Some say that “paid” has it easier than “organic” for one main reason: money makes things magically appear at top of Google, instantly. Pay-per-click is, in fact, a guaranteed way to get position 1 in Google for any keyword under the sun, although that’s more than likely a poor strategy to employ for businesses of any budget.

Paid advertising is a cash cow for search engines: Google collects more than $100,000,000 per day just from AdWords revenue alone [source], continuing to be the company’s biggest source of overall revenue. Companies like Google and Bing thrive not only on ‘keyword bidding wars,’ but improperly optimized campaigns being run by amateur advertisers. Don’t be a part of that crowd — cut the fat from your paid search campaign using good old keyword research, account optimization, and a dash of instinct!

How Does PPC Work?

Commonly known as PPC (Pay-Per-Click) and popularized by the two giants of the industry, Google AdWords and Bing Ads, this advertising system allows anyone to create an account and begin bidding on placement spots in SERPs (search engine results pages). Ads consist of a title, description and URL, and can be categorized so that they are bound to specific keyword terms. Your ad can then run on a system based on daily budget, time of day, region or many other metrics that fine-tunes how and where your ad runs.

When complete, your ads will run when internet users who fall within the metrics you’ve chosen have searched for a keyword that happens to fall on your list of targeted keywords, and within your set of metrics. If you’ve set an ad to appear for the keyword “used car sales in West Orange NJ” between 12:00PM – 5:00PM on weekdays at a budget of up to $1.50 per click and within the 07052 ZIP code, your ad will appear for anyone searching for that term who happens to fit all of those qualifications.

Your maximum dollar amount per click determines the likelihood of which “position” your ad will appear in compared to other competitors who are also bidding on that term. So, if you’re bidding $1.50/click on that keyword and your competitors are bidding $5.00/click, they’ll always appear before you. This is a system where those with the deepest pockets will always win.

What Can Go Wrong?

Pay-Per-Click campaigns are the ultimate money drain when executed incorrectly. The three biggest mistakes that non-internet marketers make will typically fall in the realm the following:

  1. Poor keyword decision-making: not doing your due diligence on keywords will cost you. There’s a fine line between a keyword that “sounds good,” and one that converts. It’s your job to find the latter, and it’s much easier said than done.
  2. Improper budget optimization: not knowing how to divvy up your monthly budget amongst a portfolio of keywords will result in the more expensive keywords expiring your budget before the smaller, more advantageous ones will even get to see the light of day.
  3. Lackluster landing pages: are your keywords landing visitors on a pages that make sense? How are those visitors behaving once they land on that page? Believe it or not, your expenses can dramatically decrease if your landing pages are highly relevant and helpful!

These pitfalls can be avoided by creating a good foundation for your PPC campaign, beginning with the selection of proper keyword choices.

Success Through Keyword Research

Keyword research and decision making is one of the most important components of PPC, and the most misunderstood amongst those who are not in the field of SEM. One of the most common mistakes is to assume that a keyword is ‘probably the right one’ that you should be ranking for, regardless of the fact that the proper kind of research was done on that keyword beforehand.

A rule of thumb is that the broader the keyword, the more expensive it will be, and vice-versa. Keywords that are typically three words or shorter, such as “refurbished desktop PCs,” “refurbished PCs” or simply “PCs” are going to cost you greatly. Why? Well, big spenders are paying a lot of money to appear at the top of search engines for these terms at all times of the day, and you’ll have to match their bids to join the fray.

A common misconception is that appearing for “computers” will bring your computer repair business a great deal of customers. Many people who search for that term might be college kids looking for research data for their assignment on computers. Some might be looking for info about how a computer works. Others might be looking for price comparisons of new computers. Others might be looking for a rock album named “Computers.” All of these, however, will contribute to clicking your ad and wasting your money, as they won’t be looking for the service you’re advertising.

How to Find “Converting” Keywords

How do you know which keywords will “convert,” and which will be worthless? It’s an ongoing research and testing phase in the realm of paid search.

Keyword research begins with a full audit of commonly searched-for keywords, and are compiled by seasoned digital marketers who can spot trends and use intuition to make educated guesses at which terms are most likely to convert for a specific business, based on research and competitive analysis.

As the PPC campaign evolves, keywords are groomed, modified and even deleted when they don’t perform well enough. Without this entire industry-standard procedure, your list of keywords are nothing more than “guesswork” that will cost you dearly!

About PPC Budget Optimization

A dire mistake made by business owners is to improperly set budgets, and haphazardly set high cost-per-click dollar amounts. The worst mistake of all is to neglect to put a “cap” on your daily or monthly expenditures, allowing your account to rack up a monumental bill that’s worse than a 14-year old with a credit card. It’s incredibly easy to mistakenly burn an entire month’s budget in a half hour…and that’s no exaggeration.

When setting dollar limits for clicks, it’s important to note that being #1 doesn’t always mean being profitable. PPC ads show up at the top of a search engine results page, and along the right-hand side of it. The top of the page usually has a maximum of 3 ads, and the rest continue on the right side. In fact, the #1 ad at the very top of the page tends to get many “worthless” or curious clicks that amount in no sale or conversion of any kind. It also tends to be overly expensive, resulting in a poor return.

Sometimes, being #2 works out better. Or, being #4 — that is, the first position on the upper right-hand side of a search engine. You’ll never know without testing these positions and noting which one has brought in the most conversions. This is part of the testing phase that an experienced marketer always engages in with a PPC campaign.

Another important consideration of your budget is if your ads should be showing up on a ‘network’ of popular websites that accept paid ads, aside from search engines themselves. Sometimes, portioning your budget so that your ads appear on a targeted website in your niche industry might mean that it will perform better than it would on a search engine results page.

Landing Page Relevancy Is Key

A “landing page” is simply the page that a person sees when he or she clicks an ad. The most common mistake that small business owners make is to ‘land’ a visitor on their business website’s home page when that home page is not relevant to the exact keyword that triggered the ad, or if it is not optimized to send the visitor to a conversion point. The proper way to set up a landing page is to create one especially for each ad you are running. It should be highly relevant to both the ad and keyword, and should make things very easy on the visitor.

Sending ad-clicking internet users to a confusing, irrelevant or ineffective page will result in more lost dollars, less sales and lower annual profitability. You’ll really want a powerful, effective landing page that accomplishes your main goal: this can be anything from a product sold, a phone call placed or a free white paper downloaded.

Building a Profitable Paid Search Campaign for Your Business

PPC is a subject matter that requires a great deal of education and practice. You’ll need to know all of the options available to you that will make your campaign be as narrow as possible, only appearing to internet users who are the most likely to buy, while eliminating “curiosity clicks” and other issues that will drain your budget.

You’ll need to have a customized keyword research campaign completed, revealing a lengthy list of keywords sorted by various metrics that are the foundation for your paid search campaign. Lastly, you’ll need a monthly budget and a daily expenditure limitation in mind, giving some slack for important sales days and other advantageous events.

Without giving your paid online search campaign the proper time and effort it deserves, it will be a detriment to your budget. It’s also important to keep in mind that your campaign will never be successful from day one. It’s an ongoing, monthly part of your responsibility from this point forward!

Refining, updating and perfecting your PPC campaign makes it successful, because the data you’ll be collecting from your campaign is the ultimate proprietary information that reveals what is proven to make money on a regular basis — the information from this campaign will be amongst the most valuable “insider info” that will drive the future success of your organization.