Google boasts a democratic system for search engine marketing where any user, large or small, is given an equal chance to set their budget, begin bidding on keywords and win the targeted traffic they desire. But is it really that simple?
No, it’s not. While anyone can do it and everyone wants to do it, competition in pay per click advertising can be fierce. In some markets, the big boys have limitless budgets versus the smaller guys who have to be smart and economical to get traffic and conversions from their campaigns. But don’t quit yet. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) not only can send you good targeted and relatively inexpensive traffic, but there is also an opinion that for Google ranking it does matter if the site is also advertised through their programs. Maybe a little bit, but still does.
In many ways, paid search is like the Gold Rush. It attracts a lot of businesses and service providers who are encouraged by results and eager for profits. Many search programs are launched quickly with the abundance of tools offered by search engines like Google and Yahoo!, but are soon after forgotten. Leaving your program untended is often the precursor to failure for many smaller players in the paid search market, and because of this many campaigns prematurely fall off. Keep in mind what seems like failure often means learning in SEM, so get used to it.
While paid search can be discouraging to those with a small budget, you too can enjoy the fruits of the paid search channel. Here are a few basics to help you get on your way to a successful campaign.
One of the first decisions you will make is which search engine to begin your campaign with. We encourage you doing PPC for your main keywords as well as other related keywords in both Google Adwords and Yahoo Search Marketing. Currently, MSN Adcenter doesn’t really bring much traffic and isn’t worth the time and efforts (though it doesn’t cost much either.) So we suggest forgetting about it for now. Because Google commands the majority of the nearly 10 billion search queries per month, they will be the focus, though much of this is applicable to any search engine.
Most search engine platforms give you as much information as you might need in order to be successful with PPC. You can easily find out the amount of searches for your keywords, how much other advertisers are bidding, where you will be placed with your maximum bids, and an estimate of how much your keyword list will cost you per day, per month, etc.
There are two types of PPC Advertising: keyword targeted and content-targeted – we suggest starting off using the keyword targeted option since it brings a higher volume of traffic and ultimately better ROI. The content option is better used with high-spend levels, when an advertiser has maxed out their keyword-targeted account and is looking for additional traffic. Site targeted search suffers from some glitches. For instance, when the ads appear more or less relevant but still not when people were actually searching for, the conversion rate would be much lower (and sometimes non-existent) as well as an increased risk of getting fraud clicks and clicks from competitors.
Google also has a so-called search network: We suggest turning that off too because there are many sites included which are not search engines and receive less traffic then Google.com. Be aware of the geo-targeting option. Many of you will choose to target USA and Canada only; maybe also other “developed” countries if you want to get traffic from there. Keep in mind, most click frauds are coming from third-world countries so if you don’t want to gain traffic from there, don’t risk using those territories in PPC.
It makes a lot of sense to run a different campaign for each of the offers you might have or maybe divide them by groups depending on your different target audiences. Thus, you will make sure your campaigns and groups are more relevant and that will eventually increase your conversion rate.
That’s it for the basics. Next time we’ll go into some of the major components, like Keywords and the Quality Index. Until then…
Director, Online Marketing
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