Search engine marketing is an intense game of strategy, analysis, and patience. But, it’s also a game with multiple, sometimes even conflicting, goals. Depending on who you talk to you, some will tell you SEO is about rankings, while others will tell you it’s about conversions. It’s a classic political struggle trying to answer the question, “what will bring in the greatest profits?”
You need exposure to get the traffic that leads to new business. But, you need to be user friendly in order to convert the traffic you’re getting into new business. Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?
Engaging in competitive research before and during your SEO, PPC, Social Media, and Link Building campaigns is smart business. As they say, “information is power.”
But, too much information can also cause a handicap. It’s not too difficult to be so inundated with info. that you get information overload or conflicting advice. That leads to decision paralysis. You don’t know the right course of action to take, or you can wind up using good information to make bad judgment calls.
As much as the title is vastly overstated, these questions will at the very least help you ponder SEO in a way you hadn’t pondered before. At least that’s my theory.
Last week, we talked about PPC trick #1 to building your online business for the long-term – using keywords correctly. This week, let’s talk about another “trick of the trade” that will also help on the way to this goal.
Trick #2 – Using Campaigns Correctly
As the number of targeting options for PPC increases, so do the creative ways in which you can organize your campaigns to get the maximum effectiveness out of them. As I mentioned last week, for example, you can create a “fishing” campaign and a “bucket” campaign in order to separately control budgeting, bidding and other targeting options to focus your efforts on dominating the locations (search queries) that really put food on the table.
The first thing we have to think about when deciding how to use each campaign is what the goals of each of them are. As you move into being an advanced PPC manager, you will start to be able to use campaigns not just for the macro-goal of making sales and money, but for more micro-goals within each campaign that will contribute to making the lasting impact of the macro-goal bigger, better and more stable. So, instead of just one goal (making leads, sales or whatever), your account may look like this…
Campaign #1 – Find search queries that work for my business
Campaign #2 – Maximize search queries that have worked for my business
Campaign #3 – Make search queries that aren’t working for my business, but should be, work for my business.
Why would you do this? Again, it’s to make obtaining the different micro-goals that contribute to your macro-goal (making money) more efficient. How do they become more efficient? By utilizing the different features available for ad serving that are built for the different purposes. Here’s a couple examples of what I mean…
Keyword Match Types
For example, the different keyword match types serve different purposes. Broad match is a net that goes out and catches fish (search queries) to advertise on. Then, you can see if these fish are worth keeping. Phrase match is more like a fishing pole with specific bait on it to catch more specific kinds of fish. But, still a fishing tool. Exact match is the fish. It’s the exact fish in the Search Engine Sea.
For fishing campaigns, the point is to go out and catch search queries to decide if they’re keepers or not. So, you want to maximize the amount of search queries and clicks that you get on those search queries. Remember, this campaign is not directly about ROI or profit. Thankfully, AdWords has a bidding option called “Automatic Bidding” that serves just this purpose. When you set your campaign on this bidding option, the AdWords system will maximize the amount of clicks it can get for your set budget. By doing this, you are most efficiently accomplishing your goal for the campaign, which is finding search queries that will work for your business.
Then, once you find the search queries that work for you, you want to then bid differently because the purpose now changes. It’s now about maximizing ROI or profit. Different purposes, different bidding options; so different campaign. In our “bucket” campaign, we’ll use Maximum CPC bidding or Conversion Optimizer (designed for those purposes) to test what bid levels will accomplish this while increasing performance through optimization.
So, here’s a very simple general layout of how campaigns could be organized differently because of their differing purposes…
There are many more features that make creating campaigns with different purposes possible. It’s up to you to learn them and then get creative as to how they will help your account. But hopefully, above and beyond the specifics, the couple of examples I’ve given here will enlighten you to the ways in which you can be creative with targeting/organizing your account to more efficiently accomplish long-term growth.
In my last post, I shared using a fishing metaphor to talk about stepping your PPC game up to the point where you know how to use it to build your online business for the long haul. So, let’s start looking at some of the “tricks of the trade” to do just that.
Trick #1 – Use Keywords Correctly
A great misnomer among PPC advertisers is the belief that the foundation to success for an account is found in picking the right keywords. While picking good keywords is important, it’s not the foundation. The foundation is knowing how to use keywords to find search queries that you can use to attract customers to your website. That’s right, keywords are different than search queries. Search queries are the phrases that real users actually type into the search engines. Remember, keywords are like nets that you throw into Search Engine Sea to find the fish (search queries) that you will then use to prepare dinner.
How do you build your account around search queries? Well, an easy way is to make sure to separate your winning search query catches from your nets. Once you catch a fish, you don’t leave it in the net, right? That will just get in the way of catching other fish when you throw the net back in. Therefore, we’ve got to use the organizational features that the paid search interfaces give us to put the fish in a bucket so that we can skin and fillet (optimize) it.
