5 Common PPC Mistakes You May Be Making

PPC Mistakes

PPC Mistakes

Google AdWords is one of the most powerful advertising platforms available.

To see why, let’s take a look at one of the challenges of outbound marketing. If you are trying to sell someone a high value item, e.g. a car, you only want to talk to those people when they are in the market for buying a new car. Talking to anyone else is a waste of your money. What is there was an advertising platform where the audience segments itself and you only talk to people asking the right questions?

AdWords users effectively self-segment by the queries that they type into Google so you can ensure that you are only talking to the right people and you only pay for the clicks that you receive, so it drives a response, not just awareness.

But Google AdWords, or Pay per Click (PPC) advertising, doesn’t always work out like this. There are some common mistakes which you may be making in your campaigns, and here are 5 that I see all of the time.

Not checking back:

Digital marketing often allows you to amend a campaign while it is in progress, continually optimising to deliver the strongest results. This is the case with PPC: always put a small amount of time, even 10 mins, in your diary every day to check back on your active PPC campaigns – you will not only see which keywords are performing well, you will be able to fine-tune your bidding as well as keep an eye on expensive keywords before they get out of control.

Not checking the type of keyword match:

Before you make your campaign live, you should understand whether you require a broad or exact match keyword setting. Exact match ads will only appear if the exact phrase (or something very close to it) is typed into Google, whereas broad match ads include spelling errors, synonyms and other related and relevant searches. There is no right or wrong answer, it depends what you are looking for and which keywords you are using. You should also be employing negative keywords which exclude unwanted keywords from your campaign.

Ignoring the landing page:

You can have the best designed PPC advert in the world, optimised, delivering an amazing click through rate and great quality traffic to your website. But if your website is a miserable experience, you have wasted your time and money getting the people there. The landing page and subsequent user experience are often ignored in PPC campaigns, but only by campaigns that don’t work: don’t be one of them.

Your ad copy is boring:

To be fair there isn’t a great deal of space in which to unleash your inner Don Draper or Oscar Wilde. The character limits for PPC ads are very small, but that doesn’t mean that you can ignore the ad copy. It is this that will encourage the click, so it is vitally important – include a call to action and have several different versions running at the same time. Your regular monitoring will allow you to see what ad copy is delivering the best results.

Not Measuring:

The amount of data that you can gather from PPC campaigns is very impressive, if not a little overwhelming for some. So you have no excuse not to track the performance of your campaigns through a wide variety of metrics – click through rate, quality score, conversion rate, etc. Linking your AdWords account with your Analytics package will really start to unlock an understanding of keyword level performance, something very powerful indeed.

Are there any common mistakes that you see when running PPC campaigns? If so, leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Image via searchengineland.com

How to Manage a PPC Campaign

PPC Management

PPC Management

I read earlier this week that spend on Pay Per Click (PPC) search engine advertising is set to continue to grow in 2015, and this isn’t too surprising.  The quest to get onto page one of Google’s results page for your most important keywords is a difficult and time-consuming one if you go down the Search Engine Optimisation route – PPC will get you to the very top of that page in no time at all.

Not only that, but one of the criticisms of traditional advertising is that it doesn’t segment the audience – PPC audiences segment themselves through their search terms, so you know the audience is showing interest.

But effective PPC is more than just setting up your account, hitting ‘go’ and sitting back waiting for the cash to roll in: this method will result in a lot of money being wasted very quickly.  So, how do you manage a PPC campaign?  Here is my six step process:

1) Set-up Multiple Campaigns
Campaigns are an important part of the structure of PPC campaigns – within these you can select different groups of keywords, and try different types of creative.  Campaign-level is a good way of looking at your top-line results, so make sure that the campaigns are easily distinguishable.

2) Choose the URL
You need to choose the URL which the advert will send people to, but the landing page is often forgotten as part of the PPC campaign process.  The landing page should give the viewer the option (or options) to do what most people do on your website – whether that is a buy-now button or a contact form.  You can track the success of your landing page through your analytics package.  In terms of the URL itself, you should make it trackable so that you can tell the keyword which has referred it – I find Google’s URL builder really easy to use and it ties in with Google Analytics.  You should also test different landing pages to optimise the advert’s effectiveness once they arrive on your site.

3) Select Keywords
Selecting keywords is not as easy as you would think!  If you know the business that you are working for, you should have an idea of where to start: asking some customers what terms they would use is also a good starting point.  You should also use Google’s Keyword Tool for some inspiration, but don’t get too carried away – if your landing page does not relate to the search term, this will count against you.

