Beginners guide to Pay-Per-Click advertising

ppc advertising

If you are new to pay per click, I am pretty sure that although you may not have used it as part of your campaign, you will have seen the ads at the top of your search pages.

ppc advertising

PPC advertising is a method of advertising based on search engines. In order to drive more traffic to your site, you can bid on keywords that relate to your site’s content and display text ads on the results pages when someone searches for those keywords. When visitors click on your ads, you pay the amount that you’ve bid on the keyword.

The idea behind PPC is that the amount you spend on clicks is an investment on the return you will get when customers visit your website, and hopefully make a purchase. Bid cost is determined by how competitive a keyword is, so you want to find the keywords that are less competitive (thereby less expensive) but still highly relevant to your business, and what you are selling. Creating a successful PPC advertising campaign is in large part dependent on discovering the best keywords to use.

While more targeted than traditional methods of offline advertising or banner ads, it’s certainly possible to waste a lot of money with pay per click. The best way not to waste a lot of time and money is to make sure you think strategically about whom you are targeting, what you are selling, and where on your website you send them to. The goal of pay per click advertising is to get in front of searchers who are looking specifically for what you have to offer. This takes careful keyword research, strategic bidding, and persuasive ad copy just to get them to click on your ad.

PPC can be great for several reasons:

  • Starting a new campaign: If you have a new or short-term campaign for a product, pay per click can be a great way to generate excitment. You can start a pay per click campaign within 24 – 48 hours.
  • Adjusting ads mid-campaign: You can generally change the text of your ad in mid-campaign, so monitoring your ad and adjusting your message is easy.
  • Direct online sales: If you sell a product or offer a service that people can purchase the moment they arrive at your web site, pay per click is a great tool. You know that each click generated is a potential customer, so spending money to increase the number of clicks makes sense.
  • Selling niche products: If you are trying to generate traffic for a highly specific keyword, PPC can often provide bargains.

Quality is key!

Google and Bing use what they call “Quality Score”. This takes into account:

  • Your ad
  • Ad performance
  • The quality of the page to which the ad points

Based on various factors in all three places, search engines will either increase or decrease the bid amount necessary for you to gain a specific position.

If you want a great quality score, you need to:

  • Build your history. The longer you’ve run a specific campaign, ad group and ad without changes, the better your history. If you move to a new account, your entire history goes and you have to start over. So don’t move unless you absolutely have to.
  • Continually test your ad copy. Constantly test ad copy for the best clickthrough rate. A higher click through rate will probably give you a better quality score.
  • Put keywords in your ads. If you’re buying the phrase “platinum,” make sure “platinum” shows up in the ad.
  • Put keywords on your landing page. Make sure the landing page of your PPC ad has those keywords as well.
  • Split good keywords from bad ones. Put high-performing ads and keywords in their own campaign. Otherwise the bad performers will drag down the good ones.
  • Focus your campaign by time of day, geography, search network, etc.

Monitor, Monitor, Monitor!

Monitoring your campaign and checking how effective your keywords are, search terms and click through rates are is imperative. Never set up your ads and then leave them to run by themselves. You need to continuously manage your PPC advertising campaign, or:

  • Someone might outbid you.
  • Someone might have dropped out of the top spot, meaning you can reduce your bid and keep a #3 rank.
  • Search patterns may have changed.

Even the best designed campaigns will need to be monitored on a regular basis. So make sure that you have the time and the man power to manage your campaign.

Make sure you run more than one ad in your campaigns and ad groups. If you create 2-3 ad variations, the network will find and serve the version that performs the best (set your ad rotation to optimise for clicks to let the network select the best). Making small changes such as duplicating your first ad text, but changing the headline may make all the difference to how well the ad performs. Test a variety of messages and you can then pause the ads that are under-performing.

You can research your keywords online using Google’s free keyword tool. It is also advisable to organise your keywords into groups which have different bids, ad copy and landing pages. This way you are not competing against yourself when bidding for keywords, and the results are easier to measure.

It is often best to use automatic bidding when you are starting out. You can still keep tight control of your investment as you can set a maximum daily budget for your campaign, and a maximum cost per click rate so you don’t spend too much on keywords.

If you feel that your business would benefit from investing in PPC, the main advice I can give is to avoid the more-clicks-is-better mentality. Focus on conversion rates and return on investment, rather than just clicks and you can build a profitable campaign.