PPC and When to Use Paid Search

September 29, 2010

There are Right and Wrong Ways to Use Search

Paid Search advertising has its place in the marketing professional’s armoury. In fact, as search engines prioritise paid advertising more and more on their search results, it’s route that cannot be ignored.

However, it’s not a panacea and it is important to plan any paid search advertising carefully to avoid wasting money. It’s also true that search engines such as Google cannot be trusted to support your interests 100%. Ultimately search engines exist to sell advertising opportunities and it is best to seek independent and qualified advice.

Advertising with Google, Yahoo and Microsoft

This depends on your product, but in business to business marketing to which this blog is dedicated, the considerations are different from consumer marketing.

First the negatives. Theoretically paid search advertising is brilliantly targeted as only those who are interested will click on your ads. However, if your product has a narrow and complex business proposition, advertising on Google or Yahoo, for example, is likely to expose your company to time wasters. In addition, advertising rates are likely to be more expensive if your product cannot be clearly and easily defined. Whilst it is possible to pick up interested potential customers by advertising on the major search engines, it is important to remember that attracting the attention of the right people is sometimes hard.

On the positive side, there are times when advertising on a major search engine is the right approach. Business to business purchasers use search engines just like everyone else. Additionally, as a matter of course, companies should allocate PPC spend to buy their brand names as keywords. It is unthinkable to have competitors using your trademarks in their PPC campaigns and stealing the benefits of advertising you have gained elsewhere.

Where you do choose to advertise through the major search engines, it is worth utilising the services of an independent PPC professional in order to achieve the best results. A good PPC agency will spend your money wisely and will prevent badly executed campaigns from damaging your ratings with the search engines. Be cautious in using the services of a search engine representative as they may make searches too broad and increase your costs.

Tips for Advertising with the Major Search Engines

  • Don’t prioritise reaching the ‘number one spot’, as second and third positions often work just as well
  • Use ‘long tail keywords’ – that is, very specific search terms, to filter out time wasting clicks and reduce your Cost per Click (CPC)
  • Work hard at your ads to ensure that they are creative, original and reflect your product or services accurately
  • Ensure that your landing pages use the same language as your ad otherwise you will confuse and lose potential advertisers
  • Include the location of your company in your ads and use geographic targeting. Internet users like to know where suppliers are based. Taking this approach will increase your Click Through Rate (CTR) and save you money too
  • Use negative keywords as a filter to reduce unwanted enquiries

Facebook Advertising

Facebook is another growing advertising platform. However, Facebook’s ads appear depending on the location, age and interests of the member. It is not really ‘paid search’ advertising but paid contextual advertising. Great for the right products and services but not really a business to business proposition. Facebook advertising is best restricted to local and personal services.

LinkedIn Advertising

LinkedIn is another option and better targeted than Facebook. LinkedIn has 75 million members from a professional background and as the advertiser you can present your ads to very specific audiences. Again, this is not paid search but a very proactive form of contextual advertising which is ideal for business to business marketing.

Similar forums in Europe are Viadeo in France and Xing in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

In summary, PPC advertising is worth exploring but should be handled with care. It is too easy to become excited by the sheer number of potential customers on the internet and to forget about targeting. Essentially, the same rules apply online as offline – it is important to ask, “Who is looking?” and “Are they the people who will buy my products?”

How Google Instant Will Change Search

September 24, 2010

Google Instant Defines Where We Look

You may have noticed the evolution of the Google search bar to incorporate a form of predictive search display. This new technology, known as ‘Google Instant’ may be turned off to the right of the search box, but as this function is controlled by a cookie, if you clear your cookies it reinstalls.

Despite attempts by Google to downplay its significance, Google Instant is likely to have profound effect on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategies. Google is marketing this feature as a timesaver but in reality, it’s a process of channelling our thoughts.

Essentially the predictive text element of Google Instant will narrow the search terms that people use to search for goods, services and ideas. This will increase competition for these search terms and the price that they raise on Google’s paid search service, AdWords. This is particularly significant combined with the increased prominence of paid search ads on the Google search pages, making it even more important to rank in the first few natural search listings.

From a marketing perspective this could mean the need to spend more on paid search with Google (we knew there was another revenue model in there somewhere!) and increasing competition for placement within this narrower group of search terms.

It gets even more interesting and esoteric when you start thinking about PR. It is now commonplace to optimise press releases for keyword terms. As never before, it will become important to build brand values around appropriate search terms and build these into our writing and corporate messages. The end of free speech? I hope not. It’s just a case of playing the game.