15 Tips for Small Business PPC Advertising
by John Gregoire
Almost every small business owner has to wear many hats: leader, accountant, admin, and caffeine fetcher. Whether you are doing it yourself or learning more to make better decisions with your agency, here are some strategies to help.
These tips are focused solely for the small business that needs to maintain a high ROI for their advertising campaigns which typically feature a limited budget.
1. Figure out what searchers are calling your product. Here's a mistake I see all the time: the company is calling their product one thing while their customers call it something else.
Using Google's Keyword Tool, check for slang terms as well as localized terms ("Dallas sweeping services") to find which terms best fit your business. Don't assume you know what people are calling your products!
Click on each term to see the first page of results for that search query. Do those search results match what you think they should?
There are many searches that are entirely information only or job-seeker searches that won't convert, and we don't need to have the ad appear for those searches. After checking for sufficient volume and relevance, you can start building your campaigns.
2. Separate the campaigns into tight ad groups – The ad groups should be logical segments of the intended traffic, and rarely over 20 keywords per ad group.
This will increase the relevancy of the ad, and increase the click through rate because the ad will more closely match the intent and terms of the search query. For example, let's say the campaign was about selling sweeping services.
After looking in the keyword tool, there was traffic around "Atlanta parking lot sweeping." Create an ad group around keywords similar to "Atlanta parking lot sweeping."
Notice how this ad group's keywords all have some form of "Atlanta parking lot sweeping." This makes producing the ad very easy: the ad copy will have some form of "Atlanta parking lot sweeping" in it, and the landing page (destination URL) should have relevance to the term "Atlanta parking lot sweeping."
This approach will get you the best "quality score," which is an indicator of performance. The better this score, the less you pay and the higher you rank in the paid search area.
3. Use "Phrase" and "Exact" matching exclusively (forget "broad" match!) Here's how Google explains the different match types:
To make your budget go as far as possible, the traffic collected needs to be of the highest quality. The limited budget should go to queries like "blue widgets for sale" or "buy blue widgets", and only phrase and exact match types allow for this degree of accuracy and relevancy. "Broad" match should be used by more experienced PPC marketers (and honestly, you're not missing much!).
4. Include the keyword target in the ad copy – Do a search; any search. Notice how the search engine bolds the words you searched for? This is because people scan the search results looking for the exact term they put into the search box.
If you can give them that exact term in your ad, there's a much higher chance they'll click on it. This is yet another reason why we have very tight ad groups.
5. Calls to Action in the ad copy – Calls to action greatly increase the probability of a certain action. Use strong language like "Buy now!" "Shop here" and "Contact us for more information."
6. Discourage clicks in the ad copy – Write ad copy that discourages traffic that won't be profitable. For example, simply including a call to action like "contact us now!" subconsciously tells the searcher that this is a storefront rather than an informational article like Wikipedia.
If your ad campaigns are looking for leads, having ad copy that suggests filling out a contact form dissuades those who simply aren't interested in that process. This saves a lot of your budget by only paying for what we call "qualified" clicks. The user clicking on an ad exclaiming the best selection and to "Buy now!" is certainly open to the thought of purchasing.
7. Use negative keywords – Service-based industries will have a lot of people looking for jobs in that service. By including "job" and "jobs" as negative keywords, I have seen campaigns immediately go 20% farther with their budget.
Common negative keywords topics are: careers, reference, research, education, and bargains. Go through each category and determine if you really want to pay for that type of traffic. Maybe your business doesn't compete on price, so adding negative keywords around "discount," "cheap," or "free" would be best.
8. Use day parting – Looking at Google Analytics data can help figure this one out: are your customers more interested during the day or during the evening?
It may be best to run your campaigns during certain hours of the day, or even on a few days of the week instead of all the time. B2B searches will generally perform best in the 9-5 time slot. Typically the beginning of the week has proven better in the majority of the industries I have served. People love searching at work!
9. Use geo-targeting – Most sweeping companies don't offer their services outside of a certain area. Limit your range to focus only on the areas you serve, but be careful not to over-do it either.
10. Don't offer mobile if your site can't handle mobile. While mobile traffic is continually on the rise, many websites are not optimized for mobile traffic and simply won't convert. Choose for computer and tablet-only devices.
11. Look at the traffic coming in – In Google AdWords looking at the keywords, you can see all the search terms that are triggering your ads.
This is a great way to review how well your campaign is set up. If there are a lot of traffic coming in that you don't want, adding negative keywords or tightening up your keywords can help with this. If there is a lot of positive traffic coming around a keyword that isn't in your "exact" list, then consider adding it to the list to increase your relevancy and results.
12. Don't increase your bid to get to the number one spot – This is another common mistake which can be devastating to a small budget.
I frequently walk into clients who have $5.00+ CPC's, and I'll get the CPC down to $0.50 within a week. How is that possible? Well, the search engines actually reward you for being relevant to the search query.
If the user searches for "cuddly puppies" and your ad has the words "cuddly puppies" and points to a page about "cuddly puppies," the ad is most likely very relevant and likely to receive a lot of clicks for that search since it is on-topic. By increasing the relevancy of your ad and landing page to each query, you raise the CTR and quality score of your advertisement.
This reduces your costs while maintaining and/or raising your position! There is a level where you can't increase your position through CTR alone, and this differs for every search query, but try and exhaust your other options before simply raising the bid.
13. Turn off the Content Network – The search engines enable the content network by default. This isn't the best option for a new PPC marketer on a limited budget, so turn this off.
Typically the results from a Content Network campaign will be lower ROI than a traditional search campaign, so wading into those waters is best left for later.
14. CTR is king: always test and improve ad copy. One word changes can have significant impacts.
On one campaign of mine, adding the word "authentic" increased the CTR from 8% to an astounding 22%! If your CTR is higher compared to the surrounding ads and the bid is within a certain range, your ad will appear above the organic results:
15. Set a daily budget limit. No matter how careful we all are, a slight mis-click can send your tight campaign spiraling into spend-crazy oblivion. There are plenty of horror stories out there where a campaign spends hundreds of dollars while the owner is preoccupied with something else, so prevent against that by setting a daily limit that the campaigns can't exceed.
Following these principles will put your campaign on the right track to excellent ROI. Successful search campaigns are all about giving the user what they want. Remember that the goal is for the user to search for "sweeping contractors," see your ad that says "sweeping contractors – fill out our form for more information," and then proceed to see your landing page where they can fill out a form to inquire about "sweeping contractors."
People are out there looking for the exact thing you're offering: you just have to give it to them.
John Gregoire owns a company that provides SEO services as well as paid search and affiliate management.
If you have any questions or comments about this article, please let us know.
© 2005 - 2012 World Sweeper.com