Curious about how to get started with paid search to get found online? Read these 15 tips!
Paid Search - aka PPC, pay-per-click, using Google Adwords - can be valuable for testing out keywords and ideas, how well an offer converts on your site, for example, as well as to jump start traffic to your website (see 4 Ways Paid Search Can Support Inbound Marketing).
From an inbound marketing perspective, relying on paid search entirely for traffic to your website doesn't make sense. Much better to focus those resources on publishing blog articles and developing deeper content offers (say a guide or an ebook), and using paid search strategically to strengthen those efforts.
If you are considering paid search for your business, here are 15 tips for getting started so your investment in paid search helps you get found online.
1. Identify a goal for doing paid search. Is this a short term test? Are you looking to generate paid customers? Determine why so you can track how successful paid search is for your business.
2. Take care of all of the website basics that you can from an organic perspective (see How Organic Keywords Help You Get Found Online). That means taking care of website copy, tags, meta data, and content.
3. Research your competition. Use the Google Adwords search tool to explore ideas. Check out your competitors' websites. Do searches on Google in incognito mode on terms relevant to you and see who comes up in results, including paid results. Observe how competitiors position themselves in their ads, how far up in results they appear and whether they also appear organically in results.
4. Pick relevant keywords (and variations) to focus on in your paid search campaign. Be as narrow and specific as possible. As you did when exploring organic search terms for your website and blog, focus on keywords relevant to your business and to customers seeking solutions to problems you can help them with.
5. Be specific with the keywords you bid on. If you aren't, you'll wind up paying lots of money to attract unqualified or irrelevant traffic. For example, rather than bid on "case studies" which is generic, opt for "inbound marketing case studies" if inbound marketing is your area of focus and you intend to promote inbound marketing case studies on paid search which will attract prospects looking for inbound marketing case studies. Stay away from bidding on your company name or brand names unless you have a specific goal in mind. (And don't bid on your competitors' name or brands.)
6. Create a Google Adwords account (you'll need a gmail account just as with Google Analytics; you can even link up your Google Analytics account). Create a campaign; within your campaign, create an Ad group. Identify the keywords to bid on and create and ad (consider creating a second variation so you can test which one does better). Note that ads have word count limits and other constraints (e.g., no all caps).
7. Focus entirely on the Search Network rather than the Display Network (i.e., showing up in blog and other website ad listings), especially when you get started with paid search. If you do advertise on the Display Network, create a separate campaign as the dynamics are radically different.
8. Start with a low budget ($5/day for example) so you can experiment, establish a baseline for bids and traffic and be able to understand what the results of your paid search campaign mean. Once you get a feel for the dynamics for your campaign, you can consider increasing your budget as long as you stay focused on the goals of your paid search campaign.
9. Consider organizing paid search campaigns around your products, services and offerings. Within one campaign, you can create several ad groups which each relate to a common category. If you sell fishing products, create a campaign around fishing rods and distinct ad groups around kids fishing rods vs. deep sea fishing rods.
10. Experiment with your ads on an ongoing basis until you find the right combination of benefits which result in higher clicks and conversions. Consider focusing on more than low price in ads and rather on what other value your business offers.
11. Think through the entire paid search experience for your visitors. Be specific in terms of where you send people once they click on your ad. Rather than send them to your home page, send them to a page which specifically speaks to the fishing rods you are promoting. (and make sure that page is fully optimized with relevant content.) Use a tracking URL for your destination.
12. Include your principal keyword in your paid search ads. Also include it in your destination URL. Make sure the page you send people to includes that keyword. BTW you are better off bidding on a few keywords in each ad group rather than a long laundry list of terms which may not convert well.
13. Begin with exact match keywords for paid search. As you gather more data, you can go broader; generally, the broader the match, the greater the volume and the less qualified the traffic. Your experimentation will provide you with valuable perspective on your sweet paid search spot.
The chart below explains the difference between keyword match types and how to bid based on the type.
(Here is the article link: Understanding Google AdWords Pay Per Click Keyword Match Types: Exact, Phrase, Broad, and +Modified +Broad.)
14. Remember what paid search is about: qualified conversions not masses of expensive irrelevant clicks. You want to successfully entice a significant number of relevant and qualified searchers to click on your ad and complete a conversion on your site. That can be a sale, an offer download or a visit to a specific and critical web page. It's important to identify those conversions ahead of time so you can assess how successful your paid search investment is.
The more specific your ad, keywords and destination web page (aka landing page) for paid search, the higher the click through rate and the conversion rate will be if you've done a good job addressing your target customer's needs.
In the example below, notice the CTRs which are both above 1% (BTW above 1% is really good). The 14.86% CTR is for a very specific search with lower impressions than the 1.34% ad group. Both are generating conversions. The two ad groups, although related, have different goals.
15. Regularly review, analyze and make course corrections on your paid search campaigns. Evaluate them against your organic search results. If your paid search isn't delivering worthwhile conversions, review your campaigns and assumptions. Consider halting the campaign until you figure out a solution. Read How Even YOU Can Master PPC Campaign Management from HubSpot for inspiration.
If you plan on getting started with paid search to get found online, let me know which tips you found most valuable. Feel free to add to the list, too!