I’ve been asked this question several times over the last few years and so I’d like to do a run down on the initial aspects of PPC that any new account holder will have to go through. Of course there are particulars that apply to specific industries or goals which I do not touch on. So – in some semblance of order here you are:
Set your goals. Know exactly what you want out of your advertising whether this be page views, leads, sales, newsletter sign up, white paper downloads, etc. etc.
We all must start somewhere. What keywords actually get searched? What keywords don’t? Get crazy and put out a bunch of keywords for estimates. Are these keywords going to apply to your customer base?
Where are you targeting? Do you have the right geography set? Where is the location of your market? Should you get more narrow, or perhaps more broad?
Do your keywords actually apply to what your site has to offer? Are you too broad? Are you too narrow? Are you bidding on broad words (such as “shoe” when all you sell is shoe cleaner), or do the keywords which show on search engines show intent on a purchase, a sale, or a lead? Reevaluate, and don’t be afraid to start slow. In fact – you almost always want to start slow if you can.
If your keywords apply, do you have the appropriate set of negative keywords? Do you have free offerings? If not then that’s a good negative keyword. If you don’t offer the color blue on a product type you’re offering then that may be another good negative keyword as well. Keep building this negative keyword list all the time – building in this way shouldn’t stop. If offerings change, keep up and change these negative keywords out. If a negative keyword no longer applies due to new offerings then get rid of it.
Once your ad groups are set with negative keywords, ask – are your ads speaking to the people you are trying to market to? Your ad copy – does it read the way that a potential client is going to view and then click on? – Does your ad have the message that speaks to your consumer in the right way – but also for the right keyword? This drills down not only on language, but is also a function of what they asked. For example “blue shirt” may mean “do you have a blue shirt”, while the keyword “bankruptcy” may mean “get me out of bankruptcy”. Keep these things in mind when talking through an ad text to a potential new client, customer, etc. Speak to them and you may get clicked on. Who is your client base? Try to know them and then figure out how or why they want solutions. You can answer their question. If you can’t, then that should maybe show you some more negative keywords or exact match keywords.
After a few weeks of a PPC account running, reevaluate match types – pull reports – see what works. Sometime a specific keyword is best, sometimes not. Depends on the industry. Keep working to find that match type that works best (no need for neg. keywords if using exact match because you only show for those terms – maybe set up a specific campaign for these). You would generally be best targeting more precise matches overall, but sometimes, surprisingly not – it really depends on site, products, industry, goals of the site, etc.
Once your keywords and ads are aligned properly, ask – are your landing pages giving the same message your keywords and ads are working towards? It is annoying to click on something and not get what you want – if you make this click fluid – from keyword to ad to landing page – then there is little risk of offending a potential client or customer. Keep your message consistent and true and all involved will come away getting exactly what they want. On the provider side – a happy customer, and on the searchers side – an answer for their question they sought an answer to in the first place. Beware – there is nothing more insulting these days than clicking to find that which you are not looking for – better to save your money than alienate customers.
Once all of these things are in line, are you bidding correctly? Too high? Too low? Look at quality score and reevaluate for further fine tuning. Are you getting the value you want? PPC can take time to cultivate in the best way possible, but once you rock – then you can really rock and roll. Determine your desired ROI and bid accordingly – being number 1 isn’t always profitable. Of course there are ways these tips may not apply, and there is always flux of industry sure, sure, but following these best practices will get your campaign on the right track and start a benchmark for your own campaign’s improvement. I personally have seen incredible results using nothing but that which is outlined above.