4) Write the Advert
You are limited by the number of characters in your advert, so all you budding Don Drapers may already start feeling a little restricted.  Your title should be punchy and to the point, with the rest of the advert explaining why your advert is the one that the customer should click on – what is different about your business?   The domain is also restricted to just 35 characters, so it is unlikely that you will be able to use the actual destination URL: your domain needs to be the same as the destination URL, but you can release some (short) creativity with the page name.

5) Time for Extensions?
On top of a standard PPC advert, there are a number of extensions that you can add to make your advert more eye-catching, and some great ways of honing your advert.  But I recommend that you don’t start looking at this until your feel comfortable with the basics of PPC management.  You can tailor your advert in the following ways:

  • Bidding by day of week
  • Bidding by time of day
  • Click to call (i.e. your phone number on your advert)
  • Seller ratings (useful for building trust)
  • Site links (showing a range of pages which should help to entice people to click on your advert)

6) Keep Reviewing:
PPC campaign management is not just a one-off task – the campaigns with the best ROI are monitored and tweaked on a continual basis.  So, you should become very familiar with the PPC metrics:

  • Impressions – the number of times that your ad has been shown
  • Clicks – the number of times that your advert has been clicked on (you can calculate your Click Through Rate [CTR] by dividing clicks by impressions)
  • Average Position – where your advert is shown on page, so the lower the better
  • Cost Per Click – self-explanatory!
  • Quality Score – this has a blog all of its own!
  • Conversions / Cost per Conversion – use conversion tracking codes when linking through to your site to be able to track the consumer through to conversion

Do you manage your PPC campaigns, or is it managed by an agency?  Do you have any top tips?

5 Tips to boost Quality Score

Google Adwords

Google Adwords

Last week I wrote about the components of Pay per Click Quality Score.

Quality Score is an amalgamation of a number of factors which Google see as important for an advert on its network.  Essentially, it takes into account two broad areas, the landing page and the relevance of the advert.  That is all well and good, but how can you actually drive your Quality Score upwards and, at least theoretically, drive down your cost per click?  Here are five tips which I hope will help, split by the two important elements of your PPC campaign – the landing page and the advert itself:

Landing Page:

Specific Landing Pages: This is a pretty obvious one, but you would be surprised at the amount of adverts which direct people to the home page.  Where the search is not broad enough to justify this, create a specific landing page for each group of keywords, and where possible reflect the ad copy in the copy on the page.  This will decrease your bounce rate for people who click on your ad and visit the page, thus improving your Quality Score.

Landing page load time: We have all been here – click on a link…..and wait.  With high speed internet access becoming more and more the norm, people are becoming less patient when it comes to page load speed.  So, have a look at your CSS, reduce unnecessary scripts and compress your page as much as you can (there are lots of tips around for this – just search Google it and click on the best looking ad!).


Use Ad Extensions: One of the factors of Quality Score is the click through rate of your advert – i.e. the number of times that it is clicked compared to the number of times the advert is displayed.  Using Google’s Ad Extensions (e.g. adding reviews for your product or service; offering a call-back facility; adding your address or phone number to your advert) will not only ensure your advert takes up more real estate on the page, it will also drive up your click through rate.

Dynamic Keyword Insertion: Dynamic keyword insertion is not brand new technology, but it is an interesting tool.  It takes the words that the user has typed into Google and inserts those words into your advert.  When this is done well, it is fantastic, but all too often a poorly targeted advert looks almost spam-like.  I have used this before a number of times: sometimes it has worked really well, other times, it has not worked at all – so test and see how you get on.

Ad Copy: One of the factors that makes digital marketing so powerful is the possibility of being able to test and get results back quickly.  And this is one of those occasions where you should!  Your ad copy can make or break your advert’s effectiveness and there is no substitution for a structured test – re-word the call to action, change its position and check the results.

Quality Score is an important measure and to understand it is to understand how you can make your adverts more effective.  But you should not lose focus of the fact that your advert should be measured against the number of sales / enquiries / whatever that your website is tasked with delivering.  Quality Score is a means to improving your adverts, just don’t lose sight of the person who is looking on Google and giving away the clicks.

What is PPC Quality Score?

Google Adwords

Google Adwords

If you have worked in Pay Per Click advertising, it’s likely that you will be aware of Quality Score, but not necessarily true that you understand it.  It can be seen from within Google’s AdWords reporting suite and is a simple mark out of 10 for each keyword that you bid on – the higher the score means the better Quality Score.

