Natural search engine rankings are the ideal way of driving traffic to your website but if you’re not currently ranking you can run a Google AdWords campaign, also known as “Pay Per Click” or simply “PPC” to drive a great deal of search traffic to your website. The major difference of course is that you have to pay for AdWords, whereas natural results don’t cost anything “per click”.
This article is going to assume you’re new to paid search and will give you an overview of how it works, what to expect and how to improve your results from paid search.
How it works
First, you choose which keywords you want e.g. “online photography courses” or “cheap driving lessons manchester”. When a customer enters these keywords on Google your advert will appear. Google AdWords cost between $0.04 and $30.00 per click, depending upon how popular the keywords are. The more popular, the more they cost – so it’s important to target your keywords effectively!
Next, you write a small advert: you have 96 characters so you might write an advert like “Digital Cameras from £35. Great savings on Digital Cameras. Reserve online and collect instore. www.currys.co.uk/digital_cameras”. This advert will appear at the top of the Google listings in the light-yellow box or as it’s sometimes called, “the champagne section”.
You can also control which page on your website the customer goes to. It’s best to direct them to a page with relevant content for your search term. Google may well offer you a discount per click for relevant content, plus your customers are much more likely to buy your product if they go to a page related to their search.
Finally you set a budget limit e.g. £100. Once you reach this budget your advert will stop showing. This is a great feature: it puts you in complete control of your marketing budget with no nasty surprises at the end of the month.
How do I know if my advert is successful?
With Google you get a lot of reports to help you determine this. The most important measures are:
- Page impressions per month (how many times your advert was shown)
- Total clicks (how many people clicked your advert)
- Click through rate (the percentage of people clicking your advert)
- Conversion rate on your website
You should aim to have a click through rate of at least 3% but it could be more if your advert is very specific or for a niche market. But look at the numbers: if your advert is shown 1,000 times that’s 30 clicks through to your website. But that’s not 30 sales! Your website conversion rate comes in here; if your conversion rate is 2% then that’s 0.6 sales i.e. you’ll probably not get a sale from just 30 clicks to your website in this case.
Improving your adverts
The maths of Pay Per Click mean that to increase sales you can do one of 3 things:
- Increase the page impressions per month e.g. 10,000 instead of 1,000
- Increase the click through rate e.g. 10% instead of 3%
- Increase your website conversion rate
There are probably hundreds of different strategies and tactics you can use to increase these and you’ll only discover what works for you by either trial and error or by hiring a search expert who will use their experience to shortcut to better results. Some examples we’ve seen are:
- Improving the keywords you bid on: to help you, Google AdWord tools let you analyse which searches are most popular
- Improving your advert copy (i.e. the words you use)
- Improving your landing page for the search advert, or start using one if you’re not already!
You can also run PPC campaigns on Yahoo, Microsoft Bing, Facebook and LinkedIn – whichever makes most sense for your business. Most people stick to Google because it has the biggest market share (around 60-70%) but the other options can give great (and sometimes far better) results. The trick is to experiment and measure the results.
You can do all of this yourself at http://adwords.google.com (sign-up for an account) or get a search expert to do it for you: it’s really up to you. Depending upon the size of your business, hiring a search professional might not actually be that expensive.
Velocima provide paid search services to small businesses, start-ups and freelancers who typically don’t have the time or knowledge required to do it themselves. Larger companies frequently have in-house staff who do this full time. Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss setting this up and we can provide a proposal to meet your needs.
So that’s an overview of Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, we hope you found it useful. Good luck with your PPC campaigns and if you have any useful tips for other small businesses please leave a comment below!