Sponsored listings or paid placement refer to a search engine advertising portal that allows marketers to place ads or listings on the SERP of given search engine for a fee. By bidding on specific keywords, marketers have text ads displayed on the SERP for that particular keyword. The prominence of the ad’s position is determined by the amount of money bid by each marketer, with pole position going to the highest bidder. The search engine charges fees on a CPC or CPM basis where the price of the bid determines the cost-per-click. According to Forrester research, search engine marketing is set to become a $27 billion market by 2012.
What makes paid placement so great is that your ads are displayed to users that are usually actively searching for the service you provide (although that’s also dependent on the kinds of keywords you use).If you haven’t already delved into the wonderful world of paid placement, you’re miles behind the competition and need to get started as soon as is humanly possible.
To help you along, here are some of the quintessential best practices involved in running a profitable paid placement campaign.
Keywords determine the SERPs that your ad will be placed on and that makes keyword selection your most important tool when it comes to paid placement advertising. A common strategy used by marketers is to include a broad mix of keywords within their ad groups as this creates many more landing pages for their ads. However, while this technique undoubtedly reaches many more people and generates a vast amount of traffic, it doesn’t usually lead to a great many successful conversions and can leave you with an exorbitant advertising bill and few customers to show for it.
A more cost-effective approach involves selecting highly specific keyword phrases instead. The ideal keywords should describe your product or service to the letter. Once you’ve amassed a significant number of keywords that are highly related to your product, trying grouping them under a single ad group and create an ad that encapsulates your product exactly.
A critical part of your paid placement strategy, negative keywords can help you filter out unwanted search terms and save you a tidy sum in the process. For example, if you provided search engine optimization services on a freelance basis, you might want to place SEO tutorials on your negative keywords list, since you provide services and not tutorials. This will prevent your ad from coming up on searches that contain any combination SEO and tutorials.
However, your ad will still be displayed on searches that contain either one of the two keywords if they are used in isolation from each other.
A Perfect Landing
Ensure that the landing pages for your ads are those that relate directly to it. If you provide several services on your website, the ads for a single service should direct the user to the subpage that deals with the particular service and not simply to your website home page. This will save users the hassle of looking up what they need in your service directory and is a surefire way to guarantee more conversions.
Analytics Measure and Optimize
Analytics are you greatest tools when it comes to determining an paid placement strategy. By giving you access to important data that includes total traffic, conversions and a host of data comparison tools, analytics allow you to keep optimizing your ads and your site. Use it well and often and you’ll see your profit margins soaring.
Engage Multiple Vendors
Despite the fact that Google holds an overwhelming majority of the search engine market share, it is advisable to incorporate other search engines like Bing and Yahoo! into your advertising strategy. The advantage of implementing this is that the competition on critical search terms is likely to be much lower on these engines and you can cash in on a higher response rate albeit without the sheer volume of Google. Plus, the lack of volume can actually work in your favor by cutting down on costs while returning a proportionately higher number of conversions. This doesn’t always hold true though. Remember that different search engines will require different tactics and will return different results. Experiment, analyze and see what works best for you.
Split and multivariate testing are great ways to stay on top of things while continually optimizing your ad, although the latter requires a much higher degree of overall expertise. Given the absence of interactive ads on a SERP the only two aspects you need to test with paid placement are the ad copy and the landing pages.
The words you use in your ad can have a serious impact on the number of conversions you have under your belt at the end of the day. That’s why it’s important to keep testing even if you think you’ve got the best copy in the world. You can split test ad copy by creating two ads within the same ad group to monitor the effectiveness of each and optimizing accordingly.
Testing landing pages is a little more complicated, what with the number of variables that can affect a user’s reaction to a page. It is, however, an essential component of paid placement that should NOT be ignored. Create variations in your landing pages and compare conversion rates. Tweak as necessary.
The Daily Budget
Budgeting is an important component of a paid placement campaign. There is no fast and easy route to finding the ideal budget, but in Google’s case their recommended budget will generally have your ads displayed without interruption through the entire day. However, if you’re campaigning on reduced resources it’s a good idea to experiment for a while. Don’t go throwing your money at Google just to make sure they display your ads during hours of peak internet usage. Instead, rely on analytics to find the most profitable time of day for your ad and allocate resources accordingly. And profitable, in this context, translates into a high conversion rate and not meaningless traffic.
Follow these tips and you should be well on your way to creating a foolproof and lucrative paid placement strategy.