Obvious Paid Search Tips

Thousands of businesses are addicted to Search Engine Marketing (SEM). It is like the gateway drug of internet advertising. You just bid on a term then pay that amount each time someone clicks on it. There is even a choice between two main providers, Yahoo Search Marketing and Google Adwords. Google is the most popular, because everyone one wants to be in the first spot for some generic single word search term. With all that in mind, I have collected the basic information and obvious suggestions for running a Pay Per Click campaign in this post.

Where the clicks come from

Yahoo Search marketing and Google Adwords both offer a number of sources of traffic:

Search: Placement on their own (Yahoo/Google) Search Result Page (Yahoo ads will display on Bing.com.au as well within Australia)
Search Network: Placement on SERPs generated from their directory by external sites (Google)
Content Network: Sites serving ads as determined by keywords the page content matches
Placements: Only in Google – selecting specific sites to place ads on.

Search is the best source

Depending on how much transparency you want, there are a number of different keyword match options available from both Yahoo and Google. With Google, keywords can be set up for exact, phrase (keywords used in a phrase, in order) and broad match (whatever Google feels like). With Yahoo there is standard (the terms and minor variants) and advanced (whatever Yahoo feels like, including phrase and broad like matches).

Selecting Keywords, the summary of the summary

This part can be fun, as the entire process hinges on your or your team’s ability to think of the product or service in the same way as the market. There are a number of different ways to approach this process. At this point it is a return to basic marketing theory, or as I like to think of it, actually getting some use out of my degree.

The concept of the Sales Funnel is actually rather important to structuring your campaign and selecting the keywords. In this insanely simplified version, first the customer identifies the problem. This part of the process is most often expressed in general research and specific query terms relating to the general subject. The structure of the queries themselves will vary depending on how familiar with search and the Internet in general the user is. Next they research potential solutions. Research, location and cost terms broadly match this phase. In the final pre-purchase phase, specific terms are often used such as brand terms and product descriptions.Depending on the type of product and the company, an SEM campaign can target any one, combination or all of these phases.

Keyword Quality Score

The Quality Score in Google and the Quality Index in Yahoo determine how much you pay for position. Quality Score is applied by keyword, and Quality Index is applied by ad. Otherwise both operate in a broadly similar fashion. These scores are determined by a combination of ad and keyword relevance and click through rate (CTR). If your ad matches the keywords and you have a good CTR you will get a better position for the price you pay per click. This is fairly easy to game. Separate good match keywords from general ones by adgroups, write relevant copy and watch the score go up and cost per thousand (CPM) come down.

Building landing pages

Make sure you build a landing page. If you can, build a couple. Seriously, go nuts. Try as many different ideas as you can afford within the time available. Match the pages to the keywords and the specific group targeted by the campaign and adgroup.

Reported Average Position

Average Position is a metric presented in both Google and Yahoo that deserves a special mention. It is mostly useless. It is a measure of the number of impressions the ads received per position displayed in. When you consider the number of variations of distribution of position that a decent campaign can generate you can see that there is not much that can be taken away from it. Its only use is as a loose indication of increased competition when observed in conjunction with shifts in cost, impressions and assuming a consistent Quality Score. A much better run down can be found on The Search Agents blog.

In Brief

There is a lot more to be said about SEM, but this is only a very quick overview. My intent was to quickly cover Yahoo and Google on setting up keywords, building landing pages and writing relevant ads, and monitoring levels of competition.

Works in online marketing, runs on coffee and has a web design background. I maintain a few blogs to collect ideas and interesting stuff about the Internet, marketing online, coffee and technology.
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