Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.
Since when do readers want to be insulted or put in a position of feeling stupid regarding pay-per-click advertising? Probably never. As an industry author and owner of a web-marketing agency, I keep up with industry news. I’ve found articles during the first half of this year that stress “mistakes you’re making.”
This post will take fresh approach by focusing on recommendations and enhancements to improve your pay-per-click advertising program.
Complexities of Paid Search Advertising
Pay-per-click advertising is a platform in which you spend money on clicks every minute of every hour. Your daily budget will generate the return on investment you are seeking when you can outlast our competition with quality traffic to your website’s landing pages.
In the past 10 years, PPC advertising has become more complicated. The complications come from both the evolution of technologies and advertisers requesting for more options. The days of “here are my ads for these keywords and I will keep bidding more money to get to the top position” have slowly disappeared.
Pay-per-click advertising channels include:
- Search ads;
- Mobile ads;
- Display (banner) ads;
- Video ads;
- Re-marketing (re-targeting) ads;
- Ad extensions;
- AdWords Express (hyperlocal advertising).
And let’s not forget the management needed around quality scores, negative keywords, A/B Testing, analytics. and more.
A question for businesses is whether to outsource this work to a professional firm or do it in-house. If outsourced to a professional firm, could you generate more revenue working on what you do best? If you manage in-house, it will require planning, investment budget (not an expense budget) and a commitment to follow-through over the long run. A expense budget — such as retaining a professional pay-per-click firm — is something you can start and stop anytime. A investment requires a commitment over a longer term.
Enhancements For Consideration
There are many ways to enhance PPC performance across the different paid search advertising channels. I’ll focus on five ideas, below.
- Monitor your competition. Knowing what your competition is doing is a way to be competitive, by running campaigns with an acceptable ROI and understanding how to use your budget. There are various tools to help monitor which keywords your competitors are using, the ads they are running, what landing pages they are sending people to, and how much they are spending. Three tools to help with this are Moat, WhatRunsWhere, and Google Alerts.
Moat develops technologies and products for brand advertisers and premium publishers. Moat’s products include Moat Intelligence and Moat Analytics. Moat also provides a free ad search tool to enter a competitor’s brand name, and see what display ads it has run recently.
One you search on a competitor’s brand name, you can see the size and some of the places the ads have been seen.
WhatRunsWhere is a competitive intelligence service for online media buying. You can buy your advertising using the data gathered, identify new traffic sources, and keep an eye on the competition. This is a paid, monthly service that is worth trying.
Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google search results based on the criteria you set up. You can enter a search query to monitor, and designate the type of results, the language, region, and frequency. While you can use Google Alerts to monitor your competitors or industry, you can also include your business’s name, to monitor what other are saying about your company.
- Using Google ad extensions. Think of ad extensions as a means to visually improve your text ads in desktop and mobile searches. Using ad extensions, you can improve the click rate of your ads. More clicks means more traffic to your website. Google AdWords offers more than 10 different types of ad extensions, including the following.
- App extensions
- Call extensions
- Communication ad extensions
- Drop-down navigation extensions
- Image extensions
- Location extensions
- Offer ads
- Review extensions
- Seller ratings annotations
- Sitelink extensions
- Social annotations
I’ve addressed ad extensions here previously, at “Understanding Ad Extensions in Google AdWords.”
- Landing pages and quality scores. The Google AdWords quality score is a weighted average from 0 to 10 based on how relevant your ads, keywords, and landing pages are to a person searching and engaging with them. A high quality score, which is measured per keyword, can lead to lower prices and better ad positions.
The quality score of each keyword is calculated every time a keyword matches a search. The more relevant the ads and landing pages people are clicking to, the higher your keyword quality score. Your quality scores will affect your ad position on the search results page as well as your prices per click.
For more, see my previous article, “High Quality Scores Mean Lower Pay-per-click Costs.”
- Tracking Conversions and ROI. To know which of your keywords produces the most clicks and conversions, consider utilizing conversion tracking. This is a free tool from Google AdWords to know which keywords are good for your business — to invest more wisely and improve your ROI.
For example, you can set up conversion tracking for someone sending you an email from your website’s contact form. If your website has free downloads, you can set up tracking for those as well.
In your Google AdWords account, click on “Tools” and then “Conversions” to follow Google’s instructions to set up the conversion tracking, including how to install the code (always on a thank-you page or the last page in a process) on the individual web pages.
- Google Analytics and web address tagging. Google Analytics allows you to set up custom campaigns, where you can learn the sources of traffic to your website, to identify the most effective ways to attract users.
Custom campaigns are performed by adding parameters to your web address in your campaigns that are running outside of Google AdWords. When a visitor clicks these links, the parameters are sent to your Google Analytics account. You can set up custom web addresses with Google Analytics’ URL builder.
You could also use these parameters, for example, to determine how many users come to your website from a link that was included in an email newsletter. If you are using banner advertising on third party websites, custom campaign parameters can provide you more details about the visitors and the campaign