Although most website owners today concentrate on organic search listings, a pay-per-click advertising plan can still be very effective in driving traffic to your site. While good SEO techniques can bring you to the top of the search engine listings for free, they can take some time and a lot of experimentation to come to fruition. If the competition is strong, it can be a difficult process. Pay-per-click campaigns bypass this whole stage, and can get you right to the top of the listings straight away. There are dangers involved, but as long as you set your maximum spend to something reasonable your expenses can get too out of hand without a good ROI (return on investment). This means that you can be right at the top of the listings while you continue with your organic SEO plan. Research has shown that a staggering third of all people don't even see the difference between organic listings and paid results , so you can see why the technique can still be wildly successful.
However, at the same time a great number of PPC campaigns fail and end up costing a huge amount of money for almost no return at all. In this report, you'll find out how to avoid this sort of disaster, and how to make the most of your PPC campaign while minimising wasted clicks and money.
The first thing you'll need to know when beginning a PPC campaign is, of course, which keywords to target. This can be a bit trickier than you'd think. If you already have a strong web presence, you should already have a good idea of what keywords are working for you. These are the ones to target for your site. If you're just starting out, you'll need to do a bit of research.
While the Google Keywords Tool is effective, it's always a good idea to aggregate your results from several different keyword tools instead. As you'll see, the results can vary wildly so it's best never to fully trust just one tool. By looking at a few, you should be able to see the real trends and get a good idea of which keywords to target. Another useful trick is to simply look at Google Autosuggest. This will show you the phrase variations that users are currently searching for, and these should become the key phrases that you use in your campaign.
Of course, choosing keywords for your ad campaign is not quite the same as choosing keywords for any website. You're looking to target a very specific type of viewer, the paying viewer with their credit card ready.And the best method of doing this is to use negative keywords.
A negative keyword list is a list of all the queries related to your keyword phrases that would be used by people unlikely to purchase your product or service. For example, if you provide a dog grooming service, one of your key phrases will likely be 'dog grooming.' If you enter this into Google you'll see that 'dog grooming courses' comes up as one of the related keyword phrases. This means that if you set your keyword to broad match in AdWords, your ad will be shown to people looking for dog grooming courses too.
Wellsurely they won't click on my ad then, you might think, which is fine. But you'd be surprised at the amount of people who just generally click on things without properly reading them,creating a wasted click that costs you money and gives no return. This is where most people go wrong with pay-per-click campaigns. In fact it's not a matter of getting as many clicks as possible; it's a matter of getting only the clicks that count.
So why not just use exact match then? Surely that would target only those very specific queries that are likely to come from paying potential customers? Well , actually using exact match tends not be as effective as broad match, and any SEO expert will tell you that you should always be using broad match to try and get as many variations for your buck as you can. Exact match is more expensive due to the fact that 'head' terms (the most popular ones) cost more than variations.
So then, how exactly do you discover your negative keywords? Well, unfortunately it's a matter of pure time and effort. The only real way to discover your negative keywords is to think of them, or to use various keyword tools to weed them out and then to enter your negative keyword database into AdWords. It does take time and effort, but getting rid of the wasted clicks that come from irrelevant queries should save you a great deal of money and streamline your whole PPC campaign.
But negative keywords aren't all there is to weeding out pointless clicks. There's also the important matter of time and place.
We'll begin with place. Imagine that you are a plumber in Sydney. There's not much point in having people coming across your ad when they're looking for a plumber in Brisbane or even on the other side of the world. So many marketers fall for this wasted click trap. Whatever your business is, if it's location-specific, it's important to target only those customers who are in your location. In this case, you shouldn't bother having a campaign designed around the word 'plumber' at all. It would have to be 'Sydney plumber' to weed out all those pesky non-customer clicks. Most searchers realise that their search term has to include place when it's location-specific anyway, so you're unlikely to lose too many queries by focusing on location-specific ones only.
In the international arena of the Internet, time is also an important factor for some businesses. If you are a plumber, again, just to use the same example, and you provide an emergency 24 hour call-out service, then you would be looking to attract customers searching for 'Sydney plumber' at 2 am. If you don't provide out-of-hours services, and the call-to-action that is provided on your landing page is a phone number, then there's no point in having customers get to your number and ring it at a time when no one is there to answer! The point is that, ultimately, if it is never going to lead to the generation of a real lead, it's a pointless and wasted click.
The way of minimising this (and of targeting only specific customers) is to use Ad scheduling. Ad scheduling automatically works based on your own time zone, so if you're targeting customers in another time zone you'll either have to allow for this or change the time zone settings in your AdWords account. This is generally a great way of weeding out customers that are unlikely to actually purchase your services. For example, if you're targeting professionals, you may choose only to display your ads at evenings and weekends when they're likely to be at home and most likely to purchase. If you're targeting businesses, you may choose to have your ads running only from 9 – 5 on weekdays.
When using Google AdWords, you will need to bid for your ads. The more you bid, the higher your ad is likely to be placed (Although bear in mind that this is not the only factor Google consider when placing ads!). In order to minimise wasted clicks and improve the return on your investment, it's not simply a matter of bidding higher than the competition; it's a matter of bidding smarter.
