Today, I am jealous. Why is that you ask? Brad Geddes wrote a great article at Search Engine Land today – one that I should’ve written. (Just kidding!) Seriously though, Brad’s article touches on one of the best PPC tools around – PLANNING. He thoroughly explains how to review historical data to determine when your PPC account experiences performance spikes (be they seasonal or other). Then most importantly, he explains what you should do with that data: plan to increase bids, write new ads, whatever it takes to get a leg up on the competition when the “getting is good.”
If you can anticipate traffic changes, you can swiftly make decisions that will increase your account’s effectiveness. Don’t wait for the traffic to change, predict the future of your PPC accounts.
Great advice. However, while I was reading this I wondered to myself, “What about new advertisers who don’t have any historical data?” It’s an impossible task to create informative trend lines from scratch! How do you know when a performance spike will occur for your business? There are a few quick and simple ways that novice advertisers can gather up data to plan for seasonality and traffic spikes.
For this point I’m going to assume that the business in question is established and that PPC is a new endeavor. As you’re going through the steps of planning for your PPC campaign, pull as much offline data as you can. When have sales/leads been at their highest? When do your current customers respond best to your products/services? Does business increase or decrease for the holidays? These are basic questions that could go a long way to creating an online marketing plan. If customers in your brick and mortar store buy more products in say, July, than any other month, it’s a safe bet that online customers will function in a similar fashion (there could be differences, but I’ll cover that at the end)! Plan on working harder in “that month” to be sure you dominate the PPC landscape when customers are eager to buy.
Competitive Research Tools
Tools like Compete.com and Quantcast.com exist for a reason – and this is it! Research, baby! Figure out who some of your top competitors are, and plug their URLs into these tools. Carefully review the peaks and valleys in their traffic. Do the high points (or low) correlate to a specific holiday? Do they all peak at the same times throughout the year? Use this data to create a plan for boosting your PPC during those times to gain an advantage.
Keyword Search Trends
The other big free research tools at your finger tips lie in Google Trends and Google’s Insights for Search. Both of these tools give keyword level search volume data from Google. If you don’t know your own historical data, this is about as close a second-best that you’ll find! Type in your most important keywords and review the trends. The same logic applies – when you see a search volume spike, that’s where you should be planning to pull out all the PPC guns in your arsenal.
While offline data, competitive research tools and search volume trends can give you a solid framework for planning on boosting your PPC for seasonality – there really is no replacement for honest-to-God historical data. Your offline data could be completely skewed compared to how search customers will act, in which case this is a lesson only history can teach. Additionally, seeing traffic stats and search volume data don’t necessarily translate into conversions – again a lesson only history can teach. No matter what, I must thank Brad for writing his article (still wish I’d written it though). Good luck to everyone as you create plans for your PPC campaigns in 2009!