After the initial build, search engine optimisation (SEO) is probably the best long-term investment that any organisation can make with a new website. However, it can be a slow-burn process and often takes a while before it yields measurable results.
Pay per click advertising (PPC), on the other hand, can provide instant results and can also generate immediate income. Unlike SEO, which you can learn to do yourself, PPC will always come with a cost. And unless this is carefully managed, PPC can quickly prove to be quite expensive.
The following guide contains lots of 'pay per click' marketing tips along with some general SEO advice. Please use the comments to raise any points or ask any questions.
What is 'pay per click' or PPC as it is also known?
PPC is a method of advertising provided by Google, Facebook, Twitter and others.
Pay per click adverting is usually attached to search engine results pages or social media feeds and can be precisely targeted, based on a user's keywords, search phrases or even demographics.
Unlike 'old-media' display advertising which is usually based on the number of times an advert is printed or seen; pay per click advertisers are only billed when somebody actually clicks on one of their adverts. For advertisers, this is a compelling reason to buy advertising and for publishers a reliable source of income.
As far as pricing goes, the costs are often based on an auction format, whereby you would submit a 'bid' for how much you are prepared to pay for a click. Broadly speaking, the amount you bid, will determine where your advert is positioned. For example; at the top of page one of search results or maybe at the bottom of page two.
Understanding the right bid price for your chosen search phrase is but one matter to determine. As with other advertising, it is also important to determine what budget you have, and over what duration this is to be spent. This value will determine how frequently your adverts are seen.
Google was probably the first company to make a success of PPC advertising, but they have been followed by other search engines, as well as social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter.
PPC click campaigns are often based on search keywords or multi-word search phrases, but increasingly can also be triggered by demographic information such as age, gender, location or even the interests of friends.
Pay Per Click Essentials
Don't restrict your keywords
You will probably start with specific keywords, but try to broaden these and mix them up as time goes on. Come up with a variety, of long search phrases and more concise search terms.
Test alternative adverts
Experiment with different search phrases in the advert, imagine what your visitors are searching for and ensure that your advert is relevant to them.
Look at competing businesses
Study carefully the adverts for similar business. What do they say and how do they differentiate themselves? Do they publish prices and if so, are your prices competitive? If not, consider moderating them
Make use of ad extensions
Google Adwords Extensions provide additional links than can improve click-through rates as they help target specific products for different visitors.
Learn about long-tail keywords
The 'long tail', refers to less well-used keywords which also describe your services. The PPC auction cost is much lower and conversion can be much higher. Look at your Google search logs for ideas.
Use dynamic keywords
This is an effective technique and you will find many write-ups about the subject. They allow for automatic insertion of the 'actual search phrase' that a person has used into your adverts.
Don't waste clicks
A click is of no value if visitors feel hoodwinked and leave your page as quickly as they arrived. Make sure that all clicks bring your visitor to what they were actually searching for.
Test and test again.
Very often a business will neglect their Adwords once they have been set up. Review the data frequently. What works and what doesn't? If it ain't broken don't fix it, but if it is broken, it's time to do some tweaking.
Understand Your Tools
Become an expert
Learn everything about Google Adwords, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console. These tools are the equivalent of a chef's knife or a joiner's hammer and you should become an expert in their use.
Don't focus on just one channel
There are many types of PPC adverts, so take the time to research all the different options. Adwords, Display, Shopping. Google Adwords is the place to start some research, before moving on to online marketing blogs.
Avoid generic keywords
Obvious keywords are often the most popular with other advertisers and can be expensive. Perhaps avoid them altogether? Google Analytics can produce a list of all search phrases used by people visiting your site.
Capitalise on your location
People regularly search for local businesses, so ensure that your geography is taken into account when devising your keywords and search phrases. Both Adwords and Google Analytics have tools to help.
Know your demographics
Google Analytics provides a demographics breakdown and this can tell you the age and gender of your visitors, and much more besides. This powerful aspect of Analytics, tells you who you are getting and who you aren't.
Keep to Google's guidelines
Being on the wrong side of Google's Code of Conduct is a sure-fire way of getting your adverts (or account) suspended. Make a point of reading them and consider taking part in the Google Certification Program.
Know your data
Use Google Analytics to research whether there are any search queries which are unique to your business, products or service. Such data can bring big rewards when used with imagination in your campaigns.
Avoid making assumptions
Study your numbers and don't make guesses. If your data brings disappointment then some alterations may be needed. Make incremental changes and look for signs of improvement.
Display Advertising and Contextual Ads
Do remarket people
This describes ways of engaging with people after they have visited your website. Ever had an advert follow you around the internet? You've been remarketed. Look in Google Adwords for this option.
Use device targeting
Determine whether your adverts are more effective when people are on their mobiles, or sat their computer. Can you easily make improvements or should you adjust your bid limit instead?
Don't ignore mobiles
Because of research, it is known that fewer purchases are made on mobile phones than other devices, but it is also known is that most shoppers who browse on their mobiles first, go on to spend more.
Make use of mobile utilities
Make use of tools that leverage the power of mobile devices. One example is Google's option to call an advertiser, via a button within the advert. Much easier than filling out an online form.
Make 'calls to action' obviously clickable
If you have graphics or buttons that you want people to click on, then make this obvious with the design, such as giving buttons a raised appearance. Google Adwords, also has a tool to help you make images.
Include ratings and reviews
Social media and third party review sites cab be very important for driving traffic. Can you include such positive feedback in your google search results? Take a look at the 'review' extension in Adwords.
