Pay Per Click (or Cost Per Click) is a form of internet advertising which falls under the scope of Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Advertisers utilizing PPC pay a fee every time one of their ads is clicked.
It could be argued that Google AdWords is the most popular PPC advertising platform worldwide. There are others though – Bing Ads and Yahoo SearchAds.
Thing is, irrespective of the platform being utilized, not knowing how to execute a strategic PPC campaign can very quickly become an extremely costly exercise.
And judging by the free AdWords credit promotions that Google regularly runs for new users, it would appear that not everyone using PPC knows what they’re doing very well.
What then are the most critical key factors that one needs to have in mind when managing an effective PPC campaign?
1. Optimal use of keywords.
The words you use to describe your products or services are not necessarily the words being used by someone else in their online searches.
This has a big impact on the choice of keywords you opt to utilize for PPC advertising.
You need to research how your particular industry or specific products and services are being searched online and use this information to pick the most relevant keywords for inclusion in your PPC ad campaign.
Always remember, just because you are familiar with the jargon used by your industry doesn’t mean everybody else is.
2. You cannot utilize every keyword used in online searches.
Doing this will become a very expensive endeavor so common sense needs to prevail in keyword selection.
Yes, using competitive keywords will possibly increase your brand’s exposure but this shouldn’t deter you from adding negative keywords in your PPC ad campaigns.
What do we mean?
Well, whereas vague, too broad or irrelevant keywords may result in your ads being targeted to the wrong people – thereby wasting you money – negative keywords on the other hand will stop your ad from appearing in a search that ultimately has no relevance to what you are really trying to advertise. As a result, you don’t end up paying for words that aren’t related to your industry.
3. Unless you’re that well known, chances are you aren’t specifically being searched for.
This is important because search has everything to do with relevance.
You need to optimize your website so that your content is relevant to and answers the questions that people are asking online. It’s all about doing what you can do to help online searchers find you.
Once they do, only then will your company name become identifiable, useful - relevant.
And once your company receives increased brand recognition, your website should rank well and appear on the first page of a SERP (search engine results page) consistently.
4. Try different variations of the same ad.
Not every PPC ad campaign is going to achieve the same results.
In order to identify what makes one ad perform better than the other though is down to tweaking certain elements of the ad, not changing everything about it. This is so that you can properly identify what the exact differences are that make users click on one ad more than another.
In this way, you will also be able to better track and compare which ads are resulting in the most conversions, allowing to utilize your time and budget more efficiently.
5. Optimizing your keywords so that they become a common language between you and your user.
Google measures the impact that your keywords, ads and landing pages have in assisting users find that which they’re searching for when they come upon one of your PPC advertisements. This is known as a Quality Score.
The higher you score, the lower the cost-per-click for your ad and the better you place in searches.
One criteria for achieving an optimal quality score is to ensure that your ad copy contains the same keywords that web users are utilizing in online searches – ensuring that you are “speaking a common language”.
6. Choose your destination pages wisely.
Before diverting a potential client to a web page you need to consider which advertising message triggered their response and what kind of information they would expect to find on the destination page – even more so if you offer a range of services as opposed to just one thing.
Relevancy between the ad and the destination page is crucial for the success of the campaign.
Furthermore, know that users who are diverted from an advertising campaign to a landing page do not spend a lot of time on that page - or even browse through the many different pages on your website.
This means you really need to design your page to be easily communicated and include all necessary information to achieve the conversion you are looking for. It is why many advertisers prefer using custom designed and specialized landing pages for their campaigns.
7. Not every market is your target market.
Not everyone is your customer – and the same could be said for the markets you think you should be targeting.
This is why you need to understand what you are selling well in order to establish who you need to be selling it to.
So research your customers properly – demographically, geographically, likes, interests and needs – and then design your PPC ad campaigns based on the results of that research (and which include accurate geo-targeting of locations relevant to your business so that your ads appear in those areas).
8. Increasing maximum cost-per-click is not always the answer.
The age old cliché of “it’s not quantity, its quality” is very pertinent here. Throwing money at campaigns may get you more clicks but it’s a costly route to follow and decreases your ROI (return on investment).
Instead, you should focus on optimizing aspects of your campaign that could do with some improvement, be it content, keywords, geo-targeting, or otherwise. Strategic optimization will increase your chances of a higher rate of clicks to
conversion meaning you save on money and time, and gain customers who actually want something from you.
9. You need to monitor your campaigns religiously.
Nothing ever stays the same, especially online.
How and why someone searches for a product or service could change between today and tomorrow. This may be due to a number of factors, be it economic, social or political.
The point is, what your customer is doing now may not be what they’re doing a week from now, or a month from now.
This means you need to stay constantly aware of the ebbs and flows of consumer behavior so that you can adjust your campaigns accordingly.
10. Your conversion rate is key in knowing whether AdWords is working.
How many times your ad gets clicked is by no means the standard by which one can measure the success of their PPC ad campaign.
The rate at which those visitors to your site are converting into actual clients is what you need to be examining. There are number of PPC programs that provide you with the necessary tools to measure the conversion rate.
This will allow you to determine whether your campaigns need to be tweaked to bring about better results. In addition, use analytics tools to monitor your bounce rate and page per session metrics in order to determine whether the user
experience on your site is a good one or if your audience is struggling to find what it’s searching for.
11. Make use of remarketing for higher ROI.
Remarketing is an essential strategy to implement in that it targets visitors who previously visited your site but didn’t actually complete a sale or some other desired action.
There are various remarketing options to choose of, the most popular being Display Marketing or Remarketing Search Ads to subtly drive potential customers back to your site in order to finalize their purchase.
The more times you are able to get a web user to go back to your site, the more likely conversions will increase.
12. Efficiency and experimentation are key.
If there is one thing to always keep in mind when deciding on a PPC ad campaign, it’s knowing that the variables always change.
One ad, one campaign – that’s simply not enough to get desired results.
You need to experiment with different ads, different campaigns – find a variety of ways to say the same thing – to deliver the same message.
In addition, it means ensuring that your landing pages to which your PPC ads direct potential customers are fully optimized, fully functional – and contain the information that the consumer is actually searching for. A good user experience is essential.
These actions, although time consuming to a degree, will be sure to benefit your conversion rates positively, thereby increasing ROI.