Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, is paid ad vertising where you buy space on a search engine results pages.
These paid listings can be bought in Google , Bing and Yahoo (Bing and Yahoo will still have separate ad-buying interfaces), and even Baidu if you are in China. However, if you are new to search marketing, it probably isn’t worth your time and effort in learning how to use all search engines, so it might be a good idea to start with the most popular search engine – Google.
Ad space is bought by the ‘keyword’, and you bid on the keywords in an auction. This might seem intimidating, especially for a beginner, but as long as you have the money for advertising, you may as well start right now, because doing is the best way of learning.
Despite the claims of many Paid search providers, you don’t need a fancy piece of software to help you manage your account – you can do it easily within the Adwords interface. And even if you do want something more than that, the Google Adwords Editor is a free piece of software which is fantastically easy to use, and can be scaled up to huge projects – I would not recommend buying any PPC software, even for agencies, until you have reached the limitations of Google’s Adwords Editor.
There are two main ways of using Google’s PPC auction – on the Search engine results, and across their partner sites (for example, on Sydney Morning Herald). This lesson will focus on Search Engine ads.
Any of the providers you choose – Google, Yahoo, Bing – have great online interfaces to help you set up your account. They will take you through step-by-step what you need to do, so I won’t waste your time with that. But there are a few very high level things you need to get a handle on before you start your campaign:
- Site Architecture – be organised. You might want to target hundreds or thousands of keywords, make sure they are organised well so you can track your spend and analyse your results easily. Your advertising should be sorted into campaigns and ad groups. So, for example, if you sell lawn mowers, you might want one campaign for each brand, and then one group for each product. Alternatively, if you sell only own-brand products, you can do campaigns for each product, and then ad-groups based around keyword-themes.
- Be specific – when buying search terms in Adwords, make sure that you are not just targeting high level terms. Broad terms might have the most traffic, but they are also the most expensive and the farthest away from purchase. For example, someone searching for ‘lawn mower’ is less likely to buy than someone searching for ‘Cheapest Castrol automatic lawn mower’.
- Test different ad-copy -you will have to write short ads, whose purpose is inducing searchers to click through to your site. Make the copy alluring, make it stand out, but also test it, test a few different versions of copy at any time. After two weeks or so (or whenever you have a good sample size), keep the best performing copy and introduce some others. Over time try and identify which aspects seem to work the best.
- Landing Pages – Don’t send all your Adwords traffic to your home page. If your adgroup is about Castrol lawnmowers, send that traffic to your Castrol lawn mowers page. It shows visitors what they want, and will be better for conversion. Also, make sure that a customer knows what to do on your landing page – can they buy now? Order? Call for a quote? Don’t let them sit there and wonder.
- Seasonality – Take advantage of the seasons. Unlike SEO, which has a long lead in time, PPC ads can be changed in an instant. This way you can use special promotions or change your campaign according to the time of year, or even the day of the week. If you use special Christmas marketing in your store, remember you can use it online too! Similarly you can promote sales or other events.
Finally, as I said in a previous post, before you spend any money on AdWords, make sure you have a site worth visiting. Unlike SEO, you don’t have to start right away, you should make sure the visitors will like what they see before you pay to have them come.