We’re Gonna Have Some Fundamentals!

All of us who work in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising look at accounts and stats day in and day out. After a while, we can easily start to lose focus and lose our grip on the basics. Today, I will discuss the most fundamental yet most important aspects of managing a well-planned and great-performing PPC campaign.

Ad Testing

The most powerful tip I can give to anyone running a PPC campaign is to consistently perform ad testing. Around our office, we have a general rule of thumb that EVERY account we manage should be split testing ads at all times. This isn’t a singular event either but a perpetual, organic process. Now that Yahoo! allows split testing in Panama, there are no longer any excuses NOT to be doing this simple, effective management task.

Consider each run of an ad as a new challenge for your creative writing skills. “How can I rock-’em-sock-’em in seventy characters or less?” With this mindset, it’s an exciting experience to see how many searchers “vote” for your best work by clicking on the ad. Whichever metric you’re testing, it’s best to give each ad anywhere from thirty to forty clicks before you decide to retire it, or test it against your next creative ad.

Landing Pages

Whether you’re a novice PPCer or the consummate master, utilizing relevant landing pages is an important piece of your advertising puzzle. Relevant landing pages will dramatically increase your conversion rates. Admittedly, this is a lesson that I’m still learning today. Every time I implement a landing page that has exact relevancy to my keywords and ad texts, I am surprised at how well it performs.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to point all of your PPC ads to a generic homepage. Granted, you may get lucky and have a few searchers meander through your site until they find what it is they were looking for; but the majority of your click traffic will leave in the first few seconds because they didn’t! Picking a landing page can truly be as simple as digging through your Web site until you happen upon a deep link that has great content. However, the most effective landing pages are those solely designed for converting click traffic.

Does your landing page match your keywords and ad texts? Does your landing page easily define what the visitor should do with a clear call to action? If your answer to these questions is yes, then my work here is done.

Keyword Research

If you read as many blogs as I do, it is difficult to make it through a single day without stumbling upon someone discussing the “long tail” of keywords. Keyword research is fundamental to a well-managed PPC campaign as it is with any other form of search marketing. There are many tools and widgets available for free, so anyone and everyone can easily perform effective research.

The importance of research lies in finding those keywords that have a low CPC but are still bringing in high-converting traffic. Not too long ago I inherited a client that was merely limping along each month. The client was spending money right and left, and at the end of the day had nothing to show for it. After following my own advice and digging down into their ad texts and landing pages, I suddenly realized that my keyword lists were seriously lacking. With a modicum of keyword research–and a little luck–I was able to turn that client’s performance around in no time at all. The use of variations, misspellings, and typos allowed me to reduce cost and, in turn, increase conversions. The point is, if you aren’t doing keyword research for your PPC clients, start doing it today.


Utilizing budgets for a PPC campaign is a delicate operation. Yahoo! (and previously Overture) allows advertisers to set an account budget. With the advent of Panama, Yahoo! has also included campaign budgets to compete with you-know-who (cough–Google–cough), who, as it stands, only allows campaign budgets. MSN just kinda does their own thing up there in Redmond, Washington. All budget controls in adCenter are simply set at the account level.

A very important lesson that I’ve learned with clients who have limited marketing dollars to spend is to tread carefully when setting account budgets (not available in AdWords). If you set an account budget, but neglect to set individual campaign budgets, you will see your heavy-traffic keywords perform really well, but nothing else will. The few keywords in your account that drive the most click traffic will shut off your account before the other long-tail keywords have had a chance to perform their magic.

Plan carefully. Like I said, if you have a client who absolutely has to stay within a set budget each month, plan ahead and set your campaign/account budgets accordingly. You will save yourself a world of hurt at the end of the month when you realize you don’t have to shut your account off to meet your client’s goals.

While managing a PPC campaign in terms of budgets can be powerful, and can affect great change, don’t let this take you away from your solid keyword bid management. Those two activities go hand and hand, and the one definitely doesn’t work without the other.

These PPC fundamentals have brought me success, so I wish you all well in putting them to work for you.