This is easily accomplished by separating your nets and your fish into separate campaigns. Your “net” campaign will contain keywords that use match types effectively (we’ll get to this soon) to go out and catch the fish. Your “bucket” campaign will contain the search queries you have found to be winners. You will set these search queries on “exact match” so that they will only be matched to the exact query that you found works for your business. Yes, I know that once you add the query to your account that it (technically-speaking) becomes a “keyword,” but since it will only be matched to the exact query, we can view it as such.
The bucket campaigns is where you will build your account from what you caught in the net campaign. This separation allows you to separately control budgeting, bidding and other targeting options to focus your efforts on dominating the locations that really put food on the table.
For example, if we create a “fishing” campaign that uses the keyword “red shoes” on broad match, it will be matched to thousands of real search queries like “red nike tennis shoes” or even “purple slippers” (broad match can be very broad). Yes, you may find that the exact query “red shoes” works for you and meets your advertising goals. But, long-term business growth against your competition requires that you go fishing for as many queries as you can make work for your business.
So, let’s say your main keyword theme is “red shoes.” Through keyword research, you add many relevant keyword phrases to your “net” campaign. As ads run on these keywords, they will be collected and you are able to view them in your account. Here’s an illustration of what it’s like. The keywords you add to your campaigns are in the middle. The actual search queries that users are performing are in the small bubbles…
Now, what do you do with these? You take a look at their relevance and statistics to decide whether to continue advertising on those terms or not, and whether or not they’ve performed well enough to be implemented into your net campaign for different treatment. There will be a lot of terms to add as negatives, some to throw into the bucket, some will need more time, and some may need special attention to figure out why they are not performing as well as you might think.
Next time, we’ll take a look at how you may treat these groups differently.
One of the great things about PPC advertising is its immediacy. You can start running ads right now and see almost instantaneous results; whether good, bad or just ok. But, the trap that we don’t want to fall into when running our accounts is limiting our thinking just to what can be gained right now. The fact is, PPC is a great way to help build all areas of your online business long-term. And with the continuous expansion of features and avenues being offered in this channel today, the possibilities continue to grow.
But for this series of posts, I want to focus on keyword advertising. I want to take you through a theoretical progression of how solid PPC search campaigns are started, developed and used to build a foundation for the long-term growth of your brand and website.
Build Your Net
When first starting your keyword advertising, you probably have some sort of idea about what your main keyword themes will be. For our fishing metaphor, these themes are like the areas that you choose to go fishing. They are what you believe to be the hot spots. Once you identify them, you then choose the type of tool that you will use to fish. Nowadays of course, this would typically be a pole, line, hook and bait. But, because it fits the metaphor better and we want to catch lots of fish at once, we’re going to use a net :).
The keywords you choose during your keyword research act as little nets that are thrown out into the Search Engine Sea to catch all of the billions of fish (search queries) swimming around out there. You rake all of the fish in and then sort them out to decide which ones are keepers and exactly where you want or don’t want to toss your nets into Search Engine Sea in the future.
Time To Go Fishing
You put some gas in your boat (your monthly budget), you fire it up and go out to cast into Search Engine Sea. You’ve scoped out your location (keyword themes) and loaded your boat (campaign) with your nets (keywords). You arrive at your location and cast your nets into the sea. The problem with many fishermen (advertisers) is that they are not using all of the “tricks of the trade” (AdWords features) that are available to them these days (bait, gps, etc.) in the correct ways to make them as good at fishing as they could be.
This is exactly why I can’t stand fishing. I simply don’t know how to do it or how to use all of the right tools available to get better at it. If I entered a fishing competition right now, I wouldn’t know what to do and would be wasting my time, energy and money. Yeah, I know how to bait a hook, cast and reel. But, I really don’t KNOW how to fish. I don’t do it enough and don’t care enough to make it work for me. The last 3 times I’ve gone, I haven’t caught anything. Guess what? Not wanting to fish anymore. Good thing for me, Chipotle is right around the corner :).
And therein lies the rub. Advertisers go out on the “Search Engine Sea” alone to catch their “fish”, but they don’t know what they’re doing or how to compete. Yeah, they know how to “bait, hook and reel,” but they really don’t KNOW how to “fish.” Then, when things aren’t going the way they want, they quit, aren’t motivated, decide its overrated or that it’s not worth their time, money and energy. So, they go to Chipotle.
The problem is that they heard some talk about people catching fish or someone even gave them a fish, or they caught a TV show that made it look easy and enjoyable; and they got excited. But, since they really don’t know what they’re doing, they “eat for a day” (if even that) and fail to lay a stronger foundation to “eat for a lifetime.”
Good PPC involves becoming an expert. It’s about knowing how to use it to find out what works and what doesn’t online so that you can keep getting bigger and better.
In my next post, we’ll start looking at some tricks of the trade that you may not have known about for long-term growth so that you can become a better fisherman.