Beginner PPC Advertising

First Day of PPC SchoolWhat we frequently see from those who want to start PPC is that they don’t even know where to begin. It’s overwhelming when so much of the language isn’t intuitive or native to most marketers or small-to-medium sized businesses. We wanted to do a post that we can refer to people who are just beginning in their quest for PPC. So if you’re an advanced PPC advertiser, skip this post! But if you’re new, here is an easy look at beginner PPC advertising.

What is Pay Per Click (PPC)?
Pay Per Click (also known as search engine marketing, paid search or search advertising) is an Internet advertising model. Advertisers run text ads on search networks (like Google and Yahoo/Bing), and pay each time an ad is clicked. They bid on keywords – words or phrases they hope a user will type in to a search engine – and ads appear alongside organic search results.

When a user enters a search query into a search engine, an instant auction takes place determining which advertisers’ ads will be displayed and in which order. The auction takes into account not only the bid price, but also the ad’s relevance to the query and several other relevancy and quality-related criteria.

Quality Score is Google’s way of determining which ad is the most relevant (the Yahoo/Bing Search Alliance has a similar model). The relevance of the keyword to the ad, the quality of your landing page, and click-through-rate are some of the many factors that go in to calculating Quality Score. Paying attention to your Quality Score is important for your campaign’s success.

Beginner PPC — Metrics:
Impressions: Also known as ad views, “impression” is the term used to describe the number of times an ad was displayed to searchers.
Clicks: The number of times a particular ad is clicked.
Click-Through-Rate (CTR): The ratio of impressions to clicks. CTR is a good indicator of how relevant your ad is to the keyword being searched.
Conversion Rate: A conversion occurs when a user completes a desired action like a purchase, sign-up or registration. Your definition of a conversion will depend on what your goals are. Conversion rate is the ratio of conversions to unique clicks.
• Cost-Per-Click (CPC): The amount you pay for each click on your ad.

Beginner PPC – Keywords:
Building a comprehensive and targeted keyword list is time-consuming, but it’s essential for campaign success. The challenge is thinking of every keyword variation a potential customer might use to search for your product. Remember that your campaign is constantly evolving, and you should curate and build your keyword lists throughout the lifetime of your campaign.

Keyword research tools are valuable for building lists and brainstorming, but make sure to hand- manage the lists these tools help you create.

Beginner PPC – Ads:
Want to beat your competitors and get lots of clicks that will convert? The best way to do this is by writing concise, targeted, and attention-grabbing ads!

In a PPC ad, you are allowed a limited number of characters, but luckily everyone is working with the same rules. Make sure you keep your ad copy highly relevant to your keywords and landing pages for the highest possible Quality Score – but remember, your ad also needs to be readable and compelling.

Anatomy of a PPC Ad:

Anatomy of a PPC Ad

Ad Copy Tips:

  • Use keywords in the ad copy
  • Use title casing
  • Differentiate yourself
  • Make a limited-time offer
  • ALWAYS use a call-to-action
  • NEVER stop testing ads

Beginner PPC – Ad Groups:
Ad groups are collections of keywords that share a common set of ads. Keep your ad groups small (around ten keywords) and organized thematically: a product, offer, concept, or topic. Designing and maintaining focused ad groups can make the difference between a stellar PPC campaign and a stalled one.

Beginner PPC – Bidding:
Remember, PPC works like an auction. You tell the search network how much you are willing to pay for a click on an ad that is triggered by a given keyword. You choose bid prices for keywords.

Use the first page bid estimate provided in AdWords’ keyword tool to get a sense of how much you’ll need to pay per click to appear on the first page.
Ranking on the first page is crucial, as impressions and click-through-rates drop dramatically if your ad is placed after the first page.

Beginner PPC – Landing Pages:
When a user clicks on your ad, where will you take them? Although it may seem logical to drive traffic to your homepage, they tend to be poor at generating conversions. Instead, a savvy PPC advertiser will drive traffic to specific landing pages that are directly related to the keyword and ad.

What makes a good landing page?

  • Relevant to the ad copy and the ad group
  • Has a clear “call-to-action”
  • Answers the searcher’s question
  • Displays everything above the fold
    Uses testimonials, reviews, and certifications to earn trust

You’ve set up landing pages, keyword lists, ad groups, and ads, but your job is far from complete. A PPC campaign is ever-changing. Successful search marketers continue optimizing for the life of their campaigns.

PPC uniquely generates instant real-time data that you can use to inform changes within your campaign and even across your other marketing efforts. If an ad is performing well, consider using the messaging from that ad for an email campaign or a banner ad.

In addition, data from PPC – specifically which keywords generate conversions – can be used to build SEO keyword lists. Great search marketers never stop learning.

(Top photo courtesy of Flickr user D Sharon Pruitt.)

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