A Quick Review & Expansion on "Best Paid Search Practices"

Whenever the PPC Hero team attends a webinar or an actual real-life seminar, listens to a podcast, or reads a case study/white paper, we like to share a summary of what we’ve learned, a critique on the information provided, and additional resources for further research. I recently read “Paid Search Best Practices: 10 Tips to SEM Success” by Joe Soltis at Fathom SEO (you can get the document here). All-in-all this the publication is a good introduction to creating a successful paid search marketing strategy and I would like to expand upon some of these ideas and get into some detail.

The first tip is “Set Up Cutting-Edge Tracking” and I whole-heartedly agree. At the core of a successful paid search marketing campaign is metrics and performance tracking. Joe makes a good point that every lead generated from you website needs to be tracked and accounted properly, and this isn’t only for users who fill out your contact form, but those who place a calls as well. Using call-tracking software can provide visibility as to how many users actually call you. Joe didn’t go into detail about the core analytics that will help you track, measure and optimize your PPC campaign. The core essentials to tracking your PPC performance include:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Conversion Tracking
  • Yahoo Conversion Tracking
  • MSN Conversion Tracking

Each of these tracking elements will allow you to see at a granular level which keywords are generating sales. In PPC, knowledge is the key to success, and implementing these tracking tools will help you make use decisions when optimizing your campaign.

“Build Huge Keyword Lists and Refine to a Smaller Keyword List” is another tip provided in this document; and again, I agree. Joe’s theory on keyword research is a good starting point (ask, “Will a person searching for this term be looking to buy what I offer” If your answer is yes, use the keyword), but once you’ve completed your initial keyword research there a couple other things to consider. Once you have your core keywords, you need to consider the user intent for each keyword, and where each keyword falls in your buying cycle. Also, you will need resources for keyword research so here are 6 free keyword research tools.

Relevancy is the name of the game in paid search marketing and this document gives a good tip to “Set Up Small Ad Groups.” However, Joe recommends that your ad groups have 10 or fewer keywords. You want to serve the most highly-targeted ad possible for your keyword, but if you are managing a large campaign, this method could result in hundreds of ad groups which could hinder your account management. To be honest, I don’t know if there is a tried-and-true number of keywords to place in each ad group (I wouldn’t go over 50, personally), but just make sure your ad groups contain tightly-themed keywords regardless of how many there are.

The last tip that I’ll expand upon is “ID Best Times to Run Your Ads.” This strategy is called “ad scheduling” or “day parting.” Currently, the only search engine that offers automated ad scheduling is Google AdWords (of course). If you are certain that your audience is more likely to buy at a certain time of day, then it may be worth your time to experiment with this tool. You can learn more about implementing this strategy in this article.

“Paid Search Best Practices: 10 Tips to SEM Success” is a good introduction to the building blocks of a successful PPC campaign; I just wanted to expand and give some additional information (since that’s what we do here at PPC Hero!).