Paid Search Listings

For many businesses, natural optimisation will be the most cost-effective SEO option. Having said this, there are reasons why you might want to supplement your campaign using paid advertising. For those occasions, what I want to do in this section is help you to understand some of the key terms and the key principles that you’ll need to understand in order to have a successful paid advertising campaign.

Most of the options,, by which I mean Google AdWords, LinkedIn ads, Facebook ads and the Microsoft Ad Centre are offered on a Pay-Per-Click basis. I’m going to go ahead and explain the Pay-Per-Click system and some of the controls that you might get in order to make sure that you’re only paying for adverts that are actually effective for you.

One of the first things you’ll want to look out for is what is called Average CPC. It quite simply means Cost Per Click, because the advertising systems work on the basis that your ads are shown for free, but every time somebody clicks on them, that’s going to cost you.

In a rough kind of way, it’s an auction system. The person who’s at the top is going to be paying more per click than the person at the bottom. I must also let you know that, especially with Google AdWords that’s not the total picture, as a relevance factor comes into it too. So, you need to make your adverts very relevant if you’re using Google AdWords. That will allow you to leapfrog somebody else who’s potentially paying more than you per click, but with less relevant adverts.

When I say Average Cost-Per-Click, I’m talking about the average cost that I pay per click for that advertising campaign. Your average Cost-Per-Click might be really good across a campaign, but within that campaign you could find certain keyphrases that are costing you a lot of money per click and not generating results to make it a valuable investment. It is therefore important to monitor all the different levels across an ad group, across a keyword or Campaign etc. and try and find out which keyphrases are valuable and which need to change.

The detail you really need to understand is the cost per conversion and your conversion rate. It’s no good just sending lots of people to your website (even if they don’t really cost a lot) if you’re not actually converting them.

What the PPC systems allow you to do is some really good tracking. With Google AdWords in particular, you could have the Thank You page as a form to tell Google that when reached you have a conversation. As someone searches for what you offer on Google, they click on your paid advert and are taken to your website. They then fill out a call back request and they get shown a page saying “Thank you for requesting a call back”. At that point, they have carried out the goal and are classed as a conversion. With this data you can understand the true figures and work out he cost per conversion. You then need to make changes to your PPC campaign to get the Cost Per Conversion down.

Imagine now that you have a Cost Per Click on keyword one of 10p, but a Cost Per Conversion of £10. Keyword two however, is a Cost-Per-Click of £1, but the Cost Per Conversion is £5. It’s far better to have five clicks costing me ten times as much but generating me more conversions.

Another key metric is CTR: Click Through Ratio or Click Through Rate. Now, you want to make sure that your CTR is high, because it is a crucial part of the relevance factor that will list you closer to the top of search engines. If your adverts are showing up and they’re less relevant, then your CTR will be low. The result will be that you have to pay more to get to the same position. This is again based on Google wanting to provide better results, even on paid listings. In increasing the maximum Cost-Per-Click that you set, you will be able to get a far better CTR. With a better Click Through Ratio, the amount that you need to pay to be in the high positions will be less because of your relevance.

In terms of how much money this is going to cost you, there’s two real numbers that should be interested in. The first is the maximum Cost-Per-Click, because that’s going to define how much you are willing to pay every time a person clicks on your advert. The other key number is your maximum monthly budget.

The simple way to understand this is if you Maximum Cost Per Click is £1 and you set a maximum budget of £100, once you’ve got 100 clicks, then you’re ads will stop showing. This means you can cap how much you’re going to spend per month. Remember, your maximum Cost-Per-Click is exactly that, so you might actually end up paying 50p. You retain control as your ads will disappear when your entire budget set on your maximum monthly budget has gone.

Quite often people have it set so that the maximum monthly budget is spread throughout the month. So whether you’ve got your ads showing every day or every morning, your budget will be spread across your campaign. There may be a reason why you want your budget to be focused on a particular week, for example to promote an event, so this is a point for consideration.

Having worked out how your spend is going to be worked across the campaign, let’s look at how you can control your adverts to make sure that they are running efficiently and effectively, so that they are only delivered to the most likely conversions.

Let’s start with the keyphrases; every advert shows up for pre-set keyphrases that you’ve decided on. Within that, you can choose three types of keyphrase. Firstly, the Exact Match keyphrase; if my Exact Match keyphrase is “Website Design United Kingdom”, then if somebody searches for “United Kingdom Website Designers”, my advert will not show. It will only show when the exact phrase appears or is used with a search query.

The next option is Phrase Match. This includes the phrase that you’ve used as your keyphrase, but it might not be in the right order. So, “Web Design United Kingdom”, would also show for “United Kingdom Web Design”. Even though the words are in a different order, it’s still the same phrase. This will allow you to pick up more keyphrase results, as it’s based on a variation of the phrase that you’ve chosen. This method has also got a lot more control than our third version, which is the Broad Match keyphrase.

With a Broad Match keyphrase, you’re looking for a part of the keyphrase to be there when that person conducts their search. Let me give you an example of where this goes really wrong. Let’s consider National Express, a UK Coach Company who want people to find their advert when they search for “Coaches”. If you now search for a Business Coach on Google, the National Express advert will show on the screen. It is true that within a Broad Match, the word “Coach” appears in the search for a Business Coach, but it isn’t relevant or targeted traffic and the CTR has now been massively affected.

If people click on that advert, only to find out that it’s not what I was searching for the company are paying for this error and at the same time increasing their Bounce Rate. The point I am making is to focus on exact or phrases matches for your keyphrases.

When it comes to your adverts, they can be turned on or off at any particular part of any day, or any day of any week etc. Use those controls to your advantage.

Let me give you an example of where that might be useful. My company, Urban Media, works for a courier company. This courier’s rates are higher than the regularly scheduled Courier Services, but they are flexible and work after hours, so they are there for when an emergency happens. From nine o’clock until, let’s say three o’clock in the afternoon, there are many people undertaking general searches for courier services. It might be the PA trying to find useful resources in case they ever need a Courier in an emergency. It’s not a bad time for their listing to be shown, but it is not necessarily going to generate direct business.

From three o’clock onwards and certainly after five o’clock, anybody searching for a Courier Service is already in a fix. Their regular scheduled Courier has already been and gone and they’ve realised there’s a parcel that hasn’t been sent and must arrive the next day. That’s when the emergency courier service really comes into its own. By showing adverts that only appear from three o’clock until let’s say eight o’clock p.m., the people who click on that advert are far more likely to convert into paying customers immediately as a response to the advert.

Another option for controlling your adverts is by geographic region. You can make the decision that you only want your adverts to show within a set radius of a postcode. If I’m a local plumber, I certainly don’t want my advert showing up in a search made a hundred miles away. I’m probably not going to respond to that request if I’ve got travel 100 miles, so targeting potential local customers has a great value.

Regardless of whether you’ve used paid advertising or natural search engine optimisation in order to get people to your site, it’s often a good idea to use Landing Pages. They can be specifically written as a natural follow on from your campaign and can therefore work as a far more efficient way of converting people.

Certainly from a natural optimisation point of view, the page that you optimise is the one that people will land on. So, think about every page on your website being efficient at actually taking the visitor from the search engine and converting them into a customer.

Whether that checkout process is completing an enquiry form, call back request, signing up for a newsletter or paying for a shopping cart full of goods. What your landing pages need to do is be really specific to the keyphrase that somebody’s used in the search engine. This helps them to find you, engage with you and buy your services or products. You need to think of every page of your website as a Landing Page but also consider creating specific Landing Pages for Pay-Per-Click Campaigns.