Having a well-organized account is essential to measuring the success of your paid ads. If you can’t define your goals or track your metrics, then you can’t make smart decisions when it comes to your paid traffic. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a perfect account structure. Sometimes good old trial and error is the best approach, and more than one strategy might be needed. The key takeaway here is to work smarter, not harder - and that’s where a solidly structured pay-per-click campaign can make a real impact when it comes to digital marketing.
What is PPC?
Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing is a way of using search engine or social media advertising to generate clicks to your website, rather than “earning” those clicks organically.
We’ve all seen those “sponsored” ads at the top of Google’s search results page, marked with a green "Ad" label. Those are pay-per-click ads. Every pay-per-click campaign is unique, but the most successful campaigns all share the same characteristics: a logical, organized structure, comprehensive keyword research, and ongoing management and maintenance.
The PPC model lets marketers place ads on an ad platform, such as Google or Bing or Facebook, and pays the host of that platform every time their ad is clicked (hence the name pay-per-click). The ultimate goal of a PPC ad is to lead the person viewing it to click through to the advertiser’s website (or app), where that visitor can complete an action, such as purchasing a product or signing up for a trial.
The primary reason a company takes on PPC advertising is to assist them with meeting business goals and marketing targets through sales optimization, lead generation, conversion optimization, brand awareness, brand recognition, customer attribution optimization, and brand promotion. Implementing a pay-per-click campaign provides a number of benefits including:
- Measurable results
- No dependencies on SEO or Google algorithm changes
- Reaches the right/target audience
- Takes advantage of business opportunities
- Brand recognition
- Open your doors to local customers
- Rich functionality and reporting
It’s easy to blow through your budget and have nothing to show for it if you don’t know what you’re doing. However, PPC done right is incredibly valuable for businesses and brands of all sizes who want to grow and be profitable.
Structuring Your PPC Campaign
Pay-per-click marketing is good for everyone, from your searching audience to advertisers to the search engines themselves. Research indicates that searchers click on paid search ads more often than any other form of digital advertising. And because we use search engines when we’re looking for products and services, the results, including the ads, are generally highly relevant to what we’re searching for. PPC campaigns give advertisers another way to put their message in front of an audience who is actively and specifically seeking out their product. The data captured through PPC campaigns allows advertisers to measure the quality of traffic that results from search engine clicks.
There are a few key components that should receive special attention when it comes to the actual structure of your PPC campaign. Here we will focus on three:
Keywords lie at the center of any PPC campaign, connecting advertisers to users’ search queries. Starting out, it’s easy to get the concepts of “search queries” and “keywords” confused.
- Queries are the actual words that users type into the search box of a search engine in order to find results.
- Keywords are what marketers use to target these users by matching their search queries.
Keywords work as generalized abstractions of a wide range of search queries, which are prone to irregularities like misspellings. For example, one of your target keywords might be “tennis shoes.” When you bid (we’ll get to that shortly) on the keyword tennis shoes, the search queries that trigger your ad might include variations like “women’s tennis shoes,” “kids tennis shoes,” or “tennis shoes for basketball.” These search queries all map back to your primary keyword.
Depending on the keyword match types used, advertisers can match search queries with more or less precision.
Bids and Budgeting
The dollar amount a company allocates to a pay-per-click advertising campaign is known as a “bid”. Bid prices vary depending on the advertising budget and the time the company plans to use the paid inclusion. Other deciding factors in the bid could be the popularity of the keyword and competition among advertisers. The more popular the targeted keywords, the higher the PPC bid needs to be to secure the space on the search engine pages.
That’s why it’s important that advertisers decide how much they’re willing to spend on a given keyword, or their advertising budget at the campaign level. Budgets should be set according to overall account strategy. Throughout the life of a campaign, there will be varying strategies and goals. At some point you may need to focus on increasing volume (impressions, clicks). At another time you may need to focus on improving ROI (lowering CPA, increasing conversion rate). As these needs shift, your automation should too. Bid rules can always be paused or adjusted to suit your current needs.
