PPC advertising refers to pay-per-click or paid search advertising, a model of digital marketing which allows companies to purchase visits to their websites, rather than relying solely on search engine optimization or traditional methods of digital marketing such as banner advertisements, pop-up ads, and referral programs. This makes sense for many companies, small and large, because, once they’ve got their customer on their site they can work to convert that visit into a sale. For example, imagine someone typing “how to tie a double windsor knot” into a search engine. Of course, they’ll eventually end up on a YouTube video or web tutorial that walks them through tying a knot, but along the way, they’ll see a text link within their search results for your clip-on tie shop. If this user clicks on the link, they might be tempted to purchase your product, and the search engine will only charge you if the user actually does click on that text link.

Google AdWords

Google AdWords is the leading provider of PPC advertising because most consumers turn to Google to conduct their searches. According to Smart Insights, Google accounts for over 77% of searches online and close to 4.5 billion searches per day. With all of this web traffic, it makes sense for companies to turn to Google to take advantage of some of their traffic.  Google AdWords provides a variety of tools for companies to help them analyze search engine performance, showing you where your page does well in turning up on search engine results pages and showing you what keywords might be useful. These tools are free to members that have verified sites, and they can help you get a clearer picture of your web traffic. It’s important to do a lot of research about the habits of your paying customers in order to determine the best keywords for your company.

Keyword Strategies

You might be tempted to pick the keywords that have the most searches, but be very careful with this strategy. Although it may result in many visits to your website (which you’ll pay for), it may not yield the results you are looking for. For example, suppose you bought clicks for the search term “ties.” This would yield more results than something like “formal ties in Denver,” but may not bring the right traffic. Someone could be looking for hair ties, bowties, tie-dye, and who knows what else. Plus, the search engine raises the price of each click when there are many searches, as this space becomes more competitive. The average cost for a PPC is two to three dollars, so this can add up very quickly. Instead, using a long-tail keyword, like in the example above, will yield fewer results but with more accuracy. Thinking of an exhaustive list of these long-tail keywords is a key step to being successful with your PPC campaign—think about how often you start searching with a general term before typing in another, more specific query.

Also, consider adding negative keywords. If you know that people who search for, say, “armani ties in Denver” will not likely be interested in shopping at a boutique tie design shop, then this would work great as a negative keyword. It’s a necessary step, because if you have paid for the keyword string “ties in Denver,” you have the potential to receive visits for queries that include that search term—a waste of money.  It’s also important to continuously review and reevaluate the most expensive keywords you select—if you are paying a lot for clicks, but few of these clicks convert to real sales, then it’s time to come up with new keywords.

Professional Help

Managing a PPC campaign can be trickier than it may seem at first, but there are places where you can find professional AdWords help. These firms will not only set up the AdWords keywords for you, but they’ll evaluate every part of the process. For example, which webpage does the link navigate to (the landing page)? Can the text of the link itself (the anchor text) be improved to prevent accidental clicks and encourage paying customers? Are there any long-tail keywords you may have forgotten, or products that might pair well with your product or service? Can your product or service be split up into smaller groups to encourage more specific results (for example, “cheap furniture in Denver” might be changed to “cheap sofas in Denver” and “cheap tables in Denver” etc)? What percentage of AdWords clicks convert to sales for each keyword? A firm can help you address these issues and more.