PPC Advertising Best Practices
For bootstrapped start-ups there are a number of affordable marketing channels to get started.
Most expert SEOs will tell you that PPC advertising is generally expensive and most inexperienced business owners overestimate advertising ROI.
So before you try paid advertising explore options such as free classified ads, organic social media, using your personal network, media publicity, sites such as Gumtree and Craigslist.
Assuming you’ve done all that and are ready to invest some money on paid advertising, here’s what you need to do to optimise your PPC spending:
PPC advertising is becoming increasingly competitive. Across the board CPCs are going up and CTRs are dropping. And on top of that there’s no direct correlation between clicks and actual conversions.
However if done well, paid search results can still garner up to 35% of total clicks. That said, it makes sense to first ensure that once someone ends up on your site’s landing page, there’s enough incentive for them to stay.
Expert SEO advice
It’s very important to interlink your pages well so that even the furthest corners of your site are within a few clicks and back from your homepage. This is very important from a pure SEO perspective too as a good navigation structure is easier to crawl for search engines too. At the end of the day though, it’s the quality of your content that will determine whether a campaign is successful or not. Any PPC or SEO campaign can only be successful if there is absorbing content backing it. Equally important is an effective call to action. To ensure those clicks convert you need to put your message out there loud and clear, preferably on the top half of the landing page. By “message” I mean your CVP (customer value proposition).
Tell them why you are different from others and why should they buy from you. Whatever your differentiation strategy might be – you could be competing on price or quality – unless your audience is able to see it within seconds of landing on your page, they are not likely to convert.
Secondly, get a good designer and if you can’t afford to do some research into layout/design, colour schemes. It’s a known fact that people make decisions about the credibility of the site within seconds of seeing it, so don’t shoot yourself in the foot by not getting the design basics right.
I also suggest before you invest any money into any PPC advertising, educate yourself on the topic. There are heaps of resources by expert SEOs available online to get you started. Keywords are the foot soldiers of any PPC campaign. They are your army fighting out there in an intensely competitive market for you. So the wisest decision you’ll make is to make sure you have the right keywords – high value keywords which have the potential to deliver. To begin with, you should be looking for high-traffic keywords, ideally with medium to low competition.
Thankfully, with Google Adwords, you have the benefit of advanced automated features which crawl your keywords according to rules specified by you. These features allow you to gauge how your keywords are performing. It’s important to choose your keywords after a thorough keyword research and waste no time in killing off the ones which are not performing. This is a necessary evil and there’s no way around it but trial and error. Keyword identification is the most important step towards a successful PPC campaign. Be patient. Educate yourself. Keep experimenting and trying until you have a list of keywords which you believe are most likely to convert.
Once you have hand-picked your keywords, it’s time to use those expert SEO tips to optimise your website for the keywords. This is a separate and complex topic and should ideally be discussed separately. But keeping in mind the nature of this post, we’ll confine ourselves to key points. I’d highly recommend you do further reading on the points mentioned. In this post I’ll identify key parts on your website which need to be optimised for your high-value keywords.
- The Big G: The only thing you can completely control in your quest for an optimal SERP listing is optimising your webpages for relevant keywords. Keeping peripherals aside, the term Search Engine is effectively synonymous with Google. So you know who is the boss in the game – yes, it’s the big G.
- URL: The term URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. This is essentially how your browser communicates with the server. The URL of your landing page is the first place you should place your highest-ranking keyword/s in. Normally, landing pages are the home pages of your site. It’s tempting to include all your keywords in its URL but that’s probably not a great idea as often it tends to confuse Google bots, as smart as they may be. So pick one or a maximum of two keywords for this page. Remember, to include keywords in the URL for every page. These keywords should be about the page and should ideally be unique for each page as that makes it easier for search engines to figure out what the page is about. If there is too much overlap, search engines might take it as duplicate content and not consider the page at all. There are some key points you need to keep in mind while doing this:
- Rule 1: Place your keyword as close to host as you can. To understand what I mean by “host,” let’s briefly analyse the URL structure. Let’s take http://www.gauravpandey.com.au/foo..; for example. In this URL, http is called the protocol, http://gauravpandey.com.au is the host and /and what follows it, is the path. Without delving into any further details, your keyword/key phrase should follow the host for optimal results. This means if your keyword is, say, “marketing”, the URL should look something like this http://www.gauravpandey.com.au/marketing…
- Rule 2: Keep your URL short and simple. Make sure it’s easy to remember and share (copy/paste). So http://www.gauravpandey.com.au/marketing/ is better than http://www.gauravpandey.com.au/onlinemediapage/marketing/.
- Rule 3: Your best keyword/s should feature in the title tag of your landing page. When you search for a particular keyword, the title is the bold text which appears in SERP listings. Try to keep the keywords right at the start of the title as sometimes your URLs get truncated and the keywords may not be displayed by search engines.
- Rule 4: Include your keywords in meta description. It’s a short description of your webpage and although it does not affect SERP rankings directly it definitely adds value to your listing by succinctly describing what your website is about. So make sure you write an enticing – but short – meta description and try to include your most relevant keywords in it.
- Rule 5: Include your keywords in your post heading and sub-headings. This is self-explanatory. If nothing else, it will improve the user experience on your page.
- Rule 6: Ensure your body text includes your keywords. However, be careful not to stuff your text with keywords. In fact, instead of being helpful, too many keywords on one page end up confusing search engines. So make sure every page is optimised for a different set of keywords and there isn’t too much overlap. Needless to say, your homepage is probably the most important page on your site, but here again you should take care to not over-stuff it with keywords. Another handy tip here is to italicise/bold your most relevant keywords. This helps search engines identify what your page is about.
- Rule 7: Search Engines are still predominantly designed to read text and not images and videos, so you must surround your images and videos with text. For images, use the alt tab to describe the image and use keywords (but don’t overstuff). The same reasoning applies in naming the images in the root folder. Optimising videos for SEO is slightly more complicated, but as a rule you should follow the following steps:
- Ensure there are not too many videos on a single page. Ideally, there should not be more than just one video per page. Too many videos end up confusing search engines. Also, make sure the video has a catchy title.
- Make sure your videos are surrounded with keyword rich text and images. The logic behind this is obvious; it’s a way of tricking search engines into displaying the page containing the video.
Remember, a lot of PPC is trial and error but there’s a method to this madness. If you follow the aforementioned steps, you’ll be in a better position to reap the benefits of a successful campaign. Keeping the nature of a blog post in mind, I’ve not gone into a lot of technical details, especially with regards to SEO, but in this post you have a mini-blueprint to get the best value out of your PPC advertising campaigns.