Pay Per Click for Dummies? Hire a Professional.

May 31st, 2010 by Anthony Coleman

When Doing It Yourself Isn’t Such a Smart Idea

Pay Per Click Search

Pay Per Click Search

I come from a family of “do-it-yourselfers”.  When my mom wanted new curtains for the kitchen, she’d go to the local craft store and purchase 3 – 5 feet of fabric and hot glue to her heart’s content.  My dad was no better; I remember watching him jury rig the plumbing after the basement flooded.  While I always admired their “make it work” attitudes, these (and many other) situations always ended with a call to a professional.  So when I hear that non-search marketers are doing pay per click marketing, I have flashbacks of curtains falling apart, pipes constantly leaking, and money being wasted.

Pay per click marketing is a tricky platform with many intricate pieces.  As a PPC professional, I find myself in the role of a copywriter, researcher, accountant, analyst, and a gambler.  It’s a daily routine juggling daily budgets, maximum bids, and demographic settings to ensure the highest possible ROI with the given budget.

Paid Search Keywords
One of the biggest mistakes in many paid search campaigns is choosing keywords. Instead of choosing terms that visitors are searching for, first-timers choose keywords they are familiar with or possibly even industry terms – an example of this is “abdominoplasty” versus “tummy tuck”. While abdominoplasty is the correct term, it yields significantly lower traffic because the average person would type in tummy tuck.

Another aspect of choosing keywords for a campaign is determining niche keywords. A niche keyword is a low traffic but high CTR phrase. For instance, while most searchers will use the phrase “tummy tuck,” there is a smaller segment of the population that will type in “tummy tuck stories.” This type of searcher has already done the “tummy tuck” search and is now looking for further information regarding the procedure.  This visitor is also most likely to convert into a lead.

PPC Ad Content

A big part of a successful campaign is the ad’s content. Writing compelling copy that follows the search platform’s and your industry’s best practices in 75 characters can be difficult. Most novice marketers tend to overload the ad with irrelevant content or keywords.

Google Adwords Ad Copy

Good Ad Copy, Bad Ad Copy

If you look at the two examples below, you can see that the ad I deemed “good” has more bold keywords (keywords automatically bold based on the phrases the searcher used), the copy has a voice with a clear competitive advantage and call-to-action, and the location of the advertiser.  You might be wondering why I decided that the right ad is bad – well even though it gives pricing information, a phone number, and a competitive advantage (“Free Grommets&Hem”), it lacks a call-to-action, voice, location, and most importantly suggests a lack of professionalism by including “Awesome” in the title.

Not only will the good ad be rewarded by Adwords for incorporating more keywords naturally into the ad copy, but people respond better to complete statements in ads and more likely to click through.

Managing Your Paid Search Campaigns

This is probably the hardest because it relies on advertisers knowing how to analyze site metrics, campaign details, and conversion rates.  Even after years of being Google Adwords certified, I still find quantifying the data difficult. Tracking cost per click at a keyword level is tedious and granular work – if you don’t know what you are looking for or even at, you could negatively impact your conversion rate.

Another challenge for advertisers is bidding against competitors on ad placement. I always find this the most fun because of the level of difficulty.  It’s like eBay bidding on steroids.  If you are not closely managing your daily budget and cost per click, you can easily be pushed off the page – especially when in competition for placement of broad, high-traffic keywords.

Anyone can pick up a “for Dummies” book, but there is no substitute for experience.  I don’t want to discourage those who are interested in paid search, but I want to inform do-it-yourself types that there is a lot of work that goes into a PPC campaign. You could easily spend thousands of dollars without a single lead to show for it, so please, hire a professional.