There are many companies out there that specialize in PPC campaigns, especially Google AdWords. Google AdWords can either be a very effective tool for small businesses, or the biggest drain on their marketing budget. It makes sense to have someone who really understands Google AdWords create and manage your campaigns for you, but if you’re looking to handle your PPC efforts on your own, here are 5 steps for a more effective PPC campaign.

Create campaigns with your customers in mind

This should be the rule for ANY marketing that you do, but it definitely pays off when you’re working with Google AdWords. You really need to understand what a prospective client might type in for a search when they’re looking for a company like yours. What are you looking for and how can your product or service help?  Keep in mind where a client might be in the sales cycle, and create campaigns based on different levels of interest. What do we mean by that?  Maybe you want to attract searchers just getting started in their search, in which case you should use keyword phrases a “top of the funnel” searcher might use, and send them to an informational page. You’re building awareness about your brand and are not likely to close the deal with this searcher, so hard-core sales content on a squeeze page won’t work. The more you create campaigns with your customers in mind, including the keywords you’re using, the text in your ad, and the final landing page you send them to, the more successful your PPC efforts will be.

Understanding how to bid correctly

This alone can make or break an AdWords campaign; more accurately, your budget!  There are four keyword match types:

  1. Broad match: Shows your ads on other relevant and similar phrases. For example, if you targeted the keyword phrase “Mexican restaurants” you may also appear for the phrase “best restaurants.” You’re casting a VERY wide net here, and it can eat up budget fast if you’re not careful.
  2. Phrase match: Displays your ad for phrases that include the exact phrase, for example, “best Mexican restaurants” and “Mexican restaurants secrets”
  3. Exact match: Will display nothing but the exact target phrase, in this instance “Mexican restaurants.”
  4. Auto-match: This will allow Google to target other keywords with a surplus budget. This works similarly to broad match, but will only do so if you haven’t used up your daily budget.

So, which one is best? Again, broad match casts a wide net, and if you’re not committed to constantly monitoring your AdWords account, you’ll run out of budget with little to show for it. Exact match is, well, very exact. If you’re looking for a VERY specific audience, this can be great, or your ad may almost never show up!  Start with phrase match and learn what works and what doesn’t; it’s the best way to dial in on how to bid correctly.

Use those negative keywords

negative keywordsAnother mistake many businesses make is not using negative keywords.  Google AdWords allows you to use negative keywords as a way to exclude keywords that are not a good match for your product or service. You can look at search terms that drove traffic to your site that should not have, and mark those as negative, as well as adding ones on your own that you know you don’t want clicking on your ad and chewing up your budget. Maybe you sell ionic hair brushes for women. You don’t want horsehair brushes or ionic hair dryers, so exclude the searches from serving up your ad.

Review and test ads

It’s rare to create a winning ad copy right out of the gate, so you need to test. Create two versions of your ad, and then watch. Which got the most clicks?  The most conversions?  Turned into sales?  You can see all that in AdWords and you should watch, measure, refine and retest. Always. One and done won’t work in AdWords. Keep tweaking and fine-tuning until you hit the sweet spot. Keep the good one and trash the others, or even better, keep the good one, trash the others, and then create another ad to try and further one-up the performance of your best bad. You can’t be complacent with PPC!

Use Ad Extensions to Enhance and Expand Your Ad Copy

When you’re creating ads, you’re limited; you only have a handful of characters to work with across two headlines and a description, but you can compensate for these limitations by taking advantage of ad extensions and link headline text.

Not only do ad extensions let you pack more information and links into your ads, but they give you more writing opportunities to differentiate your ads just by taking up more space in the search engine results. Ad extensions include:

  • Sitelinks: These let you add additional links and use the link text to feature calls to action
  • Location: You can add your address to your ads to emphasize the fact that you’re a local business
  • Call: Adding a contact number can make it easy for potential customers to call you up.
  • Callouts: You can add persuasive phrases that make your ads more compelling
  • Structured Snippets: Provide the opportunity to showcase the range of your offering with examples of different styles, services, etc.

There are numerous ways to enhance and improve your PPC campaigns, but following these 5 steps for a more effective PPC campaign is a good start. Not sure you want to undertake the task of creating and managing a PPC campaign?  Engage the services of a small business marketing professional to help you out! Paid search can be a very powerful tool if done correctly!

Patty Hughes
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