Pay-per-Click: A Recipe for Success

For small businesses, paid advertising can be an effective way to get your product or service out there. Google ads are always at the top of the first page, and if you can afford to get into the top five positions, your presence on the web can increase, to the benefit of your company.

However, paying for advertising can be expensive, depending on the area of the consumer market you’re targeting. Certain professions are very competitive, and if your clicks end up costing you a fair amount, your outlay could eat into your profits. So, how can you prevent this?

What makes a good candidate for pay-per-click advertising?

As a general rule, the more expensive the product or service you provide, the more effective pay-per-click can be. For example, if you’re selling a product that’s £100 and paying £0.20 for a click, you’re much more likely to make a profit than if you’re selling something for £5 and paying the same amount per click.

Certain lower-priced products can do very well with pay-per-click, however. E-commerce sites offering nationwide delivery for products within a certain specialised field can be successful; from my own experiences with pay-per-click, I can say that websites that sell building materials, retro sweets or silk by the metre have all been effective.

The more diffuse the range of products you sell, the less focused your visitors are likely to be. Websites that sell both jewellery and toiletries will generate clicks for one or the other, and half of your website will therefore be irrelevant to them. Depending on how effective your website is, visitors might even choose to shop somewhere more targeted.

So, if you decide your website is specialised enough for you to try AdWords, how should you go about it?

Quality Scores

Perhaps the most important element of a pay-per-click campaign is what quality scores your keywords generate. Quality Scores are Google’s way of ensuring that the most relevant ads reach the first page of a Google search query, and they are primarily based on an assessment of your website’s text.

Put simply, if your website is promoting your dog walking service and you bid on the keyword ‘dog walking’, your Quality Score will tend to be on the high side. If you bid on the keyword ‘candles’, which is irrelevant to your business, the Quality Score will be low, and your ad will rarely show when the keyword is searched. If you do want to make your dog walking ad show for the word ‘candles’, you’ll have to pay large amounts of money per click.

If your dog walking company does not have much text that Google can read to identify it as what it is, it might decide that your website is less relevant to a searcher’s requirements than it is. If this is the case, you might end up paying £2 per click for the term ‘dog  walking’, whereas your competitor with a better website might pay £0.50 for the same term and get higher ad placements than you do. If your Quality Scores are low, you need to improve your website content to boost them – you’ll never be able to maintain a cost-effective AdWords campaign, otherwise.

Targeting Traffic

There are millions of people using Google every second – that’s a lot of potential visitors to your site, and only a fraction of them are looking for what you’re selling. When you’re paying for every click your ad gets, it’s important to make sure that your visitors are potential customers.

Let’s imagine that your business sells baby clothing. You would want every visitor to your site to be interested in baby clothing, but Google might show your ads to people searching for clothing for adults and older children. How can you prevent this?

  • Ensure your ad is very clear as to the nature of your business. Mention that the clothing is for babies, and the only people who click your ad should be looking for baby clothing.
  • Add negative keywords. Negatives such as ‘men’ ‘women’ and ‘ladies’ will stop your ad being shown when people use search terms with those words in them. Make sure that you don’t add ‘clothes’ or ‘clothing’, or people searching for ‘baby clothes’ or ‘baby clothing’ will not be able to see your ads!
  • Use phrase matching and exact matching keywords. This will ensure your ads are only shown when people use the phrases or exact terms in your keywords, so ‘baby clothing’ on exact match will only show your ad when that keyword is typed in with the correct spelling and without any other words. If you use phrase matching, your ads will show for ‘organic baby clothing’ but not ‘organic baby clothes’. If your clothing’s not organic, add ‘organic’ as a negative keyword.
  • Make sure your landing page is relevant. If your ad is about baby jackets and your keywords are related to baby jackets, then don’t have your ad land on a page for baby socks – this might result in the searcher clicking the back button and trying your competitors’ ads.
  • Target buyers, not browsers! People searching terms with words like ‘gifts’, ‘info’, ‘compare’ and ‘ideas’ won’t be looking for anything specific, and they’ll be shopping around. You’d better served by putting those words into your negatives list and sticking to the specific products you sell.

By using these strategies, you should be able to keep costs down and get the very best quality of traffic to your site, at the lowest possible cost for your business area. Give it a try!