There are so many tips and techniques when it comes to the process of bidding and budgeting. Here are 3 to get you started:
- Experiment. Test multiple types of bidding options to see where you get the most bang for your buck. You might strike out the first 10 tries, but #11 draws in that immediate response.
- But be sure you don't bid more than you can afford. More often than not, the top position isn't always the most profitable.
- Monitor the trends closely to make sure the rules that you’ve implemented are actually helping your campaign. You may find that your settings are too aggressive or not aggressive enough.
As stated earlier, one of the primary goals of a PPC campaign is to use search engine advertising to generate clicks to your website. The real end game after that is to obtain conversions. Conversions are the actions that advertisers want users to complete after clicking on an ad. A conversion could just be a page view or a download depending on your program’s goals, or it could be a more detailed action such as:
- Purchasing a service or product
- Signing up for a newsletter
- Placing a phone call
- Visiting your storefront/physical location
- Sharing information about your business
It’s imperative that you track conversions in order to know whether a PPC campaign is doing well and how many conversions can be attributed to paid search rather than other marketing channels you currently employ.
Pay-Per-Click Campaign Setup Best Practices
Considering all the benefits PPC offers, there’s little risk in testing it out to see where it can move the needle. The data you receive in return can be quite valuable, giving you an insight into the activity and interest of your customers/target audience and can complement your other marketing and optimization efforts.
What’s most important when starting out is to establish your Key Performance Indicator (KPI) early in the campaign before finalizing anything. A KPI is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives. Your goals are the yardstick by which you measure your success of paid advertising on search engines.
Do a Google search for the phrases “best practices” and “PPC” and you’ll be inundated with articles and suggestions on how to set your PPC campaign up for success. John, SEO Analyst at Code Authority, has helped many clients develop successful PPC campaigns that get real results. He’s also seen what clients were doing wrong and giving them less than desirable results for their investment. He offers these suggestions when it comes to structuring a successful PPC campaign:
A negative keyword is a type of keyword that prevents your ad from being triggered by a certain word or phrase. Your ads aren’t shown to anyone who is searching for that phrase. This is also known as a negative match. For example, when you add "free" as a negative keyword to your campaign or ad group, you tell Google Ads not to show your ad for any search containing the term "free."
"This is a big one. A huge part of traffic sculpting is telling Google what NOT to rank for. I feel a lot of people don’t consider this, and frankly, I don’t blame them. It’s hard to think ahead in terms of how you might show up in search engines. For example, local businesses here in Frisco, TX need to make sure not to rank for keywords in San Francisco. Frisco is sometimes used as a nickname for San Francisco despite how much natives of the Bay area seem to hate the nickname." declares John.
Structure Your Ad Groups With a Few Keywords in Mind
"I’m a huge fan of keeping it simple. If you make an ad group for say, one brand of television, don’t stuff in keywords for ALL TV brands. That won’t help your case. Keep ad groups small and focused and you’ll thank yourself later. This also helps you write ad copy that matches your landing page experience which will ideally match your keywords. Google ranks your ads poorly if they’re not relevant to your keywords on both the ad copy and the landing page content." John continues.
Watch Your Conversions
"Troubleshoot these five times if you have to, but make sure your conversions are actions you WANT to track and assign value to them on Google Ads themselves. Google Ads has a handy field where you can give certain actions a dollar value and this will automatically be added to your report, allowing you to balance your budget with profits and see where you can make improvements. Just make sure your conversions are accurate and working. Test them on your analytics dashboard first if you have to." John says.
Navigating the digital marketing world can be complex and confusing. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Code Authority offers a variety of digital marketing management services that will help not only with your site’s visibility but also to direct relevant traffic and catch potential leads. Let us tell you about all the impactful marketing options available, like pay-per-click, that can be highly effective and create awareness for your organization.