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I speak to so many people outside the online marketing world who have no idea that some of the results on search engines are paid for and I also get different responses when asking people which result they typically click on. I thought a bit of market research into this could be beneficial so those of you who are not in the SEO world, could you take one minute to complete this quick survey for me and pass it onto any friends and family. The more data we can collect, the more interesting the results will be – The Perception of Search Results
OK, now that we have got that out the way, I am going to move on to the core reason for this post which is to provide readers with an introduction to PPC.
Paid vs. Organic Results
For those of you that may not know, the results highlighted in green are paid ads and the results in yellow are the organic (non-paid) results.
Companies can bid on keywords and in return have their ads displayed in the green areas of the search results. A clever Google calculation decides which ads are shown, with one of the biggest factors being relevancy.
Any company can set up a PPC account, but knowing how to manage and optimise the campaign is key to its success. A couple of years ago I wrote a PPC Campaign Checklist which is aimed at minimising the risks associated with running a campaign without previous experience and knowledge.
The Search Engines
There are three major players when it comes to PPC advertising on search engines: Google, Bing and Yahoo. Google are most dominant by far and advertising on their search results will yield a much higher return in terms of traffic but not necessarily conversions and ROI, so it is always good to test the waters on all three to see what works best for your market. Most advertisers will start with Google to get a feel for the amount of search volume and out there and costs involved before moving onto Bing and Yahoo.
Whilst Yahoo and Bing now use adCenter, Google supports the hugely popular AdWords PPC platform. As such if you want to advertise on the three major search engines, you’ll need to create accounts on just adCenter and AdWords.
To get an account running smoothly, getting the foundations in place from the offset is vital. The search engines make it very easy for amateurs to set up a account, enter their credit card and launch a campaign, which we have seen fail time and time again.
Taking the below tips on board should help to eliminate some of the wasted cost you will almost certainly absorb if you are not entirely clear on how PPC advertising works.
Step by Step
1) Set up your account
2) Create campaigns for each product or service you are marketing and set daily budget
3) Conduct keyword research and group keywords together in themes within ad groups and set bids
4) Write targeted ad text for each ad group which is relevant to the keywords
5) Research any negative keywords that you would not want you ads appearing for and add at campaign and/or ad group level.
Negative keywords are the most common feature missed in PPC Accounts and most Paid Search specialists would deem negatives as the most important. For example, if you were selling wood chippings in the UK, one of your keywords might be ‘wood chippings’. If someone were to search for ‘wood chippings in France’ your ad could appear and so in this case, ‘France’ would be a negative.
It is important that you do not lump all your keywords into one single ad group. They should be broken down into tightly themed groups to allow you to create dedicated ad text for each group.
For example, if you had a website that was selling chocolate bars you might want to have a campaign to promote each individual variety and could come up with a list of keywords like the below:
If all keywords were in one ad group, the ad text would not be relevant to all three so breaking them down into individual groups for each chocolate bar type will allow you to increase the relevancy.
In the Twix ad group, you could set up two or three ad variations to split test which one works best along the lines of:
Buy Twix Bars Online
Great Deals on Delicious Twix Bars
Buy in Bulk for Huge Savings!
Many users of Google AdWords will completely ignore the campaign setting features and these should not be forgotten. By default the campaign will run on the Display Network which can damage your account if not used in the correct way. Additionally, you will want to check which devices your ads will be displayed on as some websites do not render well on mobile devices.
As mentioned above, it is important to split test your ad variants to measure the success of each ad. Unless you change the Ad Delivery setting Google will decide what ad to show based on the CTR, but there are other factors that you will want to consider (conversions, cost etc) before making the decision on the best ad.
The ways in which you measure a campaign are pretty standard across all platforms and above all, this is the most important part of running a PPC account. If you are not continuously measuring the performance of your campaigns, ad groups, keywords and ads you will be wasting money and not converting with a positive ROI.
Here is a list of the main factors that should be monitored and measured:
The most important takeaway from this is that when you launch a PPC campaign, make sure you know what you are doing and that you have the time to dedicate to managing the account.
You should continue to review, optimise, test and expand your campaigns. A PPC campaign is never complete and is an ongoing process to help you to achieve the highest possible return for your business.
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