Paid search will always be a critical component of the success of any integrated marketing campaign but only if it’s developed, monitored and managed properly. There are multiple variables to consider from the beginning and throughout the campaign that can affect budget, visibility and the desired end result. It’s important to frequently assess your analytics to make sure the campaign is on track and make ongoing changes to improve performance. But where does a beginner get started? Lisa Raehsler delivers A Beginner’s Guide to Paid Search that offers some initial thoughts on paid search success.
Get Started with Goals: Define from the beginning what you are trying to achieve when obtaining clicks to a website. Is it to generate a lead? Close a sale? Drive engagement? Build awareness of the latest product? Draw donations? A clearly stated and measurable objective is important so that you will be able to properly analyze the results daily and make revisions to your paid search campaign when needed along the way.
Determine your Keywords: Pay-per-click (PPC) is popular because you’re paying for the clicks that drive traffic directly to your website – so there is the idea of only paying for results, right? Right, but it’s first imperative to choose the right keywords, meaning they are specific, relevant and commonly searched. The wrong keywords can generate clicks but deter viewers on your website from completing the desired call to action (CTA) that will ultimately help you achieve your stated campaign objectives.
Example: A boot company would choose a variety of keywords such as: Boots, leather, cowboy and several combinations of those and similar words. Then they might choose to exclude negative words such as: sandals, sneakers, high-heels.
That’s a very basic example, but it demonstrates the avoided loss by removing keywords that would generate paid clicks that are completely irrelevant to what the company offers and, therefore, what is featured on the given website or landing page. The negative keywords are just as important as the selected keywords. Review historical metrics reports to discover popular words that have driven traffic to the site and have either positively or negatively affected performance depending on the desired action (or objective) Always keep your goals and strategy in mind when choosing the keywords because remember – each click will cost you.
Budget: This can get tricky and again confirms that paid search campaigns should be monitored daily. To start a PPC campaign, confirm the monthly budget and divide it by the number of campaigns you have. You’ll want to divide that by 30 for the number of days in a month. This will keep you on track when monitoring a daily allotment to make sure you don’t go over budget if clicks spike unusually high on a day. Allocate an equal dollar amount per campaign at the beginning and as the campaign continues, you can make adjustments as needed based on click traffic and performance.
Optimization Required: After the PPC campaigns are up and running and you’ve been monitoring the analytics, it’s necessary to optimize your efforts and reach. Confirm that the ads are up and what the Click-thru-Rates (CTR) look like – a good place to look is within the Google Ads Diagnostic Tool. As you grow in your knowledge of conversions and analytics, strategic keyword, campaign copy and landing page changes that could improve performance will become more apparent.
Analyze the Last 30 Days: You allotted a budget for the 30-day campaign. Really look through the data presented for spikes, dips, and/or steady numbers. Decide what changed for any fluctuations. Did you add keywords? Change your campaign copy? Change your landing page URL? In looking at the numbers, what were the impressions? What was the CTR? And, most importantly, what were the conversion rates and did you hit the initial goals you set to get viewers to buy, engage, gain knowledge or donate? Those initial goals need to be measured from the beginning to end, otherwise a paid search campaign can feel like money flying out of a window.
As said before, PPC campaigns can be extremely successful and are widely used for their reach and analytical data offered. The above basics are the first steps to understanding PPC and the importance of keeping a daily watch on the metrics to stay in line with budget and goals.