edit Dipping your toes into pay-per-click advertising
You own a website, and Google is offering you $100 in AdWords credit, for free.
You're asking yourself, "Is PPC for me? And what do I need to know about it?"
As with many things in search marketing, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can be a double-edged sword. The most popular PPC option, Google AdWords, offers site owners the ability to narrowly target their ads to specific groups of people. If you know what you’re doing, PPC can work great....but it carries a few risks.
edit PPC Pros
- 1. Absolute Precision
PPC is great at reaching a targeted audience. Webmasters can choose the exact keywords they think will convert - that is, cause people to click on an ad, and then buy something, sign up for a newsletter, or do whatever else the business wants people to do. Being able to choose exact keywords means that theoretically, the business owner spends on advertising only to the people who matter.
- 2. Customizable Ads
PPC also offers tons of customization options. Each campaign can be targeted for a specific location or language. You can even choose whether ads will be displayed on computers, phones or other devices.
- 3. Good Timing
Unlike pop-up ads or banner ads on news or entertainment websites, PPC ads displayed next to search results allow an advertiser to get a very specific message to potential customers, exactly when they're looking for what the advertiser is selling. PPC ads can be effective for a seasonal sale, the introduction of a new product, or even developing awareness of a brand.
- 4. Focused Message
To be effective in the tiny space allotted to a PPC ad, copy must be clear and compelling. That forces advertisers to define their message and hone in on their value proposition...if they hope to succeed.
- 5. Broad Exposure
Is there any better place to advertise than on a Google search results page? Google completes more than two billion search queries a day, offering unparalleled exposure for an advertiser. Google PPC ads offer not just a vast audience, but also some assurance that the people viewing your ad are actually interested in what you're selling.
Ready to jump in? Read Writing Good PPC Ads for your next step.
edit PPC Cons
- 1. Useless Clicks
It is possible to waste thousands of dollars on clicks that don’t convert. It’s up to the advertiser to tirelessly research and analyze keywords before choosing the search terms they want to target with PPC ads. This can be a huge undertaking, particularly for those with little experience of keyword research.
PPC advertisers pay for each and every click on their ads, regardless of whether qualified prospects are seeing them. Even using the right keywords doesn't shelter an advertiser from the occasional wayward clicks. It's also important to know that some competitors might purposely click on your ads, knowing you'll be charged for them. It's a way of making you spend more on advertising that isn't yielding you sales.
If you're using PPC, you need to pay special attention to optimizing your landing pages to convert visitors into customers. Learn more about how to make your website's design work for you - read Design Your Website for Conversion.
- 2. Spammy Peers
The cost of a PPC ad depends on how valuable and popular search engines consider the keyword that you want your ad to appear for when people are searching. Search engines use this knowledge to pit site owners against each other in a bidding war for each keyword.
PPC costs are subject to manipulation by competitors who will do anything to drive up keyword bids in order to fence others out of more expensive ad positions within a search results page. There is no shortage of cases where unscrupulous competitors have gotten wind of a targeted keyword, and deliberately spiked the traffic for that term to drive up the costs of advertising against that keyword. Action like this makes it more expensive for a site owner to buy ads against a desired keyword.
- 3. Expense
PPC costs can really add up, particularly if you’re bidding on high-volume or brand-name keywords where there’s loads of competition.
The keywords that are most successful in generating conversions are naturally the most highly sought keywords, so it may take some serious dough to get in the game. That can make it difficult for fledgling websites to compete.
New entrants to PPC should expect to spend between 10 and 20 percent of their total online budget on PPC ads. Costs can vary wildly - anywhere from $50 to $5,000 per week - depending on the keywords you're targeting. It can be very expensive to get one of the top two or three ads next to search results.
edit Should You Hire a PPC Firm?
There are no guarantees when it comes to PPC. Without a well conceived plan, solid research and PPC experience, a campaign can burn through serious money without getting good results.
Make no mistake, Pay Per Click is a highly competitive, cutthroat business that's not for the faint of heart. If you don't have the teeth to fight for your keywords and take risks with bidding, you may find your ads at the bottom of the search results - or even completely absent from search engine results pages.
Because PPC poses some risks, many business owners choose to hire a PPC specialist to run this type of ad campaign. If you decide to hire a firm, check out its client portfolio, and call a few of its past clients. Ask how good their results were, and whether they'd recommend the firm to a close friend.