One time I decided that I needed to take my own advice, so I launched a paid search campaign targeting (what I thought were) meeting planners looking to hire small business speakers like myself.
Instead, I lost money just to find out who I was targeting were actually looking for a different type of small business speaker.
There is definitely a learning curve with a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, so I am here to make sure you learn the easy way and not the hard way. The steps to paid search success are as follows:
1. Consider your keywords: The point of your ad campaign is to send highly targeted, qualified traffic to a landing page or pages on your website. Therefore, your first job is to figure out what keywords will work best to drive people to your website. Accordingly, you want to micro-target those words and phrases, avoiding broader terms. For instance, if you sell gardening supplies in Denver, you will want a webpage and ad that focuses on, say, “Roses” and “Denver” and not “Gardening” and “Colorado.”
Google has a keyword analyzer tool that can help you.
2. Pick your network: Generally speaking, you can display ads on Google, Bing/Yahoo, or Facebook. There are of course many other options (Yelp, etc.), depending upon your goals. So you need to do some research and figure out which best fits your needs.
There are also networks that will evenly distribute your ads for you and automatically re-calculate and re-post them, depending upon the results you are getting in.
3. Create your ad: You don’t have a lot of room, and basically only three or four lines with a paid search ad, so you better use it effectively. You will need:
- A bold heading that grabs their attention!! (See?)
- A line explaining the benefit
- A call to action
For example, your ad might say
“The best gardening gloves in the world!
Never buy another pair of gardening gloves again
On sale, this week only, 15% off”
4. Consider ad extensions: Sitelink extensions are extra pieces of information that you can include in your ad that people may also want to click on, for example, store hours, and popular products.
You can learn more here.
5. Consider what constitutes success: Trying to buy ads that always show up first or buying highly popular words is very expensive. Less expensive words and placement can sometimes do the trick just as well.
6. Set a budget: Set aside enough time and money to really see if this will pay off for you, and make sure your budget includes the ability to test more than one ad, more than one headline, more than one call to action, more than one landing page, and so on.
Which brings me to…
7. Test, test, test: Testing is key. You want to come up with the right combination of advertisement, call to action, price, and landing page. Once you figure that out, then the ad should be a money maker for years to come; money while you sleep. But that will only happen if you test and test some more.
8. Monitor your results: One mistake I made when I had my speaker ad debacle was that I didn’t monitor my results quickly enough. One of the beautiful things about a PPC campaign is that you can monitor in real time and will know very quickly if what you are doing is working.
You need to monitor key words and phrases, headlines, times of day for clicks, better and worse days for clicks, and so on. A good test often lasts at least a month.
Google Adwords makes this easy with its conversion tracking.
9. Review with Google Analytics: Analytics is a great tool to help you understand the actions of people on your site – where they came from, how long they stayed, what they did, to name a few.
A great search ad can become one of the best friend’s that your small business can have and it would behoove you to take the time to find the combination that works best for you.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.
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