Search engine friendly urls
This technique is really important for good seo, but also helps with ppc. Include proper keywords in web page addresses, instead of generic terms or computer code. Avoid things like 'product-1234' or even worse, something like '?=key,1234-nav&search=false'
Use the right pictures
Pictures from stock image libraries can often look rather false and research proves this can be quite a turn-off to some. Using relevant and understated images for graphical links and display adverts can make a big difference to click-through rates
Keep everything relevant
The importance of relevance can not be overstated. Why has a visitor chosen to click on your advert? if you are selling a product, make sure that your customer sees it as soon as they land on your site. Don't expect them to navigate to it from your homepage, or wade through a load spammy promotion before getting to what they wanted to see.
Good Web Design
Expand your website's utility
Include features on your website that your competitors don't have. This will encourage visitors to spend more time and also give them a reason to return. Moreover, it will also instill an impression that you are experts in your field.
Ensure that your website loads quickly
Visitors are very impatient and many will click away unless your website is fast. Google will also down-rate slow websites and they will not perform well on mobile phones either. If your web pages take more than 2-3 seconds to load for ordinary visitors, then you can probably make improvements.
Ensure your website is mobile friendly?
If the text is too small or if navigation if difficult, then the answer is no. These days, the majority of internet traffic is via mobile phones, so ignore this new fact of life at your own cost.
Provide a brochure or newsletter
Make sure it is well linked throughout your site. Having spent money to attract visitors in the first place, it would be a missed opportunity not to make a big effort to retain them. Request a name and email address before people can download.
Work hard on landing pages
Your advert will lead visitors to a landing page. Keep it clean and well organised. Make sure it is clearly aligned with your Adwords copy and leads visitors to your towards the intended outcome, whether this is a purchase, a signup or a springboard to other content.
Keep clicks to a minimum
It is often said that each click loses 10% of visitors. We think this is percentage is conservative and our research suggests it is much higher. Ideally, landing pages should result in your desired outcome within just a click or two.
Make good use of testimonials
User reviews are a great way of building trust, especially for small businesses. Including comments in your advertising helps prospective customers, to relate with others, and will add much to your credibility
Choose great software
If your software architecture allows it, present the actual search phrase that your user entered, as they navigate through your pages. This should lead to higher levels of engagement and conversion.
Use some natural language searches
In addition to a search phrase like 'Ford cars London', also try 'where can I buy a Ford car in London'. Sometimes known as conversational searches, you can frame many such phrases around a single search term.
Know the value of your customers
What is the lifetime value of a customer? Take account of repeat orders, or fees. It is this figure that you should bear in mind when deciding upon your advertising budget or how much you are prepared to bid at auction.
RSLA (remarketing lists for search ads)
Building on the remarketing techniques mentioned earlier, it is also possible to use visitor behaviour to trigger your adverts. Has a user abandoned their shopping cart? Target them, with focused advertising, to get them back.
Schedule your advertising
If ads are allowed to run at any time, you could be wasting your budget of targeting the wrong people. Perhaps you potential customers will be most receptive at weekends. Use scheduling tools to manage your campaign.
Plot out the user journey
Getting the click is only the start. You then need to convert your visitors. Where does your landing page lead them next? We call this a funnel and Google Analytics has tools for tracking a visitor's actual journey through your site.
Have many call-to-action links
If your objective is for people to contact you, provide multiple links for them to do so. Some people will click on regular hyperlinks, whilst others may be more influenced by a button or a graphic.
Be clear about your objective
Ensure that you are not being too subtle. If you want people to buy something or to sign up for your service, make this objective absolutely clear. And perhaps more importantly, make it easy for them.
Apply common sense
Take a long-term outlook
Everyone wants as much traffic as they can get, but a campaign will yield better results if continually improved over time. As with any kind of marketing, results should be measurable and this is achieved by regular monitoring of keywords, clicks and conversations over time.
Failure is part of the process
It is just as important to identify what doesn't work as well as what does. Don't be afraid of making mistakes and come to understand that this part of running a successful PPC campaign. Analyse your data and learn from it.
Seek outside opinions
It is easy to make wrong assumptions and important that you seek impartial opinions. An outsider will usually give more honest feedback than a co-worker or employee, who may me more inclined to bias or unwilling to make criticism.
Lower conversion on mobile is not a wasted effort
Statistics demonstrate that mobile users are more likely to convert when they revisit on another platform. This is simply a part of the discovery process that prospective customers go through and is to be taken seriously.
Work on your landing pages
Failing to convert visitors after successfully attracting them is a sign that your landing pages need improvement. You should spend as much time and effort this side of the marketing effort as you do on the advertising.
Remove old campaigns
It is easy to forget about an earlier advert which could now be out of date. Review your campaigns frequently and don't let an old advert linger in the system - it could be damaging to your reputation and may obligate you for something you can not deliver.
Provide complimentary information
Go out of your way to make you website useful for visitors, not only is this very beneficial for general SEO, it this will instill a sense of value with users. Provide an extra something, whether it's educational, fun or interesting.
What does your user want?
This should be the most important thing you must ask of yourself and well as your customers. Why did they click on your advert? Make sure that you give them what they are looking for and avoid wasting their time or yours.
Close the sale
Don't become so preoccupied with your keywords and campaigns, that you lose sight of why you are doing this in the first place. There is an old sales mantra known as ABC. 'Always Be Closing' should be a core part of what you are doing and never something to lose site of.
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