Pay-per-click (PPC). Cost-per-click (CPC). Google Ads. Google’s omnipotent advertising program goes by many names. It’s also developed somewhat of an undeserved negative reputation over the years.
It’s easy to see why: in a world where we’re inundated by marketing messages constantly and “native advertising” is trendy, it’s easy to think that successful marketing campaigns need to be some kind of sneak attack. As marketers, we also now have endless options to drive website views, email sign-ups, conversions, and more, and it can feel almost necessary to write off certain methods as archaic or not worth the investment. But for most, writing off PPC advertising is a huge mistake.
For one thing, we can’t undervalue the power of providing the ideal solution at the perfect moment. Now more than ever, we are a culture obsessed with immediate results and a visceral desire to do as little work as necessary to arrive at those options. PPC advertising thrives in this environment, seeking only to serve searchers with the best results and user experience possible.
There are noticeable differences between PPC advertising and other forms of marketing that make search ads tricky for some to wrap their heads around.
The one I encounter most often is the “Set It And Forget It” mentality (as Ron Popeil extolled in his amazing 90s infomercial for the Showtime Rotisserie).
Repeat after me: PPC ads are not the same as traditional print, radio, or TV ads. You cannot set up an account and let it run indefinitely with no supervision. Think of PPC advertising as a wide-eyed toddler: it has good intentions, but when left to its own devices, might burn your house down.
A well-thought-out PPC advertising plan will account for potential issues up front, like ensuring you’re using the best keywords, pushing out well-optimized ad copy, utilizing appropriate extensions, and more. Things change quickly though, and as with many things, the best defense is a good offense. When running dynamically, PPC advertising can completely revolutionize your business.
Perhaps you’ve tried using Google Ads before with little success, or you think you need to spend thousands of dollars a month to see results, or you personally don’t click on ads, ergo, no one else clicks on ads either (don’t be that person).
There is a chance that PPC advertising (Google Ads in particular) might not be right for your industry. If people don’t tend to search for your product or service, then search ads might not be the best way to spend your money. You do not get to make that determination in a vacuum though. Using tools like Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools, and taking an honest look at where your last 10-15 good leads came from can give you some insight into how people find you and take the action you’re looking for (whether that’s a phone call or a purchase).
If you’ve tried without luck to get a PPC advertising program up and running alone, seeking out a Google Partner can be incredibly helpful. Digital advertising agencies with Google Partner designations meet rigorous criteria that ensure their teams are certified in the various disciplines of search advertising; that they manage ad spend responsibly; and that they are achieving high performance standards for their clients. Even a consultation with a Google Partner agency can shed a lot of light onto what may be holding your PPC advertising program back (or if you’re wasting your time and where to invest instead).
So, now that you’ve solemnly sworn not to write off PPC advertising entirely and promise never to create a campaign and let it run wild, let’s talk about what you can (and should!) do to keep a PPC online advertising program running smoothly.
Search Terms: These are all the search terms that have triggered your ads and one of the things I check religiously for my clients. See a new way of phrasing your product or service? Add it to your keyword list! See something sordid or out-of-left-field that your ads are showing for? Hop over to negative keywords and add it there to avoid showing for those searches in the future.
Keywords: If your search terms are out of whack, you also may want to take a look at the match types you’re using for your keywords. I once worked with a window manufacturer who was using, among other budget-sucking keywords, the broad match keyword for windows. Ahhh! Not only were those ads showing for all types of window searches (from residential to commercial, new to repair), but they appeared in search results for Windows computers and Windows compatible software, too. In addition to spending money on clicks from users who were uninterested in actual windows, this client also had a terrible quality score for most keywords because so many users were jumping ship after clicking their ads.
Make your search terms more specific with more precise match types, even if that means you’ll be “reaching” fewer people. Higher search volume means nothing unless they’re likely to be searching for your product or services.
Ad Copy: How are your ads performing? Do you have at least three ads running for each Ad Group? If not, get to writing! Having a good mix of ads and rotating them evenly is a great way to see what messages are resonating with your target audience. Is the CTR below 2%? Start tweaking! Try adding some of your best-performing keywords into the copy in a more direct way, or using dynamic keyword insertion to ensure your ad reflects the user’s search exactly.
Quality Score: Take a quick glance through your keywords and ads and see if any have a low quality score. Many things can cause this, but the most common is a landing page that’s far too general (like using your homepage – don’t do that!). The more specific and relevant your landing page is to your search terms, the better.
Try creating a dedicated landing page for each Ad Group; for my window client, we created two Ad Groups in the “Remodel” Campaign – Homeowners and Professionals – and each went to specific landing pages. Homeowners went to a page about residential windows in language that was appropriate for a homeowner hoping to install a window himself, including information on how and where to purchase. The Professionals landing page was targeted to contractors looking to buy windows in bulk and included information about purchase incentives. Specific landing pages like these help ensure that you’re reaching the right people and giving them the information they need quickly.
Extensions: If I had to bet, I’d wager you’re not even using Extensions at all, which is a huge mistake. Extensions come in many varieties, and all provide extra, dedicated space to share additional details about your product. Value phone calls? Add a Call Extension! Can’t fit all your services in that 80-character description? Try Structured Snippets or Callouts.
Once you’ve set up Extensions, keep an eye on them and see if they’re working well. If Impressions are low, Google may be passing them over; if CTR is low, users are passing them over. In both cases, making the copy more specific and enticing may help. Low conversions typically reflect incongruencies between the description and the landing page, so adjust appropriately.
These few areas are truly just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to managing a PPC advertising campaign, but will help ensure your program doesn’t go off the rails (and take your budget with it). If you’re serious about growing your PPC program, it takes work and commitment, but the payoff can be significant. We’ve seen companies grow their conversions by over 350% in just one quarter with a dynamic online advertising strategy, and by using the tips above, you’ll be well on your way to PPC advertising success.