Were taking a break from the Search Engine Optimisation process this month and, by popular demand, we’re taking a look at how to make ‘pay per click’ advertising a success.

PPC is becoming huge for small to medium businesses. We should remember that its only over the last two years that it been a useable method of marketing for small businesses and what I’ll cover in this posting is the best practice principles to make it a real success. Actually it works for every type of business from taxi firms, to steel foundries to retail sport shops on line – no exceptions providing its done properly it will deliver results

What exactly is PPC?

I think many of you will be aware that it’s the little ads that appear on the right side of the Google hit list which are ranked according to how much you decide to pay per click. The other main player is Overture (part of Yahoo) which drives PPC on all other search engines (Yahoo, Altavista, MSN…..). The services are much the same but there are key differences also, the main one of which is discussed in the Q&A spot in this posting.

Transformational Marketing?

I think so. If someone searches for ‘Sharp Aquos 32in TV for less than £600” and an ad pops up repeating that search phrase and taking you through to a ‘landing page’ where the requirement could be fulfilled – that’s transformational, it cuts out the waste and gets straight to the point. (Unlike conventional marketing where 98% waste rates are the norm). The key point is being very specific in your keyword selection so you attract well qualified prospects.

The Process

There are three stages for getting it right

1. Keyphrase selection
2. Scripting your adverts
3. Effective Landing pages.

I’ll focus on Overture in most of the following discussion but using Google’s AdWords is much the same. Lets look at each of these stages in turn…

1. Keyphrase Selection

The point about this is we can be as specific as we want and we can generate as many keyphrases as we want since phrases that don’t work – ie people don’t click – don’t cost anything so we can be as profligate as we wish.

Overture has a wonderful tool for helping us with our kephrases (which is free). Their ‘keyword assistant’ can be used found at : www.content.overture.com/d/UKm/ac/index.jhtml then clicking on the ‘keyword assistant’ option. This is for the UK, if you are interested in traffic from different countries use the appropriate flag on the Overture homepage.

This tool allows us to type in a keyphrase, for example ‘vitamin supplements’ and we will see that 3465 people searched for this over the previous month. Directly below this you will see other phrases that were searched for containing the words ‘vitamin’ and ‘supplement’, so this helps us decide on the specific phrase we want to select based on relevance and popularity.

Lets say we go for ‘vitamin c supplement’ since we have products relevant to this search. We can see that we can expect around 105 searches per month for this phrase.

The next step is to see how much it will cost us (per click) to include this phrase in our advertising. For this we use the ‘view bids tool’ which is directly below the ‘Keyword Assistant’. We will see a list of competitors and how much they are bidding for the phrase. We can see that (at the time of writing) it would cost us around 17p per click to be in position 3 on Overture’s partner search engines ( Yahoo, MSN, Altavista, etc).

We can do all of this without setting up an account. Setting one up is easy and only requires that we provide our credit card details and set limits on what we wish to spend.

2. Scripting our Adverts

If you look at the little ads that appear on the right hand side of, for example, the Google hitlist you will see that the ads are quite salesy and generally are attempts to encourage people to click on them. Unlike organic search marketing we have total control over these ads and there is a knack to writing effective copy in such a small ad. Incidentally below there is an offer from Overture I’ll tell you about and this includes help in setting up your ads.

The key point here is that when you script your add you should repeat the keyphrase which is being searched for. For example if someone searches for ‘Sharp Aquos 32” TV model ts32-1’ then including that phrase in the ad is 50% more likely to get a click through than if it was not included. Incidentally if they type in that phrase guess what they are interested in buying? And this is a key point, attracting such a specific searcher is attracting a pretty well qualified prospect.

This implies of course that we need separate ads for all our important keyphrases. A common mistake for beginners is to use one ad for all keyphrases.

3. Effective landing pages

I think we have already established that the whole point here is to make sales – either directly from your site, or getting them to make contact with you by telephone or email. Either way its all about providing effective calls to action.

A key part of this is taking people through to the relevant landing page which then leads people through the process to satisfying their search.

Again, a common mistake with beginners is to take people to the homepage. If I search for ‘Norwegian cruises’ a travel site taking me through to their homepage where they are advertising a whole range of different holidays will have me clicking back. We have total control over where we take people once they click through so we should use this feature so we can maximise the chances of making a sale.

As we have already mentioned this form of marketing is not restricted to making sales on line, its relevant to every industry sector, its just the ‘call to action’ that’s different. If you are selling vitamin pills on line it will be to get people to provide their credit card details, if you’re a solicitor it is likely that the call to action will be a phone call, or email, to you so that the requirement can be progressed.

So there we are, choose keyphrases carefully based on relevance and popularity, bearing in mind the more specific the phrase the more likely we are to get a qualified prospect. Make sure we produce effective ads (repeating the keyphrase searched for in the ad) then take people through to the right part of the site where there needs can be fulfilled. Do these things and it will work wonderfully well for you.

There are good ‘tutorials’ at both Overtures and Googles sites where you can learn more, but the best way to learn is to try it, so here’s an offer on behalf of Overture:

Its either a £50/£50 split – ie if you risk £50 Overture will provide a further £50 contribution. Alternatively, and this is the one I’d go for, if you provide a further £19 Overture will help you with the keyphrases and ads. Give it a shot and when you get your first order drop me an email saying ‘Thanks Jan’. Send no cash, a thank you will be fine.

If you want to take up the offer drop me an email jan@janklin.com and put OVERTURE OFFER in the subject. I’ll get Overture to make contact with you.

Using ‘pay per click’ has immediate impact (unlike Search Engine Optimisation which will take a few months to kick in) so using them in a combined way is a common strategy – ppc for immediate effect, developing SEO in the background so eventually you get them both working for you. Don’t forget our low cost Traffic Builder service which will get your SEO moving quickly for you.

Best Wishes for great success with your search marketing.