Powering Up Your Pay-Per-Click

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising has been around for more than a decade now, and it’s still the most commonsense way of using the web to sell your product or service.Just in case you’ve never heard of PPC, here’s the short definition. PPC is when you put a message on the internet (it can be text, a graphic or even video) and designate where a user will go if they click on it. Then you bid against others by designating how much that click is worth to you. The web site or search engine you are working with then uses your bid, plus a fairly complex bit of math called an algorithm, to determine which messages to show where and when. Finally, whenever somebody clicks on your message (and consequently goes where you want them to go), you pay however much you bid. In other words, you only pay when there is a click (hence the name).

It’s more complex than that, of course, but for the most part, every PPC opportunity on the internet shares most – if not all – of those characteristics. Google Adwords has long held the crown as the king of PPC, but virtually every other internet giant has used the model to make money, as well. Thousands (millions?) of web sites partner with Google Adwords to take advantage of PPC. Bing and Yahoo! share a PPC infrastructure. Ever wonder why Facebook is worth $100 billion when they don’t charge anybody to use their service? It’s PPC of course! Twitter now uses a similar model as well (they call it cost per engagement, but it’s the same thing).

Here at Anchor we work with PPC almost every day. We write ads. We identify keywords. We research demographics. Then we monitor results. Sometimes our goal is to increase visits to a web site, sometimes it is to directly impact sales and sometimes it is to add “followers” (Facebook “Likes,” for example). Whatever the result you are looking for, there are a few key tips to remember no matter where you are spending your PPC dollars:

(1) Identify Your Target Audience: A message you put in front of an uninterested user isn’t just a waste of time (because presumably they won’t click on it anyway), it can actually hinder something called “relevance” – a unique part of that mathematical algorithm that is meant to gauge how “good” your ad is. It’s important to create targeted messages for each of your primary and secondary target audiences. The more targeted your message is, the better.

(2) Make Sure Your Web Site Keeps Up: Another factor that can impact your “relevance” is how much your web site matches your message. This is meant to discourage advertisers from creating an ad for one thing (“Great Stock Market Advice”) and sending you to a site about something else (“Save On Prescription Drugs!”). If your PPC message talks about used cars, the web page that it sends users to needs to talk about used cars as well, because the magical algorithm software will check.

(3) Test Your Messages: This is the one that most people forget. It’s also the most time-intensive step of successful PPC – but it is absolutely critical. Make two ads, then see which performs better. Take out the laggard and replace it with something else, then test again. Repeat until your messages are performing like you want them to. Even then, it pays to test once in a while just to keep up with changing trends and attitudes. It pays to have a good creative team for this process – it can be a challenge to write and rewrite ads so that they can be tested. By the way, some companies make this task easy (Google Adwords is excellent) and some make it very cumbersome (Facebook, I’m looking at you).

(4) Evolve: As we all know, technology changes every day. It is said that Google changes its search parameters 10-20 times per week. What was good enough yesterday may not be good enough today. Facebook is notorious for making changes, then changing things back, then changing something else. The internet giants take evolution very seriously, so you need to, as well. Keep learning, keep reading and keep experimenting yourself. We recently discovered a way to add Facebook followers for our clients that has been tremendously successful for some of our clients, and we discovered it through experimentation.

Getting ahead of the curve with Google, Facebook and Twitter can be a big job, but it’s worth it in the end. If you’d like for us to help, give Anchor a call today.