With most PPC services, you can see your competitors' bids and bid accordingly. Google differs in this respect in that you never actually know what your competitors are bidding. This makes it a little more difficult to bid smartly. For example, you can't take advantage of small bid gaps of a few pence between your competitors, and you can't beat your nearest competitor by a penny. You may be bidding $2, and for all you know your nearest competitor has only bid $0.20. However, you only set your maximum bid and AdWords does the rest for you, similar to the way that maximum bids work on eBay. You won't end up paying a lot more than your nearest competitor.
The key to smart bidding is very simple. Work out the value of a click, and you'll have your maximum bid price. To go above this (even to beat the competitors) wouldn't make good business sense. This is a simple matter of considering exactly what your product is. If you're selling something worth only $5, a click would never be worth more than around $0.50. If you're selling something worth $100, then your click price can be higher. Bear in mind that the usual conversion rate of a landing page is only 2.5% .
You should also bear in mind that the aim of the game is not always to reach the highest point on the results page. The #1 position sometimes comes with more trouble than it's worth. This is the place where most wasted clicks are likely to land. It's also the place most often targeted by spammers and fraudsters. It can also sometimes be so expensive to get to the #1 position that it's not worth it. There's no evidence to show that the #1 position actually generates a better ratio than the usual 2.5% conversion rate, and I'd suspect that it might be worse than average. Depending on your business, it may simply make more business sense and create a better ROI to remain at number #3 or even #5.
Google ranks according to several different factors including click-through rate and the Quality Score of your landing page, so it's not worth bidding far higher than necessary in order to reach that top position. For one thing, your more highly placed competitors may already be paying less than you! For another, the click-through rate and Quality Score are an indication of the performance of your landing page, and if Google says it's not working very well, it's a good idea to concentrate on improving that rather than trying to bid more for top position.
Now we come to possibly the most important aspect of your PPC campaign, because even if you've got your keywords, negative keywords, location, scheduling and bid price down to a T, if your landing page isn't up to scratch those clicks won't translate to actual purchases. Far, far too many business owners fall into the trap of not paying enough attention to the landing page, when it is actually the most vital aspect of the whole campaign.
The quality of your landing page determines the Quality Score it is given by Google. Pages with a good Quality Score don't have to bid as much for a good position on the results page, so it really does impact directly on your marketing costs.
It makes sense in every way to have a well-designed, high quality landing page. So what is a good landing page like? Google focuses on three aspects ;
These three aspects are also what a customer is looking for from a good landing page (although there's more you need to do to translate a good customer experience into a sale).
When Google talks about relevant and original content, they mean they are looking for a page that is directly to do with the keywords that you have targeted. The best way of doing this is to optimise your landing page for those exact keywords. Many business owners actually create several different versions of their landing pages, to match the various search queries that may bring customers there. They do not want a landing page about learning French online that comes directly from the query 'French dictionary,' for example. They want it to match precisely.
The rules of the Google algorithm also apply to the Quality Score of landing pages. The content must be original, it must be well-written and edited and it must not be keyword-stuffed. It should be useful, should directly answer the user's query, and be 100% unique. Because the content of your landing page is so important, and must speak directly to the customer's emotions, it's a good idea to employ a copywriter to produce some punchy, effective copy for your page. Rambling is no use and does not create sales!
'Transparency' relates to the directness of your sales technique. You should be clear about what exactly it is you're offering, whether that's a product or a service, and never try to trick or confuse the customer into anything. No one is going to accidentally enter their credit card details just because you ask them to, so let the customer know what you want from them and why it's worth their time.
The ease of navigation of a site is an essential part of what Google considers to be a good customer experience. When it comes to a good landing page, you shouldn't have too many navigation bars , which can act as distractions and lead your reader away from the call-to-action. A very simple single page is fine, as your page will only be scored down on navigation if it is confusing.
Analysis & monitoring are absolutely essential to any PPC campaign. You should continually monitor the keywords that create clicks, and remove the ones that don't. You should also look for the ones that create wasted clicks and put these on your negative keyword list instead. The goal is to reach a potentially paying customer every time and for your perfectly pitched landing page to grab and keep their attention. Analyse the times of day that people are buying your product, and if they only ever buy at a certain time, target that time schedule and remove the wasted clicks from other times of day. All of these techniques should see your ROI improve and the amount of wasted click-throughs lessen.
Any good PPC campaign does take a good deal of time. There's the time it takes to do manual keyword research and the discovery of negative keywords, never mind the monitoring and analysis of data. If you don't feel you can commit the time to creating a good campaign, it's a good idea to outsource it instead. It's better to do this than to risk losing money on something because you haven't been able to give it the time and energy it deserves. Remember that a good PPC campaign can actually improve your SEO rating and can be your launch-pad into the organic listings too.
Zanity provides a full range of SEO services; contact us today to find out if your site is functioning at peak performance and get some real results from a PPC campaign.