Pay per click advertising used to be a lot easier to do. But in the past 24 months it seems to have gotten more competitive and complex. Some small business owners are discouraged about it.
There’s a new PPC Strategy Flowchart just out that walks you through the considerably more complex process of running pay-per-click ad campaigns today. Created by Giovanna Wall at the PPC Blog, it illustrates the kind of strategy, testing and tweaking that you have to bring your advertising campaigns.
(click image to jump to interactive flow chart)
How PPC Ads Got More Complex
For anyone who doesn’t know what I’m referring to, “pay per click ads” or “PPC ads” are those little ads you see down the right side of the page in the Google search results, labeled “Sponsored Links.” Sometimes you will also see them in a shaded box right above the natural search results. As the advertiser, you may also choose to display your PPC ads on content sites (sites like Small Business Trends).
They’re called “pay per click” because in most cases you are charged by the click. You pay XX cents or XX dollars each time someone clicks on your ad.
In order to place your ad where qualified prospects are likely to see it, you need to place your ad only on those pages where people are looking for what you offer. Otherwise, your ad budget would just be wasted. You do that by bidding on keywords related to your site or offering. When someone goes to a search engine and searches on your keyword, your ad is displayed.
It used to be that the more you bid on a specific search term (keyword), the higher up on the page and more frequently your ad would appear. However, that’s only partly true these days. Now other factors have a bearing on how visible your ad is — or even whether it’s displayed at all. One of the factors affecting PPC ads is how relevant your ad is to the keyword you bid on. Google euphemistically calls relevance factors your “Quality Score.”
If Google deems your ad to have a “low Quality Score” (i.e., not very relevant) your bid on a term may be rejected altogether unless you pay some outlandish amount, like $5 or $10 a click for a term that otherwise goes for $0.85. It wouldn’t take long before a small business went broke throwing that kind of money around.
That’s why I say that PPC advertising has gotten more complex and competitive, especially for smaller businesses without in-house PPC expertise. Today, you really have to know what you’re doing with pay-per-click advertising, or you could lose your shirt. Or you may find that your ads hardly ever get displayed and you end up with paltry results like 2 clicks a day. In other words, it takes a lot more knowledge, time and attention to run a pay-per-click ad campaign today than it did a few years ago. And that complexity and competitiveness is only increasing over time.
The Choice: DIY or Hire it Out
You have two choices today: outsource your PPC campaign management, or do it internally.
More and more businesses I know are hiring out the management of their pay per click ad campaigns to search marketing professionals or to Google AdWords Certified Professionals. For businesses that regularly run PPC ad campaigns of 4 to 5 figures monthly, paying someone a fee to manage the campaigns can in the end save you money and get you better results.
On the other hand, if you feel reasonably confident in your ability to do it yourself with pay-per-click ad campaigns, or if your ad spend is still small, you will probably opt to keep it in-house.
That’s where the PPC Strategy Flowchart above comes in handy. It gives you the strategic context for your ad campaigns. But the flowchart is more than just a concept. It also points you to resources about each step in the process. On the flowchart, if you click each box, it leads you to an article or resource on the Web where you can learn more about each step.
Regardless of which choice you make, PPC advertising is still one of the fastest and most trackable advertising methods for bringing traffic to a new small-business website, pumping up holiday sales, or otherwise getting found quickly online. Just be smart about it. Either make the effort to educate yourself, or hire somebody competent.