Ten Top Tips for Effective PPC Search Engine Marketing

It’s widely recognised that Pay Per Click search marketing (PPC) is an invaluable form of online marketing. A well-managed PPC search campaign helps connect your business with potential customers in exactly the right place, and at precisely the right time, by delivering relevant ads when people search for terms related to your products and services. And, having already searched for relevant terms, these searchers arrive on your website as potential customers and not just browsers.

PPC search marketing is also constantly evolving, whether it’s Google introducing new tools for both consumers or marketers, or consumers demonstrating changes in how they search, the devices they use, and what they search for.

So the following is not a definitive Top 10 tips for PPC search, but more a selection of 10 tips based on my own experience of planning and managing PPC search campaigns, and indeed training staff and clients to manage PPC search campaigns. Hopefully you’ll find something useful for your campaigns.

1. Understand your objectives
Before commencing any campaign it is essential you understand what the campaign needs to achieve. Some campaigns may have multiple objectives and your search campaign should be structured accordingly to allow full control – anything from high visibility branding (ensuring your adverts are in top position) to direct sell (controlling bids to come in at a set cost per conversion).

2. Long-tail keywords are key
Any campaign can be set up with 50 very generic keywords on a broad match setting and cover a whole range of search queries a customer may make. This, however, is a very expensive and inefficient method which can prove very costly with little control. Expanding out to a large number of long-tail search queries will not only help to improve the quality score of a campaign but will also enable very specific ad creative to be displayed against a relevant search query.

3. Group your keywords into relevant campaigns & ad groups.
Relevant grouping of keywords ensures that many variations of ad creative can be used which relate more closely to a customer’s search query and also mean that bids can be quickly amended to reflect high conversion rates or seasonal activity. Setting up the campaign to reflect the website you are sending customers to is an easy and effective starting point and means that you can deep-link to a web page which mirrors the search query used and enables you to display ad creative which is relevant to the page a customer lands on. For example creative saying ‘get a quote now’ should send customers to a (preferably pre-filled) quote page whilst creative saying ‘find out more’ should send customers to an information page with a clear call to action once they have found what they are looking for.

4. Make sure your campaign uses negatives.
Effective use of negative keywords will help to ensure your adverts do not appear against non-relevant search queries. Running regular search query reports will help to identify phrases which customers are using and clicking through on which may not be relevant to your offering.

5. Good creative = good click-through rates = good quality score.
Regular optimising of ad creative will also greatly assist in improving a campaign’s quality score. Adverts on sponsored listings are much quicker to update than natural listings and allow advertisers to quickly and easily promote last minute offers or seasonal messages. Online creative can also be a great and inexpensive way to test sales messages which you may be looking to use in an offline campaign – the advert with the best click-through rate will be a good indication of which terms are most popular with customers.

6. Target different customers in different ways.
No one customer is exactly the same and any marketing campaign needs to reflect this, whether it’s a different terminology they use to undertake their search query, or the time or day they are likely to search (weekend research leading to Monday purchase). All of these potential customers will use different search phrases, be attracted to different sales messages and require different information to help them make their purchase decision.

7. Deep-link your campaign.
Nothing annoys a customer more than having to search again when they have been very specific in their search enquiry but get sent to a non-specific landing page. Deep-linking from a search listing to a page which is relevant to the customer’s enquiry will greatly improve the conversion rate.

8. Be ‘on trend’.
Remember to take into account seasonality and special events which customers will be searching for. Ann Summers are a good example of an advertiser who have used current events or topics with cheeky ads to create stand out for their campaigns. Another example might be using royal wedding related keywords and creative in the run-up to William and Kate’s big day.
Be aware, however, that using event or seasonal related creative without any real relevance to your product can be confusing and may attract the wrong customer. Valentines related creative is great if you are advertising a romantic holiday but not so relevant if you are advertising car insurance!

9. Track everything.
PPC search is probably the most measurable online media format and the key to a great search campaign is detailed tracking. Everything can be tracked from the individual keyword to the creative used and even through to the preceding activities a customer undertook online before they made the final conversion.

10. Think beyond the search network.
Google Search is only part of the Google network upon which advertisements can be placed. It’s possible to run some very effective campaigns using content targeting (your advert appears against relevant editorial pieces on a website) and site targeting (you can choose which sites your advert appears on). For both of these forms of advertising you’re not just limited to the standard text ad creatives but can utilise a variety of formats, including Flash animated creative of all sizes and even rich media video.