As consumers have become more reliant on search engines to find answers to their questions and solutions to their problems, the interest in paid search on the part of brands has increased. Paid search is a scalable media channel with few to no barriers to entry. Anyone can follow the simple instructions Google walks you through to set up a pay-per-click (PPC) account and start running ads.
However, the deceptively simple set-up process fails to provide many DIYers with realistic expectations of how much work is actually involved in running a successful paid search campaign. Google Ads can be a difficult platform to understand for even the most tech- or marketing-savvy.
Because of this, many people will embark on a pay-per-click campaign, only to quit some time later. They may say that they weren’t getting the results they expected or that paid search just didn’t work for their business. But the truth is, businesses of all sizes in all industries are using paid search successfully—including your competitors. So PPC likely can work for you. But if you’re frustrated by a lack of results, what can you do?
Start with a Plan
It happens more often than you’d think. Paid search managers rush into a PPC campaign and start buying up as many keywords as possible. They figure if they capture a click that’s great, and if someone doesn’t click, no harm/no foul. Then when their budget runs out and they haven’t gained any new customers, they wonder why.
Before you begin creating campaigns and stuffing keywords into your ad groups, take some time and think about your overall strategy. What are your business’s main offerings? What products or services have the highest margins or attract the most customers? Examine your website and think about how the content is structured. What action do you want potential customers to take on your website once they see an ad and click through? How will you measure success?
For example, a funeral home’s main services might include cremation, burial services, funeral services and pre-planning. It might also sell cremation urns and cremation jewelry, and offer grief counseling or resources for those who have lost a loved one. The paid search manager would first want to look at the funeral home’s website and plan out campaigns to closely mirror the structure of the content.
If there’s a cremation page, it makes sense to build a cremation campaign. If there’s a pre-planning page, build a pre-planning campaign. Or maybe you have a services page with links to more specific content on each offering; then you might create a campaign with an ad group for each service line underneath that services campaign umbrella. Depending on your budget you may, for example, choose not to advertise cremation urns because the margins are lower than cremations and they are easier to sell in person as add-ons. However you choose to structure your account, make sure it logically follows the content on your website and corresponds to the services or products you want to highlight.
While mapping out the structure of your campaigns and ad groups, your PPC manager should also be conducting keyword research to understand search trends in your industry. For example, are people more likely to search for price-related terms like “cremation cost” or location-related terms like “funeral home near me”? Are they looking for a “mortuary” or a “funeral home”? This research should factor into the decision to build a campaign and bid on a keyword, or leave it out entirely.
Metrics that Matter (Count Conversions, Not Clicks)
While you’re planning your approach, you should also be considering how you will measure success. It’s easy to get caught up in metrics, because Google Ads provides a lot of them—from clicks and impressions to search impression share and quality score. It can make your head spin.
While clicks and impressions are important, they shouldn’t be the sole drivers of your optimization decisions. Conversions have a higher impact on your bottom line than clicks alone. Measuring things like phone calls and consultation appointment requests is of higher value, because those KPIs get potential customers closer to purchase. Think about features of your website and how consumers can interact with you there and decide on metrics that matter. Work with your PPC manager to make sure that they have what they need to get these goals set up so they can be tracked accurately.
Landing Page Payoff
You know your business inside and out and you are enthusiastic about what makes it great. You may have a lot that you want to pack into your ads, but you have to remember that your space is limited to three short headlines and two short descriptions.
Your ads must be concise and serve to pique someone’s interest. They should include an enticing call-to-action and compel your prospective customer to learn more. Your ads should make them curious. But once prospective customers click through, your landing page needs to deliver.
It’s far too common for businesses to run paid search campaigns advertising products and services that they offer, only to offer little or no content on their website about those products or services. Your paid search manager should take this into consideration when structuring your account, and you shouldn’t be surprised if they make recommendations for landing page revisions on your website. The tighter you can get your ad copy, keywords and landing page copy to work together, the higher your Google Ads quality score will be, resulting in a better performing campaign—and possibly even lower costs-per-click.
If you’ve tried paid search and didn’t get the results you were expecting, talk to your paid search manager about their approach. Paid search is easy to change in real-time. It may be that you just need to make a few adjustments, depending on your current account structure. Google Ads is a complicated platform to manage, but it’s not impossible. With the right strategy, a clear focus on the metrics that matter, and landing pages that give your customer what they’re looking for, paid search can work for you.