Start Your PPC Campaign Off Right

by Ryan Laneville

4 min read

A Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign is a great marketing tool that any small business owner can set up and immediately see results. Basically, you purchase online ads to appear alongside web search results and it works like its name says, you pay for each time someone clicks on your ad. Bing has a useful explanatory diagram of how the process works.

Unlike Search Engine Optimization (SEO), where it can take days or weeks for your site to improve on its search rankings, PPC campaigns start to work almost instantaneously after they’ve been launched. Keep in mind, “work” in this sense means that your ads are showing up when certain words are searched; it doesn’t mean they are actually generating results. That’s where two central parts of your campaign come in: keywords and content. Nail these parts and your PPC campaign has a greater chance of success.

Selecting/Organizing Keywords

To begin, you need a list of keywords related to what you are advertising. As the folks at Webstream note, “…if you want your ads to show up on the page, you have to bid on that keyword. Therefore, to succeed at PPC, you need to make sure you’re bidding on the right keywords.”

A good place to start building your keyword list is in forums and blogs related to your industry. Go through and make note of the common terms people are using related to your product or service and also look at the search/filtering categories that are used on the site. Don’t be shy when you start listing keywords; the more you come up with, the better. You really want this to be an extensive list, so don’t worry about listing words you think are too obscure right now. This is brainstorming and no words are bad words.

With your initial list in hand, head over to sites like Google Adwords or Semrush and use their keyword tools to grow your list even more. You’ll be able to search for keywords related to what you already have and use features that will combine two or more existing keywords into a word grouping you might not have thought of. These sites have plenty of other powerful features that will allow you to really learn which keywords you want to work with. Some of which will let you see the search volume for a particular keyword as well as how much competition there is (or isn’t) for that word.

Whatever tool you use, make sure you read through their tutorials so you use them to their maximum potential. They all have unique features that can add a lot of value to your campaign; you just have to know how to use them.

Once you have an exhaustive list, your next step is to begin grouping them by related terms. Grouping is almost as important as picking the keywords themselves because using properly grouped keywords in your ads ensures they stay relevant to the searched words. Sites like WordStream offer a keyword grouper that make this part a lot easier and can save you lots of time.

One more thing you should do is make a list of negative keywords. These are words that you don’t want your ads to appear with because while they may be related to your existing keywords; your product or service has no relation to them. This is especially important if you’re using broad keyword terms as your ads could appear for something you don’t carry.

Creating and Testing Content

We’ve all heard the saying “content is king” and no truer is that sentence than with PPC campaigns. You can have all the best keywords in your industry, but if your ad copy is second rate, then you did all that hard work for nothing.

A good place to start is by looking at top competitor ads for some of your keywords. You’ll likely notice that these ads are very specific and the reader knows what they will get when they click on them. Using general ad copy defeats the purpose of having done all your keyword research, so put those words to use and make it clear what you’re offering. As Leon Krishnayana from Kissmetrics puts it “The closer the ad copy matches the keyword, the more likely people are to click on the ad (and eventually order).”

You’ll also want to try different versions of your ads to appeal to different people. You can use different styles of language, emphasize some words over others, or even change the tone of the ad. While you personally might like the ad copy, what matters most is how it performs. This is where testing comes in.

Testing your ads is vital to making sure you spend your advertising money properly. Adwords has a feature called “split-test” that lets you pit two ads against each other. It will run one ad half the time and the other ad for the other half of the time. You’ll be able to see how well they each perform and if the difference is significant enough, stick with one over the other. You’ll want to keep repeating this process as your campaign goes on. Remember, just because an ad is doing well doesn’t mean a new one won’t do better.

Photo Copyright: Shpak Anton

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