Regular Kayak clients and readers might already know that we aren’t big fans of pay-per-click advertising, at least not as a long-term strategy for building traffic and generating sales opportunities. It isn’t that some companies aren’t using it successfully, just that it’s almost always more cost-effective to build a site that attracts organic search traffic and grow it from there.
But, just because we aren’t big on PPC as a core marketing tactic doesn’t mean we don’t think it has any value at all. In fact, there are times when paid search listings can actually be incredibly useful and efficient.
The best reasons why come down to issues of scale and timing.
Some websites, either because they only have a few pages (for instance, in the case of microsites), or because they are brand new, just aren’t likely to attract organic search traffic in the short term. The same could apply to sections of an existing website that doesn’t have a strong SEO platform. When that’s the case – and it either isn’t feasible or advisable to put together a longer-term findability campaign – pay-per-click can be a good alternative, offering an instant source of targeted visitors.
With the “when” of pay-per-click Internet advertising out of the way, let’s move on to the more important issue: how. Millions upon millions of dollars are wasted every year on improperly configured PPC campaigns, with advertisers bidding high amounts on the wrong search terms and phrases.
Because we know you don’t have room for inefficiency in your own campaigns, here are some no-nonsense, easy-to-follow tips for getting more from pay-per-click when you actually need it:
Remember that the best PPC campaigns are incredibly targeted.
The easiest way to waste advertising dollars is by directing your ads at the wrong searchers. Don’t just target by keyword or industry, but also by intent. In other words, decide whether a given search term or phrase signifies a desire to start a business relationship before you add it to your campaign and start bidding on it.
Use negative keywords as often as you do search terms.
Efficient pay-per-click advertising isn’t just about the people you want to attract, but also those who won’t make a good fit for your campaign or offer. Again, this comes down to the issue of wasted time and money. If a search query or term likely disqualifies someone from being responsive to your landing pages (for example, because they are searching with a competitor’s brand name, or using the word “free”), then there isn’t any use in paying for that traffic.
Bid based on conversions, not ad positions.
Often, pay-per-click platforms are set up to encourage bidders to try to maintain one of the top two or three ad positions. That makes sense for search engines since the increased competition drives up prices and results in more revenue for them. It might not make sense for advertisers, though, because serious clients and customers will often scroll down the page (or click on a few different ads) if they are serious about finding the right product or solution. In other words, the top bid positions might get more views, but it’s entirely possible to spend less on a lower position and enjoy just as many conversions (not to mention a higher ROI on your PPC campaigns).
Keep your eye on your real business goals for the campaign.
A common mistake in search engine optimization is to focus on page views and related metrics rather than paying attention to the number of leads and business opportunities being generated. The same is true of pay-per-click advertising, with that error being even more expensive. Although things like bid prices, site visits, and click-through rates are all important, none of them matter as much as whether or not the campaign is moving you towards your actual business goals.
Pay-per-click advertising might not be among our favourite tactics, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have a place in your online marketing campaigns. Remember when and how to best use them, and you could find a cost-effective technique for trying out new ideas or attracting visitors to sites without a good organic search engine presence.