Unleashing the Potential of your Pay Per Click Marketing

Presented by Christine Churchill

When you have no budget, search is your friend.

Christine is a big believer in a balanced approach: PPC, SEO, social media, blogging, etc.

When it comes to PPC, you really have to roll up your sleeves and get started. There are foundational things even big sites forget about, so it's important to keep the fundamentals in mind.

Google has commanding share of search marketing. If you're trying to get your product out there, Google is huge. So, Google is probably a good place to start for paid search.

Paid ads show up across the top and down the right hand side in Google. Pretty similar in other SEs as well.

Why use PPC?

  • Immediate search presence -- organic SEO can take months to kick in
  • Great for seasonal items and time-sensitive promotions
  • Great for sites having a hard time getting SEO listings
  • Great for new sites to get traffic
  • Great for sites with "spider traps" (sites that are hard for spiders to index)
  • Sometimes an easier sell to management because concept is similar to traditional advertising
  • Easy to track measures of success
  • Great for testing (keywords, marketing messages, site design, etc.)

Downsides to PPC?

  • Can be expensive, depending on how competitive your niche is
  • Bid prices are going up (and will continue to go up)
  • Getting more competitive
  • Time and resource intensive to set up and monitor -- not a "set it and forget it" proposition. Google sometimes makes changes that people don't expect, so you need to monitor constantly to ensure you know what's going on.
  • Benefits end the moment it's turned off -- unlike SEO, which can lead to long-term ongoing benefits.
  • Becoming more complex to run PPC campaigns -- a lot more than just signing up and entering your credit card info. Campaign management should be a full-time job for most companies.

Advantages of PPC over Organic

  • Minimal ramp-up time
  • Control over placement on search results page
  • Better control over titles and descriptions -- match creative and landing page to the exact query; increased relevance means more conversions.
  • Many users don't distinguish between paid and organic results

Advantages of Organic over PPC

  • Users show preference for organic listings, especially when doing research
  • Trust bias -- belief by users that #1 ranked site is the best / most authoritative ("halo effect")
  • Almost all users look at top organic listings (heat map eye-tracking studies -- "F" pattern visual scan)
  • Long term benefits

Balancing Paid and Organic

  • Most searchers start with organic listings, but 40-50% will go to paid listings if they don't find anything in organic listings
  • Searchers will try more focused searches
  • More "real estate" you occupy on the search page, the more clicks you get
  • Higher exposure builds brand and legitimacy

SEO combined with paid search (and social media) is a powerful combination. Use PPC to get a fast start, use SEO to get long term results. Use PPC at a higher level until the SEO shows results. In many cases, you can decrease PPC expenditures as you start to rank higher in organic listings.

Things Christine Wishes She Knew When She First Started PPC

  • Don't treat all PPC engines the same. They're very different in how they work, target audiences, and search volumes. Google is good for tech stuff, home stuff might be better on MSN, for instance.
  • Cannot overstate the importance of keyword selection. Single words rarely do well; longer word phrases often convert better; brand terms are often great converters. Discussion of whether to let affiliates bid on brand terms; Christine is generally against this -- if you own the brand, you should be the one bidding on brand terms.
  • Use negatives (excluded terms) to save money if you're using anything other than exact matching. Prevents your ads from matching on irrelevant or poorly matching terms. Negatives behave differently in different engines, so be sure you understand how to set them up. Example: if you sell chocolate candy, you would set "labrador" as a negative keyword to prevent your ads from showing up on search for "chocolate labrador" dogs.
  • The SEs change their rules over time. Stay on top of what's going on.
  • Have a bidding strategy. Don't just automatically buy the top position. Test where you get the best results.
  • Don't get into a bidding war. The only people who win in a bid war are the search engines. Waste of money.
  • Know how much it really costs you to produce your product. You need to know this to be able to bid and budget your campaigns.
  • Monitor the first few hours of a new campaign -- this is the critical time.

