The debate regarding pay-per-click can get a little nasty at times, with some marketers advising against PPC with every breath and others touting its power and usefulness just as vigorously. The truth, as Plan Left sees it? Pay-per-click works—if you do it right.

Yeah, we’re going to go ahead and step on a few toes here. Those marketers who maintain that PPC just doesn’t work—well, they’ve probably missed a few steps along the way. If they’ve never crafted a successful campaign, then they won’t know what to tell you when you’re ready to invest in search marketing.

There are quite a few common mistakes that prevent success at every turn. If you know these mistakes and how to avoid them, you’re ready to put together a powerful PPC campaign.

Keyword Selection

Unless you’re the only company in the world who does what you do, you’ll fight your competitors for the most relevant keywords. To get the most popular search phrases, you’ll have to bid more. This ensures you’ll show up more often and probably get more clicks. It also means you’ll pay more for each of those clicks.

Before you break the bank or just give up, take some time to really think about your buyers. How will they find you if not using those top keywords? Can you include location information to knock some of the competition out of the game? Do you offer specific services others can’t? This is how you’ll get top billing in the most relevant searches without going over budget for your PPC campaign.

Avoid Broad Match Clicks

If you use the default broad match keyword type or forget to include negative words, you may receive clicks from people who aren’t really looking for your products. For instance, if your keywords are “red pumps” for those seeking shoes, those searchers could get all manner of results. Someone looking for an air pump for their basketball might click your ad and quickly bounce when they realize you’re not selling what they’re buying. Who’s left paying the bill? You are.

Negative keywords will help you filter out people looking for very specific results. For instance, if you sell coffee makers but not those with a built-in grinder, you could receive a lot of hits that wouldn’t have occurred with negative keywords. Once the buyer discovers you don’t offer what they’re looking for, they’ll be gone. Again, who pays for that click? You do.

Optimize for the Decision Phase of the Buying Cycle

Have you ever stared helplessly at the number of clicks you received and wondered why only a very small percentage of those converted to sales? Your PPC campaigns have been crafted to bring in as many people as possible, but not all of those are ready to buy. Let’s look at the example from above.

If you sell shoes, you can expect plenty of people to browse just for the fun of it. Sure, you want those people to find your site, but you can’t expect them to buy on their first visit—and maybe not on their second or third. When they’re ready to buy, they probably have a very specific shoe in mind, such as red pumps or a brand of running shoe.

To nab those buyers, optimize your PPC campaigns to return results when those particular products are searched. You may need a few separate campaigns going at once, but these types result in a much higher number of conversions. They’re always worth the additional effort and investment.

Lead to a Landing Page

If your buyer finds exactly what he or she needs with your PPC ad and clicks, only to end up on the main page of your site, frustration and irritation will ensue. Be sure every PPC ad you have out there directs searchers to the right landing page. If they have to start the search over again once they land on your site, they’re probably not going to stick around very long.

Also worth noting, if you have dedicated landing pages for each PPC campaign, you’ll be able to track your results. And metrics are important. Relevant keywords that lead to relevant landing pages boost your Quality Score, and a good Quality Score for your pay-per-click campaign could lower your price per click by a lot.

Keep an Eye on Things

This is where almost everyone will drop the ball, even if they manage to do the first several steps just right. Most want to create a campaign and then forget about it. If you do this, you’re going to fail.

We’re not suggesting that you stay in your AdWords account at all times, but you do want to check in a few times per day to see how your ad is performing. If you’re not getting the results you want, make some changes. Test those changes against the previous version. Then make more changes.

Now, this is a lot to learn and master. In addition to skill and knowledge, you must also have plenty of time to dedicate to your campaigns. If you need help, we’re here for you. We know PPC and we get results. Just give us a call, and we’ll have you rolling in pay-per-click conversions in no time.

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