Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is something most new website owners find difficult to master. The way PPC works is simple, you open a free account with a search engine (eg Google or Yahoo), then you place an advertisement for your website with a list of words (these are your “keywords”) you wish to have trigger the showing of your ad, state how much you are willing to pay (“bid”) for each visitor who clicks the ad and ends up on your website and set a daily maximum budget figure. The PPC search engine will then start to deliver visitors (“traffic”) to your website.
When somebody types one of your keywords into the search engine, your advertisement will be shown. Its position will depend upon the amount you offered (“bid”) on the keyword. The highest bidder gets number 1 position, the next highest gets to number 2 and so on (in the event of a “tied” bid, the position is decided on first come first served basis). The higher the position of your ad, the larger the number of people who will see it and the more likely you are to receive visits to your website. It is called Pay Per Click because you only get charged when someone clicks the link to your website, there is no fee for showing your advertisement.
The first thing to note is that although the way PPC works is simple, that is not the same as saying it is easy to use Pay Per Click advertising. Some people seem to take to PPC as naturally as breathing but, for the vast majority of people, PPC involves a steep learning curve and lots of experimenting and testing. For some people PPC brings major grief, lots of frustration and sometimes a lot of wasted expense. Here are a few simple tips to help anyone just starting out with Pay Per Click advertising.
Search Engine Size Matters.
There are literally hundreds of search engines for you to choose from when starting to use PPC Advertising. Some of these smaller companies will accept bids on keywords for a fraction of the minimum bid required by the bigger search engines. However, it would be a false economy to look only at price, you also need to take volume and quality of traffic into account as well as time spent managing your advertising campaigns. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft control about 90% of the total volume of search engine traffic between them. The remaining traffic is spread between the hundreds of smaller search engines. This means you might need to set up campaigns with 20 small search engines to match the traffic you would get from one Yahoo campaign. You might well be getting cheaper clicks this way but you would be spending 20 times as long managing the campaigns. Time is money: stick with Google, Yahoo and Microsoft when you first start using PPC advertising and save experimenting with small companies for later when experience will give you an advantage.
Never Pay More Than A Visit Is Worth.
Of course you want to get as many visitors to your website as possible but never be tempted to increase your bids above a level you know will be profitable. There is no point in getting to the number 1 position for a search term if you have to pay more per click than a visitor will potentially earn for you. Work out your conversion rate (ie what percentage of visitors actually make a purchase) to estimate how much each visitor to your website is worth) and make sure your bids stay below that figure with a comfortable margin for profit. The way to get more visitors is to use more keywords, use the keyword research tool the search engine provides, select keywords carefully for relevance and add them to your campaigns.
Avoid The Obvious
Look for cheaper, less popular keywords and keyword phrases and take advantage of them to bring visitors at a much lower cost than the obvious popular keywords. Single words and two or three word phrases are most popular and, therefore, most expensive. Use keyword research tools to locate longer keyword phrases, similes and less frequently searched terms. Make sure your keyword research is matched to the individual search engines. The best keywords for Yahoo, might not perform well in a Microsoft campaign, so use the keyword tool provided by each company to build up your keywords and keyword phrases for the particular search engine.
Don’t Think “Seen One Seen Them All”
Take time to learn how each search engine works. Although PPC works on the same principles throughout the Internet, each search engine has a different interface. The way you set up and manage a campaign effectively is different with each one and it is essential that you spend time learning how each one works. Failure to do this can mean you end up doing things the hard way or, worse still, it can cost you money. The search engines have different rules, eg on what words may be used in ads and the way keywords relate to your landing page. This means you can’t take your Yahoo ads and keywords and just upload them into a Google or Microsoft campaign. Make sure you understand exactly how to set your maximum bid and daily budget level for each individual campaign: if you get that part wrong you could be waving goodbye to large amounts of wasted cash.
Elaine L Currie