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The Complete Guide to Pay-per-Click Advertising: Optimizing Your Strategy

PPC advertising is a game of numbers. You set a budget and a target return on investment, choose your keywords, and then sit back and watch as your ads are served up against relevant search results. The highest bidder wins. If your bid is the highest, you appear first; if not, you’re shown somewhere further down the page. It’s all about cost-per-click and how much you’re willing to spend to get those clicks. Advertising on Google, Bing, Yahoo!, or any other search engine requires strategic thinking — in other words, it’s not just about choosing the top five keywords that pop into your head. To get the most bang for your buck (or rather, your dollar), you need to consider which potential customers are likely to search for terms that include those keywords — and how much they’re worth to you as potential customers of your business.

How to Run a Successful PPC Ad Campaign

We’ve established that your campaign should have a strategic framework, but here’s a quick list of things to keep in mind: – Target the right customers: Make sure your ads are relevant to your ideal customer. You won’t get many clicks from people who aren’t interested in what you have to offer. – Set a realistic budget: You have to factor in the average cost per click (CPC) of your keywords to determine your budget. The higher the average CPC, the more you’ll spend on ad clicks. – Choose the right ad format: There are several formats to choose from, so decide which is best for your offering. – Include compelling ad text: Your ad is what people will read before clicking through to your website. Make it count! – Optimize for call-to-action: You want to encourage people to click through to your website and make a purchase, sign up for your email list, or whatever your desired action may be.

Define your goals

Before you even think about keywords, ad copy, or budgets, you need to understand why you’re running a PPC campaign in the first place. What are you trying to achieve with this ad spend? Do you want more leads? More sales? If you don’t have very specific goals in mind, you won’t be able to evaluate your campaign — and you won’t know when to tweak or stop it. Let’s say that you’re a B2B company that sells office furniture. You’ve determined that you want to increase your leads by 20% this year. You’ve also discovered that you can only afford to spend $5000 on ad spend. That’s a lot of money, isn’t it? You can’t just run a Google AdWords campaign in the hopes that people will magically start clicking on your ads and buying your stuff. No, you need a strategy. You need a plan.

Choose your keywords

Keywords are the words people type into search engines to find websites related to your business. They are the building blocks of PPC ads, so you need to choose them wisely. Let’s say that your business sells office furniture. You know that your ideal customer is looking for a new desk, chairs, and other office supplies. They may search for terms like: – Office furniture – Office chairs – Ergonomic chairs – Cheap desks – Used office furniture – Used office chairs These are all keywords that people might type into the search engine to find the products that you sell. You can also use your company name in the PPC ad. Important tip: Be aware that some search engines don’t like to see exact match keywords with the same spelling and capitalization as the product itself. If your business sells “Office Furniture,” and you use “Office furniture” in your PPC ads, you might get penalized by the search engine for “exact match” keywords.

Select ad types and formats

Now that you know the types of keywords that you should be targeting, it’s time to decide on the best ad format to use. Here are your options, with a bit of advice on what may work best for your budget and campaign goals. – Text ads – These are the traditional ads that include a headline, a couple of bulleted lines of text, and a call-to-action button. These are also referred to as “display ads” because they appear in the right rail of a Google search page. – Banner ads – These are images with click-to-action buttons, text (sometimes), and sometimes a coupon code. Popular places to place these ads include on Facebook, Google, and many other websites. – Shopping ads – These are text ads that show up in the Shopping section of Google. Shopping ads are great for driving sales and product inquiries from your site. – Native ads – These are ads that look and feel like the content surrounding them. They’re often published on blogs, newsletters, and other “soft” landing pages.

Write ad copy and headlines

Now that you’ve chosen the right keywords, it’s time to write your ad copy. You have a few options here: – You can just write one ad that includes your main keywords in an engaging and compelling way. You may want to write a different headline and sub-headline, though, depending on what you’re trying to achieve. – You can include your keywords in the headline and sub-headline of your ad, but write a different main ad that includes your keywords but is more engaging and compelling. – You can split your ad into two or three pieces and write ads that include your keywords as well as other information about your business.

Decide on your target audience(s)

Now that you’ve chosen your keywords, written solid ad copy, and created ads that pop, it’s time to decide which audience(s) you want to target. Remember, with PPC you can target different audiences with each ad in your campaign — so if you want to target two different audiences, you can write two different ads and target two different groups of people. If you’re selling office furniture, you may want to target people in the following industries: – Small businesses – Entrepreneurs – Home offices – Contractors – Real estate agents – Schools These are broad industries, of course, and there are many sub-categories within each. You may want to target specific regions, too. Perhaps you want to target people in Chicago, or New York City, or Kansas City. You can use tools like the Google AdWords keyword tool to identify the most common keywords used in your industry.

Bid and budget determination

There are a few factors that go into determining your budget and the amount you’re willing to spend per click. You’ve chosen your keywords, written stunning copy, and created ads that will drive traffic to your website. Now, it’s time to set a budget. If you use a bidding strategy, you select how much you’re willing to spend for each click on your ad. Google uses these figures to determine which ads are shown and in what order they appear. The highest bidder appears first. The second highest appears second, and so on. If your bid is the second highest, you’re shown near the bottom of the page.

Wrapping up

The key takeaway from this article is that PPC advertising is a game of numbers. You have to create strategic campaigns with a clear goal in mind, and then you have to use math to determine which keywords to target, what ad type and format to use, and how much money you’re willing to spend. You also have to understand that these campaigns will take time to build up. You can’t expect to run a PPC campaign for a couple of weeks and see results. It may take several months for your ads to build up their click volume and your conversion rate to increase.

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