Pay-per-click campaigns (PPC), also known as paid search, are a great way to advertise your business online. Once you’ve mastered your PPC skills, you can drive traffic from a targeted audience to your website, hopefully leading them down the sales funnel.
Google AdWords is one of the leading PPC advertising programs. (1) Essentially, when a potential customer searches for something your business offers, your advert appears at the top or side of Google’s search results, depending on the bid you’ve placed. If they click on your ad, you pay a fee but hopefully you can make a conversion.
Here’s an overview of how it works.
A Note on Keywords
Keywords are words or phrases that people use on search engines to search for what they want. For example, if you sell women’s sport footwear, you might use ‘women’s trainers’ or ‘women’s tennis shoes’.
The more general your keyword is, the more competitive and therefore expensive, it’s likely to be. For example, ‘shoes’ is very general so ranking on the first page is going to be expensive and difficult. You’ll have more success breaking it down by brand and activity, i.e. ‘women’s Nike trainers’.
Google AdWords: Pros and Cons
Like many things, there are pros and cons to Google AdWords. It gives you great exposure, with your ad often turning up on the first search page for your keyword, and you only pay once your ad has been clicked. It has a user-friendly interface, and you can adjust your budget to suit you.
However, it isn’t suitable for everybody. Because it’s keyword based, if your product is brand new and people aren’t likely to be searching for it, it’s unlikely to be effective. You may struggle if you’re trying to reach a very niche audience that aren’t online much, for example over-60s. Plus if your market is competitive and you’re paying a lot each time somebody clicks on your ad, you need to be selling a high value product or service and be certain of a reasonable conversion rate, otherwise it will be too expensive.
Setting up Google AdWords
To get started, head over to Google AdWords and sign up for an account. Google has a useful guide to setting up AdWords, which involves setting up a password, choosing a geographic area, creating a daily budget, writing your ad, selecting your keywords, and entering your billing details. (2)
Your ad is composed of four parts.
- Headline: maximum of 25 words, which appears in bold.
- URL: link to the page you’re targeting.
- Two lines of description: a mere 35 words on each line.
To make the best of this, focus on your unique selling point, create a strong call to action, and consider including an offer, such as a discount, trial offer or free gift with the first purchase.
Choosing the right keywords is critical to the success of your ad, and Google has a great free tool to help you out: a keyword planner. Start by typing in the words you think your audience will use when searching for your product, and the planner will suggest a list of similar keywords, showing their cost per click.
Export the list of relevant keywords into a spreadsheet and choose your top ones to target – between five and eight is a good number if you’re starting out. These should be the ones most relevant to your business.
You can also choose the match type, deciding whether your ad will only appear for an exact match, a phrase match, or a broad match. The broad match will give you more options, but it could mean your ad appears in unrelated searches, so you will waste your budget on clicks that lead nowhere.
Google AdWords is a great option for boosting your website traffic and increasing your leads, hopefully leading to more conversions. For a more in-depth look at AdWords, look at this great resource.
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