In this second in a four part series on PPC and Google AdWords, Trace Ronning of WordWatch takes you through the process of setting up your first AdWords campaign.
I know PPC isn’t necessarily limited to Google and their AdWords platform, but since it’s far and away the most successful and widely used PPC ad platform, I’m going to use it in all examples going forward.
Before you actually create your campaign within AdWords, you should take some time to do keyword research and decide upon a budget that you’re willing to work with (and commit to) as well as making sure your website is ready. If your website is hard to navigate or visually unappealing, that’s something you’ll really want to fix before starting a campaign with the intent of sending it boatloads of traffic.
The cornerstones of all AdWords campaigns are their keyword lists. The more finely-tuned your keyword list, the stronger your account will be. Your keywords are the words and phrases that customers search in Google that will trigger your ads. So where can you start building that keyword list? The first stop should be your company website.
Chances are you use terms that describe and relate to your product commonly throughout your website, so you should be able to pull a centralized core group of keywords here (that you will have come up with using Wordtracker's Keywords tool, of course!). For example, some terms I was able to pull from an initial glance at the WordWatch home page are AdWords management, PPC management and keyword optimization.
One thing you can do is organize your keywords by grouping them into themes. Those themes can be different services your company offers or maybe even different product lines like skiing boots, skiing goggles and skis.
Then, by going through your website, pull different keywords and put them into a few different lists, based on what theme they fit under. Here’s an example of what some of my themes and lists would look like if I ran a sporting goods store.
|baseball glove||basketball shoes||tennis shoes|
|baseball hat||basketball shorts||tennis rackets|
|catcher’s glove||basketball jersey||tennis racquets|
|baseball pants||tennis shorts|
You may also want to create a list of branded keywords as well. These would be terms that you own. For instance I could choose to build a list of keywords like WordWatch PPC, WordWatch AdWords Management, www.wordwatch.com, etc.
Make sure you include variations of your keywords and synonyms on your list. A prime example of this would be someone offering SEM or SEO services. Those are common abbreviations of the term search engine optimization and search engine marketing, but people searching might spell it out.
And since PPC (or pay-per-click, or pay per click) falls under the category of search engine marketing, these are all terms you would want to include in your list. Below, you’ll see what I mean.
|Pay Per Click|
|Pay per click management|
|search engine marketing management|
|paid search management|
Where else you can find keywords
After brainstorming for keyword ideas, there are other tools you can use to help fill out your lists. Using a premium keyword discovery tool like the one Wordtracker offers will lead you to terms that your competitors are using to drive traffic. In addition, you can find keywords that none of your competitors are using to make yourself stand out. Using a keyword tool can help you find long tail keywords with high conversion rates and low costs, just be aware that long tail keywords don’t typically generate as much traffic as broader terms, although searches added together for these words will outnumber searches for 'head' keywords.
Google’s keyword tool is also a good, basic way to find new keywords. Though not as robust as other tools, it does a good job finding common terms you might not be using already.
Something to note here is that it’s very easy to add thousands of keywords very quickly when you start doing keyword research, but it’s smart to start with high quality keywords in the beginning, and then add more, especially when you’re working with a small budget. If you spread your budget too thin on too many keywords in the beginning, you won’t be able to get enough data and figure out which terms are working best. Focus on specific keywords that describe your service, but don’t be too specific or you won’t generate any traffic at all.
Building a campaign
Now that you’ve picked out your keywords, you can begin to build a campaign. If you’ve built your keyword lists around themes, that makes this part easier. When building a campaign, I like to pick one product group or service, then go from there, but here are some other ideas you should consider when starting a campaign:
- Geographic location (do you serve one region, or can you sell anywhere?)
- Brand names
- Seasonality of the product or service
First, you’ll be asked to choose locations and languages you’d like your ads to show in, so make sure you choose the appropriate language for whichever countries you decide to advertise in. It would be a shame to waste your budget showing German ads in Mexico, after all.
Networks and devices
AdWords consists of two main networks, the search network, and the display network.
The display network consists of Google.com as well as its partner search pages. This is where you’ll probably be doing all of your advertising, especially as a new advertiser. The search network allows you to get your ad on any page hosting AdSense, but it’s much more complicated to target properly, so you may want to refrain from advertising on it to start.
From personal experience, I found that when advertising a product/service for purchase, the search network has worked better for me. When advertising content, like a blog, the display network can do wonders, however.
As far as devices go, selecting ‘All’ will have your ads shown on desktops, laptops, mobile devices and tablets. Depending on the nature of your service, you may want to limit your ads to one of those options, though.
Bidding and your budget
One of the most important parts of AdWords is your keyword bidding. This determines not only how much your clicks are going to cost, but where you’ll be ranked on the search engine results page for the keyword that triggered your ad. It’s also the most time-consuming part of AdWords, which is unfortunately because most advertisers like to set a bid when they start, then never change it.
This is bad because the prices of clicks on the AdWords network are constantly changing, depending on what your competition is doing. External factors like new advertisers, competitors adding more keywords and competitors raising their bids all have a huge impact on your bidding. Neglecting your keyword bids is sort of like buying a car but never changing your oil. Sure it works at first, but eventually you’re going to need to take it in for a check-up to keep it running well.
Like every other part of AdWords, there are bidding tools to help keep you on top of your bidding without spending hours upon hours adjusting your bids based on the previous days’ performance. Google also offers automated bidding, but remember, it’s not necessarily in their best interest to help you pay less for advertising, so you should check out third party applications for help.
To start, I’d recommend you choose ‘Focus on clicks’ and ‘Manual bidding’ so you can get some experience learning how to bid. You’ll probably quickly see how useful an automated bidding engine can be.
Read more in this series:
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About Trace Ronning
Trace Ronning is a writer and the media coordinator for WordWatch Founded in 2009, they're dedicated to delivering affordable AdWords management to small businesses by automating the keyword bidding process. You can read more articles on AdWords news and strategies on their PPC blog