Selling Successfully Online

Marketing Your Website

Maximise Pay-Per-Click Campaigns

In this section we look much more closely at paid advertising through search engines. This is where your ads are displayed either at the top or down the right hand side based on the keywords that the prospect is searching for. This is a huge multi-billion business in both the US and UK. There are a number of different engines, but again the dominant one is Google. Most search engines allow both advertising on the engine itself, and also on a network of associated sites. You can choose whether to include or exclude these from your advertising.

Unlike search engine optimisation (SEO), paid marketing produces faster results and is more under your control. We’ve seen thousands of web businesses start up and many become highly successful. A good chunk of these achieved their outstanding results through pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns used both aggressively and effectively. However, it costs money and producing the best results takes a lot of effort.

The way that search advertising generally works is that you select keywords along with a maximum amount you are prepared to pay for someone to click through to your site. When those keywords are entered in the search box by the person searching, the search engine decides which ads to display in which order based on the bids and some other rules. You get charged if a searcher clicks on your ad – hence the term ’pay per click’.

The tips here will concentrate on Google, however, practically all of them also apply to the other search engines with slight differences.

72 Learn Before You Spend.

Nobody would fancy their chances in a martial arts contest if they had never fought before, or in a high stakes poker game if they had never played. With search engine advertising it’s similar. At least learn the basics before you spend more than experimental pin money. It’s easy to waste a lot of money and damage your ratings in Google’s eyes if you don’t know what you are doing. Help is available at the AdWords blog and AdWords Help where you can search on ‘Adwords help’. You can also get involved in forums where PPC is discussed. Although we can provide many pointers here, the field is always evolving and sometimes new insights emerge.

73 Consider The Structure Of Ad Groups, Ads, Pages And Keywords.

Google allows you to create campaigns, groups of adverts, define your keywords and create individual advertisements. A campaign consists of one or more ad groups and an ad group consists of one or more keywords and one or more ads. Each ad points to a single page on your site. Bids (bid, maximum amount per month etc) can be set at campaign or ad group level. Matching rules, which are explained below, can be set for each set of keywords. It’s best to base each Ad Group around a common theme but have less than 15-20 keywords each. Developing many more focused Ad Groups will give better results but is more work. Don’t use the same keywords in different Ad Groups as they compete against each other and it makes the results difficult to understand. Think about whether you wish to advertise on words like ‘compare’, ‘low cost’, ‘cheap’, ‘discount’, ‘discounted’ or whether you wish to exclude searches including them. All of this will become much clearer as you try some actual PPC campaigns.

74 Understand The Ad Rules.

Creating good ads is hard. You have just 25 characters for the headline, 35 each for the two description lines and 25 for the display URL. Microsoft is the same, but Yahoo and Miva have longer ads. You are not allowed exclamation marks in the headline and not too much capitalisation or punctuation. Style guides can be found on the relevant ad network’s site.

75 Make Ads Effective.

Your ads appear with your competition, so they have to stand out. But you don’t just want clicks, you want clicks from people who will buy. You should take time in crafting and experimenting with ads. Ask:

  • who is the ad targeted at;
  • who is the competition;
  • how can you motivate people to click;
  • what tone do you wish to adopt;
  • what are your benefits;
  • should you include your brand in the headline;
  • what provocative question can you ask;
  • how can you establish credibility.

Try to look like you provide better value, or a broader offering than the competition.

76 Try Out Different Ideas.

Here are some ideas to help:include the search terms in your ad copy by using dynamic keyword insertion as follows {KeyWord:<Default Phrase>}; emphasise what you offer for free, e. g. free shipping, free insurance, free guide; demonstrate your credibility and points of difference as a supplier; achieve impact through visual tricks like first-letter capitalisation, ampersands and use of quotation marks; consider including price or price range. Try using verbs implying action like ‘Find’, ‘Win’, ‘Act Now’, ‘Buy’, ‘Get’, ‘See’, ‘Save’. State benefits followed by a call to action.

77 Vary The Display URL.

The URL displayed at the end of the advert must broadly indicate where the click will go but does not have to reflect the exact URL that will be followed when the ad is clicked. So use this capability. In the display URL consider capitalising the brand name, remove www, add a product name or a call to action on the end, or put in the country, e. g. or There are documented cases of doubling the click through rate simply by changing this URL description.

78 Understand The Google Quality Score And Maximise It.

Google and other search engines calculate a “quality score” for your adverts and this (along with the amount that you bid) determines the order in which ads appear. In other words, a good quality score can enable you to achieve the same results with less money. Google does not divulge its precise calculation, but does take the following factors into account to calculate the score:the extent to which the search terms match your advert; the same with the URL and the content of the landing page the searcher will click through to; the percentage of people who click on your advert after seeing it (the click through rate or CTR). The CTR is the most important of these and Google takes into account the ad position as higher positions naturally get higher CTRs.

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