Creating Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Campaigns
With search-engine optimization (SEO), your goal is to rank for free within the organic search results for target keywords related to your Web site. In contrast, with pay-per-click (PPC) your goal is to pay for placement by competing with other advertisers for ranking within the sponsored results section of search results. There is no charge when someone clicks your organic listing, but you are charged every time someone clicks your PPC listing. PPC listings are typically designated as sponsored listings and appear above and below organic results. Proper PPC strategy and research is critical to your success.
Regardless of your SEO success you should also use PPC as a primary method to promote your Web site. In fact, research suggests that having both a high-sponsored and high-organic ranking greatly increases the credibility of your Web site and, therefore, increases the traffic to your Web site. If you think of the search results page as a piece of real estate, a powerful strategy is to get your Web site onto that piece of property as many times as you can.
The largest and most popular PPC advertising platform is Google AdWords, but competitive platforms are available through Yahoo Search Marketing and MSN adCenter. Before you open a PPC account on Google and start spending money, familiarize yourself with the structure of various components of an AdWords account. You should also study the various free educational resources Google provides.
All major PPC engines allow you to target your ads in various ways. The most common form of targeting is geo-targeting, which allows you to display your PPC ads in specific geographical regions. Geo-targeting is especially effective for regional businesses and can be used as a strategy to test various regional markets.
Another popular form of targeting is called dayparting, which involves showing your PPC ads only during specific times of the day or week. For example, you may find that your conversion rate slips on Mondays and Wednesdays and peaks from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays. With dayparting technology you tell the search engines what days and at what times you want to activate or pause your PPC ads.
Writing effective ad copy, using available keyword matching options, and setting effective bid strategies are important components of a successful PPC advertising campaign. Each of the major search engines allows you to draft multiple advertisements. The search engines test each of your advertisements and serve the ads with the highest click-through rates most often. Writing effective ad copy means using compelling language that separates your ads from the competition, entices people to click, and contains a high conversion rate.
Keyword matching options are important because they tell the search engine how broadly or specifically you want to advertise based on the keywords you bid on. For example, using a broad-match option on the keyword “cheese” might trigger your advertisement when a user types the popular keyword “Chuck E. Cheese” into a search engine. On the other hand, using an exact-match option on the keyword “cheese” will trigger your advertisement only when the exact word “cheese” is typed into a search engine.
Understanding basic and advanced PPC account reporting is critical to maximizing your advertising spend and analyzing your PPC advertising success. A major benefit of PPC advertising is robust, real-time, keyword-level PPC reporting. If you choose, you have the option of digging as deep as you want into the efficacy of your PPC initiatives. In addition, you can select to use conversion tracking, which allows you to set conversion goals and monitor return-on-investment, or ROI, at the keyword level.
Once you have spent a reasonable amount of time getting to know the inner workings of a PPC account, you are ready to deposit money and begin generating targeted Web site traffic. Keep in mind that you will be charged for all clicks in real time. Make sure you set strict budget limits at first and go slow. Your methodology and diligence will determine your ultimate success, not how many keywords and campaigns you have active at any given time.