Cost Per Click TipsIf you are just starting out with paid search using Google’s Adwords or Yahoo’s Sponsored Search, you have probably noticed that getting the biggest bang for your buck isn’t as easy as plopping down your money and letting the sales role in.  It’s easy to think of cost per click (CPC) ads as a regular media buy, but that type of thinking is going to leave your wallet a lot lighter.  Anyone who has seen their daily budget get drained in a matter of hours with no sales to show for it knows what I mean.

In order to get the most out of your search engine marketing dollar you need to hone your Cost Per Click Management Skills .  Here are 3 tips that will greatly improve the ROI on your paid search campaigns.

#1 Write more than one ad

Writing ads is as much art as it is science.   The quality of your ad copy can mean the difference between your ad getting clicked or passed over without a second thought.  This is why writing more than one ad is so important.

Write at least 3 different ads for an Ad Group.  That means varying the headlines as well as the descriptions.   Once you’ve got your first 3 ads, let them run for a few weeks.  Keep the highest clicked ads and toss out the losers.   For the winning ad, write several variations of it and run the test again.  Using this method you’ll be able to identify what ad copy is click worthy.

By testing your ads you’ll increase the click through rate thus reducing how much you pay per click.   This way you can get more clicks for less money.  See your ROI has gone up already!

#2 Don’t Send All Your Traffic to the Home Page

A common rookie mistake is to send all your traffic to your web site’s home page.   Doing this is costing you conversions.  When someone is using a search engine, they expect the results of their quires to match the sites presented in the search engine results (ads included).  When you don’t immediately deliver the information that visitor wants, they will quickly hit the back button and head off to another site.   Just to add insult to injury, you paid good money for the opportunity to tell that visitor you don’t have what they want even if you do.

For example, say your office supply web site sells high-end pen sets.  To increase sales of these high dollar items, you start an Adwords campaign on Google and send all the traffic from those pen related keywords to the home page.   That visitor is expecting to see the pen mentioned in your compelling ad copy but instead they hit your home page full of links to other things like paper clips, toner, etc….  Not seeing what they were looking for, they quickly hit the back button and are scanning the results for your competitor.

Remember, visitors have short attention spans.   You need to give them what they want when they want it.  The smart move would have been to link directly to the page that sells your pens.  If your ad copy sells Super Duper Pen X  then send that visitor to the Super Duper Pen X page on your site.

If you wanted to get really fancy you can create specific landing pages for your ad campaigns but I’ll cover that in another post.

Aligning the ad copy with the right page on your web site has two primary benefits.  First and foremost it increases conversion rate by giving the visitor what they want.  Second, it increases the quality score of your advertisement.  A higher quality score means a lower cost per click and a higher ROI for your campaign.

#3  Don’t Shoot for the 1st Position Unless You Have a Good Reason

I know we all want to be number one.  When it comes to organic placement through SEO I couldn’t agree with you more.  But, being in the first spot in the paid results is not usually the best position to place your ad with respect to ROI.

There are three major factors that affect where your ad shows in relation to the others.  These factors are:

  1. Bid price
  2. Click through rate
  3. Quality score of the landing page

Through experience, I’ve found no matter how much I tweaked the quality score and click through rate, I always end up paying significantly more per click to have my ad show up in the 1st position.  Yes, the ads will get more eyeballs and clicks, but the premium paid for that spot combined with the extra clicks, reduces the return on investment.  The sweet spot I’ve found is between the 2nd and 4th spots.  This isn’t a hard rule more of a guideline.  Remember to always keep an eye on your return on investment.  That will guide your bidding strategy.

By following these 3 simple steps, your cost per click campaigns will produce a higher return for your advertising dollar.  Overall, go slow and start off your campaigns the right way and you’ll save yourself a small fortune in the end.