Monday 23 January 2017

Tips for building a successful pay-per-click ad campaign

Cara Whitehouse

Published 21/04/2011 | 05:00

PAY-per-click (PPC) platforms, such as Google AdWords, offer businesses fantastic opportunities to effectively target online customers who are searching for their services.

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The returns on offer can be huge -- but with that potential for reward also comes risk.

So before you dive in, here are some things to consider.

1. Keep it tight

Before you even think about writing an ad, it's critical that you establish a structure for your campaign.

Alas, successful PPC is not as simple as making a list of all your critical keywords, writing a few ad variations and then setting a campaign live.

If you want to make money, rather than fritter it away on poorly targeted clicks that don't convert, make sure you break things down in a logical manner, so that each separate element of your campaign is effectively targeted and more likely to convert.

For example, let's say you ran three Italian restaurants -- one in Dublin and two in Cork -- that you wanted to promote through Google AdWords.

It would be wise to split these into two separate 'sub-campaign' groups -- for two reasons.

Firstly, you might want to allocate more of your budget to the two Cork restaurants than the one in Dublin -- which can only be done at the campaign-setting level.

Secondly, you should be using Google's location-targeting tool, which allows you to show your ads only in the areas local to those restaurants -- because realistically, there's little point in advertising a restaurant in Dublin to someone in Galway.

Within your sub-campaigns, it's also critical that you further split the keywords into separate 'Ad Groups', allocating relevant ads to relevant keywords within those separate groups.

For example, you might have a series of keywords around the term 'Italian restaurant', which should trigger a specific and relevant ad, while a group of keywords around 'restaurants in Dublin' should trigger a different ad, more specific to that query.

By breaking the campaign into tightly focused ad groups, not only should you have the most relevant ad showing for a searcher's query, but you should also be able to improve click-through rates and quality scores within your campaign as a whole. This will consequently help you to drive down the amount you pay each time someone clicks on your ads.

2. Location, location, location

As briefly touched on above, PPC platforms give you an amazing ability to deliver your ads in a very targeted way when it comes to locations. Local businesses can set their ads to show only within a specific radius of their store -- so they don't waste clicks or even impressions showing to people who aren't realistically within travelling distance.

Using the restaurant example above, this business might want to target a 20-mile radius around the Cork area (to cover both restaurants) and a 10-mile radius around Dublin.

By focussing the campaign in this way, conversion rates should be higher and wasted spend should be minimised.

3. More than words

Don't forget to think about your keyword matching options. By default, they will be set to 'broad' -- which gives you the most exposure, but it can be dangerous.

Taking the 'Italian restaurant' example:



  • On broad match, your ads would show for either or both words in any order, along with other words. So ads could show for 'Indian restaurant' or 'Italian deli'.
  • On phrase match, ads would only show when your keywords appear in the correct order, although other terms can also be present. So ads could show for 'cheap Italian restaurant' or 'Italian restaurant in Ireland'.
  • On exact match your ads will only show for the exact phrase 'Italian restaurant' -- nothing else.


Each match option has its pros and cons. If your keywords are on broad match, then your ads will be shown to more people.

But are all these people really likely to purchase your services? At the other end of the scale, exact match minimises wastage -- but it also rules out lots of searchers who may be looking for you using broader terms.

Deciding the best match option for the keywords you want your ads to show for isn't the end of the story, though. Don't forget about the often-ignored negative match. Any word you add as a 'negative keyword' will ensure your ads don't show for any phrase using that word.

So, coming back to our 'Italian restaurant' example, if it's got three Michelin stars and costs €100 a head, you might want to use 'cheap' as a negative keyword, in order to ensure that anyone looking for a bargain doesn't waste your click spend.

*Next week, Cara looks at landing pages and the importance of a good analytics package.

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