The Value of Search Engine Ads
Search engine ads, commonly referred to as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) such as Google AdWords and the equivalents on Bing, Yahoo and Facebook, can either provide you with valuable sales with a good return – or suck your money down the drain.
Benefits of PPC Ads:
- PPC ads can get instant exposure for a brand-new site and generate traffic right away while organic results catch up.
- The ad results can help you determine whether you are actually reaching your target market.
- Ads can promote your company name and brand.
- Well-done ads help to pre-qualify visitors to your site, aiming at the folks more likely to buy or contact you.
- Compared to other media such as newspapers, magazines, TV or Radio, they can be very cost-effective.
It’s rare that I come across a business site that wouldn’t benefit at all from search engine ads. The only case I can think of is if you offer a service where reputation, confidentiality, integrity and professionalism are extremely important. Would you click on an ad from a psychiatrist? On the other hand, professions such as medical and legal have jumped on the bandwagon in recent years. When doing market research for cosmetic surgery, I was very surprised to learn that people shop based on price. So, I worked with the reality of the market.
There are lots of different kinds of ads you can run – from photo-based to product-based to text, videos, local, and mobile. They can be tailored to geographic regions, demographics, days of the week, time of day, languages, and even more options. Take note – choices for running ads are about to explode into a whole new set of options.
I don’t want to scare you away! PPC ads don’t have to be complicated to be effective, excellent online marketing channel.
Whether or not you “should” run ads depends on whether you can budget for it at least six months ideally. I recommend thinking long-term because over time, with intelligent tweaks, your ads will become more effective and the costs will go down. The budget does not have to be big, and it’s always under your control. A 6-month plan is a good place to start.
So – how do you avoid wasting money and time? How do you get a decent return on investment (ROI)?
All PPC ads are set up by creating “Campaigns”. I’m going to address Google AdWords, but the same principles apply no matter where and how you are using PPC ads. Key factors to consider in your Campaign setup:
Begin with Keyword Research.
This is absolutely essential. After creating a Google AdWords account (but before you’ve actually created any Campaigns) use their built-in Keyword Research Tool to find words and phrases you want to advertise for. The Keyword Research Tool will provide estimated costs-per-click, competitiveness of a word/phrase, as well as the search popularity of that word or phrase. You might even discover some good search terms that hadn’t occurred to you.
Take advantage of specialized Campaign settings
Everything from your budget to whether you want your ads to appear on mobile devices to what countries (or states… or cities…) you want your ad to run in. you can also specify things like not running ads on weekends, or only running ads on weekends, depending on your market and whey the do the most searching.
The structure of your campaign is extremely important!
Within Google AdWords, there are sub-categories called AdGroups. Divide up your lists of keywords, and matching ads, into separate AdGroups targeted towards different topics or markets for maximum effectiveness, lower costs, and ease of determining what’s working and what isn’t.
- Do your best to not duplicate keyword/keyword phrases across multiple AdGroups.
- Make your ads match your keywords. Pay special attention to the first line – employ your targeted keyword/phrase in that top line.
- When just starting out, employ focusing of your target keywords/phrases by wrapping them in quotation marks. For example, instead of using the keyphrase website designers, use “website designers” instead.
- If you want to run text ads, plus image ads, plus video ads, create separate Campaigns for them.
Monitor and Tweak
Look for keywords and ads that have the highest click-through rates and conversion rates. A conversion is defined as any action a visitor takes on your site – such as filling in a contact form, completing a purchase, or viewing a particular page. (Tracking email and phone contacts is far more complicated and a subject for another post.) With the help of your webmaster and PPC pro, conversion tracking can be set up. Even if you have to pay a little bit for help with this, it is worth it. Google pays very close attention to how well your ads convert. The result is that you spend less per click and your ad positions rise. Plus, it tells you which ads are creating the most sales or contact leads!
Always remember that the entire campaign is totally under your control. You can pause anything at any time to give you a breathing space for review. You can change your budget and per-click costs at any time. PPC ads give you a lot of control.
Getting Started with Google AdWords
When first setting up a Google AdWords account, there is a trick question about your payment method. You always want to select the “prepay” method. Trust me. Before your ads run, you’ll need to put some money into your Google AdWords Account via credit card – but you won’t be automatically billed. Refilling the account is left up to you. Remember – ads don’t run until you throw the switch.
If you get an offer for a $100 voucher to star up a Google AdWords campaign, either in the mail or by email (just be cautious about the email ones) it’s most likely legit and do take advantage of it. You use this voucher in the campaign setup and billing info process. I happen to have about 19 vouchers I can assign to new campaigns. However, $100 isn’t going to go very far – don’t embark unless you’re ready to consider a more long-term strategy.
Fiona Dudley can be reached at www.weaversites.com for more information about Search Engine Optimization, Marketing & Advertising
Next week Fiona will discuss how to not to lose your established rankings when redesigning your site.