Thanks to the explosive growth of mobile search (which commands cheaper ad rates) and competition from social sites such as Facebook, the cost of Google search ads has been dropping a bit. That’s good news for small business.
Millions of businesses now use some type of paid search advertising to attract customers and prospects to their location or website. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising – also called search engine marketing or simply paid search – can be an effective, low-cost way to gain visibility online.
If your business is using or planning to use paid search advertising, here are five keys to getting the most bang for your buck:
1. Write compelling ad messages
Search ads are extremely short so you have to make every character count when you write your copy. Hone in on only the most critical benefits and features of what you offer, knowing your goal is to get someone to click on your words. Include your keywords in your ad copy so searchers know your ad is relevant to what they want. Ads that include the exact search term get more clicks.
Emphasize any unique selling points you have, and include a call to action such as “buy now,” “sign up for a free trial” or “request a quote.”
2. Make your keywords really count
Keywords are the essence of PPC advertising. This is what you are actually paying for – the right to show up in results when customers or prospects search for specific words and phrases. The more carefully you choose those keywords, the better your results will be. Ideally, the keywords you buy should match the terms that your customers are most likely to use when searching for your products or services.
But that’s harder than it sounds. Customers often think in different terms than business owners and might use different words and phrases to describe the same thing. Google has a good keyword tool that can help you find the precise words and phrases that people use most often to search for products, services and solutions online. Visit www.googlekeywordtool.com.
3. Consider “negative keywords” as well
Selecting keywords is a little like preparing a party guest list. There are people you choose to invite and some you choose to avoid. In similar fashion, using “negative keywords” for your search is like crossing certain people off your guest list. Negative keywords that you specify will not trigger your ad. Thus, for example, if you sell only new or paid services, you might put the terms “used” or “free” on your negative keyword list. That way you won’t pay for people seeking only used or free items.
But using negative keywords is a bit of balancing act. If you use too many of them, your ads might end up reaching too few customers. If you don’t use any negative keywords, however, your ads might show to people not really interested in what you offer.
4. Be conscious of your quality score
Your ad’s “quality score” is something that many small businesses fail to consider. Unbeknownst to many business owners, search engines don’t consider all ads equal, even if you pay the same or even a higher rate than a competitor. Google, for example, assigns each ad a quality score based on how relevant it considers your ad, your keywords and the “landing page” you are linking to. Their goal is to deliver the most relevant and useful ads to people searching online. The higher your quality score, the more often your ad will be seen by the best searchers.
5. Send users to the best landing page
When someone clicks on your ad, the page on your website that you send them to is the “landing page.” But it doesn’t have to be your homepage. The idea is to send people to the most relevant page on your site that relates to their search, and that helps them make a purchase.
To improve conversions – and get a higher quality score – try to match the text in your ad to the message and other content on your landing page. Don’t make visitors hunt and click for offers you featured in your ad. They should be able to find what they’re looking for on the landing page.
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