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An Introduction to PPC Marketing

Get it right and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising will be a powerful tool in your arsenal. Who wouldn’t want a steady flow of traffic to their key webpages?

Unfortunately, if you get it wrong, you will end up pumping money into a black hole. Countless professionals have tried their hand with PPC advertising, only to see no returns. It’s common to hear people say this strategy is too expensive, too technical or too time consuming.

Sound familiar? Now is the time to leave these PPC myths behind you. With the right knowledge and know-how, any business can utilise Google Ads to launch a profitable PPC campaign.

Read on for our complete guide to Google Ads for your business.

What is Google Ads and who is it for?

Google Ads (formerly AdWords) is a platform which allows you to advertise on Google’s search engine results page. Adverts typically appear above the organic search results and receive 41% of clicks as a result. For searches with high commercial intent (people looking to buy something) this figure rises to a whopping 65%, leaving organic search results competing for just 35% of clicks.

But it’s not just retailers who can use Google Ads. The platform can be used to advertise specific products and services or your company more broadly – depending on what users are searching for. Rather than paying for the spot itself, advertisers pay for each click on their ad. That’s why it’s so important to target the right customers with relevant products and services.

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Keyword research

The first step in any successful PPC campaign is nailing down the right keywords and phrases. These are the search terms your ads will target when searched on Google. Essentially, they’re what you will base your whole campaign around, as you want people who search for them to click on your ad.

Google’s Keyword Planner allows you to find and compare keywords based on a range of topics. Each key phrase comes with its own search volume, competition level and a typical price per click based on those factors. But it’s not just a case of choosing the most searched phrase or those with low competition.

The phrases you target need to be relevant to your products or services. They can’t be too broad, for instance, as clicks are unlikely to convert into customers. That’s why getting into your target market’s mind-set is a key step in the keyword research process.

PPC ad copy

Copy is at the heart of your PPC ad, so it needs to be punchy and effective. After all, you only get 30 characters for headlines and 90 characters for descriptions. Within this, there are a range of features you should include, as well as some key structural elements:

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  • Make your headlines and descriptions stand out with creative language and an exciting tone
  • Utilise site links and callouts to provide more relevant pages and promote enticing features for searchers
  • Ensure copy is topical, relevant and aligns with the landing page you’re sending visitors to.
  • Create copy that is engaging and targeted to your audience, with the right call-to-action to guide searchers towards buying, subscribing or enquiring.
  • Use numbers, statistics or even controversial content to emphasise aspects of your ad and create a reaction.

Tailoring landing pages

Users who click on your ad will be sent through to a landing page. This is crucial in converting those users into customers. After all, you’re paying for each person who clicks through to your page – regardless of whether they buy something.

To get the best conversion rate, you need to be clear about what you do, why people should buy from you and why they should trust your company. Firstly, don’t simply send visitors to your home page. Landing pages need to be tailored to specific audiences and what they’re searching for – oriented around a specific product or service.

There are a range of other tips to achieve an epic conversion rate on your landing page:

  • Stay specific with your pages, basing the call-to-action and images on what you’re trying to achieve – whether it’s a sale, subscription or enquiry
  • Don’t clutter your page with images, focus on the customer’s journey from visitor to customer
  • Show (or explain) what customers will get by following the call-to-action – fast delivery, a long-lasting product or the solution to their long-standing problem
  • Add trust factors like external reviews
  • Don’t over-complicate forms by asking for unnecessary personal information like phone numbers

Optimising campaigns

Regardless of how good your keywords and copy are, no ad campaign is going to be perfect from the get-go. That’s where monitoring and optimisation comes in. There are a range of metrics that can be used to monitor the performance of your ads – as well as some best practices to bear in mind.

Firstly, don’t become obsessed with clicks. These don’t do anything for your business. You should really be tracking your conversions, to identify how your campaign is generating leads, sales or subscriptions.

Similarly, don’t focus on cost per lead. Instead, look at revenue. Some keywords and phrases, particularly broader terms, will provide you with more leads – but not necessarily valuable leads. While the cost per lead may grow with different phrases, you may find that you obtain a lower cost per sale and more revenue.

Finally, be sure to collect and use as much data as possible. Data is invaluable to your PPC campaign and your business. Monitoring how different keywords perform at different times through the year, week and day, for instance, could be the key to cutting costs and boosting the performance of your campaign.

Keep up to date

Google Ads is always changing, not least its recent shift from AdWords to Google Ads. With this came a number of improvements to the platform, including the addition of Parallel Tracking, the landing pages report and new features for Ad Preview and Diagnosis.

Google has also added responsive search ads, which allow users to add multiple headline and description variants to their ads. These variants are automatically tested to find the most effective combination. Elsewhere, the new smart campaigns dashboard makes Google PPC more practical and accessible to businesses of all sizes, making it easier to set and monitor key performance indicators.

All of these changes make Google Ads more user-friendly. But it’s important to keep up to date with them so you’re not left in the dark.

Click fraud

Because PPC ads, by definition, are charged by the click, there is the possibility of click fraud. This is the practice of clicking on ads with no intention to purchase, simply to drive up costs for the advertiser. It’s most commonly committed by competitors, either manually or using automated bots.

Fortunately, Google roots out the majority of fraudulent clicks using its sophisticated systems, meaning you don’t pay for them and they aren’t included in reports for your campaign. You can also track clicks yourself to identify any invalid clicks that have slipped through the net.

Things like unusual peaks in clicks or impressions, a lack of conversions or an increased bounce rate could be a sign of click fraud. If you spot these signs, there are some easy ways to stop them:

  • Block IP addresses
  • Adjust targeting to cut out problem areas
  • Modify your Google Ads columns to monitor invalid clicks
  • Use anti-click fraud software

The value of experience

Experience is invaluable when it comes to PPC on Google. Everyone makes mistakes and learns from them to improve their campaigns over time. At Report Central, we have spent years working tirelessly on countless PPC campaigns. Over that time, we have identified a number of common mistakes made by advertisers, which can help you bypass the ‘trial and error’ process:

  • Not Bidding on your brand name
  • Rushing ad copy
  • Failing to test your conversions funnel
  • Focussing on the wrong metrics
  • Using broad match on short tail terms
  • Ignoring different keyword match types
  • Getting the landing page wrong
  • Not updating your negative list

You can find out more about these mistakes and how to avoid them in part one and part two of our blog series on PPC blunders.

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