Getting the Most Out of Google Ads and Other Pay-Per-Click Advertising Campaigns

Guest article! First in a long time, too. In an online discussion a few days ago, friend-of-e.politics Riche Zamor posted a set of tips for getting the best results out of a pay-per-click advertising campaign. He was responding to a question about free ads an organization was running via a Google Grant, but these would seem to apply to PPC ad runs across the board. BTW, Riche will be taking a leave of absence from CITI over the next few months to run a Congressional campaign in Alaska — an awesome opportunity.

Tips for Pay-Per-Click Advertising Campaigns

By Riche Zamor

Here are a few tips I recommend when you are running PPC campaigns:

  1. Make sure to do keyword research before determining what keywords to use in your ads. There are paid services out there that are great, but you can also use Google and MSN’s free tools. Google’s is good, but I personally like MSN’s because they show you actual numbers for how many people search for a term versus just a graph of the popularity.
  2. Check your keywords against multiple search engines to see how many search results it generates, what ads are appearing within the first two search engine results pages and what websites are appearing on the first couple of SERPs.
  3. Research the seasonality of keywords. You can do this using Google Trends. This gives you an idea for search trends of specific keywords over time and when during a given year the most searches occur for that word or phrase.
  4. Do a competitive analysis of the keywords used by organizations you may be competing with for search terms (these are usually general terms like “human rights”), and research search trends for variations of those terms to find placement space where you have a higher chance of placing within the first 4-6 ads.
  5. Make sure to create specific landing pages for various campaigns. If you are casting a wide net with a larger number of terms for branding, then it probably makes sense to drive people to the homepage. BUT, capitalize on the opportunity to drive people to content pages that are very specific to the ad(s) you are running.
  6. Make sure to optimize your landing pages. This is a seriously underemphasized step in setting up an SEM campaign in my opinion, but you need to make sure that search engines are determining that the pages your driving people to are relevant to the copy of the ad which you are placing.
  7. Set up a clear testing strategy. Google provides some tools, like the Website Optimizer, which allow you to do multivariate testing, I personally like to set my own tracking methods for campaign testing. It gives me more flexibility in how I test ads against each other, but you may not need to run that sophisticated a campaign.

The one thing to make sure you never do is calculate your free ads with any paid ads you run to determine your ROI [ed. note: if you’re doing an independent ad buy on top of a Google grant for free advertising]. It will throw your numbers way off (showing outrageous results like 400% ROI) and you will not have a realistic view of how your ads are performing.

Thanks Riche — we’ll see you around again after the elections. Kick some ass.


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Colin Delany
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