“Are pay-per-click ads beneficial?” This may be a question you have asked yourself many times when thinking about starting a PPC campaign.
Pay Per Click (PPC) ads are beneficial for businesses of all sizes. Paid search allows you to pay a fee to have your website be displayed on search result pages when someone types in a specific keyword or phrase to the search engine. You only pay when someone clicks.
You may not even recognize a pay-per-click ad when you see them in the search results. If you are a native to the web, you have certainly seen them. PPC ads can be found across the top of a search result page, as well as along the side.
Here are some top reasons why PPC may be beneficial to your business.
Hanukkah came to a close on Sunday evening and Christmas and Kwanzaa are right around the corner. The malls are packed, shoppers are scrounging around for last minute deals and steals, and marketers are ready to give their holiday messages that final conclusive push.
In the world of online marketing, timing is king as companies follow suit of the most popular online shopping days in Q4 – a period where carefully crafted messages can either make or break the chance at a last minute sale before year’s end. Because the online medium provides companies and advertisers the ability to capture consumers at the heart of the buying process, oftentimes before they’re ready make a final decision, tailoring the message to their needs must be done with clear intention and extreme caution.
If your holiday marketing campaign includes tailoring messages through a PPC management in Google Adwords, allocating enough time to devote to maintaining and optimizing your account throughout the final week before the holiday rush can feel overwhelming and, oftentimes, impossible. Alas, in the spirit of holiday giving, the following tips provide a framework on utilizing an overlooked tool within the Adwords interface that can help you step away from the campaign and devote more time to enjoying the holidays with those you love.
So, What’s Automation?
Automated rules is a feature within the Adwords interface that gives you the ability to make changes to your account automatically, based on settings and campaign performance conditions that you choose. Automated rules can be set within the campaign, ad group, keywords, and ad text levels of your entire campaign, and provide versatility in delegating action upon tasks that are usually done manually by the advertiser. So before you sit back and wonder how in the world you’re going to get up at midnight to set a special promotion ad group to go live, worry no more – automation has got you covered!
How to Set Up Automated Rules
Setting up automated rules within the Adwords interface is relatively straightforward and requires no more than 2 minutes of your time. The time you spend now to set up a couple automated rules within your campaign will inevitably save you 1-2 hours a week that you would have spent optimizing your PPC campaigns during the holidays, so it’s worth the investment!
To find the Automation settings in Adwords, click the Automate drop-down menu on the Campaigns, Ad groups, Ads, or Keywords tab.
Depending on the campaign level that you’re planning on implementing rules under, the options available for selection in the drop-down will be different:
- Within the Campaign level, advertisers can make adjustments to the daily budget, campaign status, and receive email updates when an automated rule takes effect.
- Within the Ad group level, advertisers can make adjustments to the max CPC, ad group status, and receive email updates when a rule takes effect.
- Within the Ad text level, advertisers can make adjustments to the ad status and receive email updates when a rule takes effect.
- Within the Keywords level, advertisers can make adjustments to the max CPC bids, raise bids to top of page CPC, raise bids to first page CPC, keyword status, and receive email updates when a rule takes effect.
When thinking about all of the changes you implement to your PPC campaign manually, it doesn’t seem so difficult to put together a comprehensive list of the work that automated rules can do for you.
The Meat and Potatoes of Automation
In order to help you better visualize how automation works, the examples below are good starting blocks to reducing the amount of manual tasks associated with your holiday PPC campaigns.
Schedule Ads for Holiday Specials/Events
Let’s say you plan to schedule ads for special promotions or events on Christmas Eve, arguably one of the largest shopping days of the holiday season, and have them end the day after Christmas. Instead of camping out next to your computer until the clock strikes midnight, how about you set up an automated rule for it and rest easy?
First, create the ads and keep them set to pause. Then set up two automated rules: one for the day the ads are set to go live on Christmas Eve and the other to pause the ads at midnight on December 27th.
