In our last post, we talked about search engine optimization (SEO) which aims to generate earned, organic traffic via unpaid tactics. In this post, we’ll cover a form of paid traffic generation – Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising. Similar to the previous post, we will try and keep this pretty high level. If you are interested in getting more in-depth, be sure to click some of the informational links featured within the article.
What is PPC?
PPC, or paid search marketing, is a model of advertising that allows marketers to pay only when their ad is clicked by an online user. One of the most popular forms of PPC is search engine advertising, which serves up an ad placement in popular search engines like Google or Bing when a user conducts a search for a term/keyword relative to your business’s products or services. Text ad results are displayed at the top and bottom of each search results page, with organic results sandwiched in between (see example screenshots below).
Costs are involved, and can certainly ramp up quickly, so thorough keyword research and regular campaign monitoring are recommended to maximize performance and minimize waste. Altogether, PPC can offer a low barrier to entry in getting your business visible among search results quickly. This is an especially attractive benefit for smaller businesses looking to level the competitive playing field.
Advertising on Google: About Google Ads
When it comes to PPC advertising, using Google’s platform, Google Ads, is strongly recommended. As of 2017, Google’s active users numbered over 1 billion worldwide, with a global search engine market share of 75.5%, reinforcing them once again as the market leader. While Yahoo and Bing average a 5-10% share respectively and should not be ignored, the lion’s share of paid search budget is well invested on Google placements.
Google Ads operates in an auction format, with Google serving up ‘winning’ ads based on the following criteria:
- Keyword Relevance – how tightly the term aligns with the ad content and corresponding page on your site
- Landing Page Quality – how well the content on your landing page pertains to the keyword search
- Quality Score – Google’s variable rating of how well your ads, keywords, and landing pages deliver in helping users find the goods, services, and answers they are seeking.
In a nutshell, the higher your Ad Rank (combination of CPC Bid and Quality Score), the higher your ad will be positioned on the page.
A Focused Tool
It’s important to utilize PPC as a focused advertising tool. It is quick and nimble, generating traffic minutes after going live and allowing change mid-campaign based on audience behavior. It’s important to have a plan or specific role in mind when it comes to PPC.
Campaign and Issue-Based Efforts
PPC is a great tool for a short-term campaign for new product, service, or issue to create buzz. It can be great for things like special offers or sales, where you may want to change the verbiage of the ad mid-campaign (e.g. only 20 pairs left!)
If there’s a product that can be bought directly from your practice site, each click is a potential customer and considered by many marketers to be worth the money. Remaining at the top of the search results can, in turn, mean immediate return-on-investment (ROI) for you. If this is the case, you may consider never turning off the ad, only updating it.
PPC is a great way to increase the visibility of your site and your services for potential patients. Because searchers are looking specifically for what you offer, you can attract high-quality users looking for an immediate solution to their problem. This is also a great way to control the first impression your practice makes.
Niche keywords are longer, highly specific phrases that are associated with your business. These terms can have very low bids and get very pointed when it comes to search phrases. For example, instead of “glasses,” use “women’s glasses frames for small faces.”
Another keyword type that’s important with PPC is negative keywords. These are keywords you set up specifically as to NOT rank for them. It may sound backward, but it will help search engines better understand what services you provide, save you from wasting money on clicks for irrelevant terms, and, ultimately, give a better experience to users.
Product Listing Ads (PLA)
Similar to campaign and issue-based focuses, product listing ads allow you to bring focus to specific items, but PLAs highlight products using an image and sit far more prominent on the page than regular searches.
Capture people who have already visited your site but may not have bought anything with tailored ads that can include images and videos.
Not Sure Where to Get Started? Perform Keyword Research First
Before launching a PPC campaign, keyword research is going to be the first and most important step. Like SEO, the keywords chosen will be what your practice appears for when potential patients search. For this reason, it is very important to choose keywords that are closely related to the products and services you offer. You do not want to waste money on clicks that drive users to your site who have no interest in your business.
To create a great PPC campaign, you and your marketing team first need to set a goal. Know what you’d like to achieve with your ads before activating them. Focus on the right geographic location and keywords by utilizing niche keywords or long-tail keywords, and negative keywords. Lastly, be sure you track your conversions. While they don’t always have to be transactions, you’ll need a metric to prove that your ads are performing.
Next week, we’ll dive into the specifics of content marketing.
- “Pay Per Click Marketing Explained.” Portent, Portent, A Clearlink Digital Agency, 2016, www.portent.com/services/ppc/pay-per-click-explained.
- Stapleton, Ed. “5 Pay Per Click Advertising Best Practices.” Clicks Geek, ClicksGeek, 5 Sept. 2017, clicksgeek.com/5-pay-per-click-advertising-best-practices/.
- Baldassarre, Rocco. “What Are the PPC Best Practices.” Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Journal, 31 May 2018, www.searchenginejournal.com/seo-guide/what-are-ppc-best-practices/.
- Beohar, Andy. “PPC Best Practices: Your Guide to Strategies That Actually Convert.” Seven Atoms, SevenAtoms Inc – A San Francisco Inbound Marketing Agency, 27 Oct. 2017, www.sevenatoms.com/blog/ppc-best-practices.
- Kim, Larry. “What Is PPC? Learn the Basics of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Marketing [PPC U].”WordStream, WordStream, 2011, www.wordstream.com/ppc.
- Mangles, Carolanne. “Search Engine Statistics 2018.” Smart Insights, Smart Insights (Marketing Intelligence) Ltd., 30 Jan. 2018, www.smartinsights.com/search-engine-marketing/search-engine-statistics/.