Ryan Moothart // Sep 12 2012
Sean Bean dies in just about every movie and television show he’s in, but that doesn’t mean he’s dumb. And when it comes to paid search, Bean’s Boromir is absolutely right: becoming an expert at PPC takes time, experience, and some good intuition. But before one can master PPC, one must learn the basics. This is what we’re going to cover today: the essential points you need to know about running your PPC account. And I’ll do it with the help of some memes to accentuate what I’m trying to get across. Because honestly, memes just make $#&% better.
If you’re new to PPC, this post will steer you in the right direction. If you’re already an expert, your memory could still use a little jog. Either way, I hope this post gets you that much closer to becoming a PPC expert. And for those who doubt that’s possible, just listen to Courage Wolf:
Only losers give up. Are you a loser? Didn’t think so – keep reading.
Poor optimization – it’s a first world problem PPC experts deal with on a weekly basis. If you feel like first world problem girl (hopefully you’re not in tears though), there are three things to keep in mind when optimizing your account structure.
[emailoptin type="ppc"][/emailoptin]First, your campaigns should reflect the structure of your website. If you’re an e-commerce seller, your campaigns should be in-line with each category of products you sell. If you’re going after B2B leads, your campaigns should reflect the different sections of your site that potential buyers would find useful in making a decision when considering your services. This allows you to properly filter budgets to the categories which prove to be most useful for your goals.
Second, your ad groups should be tightly-themed. Don’t mix and match keywords from different categories and put them into a single ad group with no rhyme or reason. Likewise, don’t have duplicate keywords in multiple ad groups or campaigns, unless you’ve divided your location targeting, or you risk trying to outbid yourself in keyword auctions.
Third, have a branded campaign. You definitely want to ensure your website appears at the top of the search results page when someone is searching for your brand. Don’t let competitors bid on your brand name and show up in the top spot you should be in – always have a campaign devoted to your brand to ensure you capture the highly-qualified traffic more likely to convert.
Conspiracy Keanu makes a good point, and that’s something I never thought I’d say about Keanu Reeves. I mean The Matrix was cool and all, but that’s more due to the Wachowski siblings. Be sure to check your campaign settings (or ad group settings if you’re using Microsoft adCenter) and change some of the defaults.
ALWAYS separate campaigns by advertising network – never put any one campaign on both search and display/content. Each campaign/ad group is on both by default and leaving it as is will waste your money. Furthermore, you might want to un-check the option for displaying to search partners (especially if you’re running on a tight budget). Google doesn’t allow you to see your campaign performance by search partner and Microsoft’s syndicated network is just not that great.
If you’re focused on generating ad impressions for a specific audience or region, adjust your targeting settings accordingly. By default, Google will advertise to the entirety of the United States and Canada while Microsoft will advertise to all eligible countries.
If you’re concerned about ad copy testing (a tad more advanced), make sure your ad rotation settings are changed to “rotate” instead of the default “optimize for clicks.” Also, check the devices your campaigns/ad groups are advertising to; if you’re site is not optimized for mobile, it may behoove you to ensure you’re only advertising to desktops, laptops, and tablet devices with full browsers.
Double check each campaign/ad group setting before pushing everything live. The defaults are there to help the platforms (AdWords, adCenter, etc.) earn more revenue. Leaving them be is about as smart as blindly throwing your money into the stock market and hoping for the best.
This is a picture of President Teddy Roosevelt fording a wild moose across a river. HOW BAD ASS IS THAT?! Seriously, I don’t think it was necessary to ford a moose across a river, but he did it anyway. Why? Because Teddy Roosevelt doesn’t give a $#&%. The guy gave a speech after being shot in the chest and refused to get treatment until after he finished. Plus he has the best mustache of any President ever. Usually I’m not a fan of mustaches, but Teddy pulled it off. We should propose a resolution to give Teddy Roosevelt the official title “Most Bad Ass President of All Time.”
Okay. Back to PPC.
NO! DO NOT BID ON ALL OF THE KEYWORDS!
This is the most sure-fire way to lose a lot of money quickly. The goal of a PPC account is to capture the most qualified audience possible by bidding on highly-relevant keywords. It is unwise to bid on keywords which are, say, very generic, highly searched, and only somewhat-related to your business.
Narrow down your keyword lists and take advantage of the different match types. If you have a keyword which is extremely relevant but has low search volume, you may want to leave it on broad match so the platform you’re using can look for synonyms in search queries that might be relevant to you. If you have a keyword which is very common and getting to be costly, change it to phrase or exact match to better qualify search queries. And make sure you have a sound list of negative keywords so the platform knows what not to generate an ad impression for (i.e. “free” if you sell things or “jobs” if you’re not looking to hire).
Don’t be like Bad Luck Brian – learn to write good ads. You don’t need to be über-creative to write good ads either. You just need to give users a clear idea of why they should visit your site, an incentive to do so, and a clear instruction on how they should proceed (otherwise known as a “call to action” or a “hard ask”).
Use correct spelling (barring any brand anomalies or plays on words), don’t be over-complicated, and make your ad look sleek. Your job is to stand out on that search result page – give the user a reason to click on your ad off to the side rather than the first ad that’s on the page. You certainly won’t do it with a poorly constructed ad that even you wouldn’t click on.
Give users an incentive, be it a discount or a reason why you’re better than your competitors. Stand out and, again, give users a reason to click on your ad.
Give a clear call to action: “learn more today,” “on sale through Friday only,” “save money with us,” etc. Be clear about what you expect users to do once they land on your site so they’re not left wondering. It may seem self-explanatory, but setting such expectations right away can make the difference between a profit and a loss.
Oh condescending Wonka, your snarky tone has made the internet a better place.
Just as your ad copy should give users a clear expectation of your site, your landing page needs to match that expectation. If you sell sports gear online and have a section and a campaign for water bottles, when somebody finds your ad when searching for “water bottles”, don’t send them to the homepage! Send them to the category page for water bottles or a specially-made landing page for PPC ads regarding water bottles.
It might be a good idea to send users to your homepage if they’re just searching for your brand. But other than that, send them to a more relevant landing page so they don’t have to go searching for what they expected to land on by clicking on your ad.
Congratulations, you’re now a master of PPC!
But, you should be a tad wiser when it comes to dealing with your PPC account. I hope you learned something or at least enjoyed reading it. If you like what you read, please share it – we make that super easy as there are social buttons to your left.
You can read other posts about PPC on our blog here.
SHAMELESS PLUG: If your PPC account is on a small budget, or you’re interested in starting a small-budget PPC account but don’t want to optimize or manage it, we can do it for you! Check out our PPC Essentials Program for small businesses. We’re very affordable and can help you maximize your PPC efforts without spending tens of thousands of dollars. Or, if you know of someone that could use our help, refer them and earn $50. Seriously.
Now, go out there, apply your PPC knowledge, and be just like Captain Picard:
P.S. Thank you, Patrick Stewart, for being completely awesome in just about every way possible.
SHUT THE &%#@ UP ANNOYING FACEBOOK GIRL! GO AWAY! NOBODY LIKES YOU! Seriously, who created this meme?!
Ryan is a PPC strategist at Portent, Inc. He started at Portent as an intern soon after graduating from Willamette University with a BA in Rhetoric & Media Studies. Read More