To create these rules, go to All online campaigns within your Adwords dashboard, then click the Ads tab. Within the Automate drop-down, select Enable Ads When… and customize your campaign options closely mirroring the screenshot below.
Next, create your second rule, this time following the options under the Pause Ads When… selection, and change the frequency to December 27th at midnight. And then you’re done! Your ads will run between midnight on Christmas Eve through midnight on December 27th.
Pause Campaigns that Spend Certain Budget Partway Through Month
Create a custom automated rule for campaigns to better track your spend throughout the busy periods of the month. For example, if you want to check the status on a campaign that is likely to exhaust its budget relatively quick into the month of December, run an automated rule to check the spend daily at 6 am and pause if it has spent over half the monthly budget, say $200.
To create this rule, go to All online campaigns and select the Campaigns tab. Within the Automate drop-down, select Pause Campaigns When… and tailor your options mirroring the example image below:
Because this rule deals primarily with optimizing the campaign budget, it would be a good idea to set up an email alert to inform you if this rule has been triggered. That way, if and when you do receive notification, you can go into your campaign, better allocate your budget spend and re-enable the campaign for the rest of the month.
Pause Low-Performing Ads Based on Metrics
Because you’re advertising for the holiday season, shoppers want to see carefully crafted and attention grabbing ads that will make them want to convert. In turn, shoppers are happy because they can find what they’re looking for, and you’re happy because you made a sale. But not everyone is a literary genius when it comes to writing PPC ads that drive conversion; so if such is the case for you, no worries, there’s a rule for that, too!
If, for example, you’re looking to test out and pause any ads that don’t perform as desired within the holiday season, you can use a daily rule to look for ads with less than a 0.1% CTR and over 2,000 impressions in the last day.
To create this rule, go to All online campaigns in your Adwords account. Click the Ads tab, then select the Automate drop-down menu. Choose the Pause Ads When… option and customize your options to mirror the example below:
This rule helps better track your keyword/ad group/ad performance by honing in on the ads that aren’t driving significant traffic to your website. When you begin weeding out the low performers, you’re able to understand what phrases, products and calls to action don’t stack up to the needs of your target audience. Plus, it also greatly influences the overall CTR of the campaigns that are performing well.
Next, Try Advanced Automation Techniques
While the examples mentioned above cover very basic, yet important campaign optimization techniques, try researching online for tips setting up more advanced automation rules. Examples:
- Raise bids for keywords below first page bid to ensure holiday ads are secured in the top positions;
- Raise bids during high performance hours or days of the week; lower bids during low performance hours or days of the week; i.e., Raise bids by 25% on Christmas Eve to move ads to higher ad positions;
- Change the max CPC keyword bids to control your average ad position of holiday ads.
The options are virtually endless when it comes to creating rules, so drive right into Automation and explore the many ways in which you can increase the level of control you have over your campaign.
Wrapping it Up
If automation is no longer applicable to your holiday PPC campaigns (either because they’ve run out or you haven’t set any up this year), consider the major takeaways from these tips and begin positioning yourself ahead of the competition for next December. Or better yet, start testing today. Automation certainly is not limited to any specific time of the year, so if you’ve got a major event coming up and want to devote more time to that, use automated rules to take care of the manual labor and spend more time enjoying the event, knowing that your campaigns will be taken care of.
Do you have any other actionable tips for optimizing your PPC campaign this holiday season? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
SEO or PPC?
Whether you are new to the world of Internet Marketing or an abiding veteran, the choice between SEO and PPC is one that will be different for every site, company, and situation. Search Engine Optimization and Pay-Per-Click advertising are the two most widely used forms of Search Engine Marketing and most popular techniques to drive traffic to your website. The goal of both of these is to drive traffic to your website via search engines. But which one is best for you? Sometimes, the answer is actually both.
