Paid Search marketing is a great way for your business to earn qualified leads in a highly competitive marketplace. The best part about PPC is that it is so darn visible that you know exactly what you’re getting for your marketing dollars. PPC is advertising is also highly flexible so you can turn it up/down/on/off whenever you please, making it one of the most versatile marketing investments.

Before you dive in, you should ask yourself three questions to set yourself up for success and avoid costly mistakes:

1. Do I have time to learn Google AdWords (or other platforms) and manage this campaign myself?

PPC has a huge learning curve and requires a major time commitment. The experience a Google Certified Professional brings to your campaign set-up and management will more than make up for the cost of his or her fee. I have audited countless PPC campaigns where business owners build a campaign without really understanding the platform; these types of campaigns spend enormous amounts of money without any return on investment.

PRO-TIP: If you try the DIY approach, be sure check all of the PPC platform’s default settings and adjust as necessary.

2. Is my website good enough?

Has your website been around since the 90s? Maybe it’s time for you to take a critical look at your site and consider a brand refresh or other design updates. Solicit honest feedback from trusted colleagues. Make sure you website has an intuitive layout with clear calls to action before you invest in PPC and send highly relevant traffic to your website.

PRO-TIP: If you don’t have the time or money to invest in a website overhaul, consider optimized landing pages for your PPC campaigns to capitalize on your increased traffic.

3. Do I have any idea how to set up tracking?

The best part about PPC is that you can tell which parts of a campaign are working and worth continued investment, but only if you are thorough with setting up your tracking codes. If you don’t have the insights that tracking provides, it is impossible to tell where you should allocate your budget to maximize your ROI. Hold off on launching a PPC campaign until you’re sure you understand the tracking capabilities of the PPC platform.

PRO-TIP: Get a call tracking phone number! You need to know if PPC is the reason that your phone has been ringing off the hook, or if it’s that ad you bought in the newspaper.

Now, we will go over how PPC works in general.
The goal of a PPC campaign is for your business to appear in the search results when someone types in your targeted keywords/phrases. Although not the only factor, if a competitor is willing to bid more than you for a particular phrase, they will likely appear in a higher position than you.

Businesses that expect a high return on investment, such as a law firm, are willing to pay much more per click than other businesses. For example, a lawyer’s customer tends to be worth many thousands of dollars where a pizza shop’s customer is worth much less. Using this principle, consider the average return you expect from a customer to calculate a realistic cost per lead you’re willing to pay. Don’t expect to pay $10 per lead if you stand to make $10,000, because guess what…your competitors are willing to spend far more for that same lead and they will bid accordingly!

Ready to give it a go on your own?

First, sign up for an AdWords account. This gives you access to some powerful tools to begin building your targeted keyword list.

Once logged in, click Tools & Analysis > Keyword Planner

Adwords

You can look for keyword phrases by either entering your product or service, your web address, or manually selecting a product category. All three options are shown in the screenshot below. You actually only need to use one of the options but the more specific you can get, the more relevant your keywords will be.

Keyword Planner
Once you are ready to move forward, click get ideas

Now you will see an easy-to-follow breakdown of ideas that Google thinks are relevant, in terms of ad groups. Ad groups are essentially groups of keywords that are similar to each other.

adwords2

Select those that are relevant to your campaign. This example shows a lot of different location ad groups, which might make sense if you are targeting the entire U.S. If you are a local business, you can change the settings on the left hand side of the screen under “Targeting.”

Once you are set and have added some of the ad groups, click the review estimates            button shown in the screenshot above.
The next screen shows your optimal bids and how changing these will affect your traffic and impression volume. It also will help you get an idea on what your budget should be for a specific area.

(PRO-TIP: Click the Edit Match Types button here and set all to Phrase Match, instead of Broad Match. Broad Match will make your keyword show for any variation that uses this keyword; keeping the setting at Broad Match leaves you vulnerable to your ad showing on irrelevant searches. Broad Match is not for amateurs!)

Once you are happy with your settings, give your ad group a name that relates to the keywords and click the “Save to account” button on the top right and add to a new campaign. Select your bid based on the metrics the Keyword Planner recommended.

Now go back to the Campaigns tab on the top and you’ll see your new campaign with your new ad groups. Click on the New Campaign name and then click the Ad Groups tab.
Next, write ad copy for each of your ad groups Click the Ad tab and select Ad > Text Ad.

Ad Group

Write a headline–do your best to make it catchy–and a description with a good call to action.  Add in the destination and display URL and click Save Ad.

Do this for all the new ad groups and your campaigns are ready to go live. You should carefully read through all of the settings to make sure everything is just the way you want it.

This is just a quick guide to getting started, but optimization is the key to building a fruitful AdWords campaign. I would recommend checking out some of the training resources that Google provides. In time, you may want to research the more advanced ad placements, like the display network, YouTube placements, and one of my personal favorites–Retargeting.

Retargeting is where your ads are shown exclusively to people who have already visited your website. These are people who have expressed interest in your products/services but have not yet converted. A retargeted ad reminds them to go back to your website and complete a conversion.

PPC gives you amazing flexibility on the fly and provides keen insights into search trends. By understanding the data that AdWords gives you, you can better understand consumer behavior. Adwords is not just a tool to make money online but to offer insights into the way your customers look for you. If you build a polished campaign, have the right tracking in place, and establish realistic goals you’ll be all set with a great addition to your business marketing plan.

About the Author:

Dave Crist is a Certified Google AdWords analyst and PPC team leader at HubShout, an online marketing firm and SEO reseller with offices in Rochester, NY and Falls Church, VA.

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