The purpose of Quality Score is to determine how relevant your advert is to somebody seeing your advert.  It is broken down by keyword and takes into account not only the advert itself, but also the landing page, so it looks more closely at the user experience than just looking at your PPC analytics.

Firstly, and whenever you are looking at any search engine marketing, you need to think what the purpose of a search engine is.  It is to provide relevant search results, adverts and landing pages which relate directly to the user’s needs – if a search engine can achieve this, the user will visit the search engine again.

Quality Score is Google’s way of ensuring what they call ‘a great user experience’.  Google also uses Quality Score to determine an advert’s position (and whether the advert is shown or not) as well as the cost per click.  It combines two factors:


  • Relevancy – If an ad is relevant to the user’s needs then it is fair to assume that this advert will have a higher Click Through Rate (i.e. number of times the advert is clicked on divided by number of times the advert is shown) – so your CTR is important.
  • Landing Page – Google will look at a whole host of factors which will determine landing page quality – load times, accurate meta data, copy on page, etc.  Google want the landing page to be relevant to the user’s needs, transparent and ‘white hat’ in its structural approach.

Google uses Quality Score to determine position by multiplying it by the bid to determine the position of an advert (the result of this calculation is called ‘Ad Rank’).  So, if your Quality Score is high, it is at least theoretically possible that a lower bid than your competition will result in a higher position.

As the concept of Quality Score has been created by a commercial organisation (i.e. Google), we don’t understand how the weighting of each factor works, and its unlikely that Google will ever be that transparent for something so commercially sensitive.  However, checking your Quality Score regularly and testing to improve the score will drive your PPC effectiveness.

Remember to check back next week when I will write about how to improve your Quality Score.

Paid Search Campaign Tips

Paid Search Marketing

Paid Search Marketing

If you are looking to capture new visitors to your website in the short- term then paid search advertising might well be the tactic you are looking for. It is a great way to get your company in front of people who are searching for your product or service – and a handy short-cut to a good position on a search engines ranking!

I am going to focus on Google here because it is so dominant here in the UK. It might be that Google is not the most popular search engine where you are, but hopefully these principles will help you with your search engine of choice.

So, you have decided to launch a paid search advertising campaign, but what are the ingredients of a great PPC (pay per click) campaign?

Good Targeting – Before you start unleashing your creativity on ad copy, you need to work out what keywords to target. This can be done by spending time on Google looking at what your competitors are bidding on (and using Google AdWord’s keyword tools), but you should also consult some customers or prospects. How do they describe your product; do they search for the problem that they have (e.g. searching for ‘cash flow issues’ instead of a ‘business loan’). Understanding this may help unlock some keyword gems – keywords which don’t receive a lot of bids meaning that their cost per click is low but are being searched for by your audience.

Stand Out (it’s tough!) – The click through rate (i.e. the number of times your ad is clicked divided by the number of times your ad appears) of PPC ads is notoriously poor – the low single figure percentages are not uncommon. But smart ad copy will help you stand out – just by addressing your credibility (the searcher may not have heard of you before) or answering the issue that the searcher has, when accompanied by a call to action, will put you ahead of most PPC ads – most ads don’t contain these!

Utilise the Tools – there are a number of advert extensions that can enhance your PPC advert. Enhanced site links offer a number of paid links to your site, it’s like having multiple adverts in one, and this will definitely help your click through rate. Or, if you are trying to build credibility, why not add reviews onto your advert? Or if you are advertising on mobile, maybe you should add a ‘call’ button to your advert? The tools are available, so you should be using them to drive more traffic to your website.

Test, Test, Test – one of the great elements of PPC advertising is how quickly you can measure the ad’s performance. You will be able to check your click through rate (i.e. how good is your ad at standing out), number of clicks to your website and your average advert position (if this is low, you should probably increase your bid). Amend your advert following this feedback and check the results again – get into the habit of continual improvement.

Joined-Up Thinking – don’t lose sight of what role you want PPC to play. It is a channel for driving traffic to your website, and it’s the website where the campaign can succeed or fail. Your landing page should be directly related to your advert – don’t direct people to your home page, it’s not specific enough, direct them to a specific landing page that contains a call to action. And when someone is on your site, monitor what they are doing. Are they bouncing right out of the site because your landing page isn’t effective? Your analytics tool will help with this, and investigate linking AdWords to your analytics for the ultimate in joined-up thinking.

This is a deliberately quick tour of PPC advertising – there are a number of issues raised here which justify a better explanation that can’t be covered in a short blog. But, if you follow the above principles, your should start to see paid search becoming an important part of your digital marketing strategy.