PPC For Beginners – Part 3

Optimizing Your Campaigns

Overview

If you have not done so, it is recommended you read over the previous tutorial, Part 2 – Delivering What Your Prospects Want first.

As mentioned at the end of the second PPC tutorial series module, this third module will introduce and expand several more advanced PPC concepts.

Once again, the primary focus will be on AdWords but I will also mention some of the less well-known PPC advertising programs towards the end of this module.

Before then however, there is a lot to get through, so let’s get started…

Giving Google What They Want

As suggested on several occasions already, Google really want you to provide every prospect that they send to your site from AdWords with what they consider to be a top quality experience. The content on the page should be what they expected as highlighted in the previous module.

Over and above this requirement however, Google have further ‘rules’ about the content and structure of the page on your site to which their AdWords ads send a prospect.

For example, even if you use a landing page (a page that is specifically designed to capture e-mail contact information from a visitor), there has to be a reasonable amount of written content on the page as well.

This content has to be ‘on topic’ (about ‘LA weight loss’ if the ad is about this subject) and there has to be enough of it to ensure that the visitor gets value from their visit whether they choose to subscribe to your list or not.

Now, some marketers object to the idea of featuring content on a landing page on the (understandable) basis that content on a landing page distracts the visitor from the primary objective which is to encourage them to subscribe to the mailing list.

Consequently, it is not unknown for marketers to try to pull ‘tricks’ with their content by doing things like using script that becomes invisible as it is the same color as the background.

Do not be tempted. Google have seen every trick you could ever think of (and probably many more besides) and they have systems in place to pick up chicanery or nonsense of this ilk.

The content on the landing page has to be visible, readable and ‘on-topic’ and exactly the same rules apply to sales pages as well.

In addition to the page to which the advert is linked carrying a reasonable degree of content, there must also be links that allow a visitor to navigate around your site.

In particular, there must be links to your ‘Earnings Disclaimer’, your ‘Terms of Service’, your ‘Site map’, ‘Contact’ details and your ‘Privacy Policy’ page.

Now, the fact that you must feature these links on your sales and landing pages to keep Google happy is a real nuisance from a marketing point of view, as every one of these links is a possible ‘leak’ that could take a visitor away from the page on which you want them to stay.

They are necessary but most marketers feature them right at the bottom of the page in the least obtrusive way possible. For example, you might add these links in very small type in a shade that is a bit lighter than the other text on the page (but not matching the background completely).

They have to be there, but you do not have to make them any more obvious than absolutely necessary, in other words.

This is because of something called the AdWords ‘Quality Score’ which is system that Google use to ‘rate’ your advertising system in its entirety. In turn, the ‘Quality Score’ is important because it is a major factor in determining how much you pay per click on your adverts.

In simple terms, if Google like what you are doing overall, they will accord your system a good Quality Score in which case your cost per click will be low.

If on the other hand you are doing something they don’t like, they will push the ‘Quality Score’ down in which case you will pay more than you need to for every individual click on your adverts. Alternatively, they may keep your cost per click at the same level but push your site down the results page to a less prominent position to discourage people from visiting it.

For this reason, I have been in a situation where I was in the #2 slot for a keyword term with every click costing $.60 whilst the owner of the site in the #5 spot was paying $1 per click on his ads.

Ignoring the ‘Quality Score’ system is a very quick way of wasting hundreds of dollars on AdWords advertising that did not need to be spent if you smarten up your advertising system. It is therefore not a system you can afford to ignore.

One final aspect of keeping in the Google ‘good-books’ to note is that wherever possible, Google likes sales or landing pages to be attached to a high-quality ‘authority’ site.

Whilst there is no set or fixed definition of an authority site, it would generally be a site with plenty of content-rich pages (10+) which feature quality content all or most of which are unique to your site.

And remember that because (at the moment) the search spiders or robots don’t recognize or can’t read the content of video materials or images, the content on your authority site pages has to be written as well.

Finally, your written content has to be appropriate to the general theme of the site as does the purpose of the sales or landing page and the content on it.

The bottom line is, although Google thoroughly understand that you need to advertise your business (and they are more than happy to provide you with the resources to do so at a price), they also recognize that if Internet users are happy with their AdWords experience, they will come back for more.

What they therefore want you to provide is a website that offers every visitor what they consider to be a ‘normal’ quality site experience. All you need to do is comply with their wishes…

Using Keywords The Right Way

When you create PPC advertising, one of the most effective strategies for maximizing your profits is by minimizing the number of poorly targeted clicks that your adverts attract.

To do this, it is absolutely essential to make sure that the keywords that you allocate to each advert are absolutely spot-on-target as far as the content of that advert is concerned.

The relevance of your keywords is incidentally another factor that Google take into account when assessing the quality of the experience you offer to AdWords visitors that they send to your site.

The key to success here is to make sure that every advert is attached to a small, mega-tightly and accurately targeted group of keyword terms.

For example, say your ad is linked to a landing page for an information product that gives advice and tips about training German Shepherds.

In this scenario, your adverts would obviously focus on German Shepherds but you would not bunch all your German Shepherd-related keyword terms together under the same adverts.

For example, you might have an ad with a headline that contains ‘German Shepherd Sale’, in which case your keyword phrases would be ‘German Shepherd sale’, ‘German Shepherd for sale’ and ‘German Shepherd dogs for sale’.

You would not however include keywords related to German Shepherd puppies in this group (even if it is a ‘for sale’ keyword term) because someone who is using this is clearly looking for a puppy whereas the first group of keyword terms could refer to a more mature dog.

For your puppies, you would therefore need a completely different advert with a different set of puppy related keyword phrases.

This notion of grouping your keywords together as tightly as possible is extremely important because the more tightly your keywords are grouped together, the more accurately you will pull targeted visitors to your site.

It should also make it easier for you to ensure that the ‘audit trail’ that Google are so keen on seeing is easier to create in a far more precise and accurate way.

For example, your puppy keywords call up Germany Shepherd puppy ads which points at a landing page where most of the content is focused on German Shepherd puppies, and training them.

However, the ‘dogs for sale’ keywords call up ‘dogs for sale’ that might point at the same landing page as long as there is content about training German Shepherds that are for sale. In fact, it might even make more sense to create two completely different landing pages but this is something that you would have to test to see whether it makes any difference to your conversions and your costs.

All this could of course entail a significant amount of work but if you are serious about making as much money as possible from your PPC advertising efforts, it is work that needs to be done.

This is a workload that could be further exacerbated if you use all three different forms of each of your keywords to ensure that you match searchers looking for exactly your kind of information irrespective of how they use their search phrase as highlighted in this example:

Optimizing Your Campaigns - Image 1

As this is something that you should do (you don’t want to miss any laser- targeted visitors because you fail to take this basic step), there is work to be done.

There are however a couple of resources that you can use to make the work easier or to shortcut the process of matching all of the most appropriate keywords without compromising the quality or accuracy of your advertising copy.

Firstly, download the free AdWords Editor tool which is a desktop application in which you can create your adverts before uploading them en masse to the AdWords program.

Because the tool includes several handy shortcuts, it will save you time and effort in your ad creation activities, especially in the future when you need to update adverts in bulk.

The second utility to use is a resource that is known as dynamic keyword insertion, a resource that is offered (in one form or another) by most PPC programs.

In simple terms, the way dynamic keyword insertion works is that you insert a snippet of code into your advert where a term that you want to vary would otherwise appear.

For example, if you were thinking of creating a series of adverts to target ‘German Shepherd training’, ‘boxer dog training’, ‘corgi training’ and ‘golden retriever training’ as keyword terms, the adverts could be identical apart from the change of keyword.

Hence, by inserting the dynamic keyword insertion code into your advert body, you enable Google to call up the most appropriate keyword term from this list based on the information that the searcher is looking for.

For example, if they were looking for ‘German Shepherd training’ information, then the ad that they are shown would include this particular phrase whereas a boxer owner would see an ad that features ‘boxer dog training’ where the dynamic code is inserted.

Alternatively, you might use the keyword insertion if you want to target the same kind of customers in many different cities or countries because you have offices in different locations.

As suggested earlier, having the ability to ‘localize’ your voice in this way can be a very powerful sales technique and using dynamic keyword insertion makes it relatively easy to do.

Small Changes Are All That Are Needed

In the process of making your PPC advertising efforts as profitable as possible, there are three distinct elements to focus on.

Firstly, you have your advertising materials and the click-through rates they attain. Next, you have your sales or landing page and the conversion rate associated with those pages. Finally, you shouldn’t forget the lifetime value of that customer or subscriber to your business either.

It is important to understand that there are three distinct elements because in each of these three areas, a small improvement will make a big difference to the bottom-line profitability of your business.

For instance, if you improve your Quality Score by tweaking your ads, making the keywords more relevant and finessing your landing pages, you might be able to push your ad up the search results page without spending any more money on advertising.

