By Rob Arkell, Sales & Marketing Manager, Impact Media

From the outside, Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising can look deceptively straightforward. All you have to do is create an account, write some ad copy, identify a few keywords and get bidding, right? Unfortunately it isn’t quite that simple; not, at least, if you want to make a success out of it.

PPC is like any form of advertising. It requires a certain amount of planning, structure and, above all, targeting. You wouldn’t embark on a multi-million pound television or billboard advertising campaign without understanding the medium and audience first; so why should PPC be any different?

Internet search engines provide a unique opportunity for advertisers to reach out directly to their target audience. Rather than relying on mass-distribution, you can ensure that your ads are seen only on the search terms you’re targeting. Therefore, the more focused your campaign, the better your results should be.

So where should you start?

Before your Pay Per Click ads go live you should be looking to optimise each of the campaigns. This means taking the time to research the search phrases you’ll be targeting and implementing keywords that will get you noticed.
You should also be looking at which platform to use.

Google AdWords is the popular choice amongst most online advertisers due to its huge search volumes; however, both Yahoo and Microsoft (Bing) have their own alternatives and can be a more cost-effective way of generating a little additional traffic (NOTE: the two will be merging shortly, leaving Microsoft adCenter as the only platform).

Your budget will be key to how widely your PPC adverts will be seen. Whilst you can still compete on limited resources, you will have to be a little more careful than those who spend millions each year.

Regardless of how much you have available to spend though, nobody wants to waste money. So here are a few ways you can stretch your budget and get a better return on your investment.

Use Exact or Phrase Match

Broad match is commonly used by advertisers looking to increase their only visibility, regardless of cost. This PPC option will see your adverts shown for the keywords defined as well as any phrases that the search engine deems to be relevant. Synonyms can water down the focus of your campaigns, allowing adverts to appear for a series of random and irrelevant search terms.

By using exact or phrase match you can eradicate this issue. Somewhat unsurprisingly, exact match means that the search term must reflect your defined keywords. This can be restrictive, but it will ensure that you don’t waste money on unrelated clicks. Phrase match is similar; however other words can be used within the search query alongside the key phrase.

If you do choose to use broad match, make sure that you take the time to define negative keywords. These are the terms that your adverts are appearing for but have no relevance to the landing page. When using Google AdWords you can also use their new keyword targeting option.

Essentially, by placing a + sign next to certain words in your broad match campaign, that term will have to appear in the search string. Once again, this will help to lower irrelevant clicks.

Use Time and Geographical Targeting

If there are certain times of day when your customers are most active, you want to make sure that your adverts are visible. The last thing you want is for your budget to dry up and to miss out on peak traffic levels. By switching your adverts off during quieter periods you can avoid draining your budget.

Similarly, if you have a business with a defined catchment area you don’t want your ads being seen by all and sundry. Use geo targeting to ensure that you aren’t shown to searchers outside your target area.

Improve Quality Scores and Landing Page Targeting

If your pages have a low quality score, the likelihood is that you’ll end up paying more for a decent ranking and be shown less. Search engines will mark you down if your content is seen as irrelevant, pages are slow to load or your campaigns have a high bounce rate.

Therefore, it is equally important that you not only make sure the landing page is up to scratch, but the adverts accurately reflect the content.

It’s all About Focus

If you want to ensure advertising success, you have to be focussed. The more targeted your campaigns are, the better your results will be.

Whether you’ve got an advertising budget of a few hundred or a few hundred thousand, PPC provides an invaluable opportunity to improve targeted site traffic and boost your online presence. That is of course when it is done properly