Pay-per-click advertising is one of the most powerful tools available for online marketers, giving companies of all sizes an opportunity to reach their audience quickly and efficiently, whatever their budget. The accessibility of PPC makes it easy for anyone to run their own campaigns, but costs can quickly mount if you don’t follow best practice advice, so here are a few tricks to help you make the most of every click.
Define your keywords
Whatever your product, it’s unlikely that you’ll be the only one selling it, and bidding for popular keywords will drive up the cost-per-click (CPC). Sometimes this is unavoidable, and when the potential value of a click is extremely high it can be worth pursuing, but finding niche keywords that are less competitive is a good way to reduce your CPC.
For example, the keyphrase ‘garden centre’ is quite generic and will likely attract a high CPC, as rival garden centres all want to compete for top spot in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). Avoid this by creating adverts for specific products within your range, such as ‘lawn tennis’ or ‘garden remodelling’ – these are unlikely to be as hotly contested, and will attract a lower CPC. Similarly, you can aim for long-tail keyphrases, such as ‘garden centre in north Manchester’, for which there will be less competition.
Some businesses may find it useful to assign a portion of their PPC budget to bidding on their own brand terms to secure presence in the rankings when people actively search for them; this is especially useful if a competitor is trying to steal your custom by bidding on your name. Be aware that this can eat into your PPC budget, though, so be sure that you’re getting a worthwhile return when taking this step.
Define your market
To run a successful campaign, you need to know who you’re selling to; where is your audience based, what do they like, how old are they? By identifying the audience most likely to respond to your advert you can ensure you’re reaching people. For example, if you’re a local business, don’t bother spending money advertising to customers nationwide – restrict your ad to a local radius, and you’ll be reaching a relevant market that is well-placed to convert.
You should always look to determine which market is the most profitable by creating several advert sets; try setting up one ad set to target customers within 30 miles of your business, and another for those within 10 miles. From their relative performance, you can then determine which ad set is the most efficient and where your money is best spent.
Test multiple adverts
Knowing how to write good ad copy is invaluable, and you can run several variations of your ads to display in rotation. PPC platforms such as AdWords give you the opportunity to test multiple versions of the same ad, allowing you to continually refine your efforts until they deliver big returns Split testing like this allows you to reduce your spend, and you can get started with some expert advice on split testing your AdWords campaigns.
There are a host of tools that promise to make AdWords campaign management easy, automatically adjusting your bids to ensure you’re always in the right spot. These tools can be useful, but should only be a helper; never, ever rely on them to keep your campaign running without supervision, as computer algorithms simply aren’t sophisticated enough to react to real world events, like politics or unseasonal weather – triggers that naturally affect price points.
Personally, I believe PPC managers should manually update each account on a daily basis; it’s the only way to guarantee you get the best value.
Quality is key
Google doesn’t simply reward the highest bid with the best ranking; if companies could simply throw money at them then the SERPs would be full of irrelevant junk, which would drive users away from Google. Therefore, an advert’s Quality Score has a big impact on its performance; the more relevant Google perceives it to be, the less you’ll have to spend to get it ranking high.
Your Quality Score is calculated not only by the ad’s relevance to your keywords, but to your click-through rate and historical AdWords performance; the better your ads perform, the less they’ll cost.
Pay-per-click marketing is an ever-changing world, and users need to stay on top of developments as they happen. Following the tips above will help you maximise your return on investment, but if you choose to outsource your PPC management here are five questions to ask your AdWords agency.