Session Summary: While pay per click advertising can be a quick and easy way to drive traffic to your web site, it can also be a quick and easy way to drain your bank account. Christine Churchill, President of KeyRelevance reveals how to get the most bang for your buck from each of the major paid search engines by choosing the right keywords, writing relevant ads and optimizing your landing pages. She will share the simple tweaks you can make to dramatically cut your average cost per click while increasing your sales so you have the best chance against companies with much deeper pockets.
Christine begins by showing how Google has a commanding market share, currently holding 67.3% of volume. One of the main reasons why one should consider PPC is the fact that you gain immediate search presence. It is also great for seasonal or promotional items. It is useful for sites that will have challenges with SEO (gaining visibility in the organic search results). It is good for new sites which take time to do well in the organic results.
PPC is often easier to sell to management. It is easy to track success and ROI. It allows one to easily test the effectiveness of a new site design or even keywords. PPC allows you to quickly gather feedback on market conditions or demands. You can also split test to a live audience, gathering real time results.
Now, while there is a lot of good in PPC, there are some downfalls as well. First of all it can be quite expensive. Bid prices seem to always increase and can create bidding wars. PPC can also be time intensive to set up and monitor. Finally, all the benefits you may derive, disappear once a campaign is "turned off."
She net talks about some of the advantages of PPC over organic. PPC allows more control over placement (i.e., 1st, 3rd, 10th). You also have better control over what titles and descriptions appears in your listings. There is the benefit of being able to match keywords to specific landing pages which can lead to improving conversions. If set up correctly, PPC can lead to improved branding.
She also compares the advantages of organic over PPC. Users show stronger preference towards organic over PPC. Also, unlike PPC, it does not cost anything to appear there (unless you are paying someone to get you there).
Balancing between the two, keep in mind that many users will click on paid results when organic results are satisfactory. Also, the more search result real estate you own can lead to increased click-thru rates. Bottom line - more exposure builds your brand.
A very interesting element of PPC is the fact that it can really help you to define the best keywords to target with traditional SEO. Then as your SEO efforts begin to bring fruit, you can often reduce your PPC spend. For example, many marketers will start off with PPC just to get the ball rolling but when they begin to gain visibility in organic results, they back off.
Christine reveals some things she wish she would have known when she first started to do PPC. First thing is not to treat all PPC providers the same. They draw different demographics, have different reaches and cost per click will vary as well. She also learned that longer word phrases often convert better and single words rarely do well. Furthermore, if you are not using exact matching, use negative keywords to keep your budget under control. She learned over time that engines change the rules over time (e.g., editorial issues, low click through, changing matching options, etc.).
I believe in answering a question from the audience, Christine diverts from topic at hand and explains the difference between "exact match," "phrase match," "broad match" and "expanded broad match" and cautions that "expanded broad match" can be very dangerous, at least as far as eating up your budget very quickly.
Continuing with things she wish she would had know when getting started in PPC include having a bidding strategy. What position do you want to be in? Which one converts the best. It is not always the number one spot. She cautions that it is crucial to monitor the first few hours of a campaign and also to try to avoid bidding wars.
Now she begins to share tips on how to optimize a PPC campaign. Lay the foundation with smart keyword research - select the best keywords, understand your matching options and don't forget about negatives. Regarding ads, make sure you are writing the best ad copy and test multiple ads. Landing pages are probably as important if not more than the first two processes. You worked hard to get them to the site but then can lose them if landing pages are not optimized.
Christine talks about keyword research tools and says she prefers Keyword Discovery. Other tools include Wordtracker and even each PPC providers' own tools.
In creating ad copy, provide an incentive that will make users want to click through (i.e., discount, time sensitive, etc.). Also use keywords in your titles which the PPC engine will bold if they match the search query. You might try adding a call to action as well. Compelling copy will talk about benefits and talk to them and not about yourself. Try to discover ways to differentiate yourself from the other ads users are seeing. She also suggest pre-qualifying visitors by age, price range or even geographical location.
In referring to landing pages, she points out that a bad landing page can ruin and great ad campaign. In the same way you can test various ads, you can test various versions of landing pages. Create continuity between keywords, ads and landing pages. In other words, if some searches for something specific but does not see that keyword or phrase represented on your landing pages, confusion will ensue and you may lose them. Keep in mind that landing pages do not have to be part of your web site. You can even exclude them from indexing via the robots.txt file.
One of the biggest mistakes Christine sees with landing pages is when marketers use their home page. This is especially true when marketing a specific product or service. She also suggest to focus on one action per landing page. Make it simple - don't make them think. Establish trust with landing pages such as showing affiliations with the BBB, having a professional design and showing transactions are secured to name a few.
Note: These are raw notes taken while live-blogging sessions at the Small Business Marketing Unleashed conference in Houston, Texas. Please excuse any spelling or grammar errors.
April 21, 2008

David Wallace is CEO and founder of SearchRank, an original search engine optimization and marketing firm based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is experienced in search engine optimization and marketing, pay per click and pay for inclusion management, directory submissions and web site design usability. David is a frequent contributor to various search engine related forums, an active editor of popular directories such as, Joe Ant and Zeal and has had several articles published on industry related sites. Since 1997, David along with his company have helped hundreds of businesses both large and small increase their search engine visibility and customer acquisitions.

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