Last issue we discussed how to track and measure online success through the use of analytics. Unless your site has somehow automagically blossomed overnight to the most popular site since Facebook, you’ll likely need to find ways to attract visitors to your online property. Paid search, commonly known as Pay Per Click (PPC) ads are a great way to make this happen.
PPC can be a great lead generation tool for any business and also a good method to to keep your visitors (aka “prospects”) searching online and out of the yellow pages. Most major search engines offer some type of PPC service and it’s up to you to decide which ones you want to try.
The big three in this area currently are Google (AdWords: www.google.com/adwords), Microsoft (Bing: http://adcenter.microsoft.com) and Yahoo! (Yahoo! Search Marketing: http://marketinginfo.yahoo.com – Yahoo! has recently partnered with Microsoft and much of their paid search technologies are powered by the same engines that manage Bing’s PPC).
For this discussion we’re going to focus on AdWords. With AdWords, you set a daily spending budget, design your ads, select the keywords for which you want your ad to display and then bid on each keyword. You can even set specific times of day you’d like your ads to display (know as day splitting) as well as isolate very specific geo targets for your ads. This gives you flexibility to pick and chose exactly when and where your ads will show.
Day splitting and geo-targeting are neat features of any PPC management tool, but the real focus here should be on your keyword selections when designing your ads. It’s important to make sure your keywords aren’t overly broad, but not too narrowly focused as well. This goes back to our discussion metatags from the article “Guide to Getting Found Online.”
For example, “plumber” may be a keyword that is entirely too broad. It’s also likely that many competitors could also be using the same keyword driving the bid prices for good placement for that search term are out of your budget. However, “Seattle plumbing contractor” may have fewer competing ads and a lower front page bid. Using a better key phrase like this will also help ensure your ad is displayed to more targeted crowd which will in turn help improve your click-through and conversion rates (which, let’s face it, conversions are really the goal for all this work, right?).
Where in the search results your ads display is another story entirely. As you set your bidding for each keyword, you may notice Google giving you a notice that your bid is too low to ensure front page placement. This means that with your current bid, your ad could be buried on page 2, 3 or 500 of all the ads competing for that search term and will never to see the light of day, let alone ever get clicked. While this means that your ad isn’t necessarily costing you any money, it’s also not bringing any traffic in to your site. The solution to this is to either raise your bid for that keyword, or find a better keyword or key phrase to target.
If you (or your developers) have set up all your tracking code correctly you should be able to see a breakdown of paid search traffic vs. organic traffic in your analytics. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 75% of your traffic to come from organic search results (meaning your site has been well optimized for the keywords you’re wanting to target) to 25% paid search traffic.
So today we’ve covered the basic strategies for paid search advertising and identified the importance of keywords as search terms. So how do we select the perfect keywords for our PPC ads? Stay tuned…