In some ways, SEO strategies have stagnated, thanks to the core updates released in 2019 and 2020. While things are settling down, it garners the need to switch things up and find new ways to get ahead.
Of course, I’m not suggesting abandoning your current strategies but changing how you market yourself. That’s where Pay-Per-Click (PPC) could come in and give you a new way of thinking.
Since it’s aimed primarily at marketing and creating recognition, there’s no harm in using the same ideas for pure Search Engine Optimization and not Search Engine Marketing.
So, I’ve created this article with that goal in mind – to use a PPC strategy with or without a marketing budget.
What is Pay-Per-Click?
Pay-per-click, or PPC, advertising is the best way to get ahead in the online sphere with targeted ads placed on Search Engine Results pages. In this article, I’ll walk you through how it works, what you need to know about ads, budgets and bids, keywords, targeting, ad ranks, and converting clicks.
But first, let’s start with the all-important question: what is PPC? Put simply; it’s an advertising model that lets advertisers put their ads on a platform and pay the owner when the ad is clicked. The goal of these ads is to lead users who click on the ad to the website or app to perform an action.
How it Works
Search engines are the most popular host platforms because they get so much traffic. Services like Google Ads and Microsoft Ads use real-time bidding (RTB) to sell off advertising inventory in a private auction using real-time data.
Every time there’s an ad spot on a search engine results page (SERP), the auction will instantly occur.
There are multiple factors at play, including bid amounts and ad quality, that determine which bidder wins. These keep the gears of PPC moving and being exactly when someone searches for something on the platform.
If you’re interested in showing ads for specific keywords, an auction is triggered based on the keywords bid on by advertisers. Winning ads then get placed on the SERP through the settings on Google Ads for your campaigns.
How to Develop a PPC Strategy
Whether or not you’re interested in advertising your services online, Pay-per-click (PPC) has benefits for almost everyone. If you don’t use Google Ads, you can still benefit from developing a targeted strategy.
In PPC, this means targeting your goals and overall marketing strategy to one of these phases:
- Brand Awareness
- Product and Brand Consideration
- Repeat Sales
Each of your goals aligns with the elementary sales funnel: awareness, consideration, and purchase. As an advertiser, you need to examine your business’s funnel and tailor your paid media accordingly.
Of course, if you’re looking to tweak your existing SEO strategy based on PPC, I still recommend setting goals from the list above. After all, even if you don’t have a budget for PPC, it’s never too early to start focusing on these aspects.
1. PPC Strategy: Creating Brand Awareness
PPC is often used to create brand awareness and increase brand/product visibility. In this phase, you want to maximize exposure to every relevant audience, hoping that clicks mean consideration in the next phase.
Using PPC effectively to display ads means using the right on-topic keywords, topics, placements, in-market lists, or combinations of these. While these methods are mostly general, it gives you a wider read in the long-term.
Social Media PPC ads are a good option for branding as there are so many options for targeting based on interests and demographics. With that in mind, search campaigns with general keywords can also be useful for branding.
One drawback of this approach is that you will see higher cost-per-clicks thanks to competition and irrelevant click-throughs. So, execute this approach with smart keyword matches and negative keywords. If this sounds familiar, it’s because we use the same idea in most SEO strategies.
2. Production & Brand Consideration
Generally, in this phase, people are considering and researching a purchase, so it’s a great time to reintroduce the brand. You should hit them with more detailed targeting and persuasive call-to-action language in the ad copy.
Typically, when people hit this phase, their search queries are more specific and detailed than the first phase. For example, they could search for brands and product combinations to research and compare.
They’ll read reviews for something like LG 50” TV and Samsung 50” TV. This is an opportune time to use remarketing with a banner or responsive ads to bring your user back with a previously reviewed product.
If you’ve ever searched and compared on an online shopping site and left without buying, you’ll soon see a pop up with that product. Another form of targeting could be using an in-market list of users whose online behavior and actions show they’re looking to buy.
3. Creating Leads
If your business model or strategy doesn’t support immediate or online sales, you’ll want to collect leads to follow up with people and engage them in conversation. Your calls to action could include:
- Request a demo
- Get a consultation
- Free trial
These types of calls-to-action are meant to entice your customer to call or fill out an online form to receive a call-back. Of course, the lead follow-up will vary between businesses, but now you have more information to use on your pay-per-click strategy and customer match campaigns.
4. PPC Strategy: Getting Sales
When people are ready to buy, they tend to use words with higher intent in their search queries, like:
- Model numbers
- Shipping information
- Bonus amounts
You should create a PPC strategy that addresses this phase by highlighting offers, warranty information, guarantees, or a return policy. These can reassure potential customers that you are trustworthy to buy from.
So, make full use of your ad copy and extensions and consider cart abandonment ads to show the products they viewed. You’ll need to set up a “purchasers” list here and exclude it from your normal campaign. Plus, you can use it later for repeat sales and new ads to that type of user.
5. Getting Repeat Sales
PPC strategies are a great way to get repeat sales if the product or service needs replacement, maintenance, accessories, upgrades, or cross-sells/up-sells. When designing this PPC campaign, ask a few questions:
- How long does this product last or need to get replaced?
- Is an improved offer or model coming out?
- Did the person buy multiples of this product?
- What would motivate someone to buy again from you?
Use pay-per-click marketing and customer match to re-engage previous customers with messaging aimed at motivating factors. Some good motivators are coupons and discounts on your landing pages to tempt them.
Developing a PPC Strategy
With your goals in hand, it’s time to do what every SEO specialist loves: research.
First, you’ll need to brainstorm your target audience, the ideal brackets of people you want to reach. These customers will help you to start your “seed list” of keywords. These are the keywords you want your ad (or SERP) to appear under when your user searches and should include branded keyword research.
Then, you need to check the demand of your keywords and validate them using Google Adwords’ keyword planner and similar tools. And so you can expand on your best keywords while also finding the current bid prices and cherry-picking the best ones.
After that, it’s a matter of structuring and organizing your keywords into targeted groups. These should focus on broad match results down to very specific long-tails. Always try to make a flow chart of these before moving onto the next step.
Keep an eye out for negative search keywords, things that aren’t exactly related to your main groups. For example, if you’re advertising running shoes, sneakers and high tops wouldn’t suit the intent.
In this step, you need to keep in mind the levels of intent. Low intent is high-cost keywords with a general interest, while high intent will be the most specific long-tail keywords. E.g., low-impact running shoes size 8.
Don’t forget to research your competitors and go beyond the most obvious choices to see what they’re doing effectively. Finding their best keywords and platforms can help you to reach the same user base. More importantly, it’ll help you focus your search ads (or results) on the right areas.
With all of that research in hand, you can also create an attractive landing page to bring it all home. You’ll need to ensure that it’s well-crafted, written, and quick to load. Research shows that a 1-second delay in page speed can result in a 7% drop in conversion rates.
While you’re spying on your competitors, take note of their page speed, content layout, and overall quality score. This score (which we’ll expand on in another blog) is how Google and other search engines determine whether your ads will be displayed over others.
PPC Strategy: Conclusion
So, you’re probably wondering: “where does this fit in with my SEO tactics?” In all honesty, most of it seems familiar or at least marketing focused at face value. But, I believe that approaching click-throughs with sales in mind can help you to fine-tune what you’re trying to get across.
Whether it’s a food blog or a review site, knowing which calls-to-action to use can help you to navigate the fluff. And by fluff, I meant the related keywords that might sound like a good idea but aren’t bringing in any traffic.
Since we’re all aiming for page experience as a whole, it doesn’t hurt to market yourself (without media or text ads) as if you’re an established, trustworthy brand.