An Introduction To Pay Per Click: Setting Up Your First Campaign

by Kim Hutson

Pay per click (PPC) can be a great way to drive some instant relevant traffic to your website. If you’re just starting out (either as a business or in the world of online marketing) it’s the quickest way to get your brand name out there and let your potential customers know your waiting for their business. The idea behind PPC is that you pay every time someone searches for one of your chosen keywords and ends up clicking on one of your ads. You don’t have to pay just for your ad to appear, only when it actually results in someone clicking through to your site.

So what are PPC ads?

When you type a word or a query into a search engine it returns a list of websites it feels best match what you’re looking for. The majority of that results page will be taken up with organic results but on the right hand side (and more often than not the first few results on the left hand side) you’ll see a list of ads which have come via PPC. These ads which do appear on the left hand side of the results page directly above the main organic results will always be labelled ‘ads’ and will sit in a pale pink box.

How does your site appear there?

You need to start off with your keyword research, this means getting a list of all the things you think people might type into the search engine if they were looking for your business. Let’s say you sell flip flops, you’d want your website to appear whenever anyone searched for the term ‘flip flops’ in the search engine. You’d probably also want your site to appear whenever anyone searched for ‘men’s flip flops’ or ‘women’s flip flops’ too. The best way to start this list is to ask your staff what they’d search for if they were looking for your products. Once you’ve got this list you then need to see what the search engines think of it. The Google keyword tool is one of the more popular tools for researching keywords, the main thing you’ll want to consider is how popular it is. There’s no point building a campaign around keywords that never get searched for. This tool is also going to give you a list of other keywords Google associates with your original keywords, some of which you might not have even thought about.

Creating Ad Groups

Now you’ve got your keywords you need to break them down into categories or ad groups. Ad groups need to be as specific and niche as possible. Going back to our flip flops analogy, you might have one ad group for men’s flips flops which include all keywords relating to men’s flips flops, you might have another ad group for women and then another for children, you might even have several popular brands each of which should probably have their own ad group too. Each ad group will then need it’s own ad written to go with it, you’re limited to 25 characters for the headline then two lines of 35 characters each and your display URL. This means you have 95 characters in which to convince the person doing the search to click on your ad rather than any other site that appears on that page. There are several rules you have to follow when it comes to writing copy for a PPC ad and it always helps to get a call to action in there too.

Understanding match types

Before you finish with your ad group you need to consider the match type you’re using. Your keywords can either be broad, phrase or exact match. If they’re an exact match it means your ad will only appear if someone searches for your keyword exactly as you have it in your campaign, if you have the keyword ‘men’s flip flops’ as an exact your ad will only appear when someone just searches for ‘men’s flip flops’. To make it an exact match simply wrap the keyword in square brackets ([exact match]). If it’s set as a phrase match it means it will only show if your keyphrase appears as it is somewhere in their search query, i.e. ‘where can I buy men’s flip flops’. To set your keyphrase as a phrase match simply wrap the keyphrase in quotation marks (“phrase match”). Broad match is the default setting when you set up your keywords and it means so long as the search engine thinks your ad is relevant enough, your ad has the potential to appear if someone searches for any part of your keyphrase i.e. ‘where can I get some male flip flops’. If there are certain phrases you don’t want your ads to appear for when searched you can enter them in as a negative match which means if that negative word appears in the search query your ads won’t show. If you only sell high end, expensive flip flops you might not want you ads to appear whenever someone searches for ‘cheap flip flops’ so you’d add the word ‘cheap’ to your ad group as a negative. To make a keyword a negative just ad the minus sign in front of the keyword (-negative)

Don’t forget to land your ads on the most relevant page possible of your website, if you can it’s always advisable to create some custom landing pages that are written specifically for the people who have searched for those exact keywords before landing on your site.

Kim is an SEO who is currently working on injury compensation for compensation claims.