As a starting point, it is important to fully understand the concepts and purposes of SEO and PPC. Search Engine Optimization is the process of getting traffic from the “free” or “natural” listings on search engines, such as Google or Bing. SEO is like a marathon, where it takes a lot of time to see the results of your hard work. Your website is modified or improved to help it appear higher in the organic listings. These listings or ranking positions are determined by factors such as the popularity of your links and the relevancy of your content, but changes definitely won’t happen overnight. Pay-Per-Click advertising allows you to display ads in the sponsored results section of each search engine’s results page, and when that ad is clicked, you are charged a fee. If you want immediate clicks to your website, PPC is a much shorter race—like a short sprint—because you can immediately start appearing on the first page of results. Your rankings with PPC are determined by how much you bid on keywords, the quality score of your ads, and the landing pages that the ads point to.
The main factor in deciding between the two is the kind of budget you have to work with. To go in depth on which online marketing technique is appropriate for you, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each:
If you are first launching a website or even a brand new company, you want to get your new site/name out there as soon as possible. This is also beneficial if you have special promotions or events that need exposure and cannot be planned months in advance.
You are in Control—
With PPC ads, you have control over which page the “clicker” is sent to. By having control over the landing page, you are able to make sure that the visitor is seeing the most relevant information to what your ad was displaying. The ads that are displayed are written by you and you are able to test them to see which ad performs the best, which landing page is better for visitors, etc.
You have the ability to choose which keywords you want to bid higher on, how much you want to spend in a day, and even the ability to pause your campaign if you are running low on your budget. You are also able to set the placement of your ads and the location where you want your ad to be shown.
Limited Long Term Benefits—
Once the money stops, the ads stop. While you may gain some branded traffic down the road, that unbranded search traffic will completely disappear when the ads stop running.
PPC listings look like ads and are purposely placed where they are. Many people dislike ads, refuse to click on them or frankly just have no idea what they are and do not trust them.
Costs Add Up—
Even though you have the ability to control your PPC campaign budget, costs do begin to pile up and you may end up spending more money than you originally planned. Traffic to your site with PPC is completely dependent on the money you pour into it. If the keywords you are targeting are highly competitive, they may be expensive and can drain your budget quickly.
86% of search engine users reportthat they trust organic search results over paid search results. In fact, it’s been said that searchers simply get annoyed with the advertisements that come up during searches and do not even think about clicking on them.
Long Term Benefits—
Once all the SEO best practices are implemented – like creating quality, keyword-rich content and a strong linking profile – the results will outlast your efforts. The return on investment for SEO will continue to climb long after PPC has peaked.
Relevant, Targeted Traffic—
SEO allows for the use of long-tail keywords, which are three to five word phrases that refine a search term to be more targeted. For example, someone who is searching for “shoes” probably is just doing some casual window shopping, but someone who is searching for “red sneakers size 9” is someone who is further along in the buying process. With long-tail keywords comes more relevant traffic.
Forces Website Improvements—
A main difference between PPC and SEO is that with PPC, you pay for the visitors, but with SEO, you earn visitors by improving your site and following best practices. It may take a lot of work, but it’s a good thing in the long run because of the improvements to your site’s usability.
Ever-changing Google Algorithms—
A top complaint about SEO is that all of the work you put into your site to get your website on the first page results could be affected completely if Google releases new algorithm changes (which they do, at a rate of about 1.2 changes per day).
Required On-Going Maintenance—
Keyword research, content updates, link building and more are all factors of SEO that need to be regularly monitored and updated in order for your site to maintain rankings or to increase them.
Compared to the instantaneous results of PPC, the time lag with SEO can be a downfall. It can take anywhere from one to three months to see any increase in rankings or traffic. This also depends on how much optimization is needed for your site to even be ready to launch.
So should you start running that marathon or lace up the sneakers and begin the sprint? That question is up to you to decide. Both types of search engine marketing need to be considered, then from there you can determine whether SEO, PPC, or even both options are best fit for your needs, goals and budget.
What are your thoughts? Which did you choose, or do use both methods for your website? Feel free to post your preference, success stories, and more!