Optimize your PPC Campaign

  • Keywords: go very broad (unlike SEO where you tend to be more focused)
  • Write better ads. Be different, interesting. Use emotion. Well written, captivating ads get more attention.
  • Provide incentive to click: mention compelling offer or special discount.
  • Add sense of urgency: time sensitive offer encourages visitors to act now. (BTW, people with direct marketing backgrounds make some of the best ad writers around because they know how to use these principles.)
  • Use keywords in your title. Keywords will appear in bold. Single biggest factor on ad performance.
  • Include a call to action. Too many people forget to tell folks to click, call, whatever.
  • Talk about benefits.
  • Differentiate your ad. What makes you special or different from everybody else? Go back to your Unique Selling Proposition. If you can work this into your ad, great! (And reconfirm on the landing page.)
  • Pre-qualify your visitors. Remember, you pay for every click, so make sure they're serious clicks. Discourage &lduqo;freebie hunters." Balancing act -- you don't want to scare away too many people.
  • Test each ad. Find out what works and what doesn't.

Landing Pages: Why Should You Care?

  • Landing page is the destination when user clicks on an ad.
  • Landing page acts as bridge between the ad and the sale.

Making a Good Landing Page

  • Should be continuity between ad and landing page. Use the same words on the landing page that were in the ad.
  • Don't send visitors to a general/generic page (such as the home page). You've caught visitors with a unique ad, so don't send them to a general unfocused home page.
  • Focus on one action per landing page. Decide one thing you want the visitor to do and focus the page on that one thing. Remove distractions -- other links can still be below the fold or on the thank-you page.
  • Increase the size and prominence of the call to action. Make it obvious and distinctive.
  • Use calls to action that imply less committment (instead of "buy now" use "try now" or "add to cart").
  • Include your unique selling proposition in the landing page. You should be able to say in your own words what makes your company different/better than your competitor.
  • Make copy easy to scan. Most important stuff should be high on page and easy to scan.
  • Include trust factors. Testimonials, years in business, full contact information, privacy policy, product reviews and awards, guarantees, secure server indicator, trust seals or certifications, etc.
  • Use a professional site design. 46% judge site credibility based on site design and layout.

In Conclusion...

  • PPC is extremely effective for driving high quality traffic to your site
  • Used properly, PPC can be cost effective
  • Dynamic SE industry requires close monitoring of your PPC efforts
  • Optimize your ad copy and landing pages for best return on investment

September 22, 2008

Learn more about the ways Diane can help improve the performance and profitability of your business web site, or request a no-obligation personal consultation, by visiting www.NineYards.com.


Being a huge advocate for http://Trust-Guard.com I would have to totally agree with your "Include trust factors" factor of making a good landing page. You said, "Testimonials, years in business, full contact information, privacy policy, product reviews and awards, guarantees, secure server indicator, trust seals or certifications, etc." I know that the many Trust Guard customers that place Trust Seals on there sites find that there landing page is not only a good page but makes it a great page.

Thanks for the great article.

Great article, Diane. I enjoyed reading your tips. I do believe that SEO, PPC and social media is a powerful combination that delivers results.
It probably will not hurt though to keep your Google PPC listings since they usually show up not only on the top and on the right side, but also on all of the related web sites that affiliate with Google and other most important search engines.

@Garrett, thanks! Trust seals are indeed a good way to beef up a site's credibility.

@Irina, thanks to you as well. But to give credit where it's due, the tips are actually Christine's -- I'm just the humble reporter. And you're absolutely right, one of the things that came out in the course of the conference was that keeping PPC listings alongside organic results was potentially a good idea for a number of reasons.

Thanks to you both for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! :-)

Your ads will normally appear when one of your keywords is used by internet users, however it will not guarantee a conversion. Yes, it will somehow give space for a click but that click will only waste your PPC budget. Now, do you think giving them broad keywords tell them that by clicking your ads they will get what they really want in mind?

Perhaps changing this statement:

"Keywords: go very broad (unlike SEO where you tend to be more focused)"


"Keywords: go very broad but your primary keywords should be in focused"

Thanks for the informative report. Could I also add the value of having an experienced mentor. As you mentioned, PPC can be an expensive exercise when you don't know what you are doing, or it can be an exciting and rewarding tool when the money starts rolling in. Find a good mentor and do what they do.

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Search Engine Guide > Diane Aull > Pay per Click Marketing - SBM Unleashed