The only way to find out what works is through testing. Create different versions of the ads and see how they do. It may take hundreds of impressions to generate enough data. Watch everything closely and kill the ads that are not doing as well as soon as a winner emerges. In addition, track time, location and any other factors that affect ad performance and adjust accordingly.
In addition, as ads are tested, the pages they are directed to also need to be optimized. When selling a product, do not send people to top pages of websites as they will likely wander through without purchasing. Instead, they need to be directed to concentrated landing pages. Split test with different versions of the landing pages, gather data and see what converts to sales.
Long tail keywords
Long tail keywords are specific chains of keywords that people sometimes search for. For example, instead of software, a long tail keyword that people might use in searches could be “keyword finding software”. If you are selling software that does this, it would be wise to bid on a phrase like that instead of just “software” since you will likely get a lower price and more targeted customers. Target your most effective keywords with the most ad money and try to use them in the ads.
Some keyword phrases have words related to a site along with other words that mean the searcher is actually looking for something totally different than what the site offers. These are called “negative keywords” and making use of them can help advertisers avoid paying for clicks from visitors who are likely to leave the site right after they click the ad.
If you use the Google Display Network in your PPC campaign, your ads will also appear on other websites. These ads are generally less effective than ads that appear on search engine result pages, as search terms are more broadly matched. Furthermore, people who see the ads may not be focused on finding something as those doing searches are. For these reasons, they should have lower bids and budgets in most cases. However, with the strategies covered in GDN, these can be a very effective.
Ad on mobile devices
Never run ads on mobile devices without first making sure the landing page is optimized for them.
Organize and label
Even those promoting a limited number of websites are soon likely to have a lot of keywords to keep track of. While they will be organized into campaigns, for best and quickest results, they should also be labeled. For example, those keywords found to perform well with lower bids could be organized into a single category that spans more than one campaign, making it easier to find these keywords when needed.
Always keep keywords categorized for different goals. For example, what may be a good keyword phrase for search may not result in any sales on a content network and vice versa. This is one of the reasons it is important to continually test and try different ads for each situation and goal.
Study the automation rules
With these rules, a lot of PPC management can be automated. For example, bids can be set to automatically increase or decrease as needed, and daily spending limits can be set. These enable advertisers to better control spending with less effort but can sometimes cause them to spend more than intended when not monitored properly. Therefore, it is certainly worth the effort to be sure to understand and set these rules carefully when starting out a campaign.
- Keep track of your bids to insure you are at the optimal position and price for your budget.
- Use long tail keywords for lower bids and more focused clicks.
- Try different ads for best CTR and target them to appear at the best times and geographic areas for your product.
- Use the conversion ratio to keep track of your sales and weigh the results against your costs.
- Ads with more specific wording may reduce your CTR but increase your sales/clicks ratio.
- Remember content network ads are generally less effective than those that appear in search engine results.
- Back the best keywords and ads with the most money.
- Keep both ads and content at the highest quality level possible.
- Make the effort to organize, label while understanding and using automation rules.
The best pay per click networks lists a number of recommended networks offer PPC advertising.