9 Steps to Improving Your PPC Results

When paid search is done correctly, it can deliver the best results for your advertising dollar. However, it can be quite challenging and requires careful selection of keywords and phrases, expert copywriting for ads and landing pages, and in-depth analysis and testing of results.

Mistakes can cost your company dearly in bottom line profits, so it is important to employ a series of best practices when developing pay per click campaigns. Here are nine steps you can take to vastly improve your PPC results:

  1. Develop more 3, 4, & 5 word keyphrases. A good keyword program has a mix of single keywords as well as multiple work keyphrases. The reason for this is that single keywords are often less profitable because they cost more and have lower conversion rates. It is therefore crucial that you incorporate multiple keyword phrases that are less costly and higher in conversion. Although the exact percentage varies from industry to industry, you should aim to have at least 60% of your search traffic emanate from multiple word keyphrases. Also be wary of the higher priced and less relevant terms resulting from broad matching. Broad matching tactics are not a substitution for keyword development.
  2. Write qualifying descriptive copy. Successful ads feature copy that brings qualified buyers to their landing pages. For example, if you run a high-end clothing boutique, your ad should target clients that are prepared to pay the high price associated with such luxury. An ad that includes general copy such as “wide selection of women’s clothing” leading to a site selling high-priced clothing most people cannot afford would be misleading. Instead you should say, “Shop designer women’s fashions,” or some variation. Your ad copy should accomplish two things: a) encourage qualified customers to click on your ad, and b) discourage those who are not interested in your product or service. Keep in mind that you only pay the search engines when someone clicks on your ad, so make the click worth its price by using qualifying copy that results in conversion.
  3. Send searchers to a relevant landing page. Today’s experienced Internet users expect to find exactly what they want when they click on an ad. If they are taken to a website’s home page, a broad category page, or worse, a totally unrelated page, they are likely to leave your site as quickly as they arrived. Analyze each keyphrase you are using and determine the best landing page your site has to offer the searcher. Regularly test all SEM links to ensure that they are bringing users to the appropriate web page. Make it your business to deliver a top-notch user experience to website visitors, which includes having well-designed, easy-to-navigate landing pages that communicate a clear call to action.
  4. Don’t rely too heavily on automated bid management strategies. Technology alone cannot bring you sales. Human intervention is imperative in the creation of a successful PPC campaign. You’ll achieve the best results by using a bid management tool combined with the careful analysis and qualitative research that can only be performed by humans. Technology can be used to retrieve information, crunch numbers, and sort data. People should then analyze that information and data and make bidding decisions based on a clear understanding of the business.
  5. Don’t allow affiliates to bid on your branded products and company trademarks. If your company has branded products and trademarked items, allowing affiliates and resellers to bid on these terms can be a huge mistake. It can negatively impact your performance, raise marketing costs, and even reduce your sales. Instead you should make your affiliates sign a Rules of Engagement document that states they can bid on everything except branded terms. Then assign someone to monitor your branded search terms on all engines to ensure compliance.
  6. Accept that the top listing is not always the best. Most companies assume that the top search engine position is always the best. However, it is more profitable to determine the position that yields the best volume and profitability. Top positions are the most expensive, and might not deliver the best ROI for you. If you can obtain the top position without paying through the nose, by all means grab it. But it is important to realize that other factors are involved here. Perhaps your product and pricing are better than that of the competitor listed above you. If that is the case your target audience will realize that regardless of your position.
  7. Analyze what your competitors are doing. It is important to keep in mind that the actions of your competitors can directly impact your SEM performance. Identify who your competitors are and then devise a plan to monitor their search activities. Choose the top keywords that account for 80% of your PPC budget and closely monitor those every day. Then adjust your bidding strategy accordingly, taking advantage of bidding gaps and more aggressive opportunities.
  8. Understand the differences between the major search engines. Not all search engines work the same way, and it is very important that you realize this when putting together a PPC campaign. For example, Yahoo treats the singular and plural forms of keywords as one, but Google requires you to submit keywords in both the singular and plural format in order to have visibility for each. In addition, some search engines have an open auction environment that allows you to bid into each position, but others have invisible bidding forums wherein your position and click price are determined via a relevancy score algorithm. Another major difference that exists is the set of copywriting rules that each search engine enforces. Each has its own unique character limitations and word restrictions that must be followed.
  9. Watch out for click fraud! It’s time to face reality. Click fraud is real, it can happen to you, and you should have a plan in place to deal with it. Search engines are constantly working to improve this situation, but the bottom line is that you must take steps to protect yourself against fake impressions, fraudulent clicks, “click pimping,” and attacks by competitors. Put safeguards in place using reporting and analysis to uncover data that may suggest fraud is occurring. If you discover that you are the victim of click fraud, present your case to the search engine provider and be persistent in demanding refunds.

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