If you’re like most people with a product or service to sell, you’re looking for ways to increase your business and drive traffic to its website. Maybe you’re not sure what you should be doing toward those ends and have tried a little bit of everything. Posting on social media sites takes up a lot of time without really giving the return many people hope for. Have you heard about pay-per-click advertising, or PPC, but figuring it out and getting started seems expensive and intimidating? Read on to learn what’s so great about PPC and how to get a good running start at setting up a successful campaign of your own.
Pay-per-click advertising is often carried out in the form of search-engine marketing, such as via Google Ads or Microsoft’s Bing Ads. You’ll also find it in the social-media sphere on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Why is it important? As Wodu explains, PPC marketing helps build brand awareness, generates leads to your business, brings customers to your website, and drives phone calls to your company. Not only can you see immediate results on a daily basis, but PPC is also measurable, trackable, and you have full control over the parameters you set in your campaigns. It’s a budget-friendly way to keep up with and outshine your competitors.
PPC falls flat, however, if your site isn’t prepared to direct that traffic once it hits your website. Your site must be ready with captivating and strong motivations for visitors to enter their buyer’s journey by signing up for the mailing list, requesting a white paper, clicking through to a page on your site, visiting your store, or making a purchase.
If all this sounds like a chore or you simply don’t have the time to learn how to do it yourself, companies like Wodu Media can do the heavy lifting for you by designing and managing your campaign. They can also assist you with the development side and optimize your existing content.
Before you dive into designing your PPC campaign, it’s important to get clear about your goals for PPC. What do you want to accomplish with your advertising? Is it branding, increased sales or signups, more leads, more traffic, or just honing your competitive edge? Your goals should inform your choices when designing your campaign. Once you’re ready to go, where do you start?
Step 1: Keyword Research
It’s easy to think your keyword research is a one-and-done situation, but it’s actually an ongoing process. Keywords evolve because the way searchers use words is always changing. New keywords can come into play with new products in the field. Even the vernacular of professionals is constantly evolving as they define business on the internet. All of that is going to influence your choice of target keywords. Of course, you’re not going to use every possible keyword for your business or product anyway. PPC campaigns give you control over what results your site will show up in.
With that in mind, one smart practice is to make negative keywords do some refining for you. Negative keywords are those you don’t want to be associated with your site in search engine results. By adding them to your negative keywords list, your site will not come up in results that feature those keywords. Let’s say searchers are often looking for a free month of service, but you’d rather sell your service at a discounted rate for the first month. When you add “free” to your negative search words, your site won’t come up in results that feature that keyword. Why pay for traffic that isn’t going to use your service, right?
Don’t forget about localization. If your business has a physical location, you’ll want to be sure to include localized keywords to maximize traffic to your place of business. If you add keywords for your local area and then branch out to neighboring areas that would also use your service, you’ll find it’s pretty easy to rank on the first page of search results, and, likely, even in the number one spot. You’ll also want to consider keyword variations since searchers won’t always word their search terms in the same order as others. If one searches for “clothing stores in Eugene, OR,” another may search “Eugene, OR clothing stores.” They may even use a long-tail keyword like “Eugene, OR clothing stores with purses.”
According to Ahrefs, one of the best ways to find keywords that may be working well is to look at the keywords of your competitors — especially if they’re ranking higher than you are. You can easily do this when you’re in Google Ads by clicking on “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category,” then entering the URLs for your competitors. It’ll show you a list of keywords and topics, but it also will also tell you their competition level and the average number of monthly searches. Don’t skip doing this if you want the coveted number one spot.
Another way to find additional keywords is to use Google Suggest. If you’ve ever noticed that when you type a phrase into the search bar, Google serves up other similar terms to help you find what you’re looking for, you’ve seen Google Suggest. It’s worthwhile to spend some time typing in your search terms and jotting down good suggestions that come up.
Step 2: Create Well-Crafted Copy
It’s no exaggeration to say that great copy makes the search engines go round. Well-crafted copy is so important that you’re penalized for duplicate content (or even for original content on topics that have been done to death). The search engines want your original, fresh and new take on whatever it is you’re about.
But, a person will never read your content if you don’t first catch their attention with the headline. A large percentage of people will read your headline, but only a significantly smaller percentage will read the article. The conversion odds aren’t great unless you write a headline that’s compelling enough to draw them to the body copy. The sole purpose of your headline is to compel them to read the first line. After that, your content needs to “chain” the reader through the subsequent bits of the article and down to your call to action (CTA).
After the headline, you need quality content that’s different from the other articles on the same subject. What can you say about what you do or offer that your visitor doesn’t know? How can you present your information in a way that’s fresh? This is your quest when writing or commissioning articles for your website.
Keep in mind that people are searching on the web for answers. They usually have a problem or they need an idea, so they go in search of a quick, digestible answer, which is in your power to provide. Make the juiciest, most helpful bits easy to spot and pick up. It’s important to provide more than just a fast answer – it needs to be factual. Nobody wants to look like a fool later for sharing what they learned from you. If you use statistics in your content, it’s imperative that you link to sources. Your reputation is on the line when you are not careful with the facts.
