May 5, 2014
About the Author:
Long time SEO enthusiast, IT & Billing director of FrostSEO UK, involved in dynamic web design since 1996, published in popular magazines across Europe. Huge fan of Star Talk & Burn Notice. Follow at @tmpkn
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To begin with, let’s cover the basics: if you want to stick to the keywords of your choice, at first your options might seem somewhat limited. The obvious solution to pumping up your campaign’s volume is increasing the bid – that way your ads will be displayed before your competition, but unfortunately it comes with a price. And for the most competitive campaigns, these clicks tend to be very pricey.
Therefore, your first focus should be on making sure you are not paying more than neccessary. With the recent changes to Google policy and the introduction of Quality Score (more or that in our article about Keywords not Present), the search mogul sent a clear message with the direction they want their advertisers to follow. As the name suggests, Quality Score (QS) tends to promote high-standards ads by reducing their Cost Per Click (CPC) and therefore providing the publisher with more clicks without stretching their budget.
There are countless articles on how the QS is calculated – some will even give you a percentage breakdown of its factors contribution – but none of them come from the source. And as one of Google’s main sources of income, AdWords is guaranteed to be the center of their attention 24 hours a day, resulting in constants improvements to the system’s algorithms – including the ones that govern QS.
One thing everyone agrees on, is that the most favored aspect of ads that is said to account for 50% of QS is related to existing performance of a given ad. In other words: Google wants to boost those campaigns that deliver the highest Clickthrough Ratio (CTR), and by doing so, maximize their (Google’s) profits from selling the ad space. This is by all means fair – in traditional advertising, clients pay for the medium (air time, billboards, radio spots) no matter how much attention their commercials get. With PPC, revenue is only generated when someone clicks on a sponsored link, so naturally, those ads with the highest CTR have to be promoted, as they are the best performing golden geese of the whole farm.
As far as ranch analogies go, this might seem to you like a classic chicken and the egg. If the major contributing factor to QS is the past performance, how can you use that fact to your advantage and give your campaign the boost it needs? At this stage, you can follow one of two paths: either trick people into clicking your ads or spend some making sure they accurately describe your offer. Let’s see where to each of these roads could lead you in the end.
Approach #1: if the QS promotes CTR, let’s have our CTR going through the roof by making sure everyone who sees our ad will not be able to resist the urge of clicking on it. There is some undisputable logic in this reasoning, and most importantly – it bears fruits.
All you have to do is prepare your sponsored link in a way that will be too tempting for your target demographics to simply say no. Just follow the recent hypes, check social networks, be explicit, loud and throw in a rethorical question - if 114% of young mothers that purchased our product would buy it again, why wouldn’t you?
You might encounter some issues with being too loud, as Google recently became more strict on the number of exclamation marks and uppercase letters that can be used consecutively. But with the latest discovery of special characters that come up as stars, hearts and other very informative symbols, we are sure you will find a way to redefine the art of advertising.
Jokes aside – this tactic works. If you put all your effort into manipulating people to click your ads, they will. The consequence will be higher CTR, and shortly – the QS rise will follow. Your ad will benefit from the discounts, your accounting department will throw a party in your name, and your mission will be a success.
That is – if your only goal was to get as many visits to your website as possible with a given budget.
Approach #2 is not even remotely as exciting, but instead it could be way more frustrating. It basically revolves around the idea that a commercial should be informative to an extent that if someone clicks on your link, they should know exactly what to expect when your website loads on their screen.
Luckily, QS will too reward your efforts if the AdWords system finds your ad message to be relevant to its selected keywords. Similarly, landing page quality also plays its part, so you should ensure you have your code in a good shape before you start spending money on PPC. AdWords optimization is almost identical to its organic counterpart, so if you decide to sign up for our Guaranteed SEO, your SEM efforts will also benefit from our changes to your website.
Here comes the bad news: the combined weight of ad relevance and landing page quality in comparison to CTR is estimated to be around 5 times less. You can spend hours fine-tuning 2 lines of text and get an initially high QS that will fall to 1/10 in the following days, as a consequence of low CTR.
A natural question is therefore: if Approach #1 is so much more efficient than fiddling with ads content and website code, then why even bother?
And the answer is: because it is not the ultimate goal of your PPC campaign to get as many clicks as possible.
Unless you are a political activist or a Nigerian prince sitting on a stash of gold looking to transfer his assets to Europe, the reason you got involved with PPC was most probably to boost your business performance. In other words: to generate sales. If that is the case, it’s the visitor profile of people coming to your website that should be at the center of your attention.
Think of it this way: you can lure people to come to your shop by offering them freebies and promise them discounts, but unless you have the marketing skills of Jordan Belford and can build demand out of thin air, those crowds storming through the door won’t necessarily generate a peak in sales. People using search engines tend to be looking for a particular product or service. If you manage to grab their attention with your Ad and get them to click on your link, that’s only part of the job: you still need to be able to provide them with what they were searching for in the first place. Otherwise, they are just going to go elsewhere, and you have just spent money on clicks which bring no revenue to your business.
To make sure this doesn’t happen to your campaigns, your focus should be on monitoring the actual business performance of your keywords. What I mean by that is not just looking at the AdWords reports. As I just proved, they only tell half of the story. Your job (or ours, if you sign up for our Managed PPC services) is to keep track on which particular keyword has brought a customer to your website and then match it against his behavior and ultimately – convertion goals.
For certain types of business it’s easier, for others it requires a little bit more preparations. The best-suit kind of enterprise for PPC business tracking is e-commerce. If you sell products or services online, in majority of cases the whole interaction between your company and your customers happens on the website. This makes it trivial to track which PPC keywords generate the biggest number of sales for your store. All you need to do is to include that information with the order – that allows you to match a particular keyword or ad against the actual margin (i.e. your profit) generated by customers attracted by this particular sponsored link.
However, not everyone runs an online shop. For stationary businesses, websites act mostly like electronic leaflets, which are meant to attract a potential customer’s attention and make him get in touch with you – either via email, web form or by calling your phone number. Luckily, there are various techniques which still let you correlate an incoming inquiry with the PPC source of that particular lead.
The easiest (and laziest) thing you can do is to simply ask: “how did you hear about us?”. For those willing to automate the process, we can make your website display different phone numbers and different email addresses, depending on the referring keyword. Obviously, all these phone numbers and email boxes would be simply aliases for your regular ones. The key is, by keeping track of their usage, we can actually monitor the PPC performance in respect to individual phrases.
What you might learn after some time is that some keywords or ads that generate great stats in AdWords (i.e. they have high QS, high CTR and therefore a low bid) do not actually bring you that much business after all. Unfortunately, it is impossible to get to these conclusions without that missing bit of information. And no analytics tool will ever calculate it for you – the source for this knowledge lies in your accounting books.