I have such a love/hate relationship with paid search marketing. What is so great about it is that your are able to bring traffic to your website very quickly while you work on your search engine optimization to start to work. Yet, what is so frustrating about it is that it can be such a money pit that you do not have the opportunity (budget) to really have it be a successful part of your search marketing plan. Even worse, you hire a fly by night search marketing company to manage your PPC campaigns and you pay the majority of your money to them to give you less traffic than you would have gotten yourself. If you are planning to try to do it on your own here are a few things to do:
Set Up a Trial PPC Account
I can not stress this enough. You are not going to be any good at this at first and you do not want your account (and you) to pay for it in the future. This very easy to accomplish and will help you greatly in the long run. Start off by creating a Gmail account. Then, open a AdWords account under that Gmail account and start! Kind of reminds me of the days in sales at a pharmaceutical manufacturer years ago. When new sales people hit the sales floor we would give them the back of their client book of business (the ones that hated us or have not bought from us for years) so that they can learn how to pronounce the generic chemical names and get a feel of what it is like to perform this job. Of course the sales person was not very good at this and they were able to get their “feet wet” without hurting the front part of their book of business which was the ones who did buy from us.
List Your Conversions By Priority
We all want more money and that could be actual sales through your e-commerce or leads to follow up on. What about branding, newsletter sign ups, downloads of a PDF, webniars, videos, social shares, bookmarks? These are all conversions that will help make sales and you need to take at least the top three and use them as success metrics within your paid search campaign. If not, you run a very big risk (depending product or service your offer) of not seeing the value of your PPC campaign.
Build Your Search Keywords
Start with your website and find the main keywords within it. For this post, I am going to use Billiards Plus website. Billiards Plus is a company out in central Ohio that is a billiards supply store . As you can see from the picture, a pretty cool site that offers lots of different types of billiard and dart supplies. So how do you go about developing your keyword list for your PPC campaign based on this site? This site screams local and I would start off with keywords that will include the city (Dublin) and some surrounding cities such as Colony Estates and Coventry Woods into the more generic terms like pool tables, billiard supplies, pool table service, etc.
Account Category Setup
You have signed up for your AdWords account and you have a good sense of your keywords and conversions so now it is time to set up your categories. Give our example, I would use the following:
- Dart Supplies – Local
- Dart Supplies – General
- Pool Tables – Local
- Pool Tables – General
- Billiard Supplies – Local
- Billiard Supplies – General
At this point you may want to keep the budget more on the local categories than the general ones at first to see how well those general terms like “pool tables” will actually work.
PPC Keyword Exact Match Type
So there are 3 major match types out there across the search networks and I am going to talk about one of them called exact match. I am a big fan of using exact match on the majority of search terms especially when you are first starting your PPC campaign. Your visitors are highly qualified and you really limit your budget while keeping “window shoppers” from clicking your ads and having to implement advanced paid search marketing tactics. You can not go wrong with using exact matching to start off with.
Ad Copy Creation & Ad Testing
I think this is where the fun begins. Ask yourself these few questions first:
- What is the motivation of my users?
- What is my company’s unique selling proposition?
- What makes my company stand out from the rest?
- From a visitor’s perspective, what is in it for them?
I think our example site would want to promote that they are family owned, been in business since 1995, and offer all the name brand pool tables at below retail prices. In terms of ad testing I would start with at least 3 different ads and have the search network deliver the ad that is driving the most click through. You want to make the ad copy as relevant as possible to the keywords you are bidding on so make sure you are including the keyword you are bidding on within that ad. A good ad example would be the following:
Ohio Billiard Supplies
Name brand pool tables below retail
Family owned & operated since 1995
I would also implement geo-targeting testing within this campaign as well so that only visitors that are within a certain radius would see these ads. Again, your millage may vary but something you should test.
Landing Pages & Search Ads
One of the biggest mistakes from new paid search DIYs is that they send visitors to the incorrect page from an ad. So many of them send visitors directly to the home page as they feel that this will give them the best opportunity to find what they want. Depending on the ad and the keyword it can be but the best advise I can give to anybody on this is to say think “no click” meaning the best experience you can give a paid search (or SEO) visitor is to have them land on a page that is exactly what they wanted to see from the ad and not to have them click to find what they are looking for. Given the example ad and site I would test sending them to the home page (and the ad and keyword are very generic in nature) or pool table page.