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How to Improve Paid Search Campaigns for Small Business Owners

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We've talked about the pros (and cons) of using Paid Search and paid SEO for your website on our blog before, but what happens when you put money into it and you don't get any traffic? What are you doing wrong? What can you do to make your Paid Search work? In this article, we'll be discussing how to improve paid search campaigns for small business owners and how best to put your money into PPC.

Like SEO, Paid Search campaigns can be fickle. Putting everything you have into it may not even yield you the results you want. Paid Search and paid SEO can take a lot of money to really do anything to increase your traffic. So, what can you do to change that? And, how much more money will you have to spend? Well, it might be less than you think.

Utilise Conversion Tracking

Keeping record of how you're doing is key to knowing where to put your budget. If you don't know who's clicking on what, how are you supposed to know if your PPC is actually working? Link your accounts to to Google Adwords to see how much money you're putting in to each keyword and what the results are. If something's not working then you can make the decision to target another keyword. If something is working, then maybe you need to increase the amount you're spending to get that keyword to the next level.

If you aren't too familiar with how PPC works then Google Adwords is a good way to learn what, exactly, you're putting your money into. You also need to know how your audience is reacting to your PPC. If you targeted a specific group of people, but are getting results from a completely different demographic then you'll need to change things up. It isn't just about who visits your page, but who orders from you, or fills out your contact form, too.

Quality Not Quantity

Before you even think about putting your money into PPC, you need to make sure to do some keyword research. It's the most important thing you can do before you set anything up and means that you can target certain people and demographics as well as understand the most searched terms in your industry. At the end of the day, you're a part of your industry. What you consider the most important keywords - the things your customers want to know - should be what you pick.

Don't put money into more "general" keywords i.e. "plumbing" for a plumber, or "electrician" for an electrician. Make sure you specify, but remember that your keyword reflects what the user is looking for. Industry-wide terms might not be searched for that often. Something you would look for might not be what Joe Bloggs from down the road searches for. Remember that.

Audience is key

Another point to remember before you start your PPC campaign is to find your ideal audience. Who do you want to target? Business people? Younger people, older people? Any specific locations? Demographics can help narrow down which keywords you target, and how much money you'll be putting into them.

Understanding your target audience will also give you the ability to work through the sales process. Where is the user coming into it? At the very start, as an initial buyer, or toward the end, as a distributor or larger customer? If you understand the way that your business works and the people that are buying from you this will greatly improve your PPC. The more specific and personal you get with your advertising and marketing, the higher your conversion rate. Then, you can decide what is working using your Conversion Tracking with Adwords and put more or less money in depending on your results.

Maintaining Consistency

When you set up advertisements for your PPC, you need a landing page - so that when someone clicks on your ad, it takes them to your website. This landing page needs to be relevant to what the user has clicked on. If you are targeting 'solar panel installation', for example, and a user clicks your advertisement and it links to a page about 'lawnmower accessories', they'll feel rather cheated. And, will likely click straight back off again.

Consistency is all about user experience and is something that you can test for yourself. Imagine that you're clicking on your own advertisement. Then look at the page you'll be linking it to. Do the two make sense together? Is there a natural link from the ad to the page? If not, then you need to think about the copy on either, or both. If the ad makes sense but the page doesn't, change the text on the page, and visa versa. They need to match in content, style and context, otherwise your PPC campaign will fall flat.

Images Are Everything

PPC campaigns aren't always about the text, even though it's an important part. You need a stand-out image alongside your copy to really draw the user in. Visually appealing adverts are more likely to be clicked on by a user than something that looks ugly and doesn't stand out. High quality photographs and images are ideal, but they also need to be relevant to what your advert is about. Don't put a picture of a rollercoaster on an advert for shower curtains - unless you're making some kind of very funny joke.

If the image you're using creates an association with the product you're advertising or your company as a whole, then people will be more likely to click through. This goes back to something several of our blog posts have spoken about: your brand. Always think about how your company is viewed and be consistent. Don't use images that stray from your brand, whether you're more serious and professional, or playful and friendly. Keep things consistent, just like your copy.

Optimisation Means a Wider Reach

With the amount of time people spend on mobiles increasing, making sure that your PPC adverts are mobile friendly is key. If not, plenty of people who either solely browse on mobile or tablets, or who happen to stumble across your advert when they're on mobile won't click on it. This will lose you a large amount of business and your conversion rate will drop.

You need to make sure that your ad copy, your image and landing page are all optimised. There's no use in your ad being mobile friendly, but when users click onto the page they can't easily read everything. Keep your website, landing pages and PPC adverts up to date and optimised and you should have no problem.

PPC Doesn't Work Alone

What kind of other techniques work in tandem with PPC? Aligning with an SEO Strategy, Social Media Strategy and even an Email Marketing Campaign enhances your brand considerably. Like with any kind of SEO or paid marketing, they need to be working together. One element cannot function by itself.

So, make sure that after you've constructed your PPC Campaign, looked at the best keywords to target and sorted out your image, take a look at the other parts of your website. If you're lacking in some organic SEO, perhaps spend a little time on your site before you go ahead with your PPC. You might find that some of the keywords you were going to target reach the first page organically.

So, what does this mean for your PPC Campaign?

Well, if you've followed the above steps, then you should be running a pretty successful campaign. Of course, not everything is perfect; you might still find that your advertisements still aren't hitting the mark, so it's probably a good idea to go back and rethink them. Maybe choose some other keywords and see if they work better.

PPC, like SEO, is a process. You won't get it right the first time. Nothing's ever perfect. Remember that and you'll be able to mould your adverts to different demographics, different industry-wide events and different trends. But, creating your PPC Campaign Strategy and working through everything before you set your accounts up and write your adverts then you'll be on the right track.