You’ve got a search engine-friendly website that’s skillfully optimized for your keywords. But then you do a keyword search and … nothing. Your site isn’t even on Google’s radar, or any of the other search engines. So how do you guarantee positions in keyword searches? You buy them.
Businesses have long relied on search engine marketing (SEM), or pay-per-click, to promote their websites on search engine result pages through paid placement (these links appear on the right side of the screen or they’re highlighted at the top of organic search results).
But SEM can be expensive. Business owners typically set the price they’re willing to pay for keywords – the words or phrases Internet users type into search engines. However, broader keywords and phrases are often pricier. Also, setting up a pay-per-click campaign usually costs more initially, as marketers or owners may choose keywords that don’t pan out.
To avoid these potential pitfalls, here are seven tips for getting the most out of your pay-per-click campaign:
1. Don’t pick your own keywords
Picking keywords that will attract shoppers to your site can be tricky. You need to keep an open mind. Talk to your customers to find out what words they use when they search for your products. Note that the broader the search phrases, the pricier those keywords will be. To reduce your costs, consider opting for focused, relevant keywords.
For example, a party supplies company started out bidding on broad keywords such as “party supplies.” But over time, the owner got more specific in his keywords, choosing phrases such as “luau party supplies” or “Hawaiian party leis.”
2. Use keyword tools
Check out Google Scribe for suggestions to help fine tune appropriate keywords for your business. You can also track competitors via a free version of SEMRush, which provides a list of keywords that other advertisers might be bidding on.
Another keyword research tool, Google Trends, provides historical data on popular keywords and seasonal keywords, as well as old terms or up-and-coming buzzwords that may be cheaper if you secure them before others start bidding them up.
3. Monitor your results
After you select some keywords, take them for a test run. Just make sure you stay on top of whether they’re working. To help you, check out various analytics programs such as Google Analytics and Yahoo! Web Analytics.
For optimal keyword analyses, ensure that your keywords programs and your analytics tools are “connected.” Owners purchasing keywords and sponsored ads via Google’s AdWords, for example, can’t gauge their company’s pay-per-click data, unless the program is connected to Google Analytics.
4. Write compelling ads
When crafting your company’s pay-per-click ad copy, make sure it’s free from errors and gets to the point quickly. Also, include a call to action. Not only should you invite potential customers to click on your ad, consider including other inducements such as discount offers, promotions and free shipping deals that might get people to click over.
If you do insert incentives into your company’s ads, see if it has an effect on your conversion-to-sales rate compared to times when you’re not running a promotion.
5. Filter out undesirable clicks
For companies just getting started in pay-per-click, it’s common to want to be more inclusive than exclusive. After all, you’re trying to win sales.
But keep in mind that you pay each time someone clicks on your link – whether they make a purchase or not. So it’s best to pick highly relevant keywords and then restrict your ad copy to target only certain prospective customers. For example, a credit-card issuer might only invite those with stellar credit scores to click over.
6. Align ads with landing pages
Always direct shoppers to the item they want to buy. When your landing page, which appears when shoppers click on your advertisement or a search-engine result link, doesn’t match up with keywords or your company’s ad copy, it can be a source of frustration for shoppers.
So make sure your keywords, the ad copy and the landing page all correspond. For example, if you’re advertising a specific type of television, make sure that potential customers who click over can access a page on your site showing that TV, rather than directing them to a general merchandise page.
7. Mind your ‘quality score’
The more closely aligned your keywords are to your company’s products, the better your company’s “quality score” will be. The quality score is a measurement search engines like Google use to determine the order of paid links on a search results page. It’s based on how relevant your keywords are to search queries, the number of times someone clicks on your company’s link and the quality of your landing page.
Of course, how much you’re paying per keyword matters. However, the more relevant your company is to certain keywords also factors in. Basically, you’re trying build up a credit rating with Google. The worst thing that could happen to Google is to serve ads that aren’t useful.
by Diana Ransom
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