PPC (pay per click) advertising is an online marketing model that is used to drive qualified traffic to a website. This can take the form of ads that run on search engines or other content sites. For our purposes, we are going to focus on ads that run on search engines such as Google. An advertiser's ads are shown when a specific keyword phrase is entered into the search box. The advertiser is charged when a person clicks on one of these ads. Unlike other types of online marketing, you only pay when your ad is clicked on not when your ad is simply shown (this is called CPM advertising- cost per impression). The cost of a click depends on numerous factors such as the level of competition within your keyword niche, the quality of your ads, your keyword bid and the number of clicks that your ads have generated over time.

Some may think that the advertiser with the highest budget will realize the best ROI. But in reality, PPC success takes more than a huge advertising budget. A successful PPC campaign requires planning, organization, tracking, as well as continual optimization and monitoring.

While the amount of money you can afford to allocate to your PPC campaign does indeed make an impact, there are other factors that will determine the success of an PPC campaign. These factors include:

  1. Goals: Before beginning any PPC campaign, it is essential to set realistic performance goals. These goals will differ for each advertiser. Some possible goals include: building brand awareness, increasing web traffic, and improving sales/revenue.
  2. Quality Score: A high Quality Score means that your ads will show in a higher position and at a lower CPC (cost-per-click). Quality Score affects the CPC that you will pay for your keywords, the position in which your ad shows and whether your ad is eligible to show for a specific search query. Quality Score is calculated using a variety of factors such as historical CTR (click through rate) of your campaign and current keyword bid.
  3. Campaign Optimization: Optimization of a PPC campaign is an essential step in generating results. Optimization of your campaign will ensure that your ads are highly relevant to each search query, are shown in an optimal ad position and generate clicks. In turn, this will help your quality score which will make the most of your budget. You will pay less for highly qualified clicks.
  4. Organization and set up:  It is important to understand all of the options within your PPC account. This includes where you want your ads to run (this is extremely important to small business operating in a set geographical area), what times of the day your ads will run and ensuring that conversion tracking is working properly. You are spending money on these ads, you should be tracking the performance and determining ROI throughout the process. If may not seem like a big deal, but these little things will go a long way in ensuring that you are making the most of your campaign.
  5. Landing pages: One of the biggest mistakes that advertisers make when running a PPC campaign is driving traffic to their site's homepage. It is important to drive this traffic to a highly targeted and relevant landing page. It is best practice to use a custom landing page for this purpose. The user knows what they are looking for since they searched for it- don't make them search more when they click on your ad. Drive these users to a dedicated landing page that contains the information/product/service that they searched for. This will aid in the generation of conversions.
  6. Daily Budget: The more budget that you can allocate to your PPC campaign, the higher your daily budget can be. Once your daily budget has been reached for the day, your ads will no longer show. Therefore it is important to bid on very relevant, longer tail keywords and run an optimized campaign. This will make the most of your budget.
  7. Content Network:  When signing up for a PPC campaign, some search engines (including Google), automatically opt an advertiser into the Content Network. Ads running on the content network tend to deliver fewer conversions and eat up your daily budget since they operate on a CPM model. Unless this is part of your online marketing strategy, make sure to opt out of the content network.
  8. Constant Monitoring: Another mistake some advertisers make is the set it and leave it plan. It is essential that you update, track and make modifications to your PPC campaign regularly. This includes keyword list alterations, landing page testing, ad testing and more.

Yes, PPC advertising requires money- a piece of your marketing budget. However, just because you may not have the budget of a Fortune 500 company, this doesn't mean that you can't run a successful PPC campaign. With careful planning, organization and continuous monitoring/testing, any company can run a PPC campaign that generates results.

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