7 tactics to make the most of pay-per-click marketing

Despite a pivot toward content marketing, PPC can be cost-effective and quite successful—if you know its particulars. Follow these guidelines to save yourself money and undue aggravation.  

The rumors about pay-per-click marketing’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

For years we’ve heard that organic traffic is what we all need, that PPC is inferior in every way to content marketing, and that clients appreciate when you give them high-quality content and are more likely to buy if you attract them this way.

PPC is done, some assert, and it is easy to believe it, with almost 27% of U.S. users and 11% of global users using ad blockers.

According to official statistics, however, 90% of users still view Google display ads, and, even more crucial, PPC traffic converts 50% better than free organic traffic. In other words, PPC is not just alive and kicking, but also more effective than ever.

Attracting organic traffic may be a viable strategy (and you certainly should do it, especially with a small budget), but entirely forgoing PPC in its favor is a folly.

Here are popular practices for PPC and lesser-known tricks so you can squeeze your AdWords dry in 2020.

1.      Do not use “broad match” keywords.

A common mistake beginner marketers make is setting all their keywords as “broad match.” It means the ad appears not only for the specific keyword or phrase but also for a number of related or relevant variants—that is, those your advertising program deems related or relevant, which are often anything but.

Although extensive use of “broad match” can improve your brand exposure by showing ads to people who look using slightly different keywords, it also attracts irrelevant traffic—and you end up paying for it.

2.      Adjust geolocation settings.

Geolocation settings are among the most overlooked features of Google AdWords; most marketers either ignore it completely or apply the same settings to all their campaigns. Meanwhile, they enable you to carefully tweak which ads are to be displayed where—for example, you can set some ads to be displayed only in specific regions or within a particular distance of your business. Given that 86% of users use the internet to look for local businesses, and about 30% do it at least once a week, the importance of this function can hardly be overestimated.

3.      Use dayparting.

Dayparting is similar to geolocation and is just as often overlooked. It enables you to maximize your business’ exposure during the most relevant hours—after all, if your store is open only during the day, displaying the ads at night will not be of much use to those looking for a place they want to visit right then. By combining dayparting with geolocation, you can achieve a high level of control over when and where your potential clients will see your ads. However, you must understand what you are doing, lest you sabotage your own campaign.

4.      Focus your campaign on negative keywords.

Another often overlooked feature is the use of negative keywords—i.e., keywords you can apply to specify where your ads should not appear. It is especially important if your primary keywords are often used in topics that have nothing to do with your niche. If you know that a lot of traffic comes from irrelevant searches, you can make adjustments and save money.

5.      Do not ignore long-tail keywords.

It may be surprising to those who learned to use search engines in their relatively early years when it was important to be as specific with your query as possible, but more than half of all searches today are longer than four words. It means that people are more and more likely to use conversational language when searching online, and you should take that into account.

6.      Use relevant landing pages.

Using a one-size-fits-all landing page for all your PPC ads will inevitably cause it to be partially or completely irrelevant at least some of the time. It not only throws a wrench into your sales process but also leads to lower ad-quality scores. In the long run, it means you pay more per click while getting less exposure than advertisers with better scores.

Therefore, keep your landing pages relevant. Ideally, you should have a landing page specifically tailored for each keyword—that way your visitors will never think they went through the wrong link. To make this goal more realistic, use fewer keywords; doing so will make your campaign more focused.

7.      Write better ads.

A great way to make your AdWords campaigns more cost-effective is to improve the overall quality of your ad copy. The better your copy is, the higher your click-through rate, which in turn improves your quality score, which is probably the greatest single influence over the cost and efficiency of your PPC advertising.

Melissa Burns is a marketing consultant and journalist.

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