My, oh my has the search engine results page evolved over the past few years. Raise your hand if you miss the days of typing in a key phrase to be greeted with a crisp page that presented ten organized and relevant results. Don’t get me wrong, I think the evolution of search to include maps, videos, author pictures, etc. is great (occasionally).
While Pay-Per-Click advertising has gone through its fair share of changes in the past few years, I would argue that the rate of growth as compared to organic results is significantly less. Let’s take a look at the results page that appears when I type in a search for the NBA’s Tim Tebow-like sensation, Jeremy Lin.
Notice the PPC ads include seller ratings, product (shopping feed) pictures, sitelinks and more. At a broader level, you will see the structure of the AdWords ads that appear at the top and side of the page appear differently. What is happening here?!
The actual advertisement text is still there, but Google is simply presenting it differently. The two typical ad formats for PPC advertisements at the top of the page are:
Ad Title – Description Line 1
Description Line 2
Ad Title | Domain Name
Description Line 1 + Description Line 2
Is this a good thing or a bad thing? It depends.
Typically the click-through-rate for these top advertisements is higher because they more closely resemble organic results, have a colored background that catches your eye and are typically the first item that draws your attention when the page loads.
When choosing the top ads, Google looks at three main factors:
1. Relevance of the advertisement.
2. Historical performance of the ad.
3. The amount of cash you are willing to bid to have your ad shown.
If you are determined to have your ad show in the top position, heed my warning: I have noticed an abundance of ads over the past couple of months where their syntax makes no sense whatsoever. Why would Google format the ads in a way that does not make sense to users?
As previously noted, Google will sometimes pull in all or some of your description line 1 to add to the title. Google states that this alteration will occur when they have “determined that your first description line is a complete phrase or sentence” in an attempt to create a “more noticeable headline”. The problem arises when Google mistakenly assumes that your first description line 1 is a complete phrase (i.e. you abbreviate a word that Google does not recognize). The result is an advertisement that makes almost no sense. This leaves users confused and unlikely to click on your ad.
The next issue occurs when description line 1 is written without any punctuation. We used to be able to get away with this because the line separation between description line 1 and description line 2 provided somewhat of a pause to the searcher. Unfortunately, this is not the case anymore if your ad appears in the top ad section. Take some time to do some searches for some of your favorite products. Notice that a lot of top advertisements include run-on sentences in the description line because of the lack of punctuation separating description line 1 and 2. Google will sometimes combine these two lines into one without any punctuation to separate.
From here on out, if you write your PPC ads in the AdWords interface, you should be fine since Google provides a live preview of what your ad will look like if it appears on the top or on the side. My advice is to go through your existing PPC ads and make sure that they are not being converted into an ambiguous babbling of words.
Here is how you can use the top ad placement to your advantage:
- For most ads, include a short, informative description line 1 that features a call to action so Google appends the description line 1 to the existing title.
- If you own a new site and are looking to increase your brand awareness, aim to come close to the 35 character limit for both description line 1 & 2. This will enable Google to attach your domain name to the headline.
- Include relevant keywords within the ad text so these words appear bolded when shown.
- Be sure to include a punctuation mark at the end of description line 1 to avoid any run on sentence issues.
Lastly, to measure the performance of your PPC campaign, AdWords has an option to segment via the “Top vs. Other” category. Maybe bidding high for one of your medium-valued keywords in the campaign isn’t the best strategy. Perhaps being in position 4 will produce better results for you!
Analyzing this information will provide you with the necessary information to make better informed campaign decisions.
Google’s Adwords advertising platform gives advertisers two options:
- Advertise on Search Results
- Advertise on the Content Network
Search results advertising shows your ads on the search results for the keywords you choose. We’ve all seen these ads as the “Sponsored Links” on search engine results pages:
The content network works differently. A publisher (like a blogger, news website, etc.) puts Google’s ad program on his or her site, then Google matches ads to that site based on the page’s content: