Pay per click (PPC) management is a very challenging game. But in every obstacle there are ways to make the hurdle easier. Here are 10 tips that can help guide you to PPC success:
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- Watch Your CPC — Your cost per click (CPC) on each ad dictates individual and campaign returns on investment (ROI). If your CPC is too low you can expect your PPC campaigns to underperform. If your CPC is too high, you may be investing more than is cost-efficient. The problem with CPC is that even with past data, you still need to keep a constant eye on it as fluctuations in different factors can cause your ROI to shift, which means you likewise need to change your CPC to match it.
- Keep It Focused on Keywords — Keyword research is a constant facet of PPC management; it’s not a “set and forget” setup. You need to watch your target market and the keywords they use. Even free keyword research tools can help you fine tune your PPC campaigns around the most lucrative keywords to bid on — you simply need to know which ones to wager on during a specific time frame. Keyword targeting is essential in PPC management, and easier to do on the fly compared to organic search optimisation.
- Bid Using Competitor Names (If Viable) — You read that right: there’s no harm and no foul in bidding using your competitor names, brands, and trademarks as keywords. Google even won a lawsuit permitting advertisers to practice this seemingly underhanded PPC management tactic. Of course, you should follow the guidelines set by each PPC ad program provider; they mostly include:
a. Not using the brand names and trademarks themselves in the PPC ad or landing page
b. Being ethical about the approach and not slandering competitors
c. Using the opportunity to offer target market segments more options
Other considerations should be factored in — simply find out about them through your PPC program provider.
- Micro-Manage Your PPC Ads — It’s not enough to macro-manage campaigns at large, you also need to micro-manage each PPC ad. If that sounds like too much work, don’t take it to mean that you literally need to keep a 24/7 watch on each individual ad’s performance. You merely have to optimise the ads based on their previous track records. After all, ads are micro-content too.
- Manage Your Bid Schedule — PPC ad providers like Google AdWords may allow for a bid scheduling function or feature. If yours does too, take full advantage of it. One way you can do so is to keep an eye out for the schedules of your tightest competitors. AdWords’ scheduling feature has 15 minute intervals. Check the ads that show up on search engines every 15 minutes and note when your competitor’s ads do not show. These time frames are the best times to bid for the same keyword without having to worry about that particular rival.
- Fine-Tune Your Calls to Action — We already mentioned that PPC ads are micro-content. Every form of web content needs calls to action to be effective in their goals. For PPC ads, the need for good calls to action is even more pronounced because they are targeted sales pitches. They need to call people to action, so be sure to test a few things out to see which works best for your keyword and target audience. Effective calls to action can make a lot of difference.
- Bid on the Long-Tail — A good strategy in PPC management that can circumvent costly bidding competitions is to target long-tail queries; the keyword phrases with generally 3 to 4 (or even more) words in them. The challenge here, though, is fine tuning your PPC program to catch similar matches because using exact matches will severely limit your ad’s reach. The return for this investment, however, can be huge in terms of conversion. Long-tail query users are a very targeted market that are typically keen on purchasing.
- Use Ad Extensions — Google AdWords, for one, offers sitelinks and social extensions to spruce up your PPC ads. Sitelinks display relevant and useful links within your website below your main PPC ad in search results. Social extensions show the accumulated +1s of your business, be it from your website, your Google+ profiles, or your ads. Both these ad extensions help enrich user experience and also function as social validation and call to action elements, making your ads more clickable, and thereby increasing your PPC management ROI for you.
- Analyze Your Competitors — In high stakes PPC, you can’t afford to just do your best in your game without finding out about your competitors. And all PPC competition is “high stakes” — not just the ones where CPCs can go as high as or even higher than $10. After all, to you, your CPC is optimized for your budget; even if it isn’t anywhere near $10, it’s still what you can afford, and you can’t afford to let your competitors drive up that cost. So analyze your competitor’s meta data, PPC ads, landing pages, and keywords to get as much info as possible.
- Don’t forget about A/B Testing — In every venture or investment, do not forget to test, test, and test. Even if your PPC ads seem to be working smoothly, always test potentially more effective and lucrative ads, campaigns, tactics, and keywords. Never miss an opportunity for A/B testing, because no single piece of web content (PPC ads notwithstanding) can perform well for all your many market segments. Test different approaches and vary your tactics depending on such factors as keyword and market fluctuations, CPC shifts, and bidding schedules. Start small if testing is not within your budget, but don’t disregard it completely.
With practice, research, and constant vigilance, you can tweak your PPC management to deliver a great boost for your PPC campaigns. These 10 tips can help point you in the right direction — the rest you have to do yourself through consistent performance, research, and testing.