This is extremely significant because as statistics collected by Accuracast.com based on in excess of 1.2 million clicks clearly demonstrate, the difference in click-through rates increases significantly as you get closer to the top of the search results ad block.

Their research showed these click-through rates in relation to the position on the search results page:

Optimizing Your Campaigns - Image 2

From 5th place to 4th, the click-through rate doubles according to the stats and so a move of just that one place could make a major difference to your business.

Say that when these people land on your site, your conversion rates don’t change. Hey presto, your sales have just doubled and you haven’t paid an extra cent in traffic costs.

Now imagine what would happen if your conversion rates also doubled as well as your click-throughs.

Can you see how every little improvement is multiplied exponentially so that the total effect on your bottom line profits is going to be substantial?

Then you have the residual or lifetime value of each customer or subscriber to your business. Of course, once they are on your list or have bought from you already, you can mail them two or three times every week with product recommendations and suggestions.

As the level of trust, understanding and respect grows, so will your ability to generate ‘back end’ sales whenever you want, hence their lifetime value to your business also increases exponentially.

The important thing to understand here is that once you have got your PPC advertising ‘career’ off the ground, keep looking for constant, small improvements and be willing to invest in your business because doing so is the easiest way of improving your overall profitability in the long run.

Other PPC Programs To Consider

As suggested earlier in this tutorial course, although AdWords is the overwhelmingly dominant player in the PPC advertising business, they are not the only one. In fact, there are dozens (maybe even hundreds) of smaller competitors that you might like to consider including in your marketing mix.

To begin with, both of the other major search engines Yahoo! and MSN/Bing have their own advertising programs and whilst neither has anything like the traction of Google, they can both send you a ton of targeted traffic.

What is perhaps even more important is that some advertisers find that using alternatives to AdWords like Yahoo! or Bing actually works better for their business than using AdWords.

This happens because the user demographics of other search engines are not exactly the same as those of Google.

In effect, different Internet users prefer different search engines and it just might be that Yahoo! or Bing enthusiasts happen to be a better match for your product or service than those who use Google.

It is therefore quite possible that using an alternative online advertiser like Yahoo! or any of the others listed here might put more money in your pocket than advertising with AdWords will.

These ‘AdWords alternatives’ offer other potential advantages as well.

For example, although Yahoo! have a form of ‘quality score’ system, it is not as strict as the AdWords version and (as far as I am aware), Yahoo! have never yet ‘slapped’ any of their advertisers.

At the moment however, I do not think that Bing have a similar ‘assessment’ system whilst I am sure that none of the other smaller PPC systems do.

The majority of the less commonly used PPC advertising programs tend to be more transparent than AdWords as well, although it has to be admitted that Google have become increasingly transparent with their advertising program requirements over the past year or two.

What is however perhaps even more important is that you are likely to pay less per click with Yahoo! and other advertisers than you would with AdWords as well because there is less competition.

Consequently, although you may not see as much traffic as you would with AdWords, every successful sale will generate more profit because the cost of driving traffic to your site is lower (assuming that everything else remains equal).

Of course, the main disadvantage of using alternative PPC programs is that by doing so, you accept that you will see less traffic from your PPC campaigns.

Beyond this however, using less popular PPC programs has many advantages and as with all aspects of promoting your business in this way, you will never know how effective it is going to be until you test it by trying.

Other PPC programs that you should take a look at include:

http://www.adbrite.com/

http://www.bidvertiser.com/

http://www.findwhat.com/ (Miva)

http://www.abcsearch.com/

http://7search.com/

http://www.adengage.com/

http://www.clicksor.com/

http://www.marchex.com/

This is not in any way meant to be a comprehensive list of alternative PPC programs. Nevertheless, there are enough here to allow you to try some alternatives to AdWords to see how they perform for you.

However, as a note of caution, many PPC experts suggest that once you move beyond the big three PPC programs, you should be extremely careful about the possibility of click fraud.

You must therefore focus on tracking your statistics because as soon as you spot any apparent incongruities or discrepancies, you need to get onto the advertising agency immediately to stop the campaign so that they can investigate the problem further.

Conclusion

In this third and final installment of the PPC advertising tutorial series, I have focused on developing your knowledge and understanding of PPC advertising further.

This is important because whilst there are many PPC training courses and systems available which focus on the best way of creating adverts and the like, there are far less that concentrate on the thinking behind achieving PPC success.

Thinking about PPC in the right way is in my experience the best way of taking your PPC success to the next level.

For instance, whilst the mechanics of creating successful adverts change regularly, if you master the right approach to marketing your business with PPC, you will never go far wrong.