Harnessing the Value of Paid Search or PPC

Harnessing the Value of Paid Search or PPC

The most common business model for search engine ads is pay per click (PPC), in which advertisers pay the search engine each time someone clicks their ad. Clicking a PPC ad takes the user to a particular page on the advertiser’s Web site selected by the advertiser unlike organic listings, where the search engines choose the page they think is most appropriate).

PPC ads appear at the top or side of a SERP and are labeled as Paid Listings, Sponsored Links, Sponsored Listings, or Featured Listings. following figure shows Google’s SERP for the search query {Bulk Email}, which includes PPC ads (they use the term Sponsored Links) both above and to the right of the organic results. In terms of page layout, Google AdWords alternates between the top one, two, or three advertisers appearing above the organic listings, only one top advertiser appearing above the organic listings, and all paid advertising on the right column. This is a random cycle and an advertiser cannot specify in which layout they would like to have their ads appear.


Figure: Google PPC ads show as Sponsored Links above or next to the organic results

You should consider using paid search advertising in addition to your SEO activities as part of your overall search marketing strategy. PPC ads give you a relatively quick and easy way to experiment so that you can apply the lessons learned to your main Web site optimization, too.

Here are some reasons to use PPC ads:

# Conversion testing: You can test what kind of traffic a keyword and ad bring to your site by paying particular attention to their conversion rate (the percentage of site visitors who actually buy, sign up, subscribe, register, or do whatever action your site wants people to do). You don’t just want hordes of visitors; you want people who give you conversions. The flexibility of PPC lets you change ads at will, so it’s an easy way to test the market.

# Immediate results: PPC ads give you a way to get your Web page on the front page of SERPs almost instantly. You may or may not get traffic through your ad, but either way, you have instant feedback.

# Qualified visitors: Because your ad only appears when users enter a specific search query of your choosing, people clicking your ad should already want what you have to offer. This should make them highly qualified traffic to your site.

# Keyword research: PPC makes a great keyword testing ground. With PPC ads, you can try out different keywords to see which ones attract the most visitors and make the best “bait” for the kind of traffic you want. You’re interested in data, and PPC gives you data quickly that you can analyze.

To do PPC properly, you must tag your pages (insert HTML programming code provided by the search engine) to track everyone who  comes to your site through a PPC ad, from clicking the ad to landing on your site and all the way to exiting. This detail helps you analyze the effectiveness of each PPC ad. It also helps you find weaknesses in your Web site.

Third-party PPC analytics tools are available that can help you measure and analyze your paid search ads. If you’re running campaigns on multiple search engines, it might be a good idea to invest in a software package like this because it can track activity from all of your ad campaigns and identify for every conversion the search engine ad where it originated.

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