Similarly, make sure you’re only linking to other sites that are trustworthy and factually reliable. It’s important to your reader, but it’s also a way in which your content will be judged by the search engines. Think of your links as a bubble around your site that helps inform the search engines about what your content is about and how it should be considered. Don’t forget to make your content even more engaging with appealing images and video.
Step 3: Use A/B Testing
QuickSprout claims that split testing or A/B testing is an invaluable tool for gauging whether what works on your marketing efforts. It’s a means of comparing two versions of your page to see which performs better or converts more. One version is known as the control, such as your original page, and the second is the variation. It often doesn’t take much to make a landslide change, so variations can be as small as a headline tweak or as large as a redesign of the whole page.
Unless your page is really performing badly, most variations are going to be small-to-medium changes to components like headings, sub-headings, or button colors. Some visitors will see the control and some will see the variation, then engagement with both is measured and analyzed through the software. You can stop guessing as to whether a change is positive or not when you find out for sure through A/B testing.
Step 4: Bid Management
Your bids don’t just determine how much you’ll pay each time your ad is clicked; they determine where your ad is placed in search results. Strategically raising and lowering your keyword bids, and, thus, the position of your ads, will help you get the most out of your Google Ads budget.
The CPC is the cost per click, which is the maximum you’re willing to pay for your chosen keyword. Each time someone clicks your ad, you’ll pay this predetermined amount. Cost per mille, or CPM, is how much you pay for 1,000 views your ad receives if you’re using that model. In this model, you don’t pay per click but rather when your ad appears in results. The CPA is your cost per acquisition, which represents how much you’ll pay for each conversion. Your CPA is calculated based on how much you spend to get new customers. When measuring that way, you’ll choose a maximum or target CPA for each ad group.
Finally, Google gives your ad a quality score based on the relevancy of your keywords and your ad relevancy. How you score determines where your ad is positioned in the search engine results pages, or SERPs. Understanding these terms is vital to successfully manage your bids in a way that maximizes your Google Ads budget. Be sure to research bid prices on your chosen keywords to make sure you aren’t overpaying.
Step 5: Landing Page Relevancy
Your landing page relevance also contributes to the quality score Google gives your ad. Google is going to be looking at the keywords on your page, whether it appears to be useful, how well the page works, and its ease of navigation. All of these things encourage visitors who land on your page to look around and stay awhile. Google is also looking for original content, trustworthiness, and transparency.
The best plan for your landing page is to make sure that it’s consistent with the ad. If your ad is about a no-kink expandable garden hose, and a user clicks only to find everything but no-kink expandable garden hoses, this incongruence will cost you. You will have annoyed and disappointed the consumer, and Google will likely fail your page and give you a poor quality score. Why? Because it looks like bait-and-switch, which means your site isn’t trustworthy or transparent and doesn’t encourage the visitor to stick around.
Step 6: Include a CTA
Your call to action is you asking your visitor to do something, whether it’s joining a mailing list in exchange for a white paper or calling for a free consultation. When your visitor clicks your call to action, this is the moment of conversion. It’s normal for some hesitation from customers before taking action, even on a brilliant page, so it’s best to anticipate it and put some trust signals near the CTA. What’s a trust signal?
A trust signal is something that reassures the buyer and convinces them they’re not about to make an embarrassing mistake. Considering putting your guarantee or trust badges to the side of the CTA where they can see it if they start to feel unsure. Trust badges are those small graphic seals that say things like “PayPal Verified” or “BBB Accredited Business.” There are many types, and they work for a variety of sites. These seals are specifically designed to relieve a buyer’s anxiety and increase trust.
Hubspot recommends looking at examples of successful calls to action before crafting one of your own.
Don’t Forget to Monitor and Measure on a Regular Basis
Virtually none of this is set-it-and-forget-it. It’s an ongoing process that will require your attention and dedication in order to be successful. And, since there’s real money involved, you want to make sure all the components of your campaign work seamlessly together and are of the highest quality you can muster. Check your stats on a regular basis to see how various areas are performing. The first couple of weeks, it can be very exciting and stay at the top of your mind, but after that, it’s a good idea to put PPC maintenance on your schedule so that it’s a part of your regular rotation.
Be Sure to Make Adjustments
Be prepared to make adjustments based on your results and measurements. If you need to make adjustments, don’t forget the value of A/B testing. It can save you both time and money. Experimenting with changes willy-nilly can take forever to give you the information you need to make effective changes. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that having to make changes means you’re doing something wrong, says the Harvard Business Review. Nothing is static, and change happens on the web at the speed of light. Roll with it, adapt, and make your changes – then be ready to do it again. It’s not a mistake; it’s a change.
Recap the Success of Your Overall Campaign
It’s easy to get sucked into the daily minutia of PPC management, but it’s crucial to step back and gauge the success of your campaign. How is your campaign working on the whole? Remember those goals from the beginning of the article? Now is the time to break those out again and compare them to what you’ve achieved with your campaign so far. Are you on target? According to your measurements, where can you be better?
You’ve seen the benefits of having a PPC campaign, and now you have enough information to get a basic start in designing your own. You’ve learned some of the most common terms that will help you as you search the internet for more information. Getting your feet wet by creating your campaign will be the fastest way to feel more confident, and you’ll soon be rewarded with the fruits of your labors.
We can help you maximize your impact. Get started with us today!