A few months ago we talked about deciding if a pay-per-click campaign is right for your company. I thought I’d back up today and review how pay-per-click works, as well as explain some strategies we use to help pay-per-click pay off for our clients.
So … let’s start with the basics. Pay-per-click campaigns are created using Google AdWords. You create an ad using keywords related to your business. When someone searches for those keywords, your ad pops up on their screen. That’s called an “impression.” When someone clicks on your ad and is sent to your website, that’s called a “clickthrough.”
With AdWords, you typically pay not for the number of impressions you get – but for the number of clickthroughs. Thus the name “pay-per-click.”
Creating a successful AdWords campaign isn’t a one-time deal. You don’t create an ad, throw it on Google, and leave it there forever. Instead, it’s a process of constantly refining your ads to find out which ones bring the most business.
Here’s how it works:
- Step 1 – Create. Write two or more ads for your business using the same keywords. (For example, if your keyword is “golf shoes,” one ad might read, “Try the season’s hottest golf shoes”; the other might read “Try our top-performing golf shoes.”)
- Step 2 – Evaluate. Run both ads simultaneously. After a set period of time – usually 1 to 3 weeks – assess which ad is working better. Then delete the worst-performing ad and replace it with a new one. If you’re using more than one set of keywords in each ad (like “golf shoes” vs. “golfing shoes”), delete the worst-performing keywords and replace them with new ones.
- Step 3 – Rinse and repeat. You can repeat this cycle almost indefinitely – constantly trying out new ads and new keywords, keeping the good ones in play, and removing the scrubs. The goal is to constantly increase your conversion rate – the number of clickthroughs compared to the number of impressions.
Increasing your conversion rate does two things: first, it gets more customers to your site. Second, it gets you a better position on Google, for less money per click. Having each click cost less can make a big difference in your ad spend over time.
Of course, the ultimate goal isn’t just a high conversion rate – it’s what customers do once they get to your site. If you have a high conversion rate and high online sales, you’re golden. But if you have a high conversion rate and low online sales, there’s probably a disconnect between your ads and your website content.
And that’s a topic for another day’s blog.