Pay-per-click and paid search advertising

Pay-per-click search advertising: seven top tips


Pay-per-click search (PPC) is a form of online advertising. It allows you to display an ad on a search engine results page. PPC can be a cost-effective way of reaching your online audience. Bidding for the right keywords, which are search words that customers are likely to use when looking for your product or service, can help to drive customers to your website.

Using the right ad copy to sell your product or service will also help. It is also important to have a well optimised landing page, so that customers will find what they expect once they have clicked on your ad and arrived on your website. You will only be charged for your ad when someone clicks on it and makes a visit to your website.

Follow these tips to make PPC work for your business:

1. Relevancy: Ensure that your keywords, ad copy and landing page all closely match each other. This will increase your chances of online conversions - eg new sales. Having an ad that matches your landing page will also drive down the cost-per-click (CPC).

2. Account structure: Structure your account so that similar keywords are placed together within the same ad group. This will help you to line-up the most relevant keywords, ad copy and landing page. Download a PPC account structure example (PDF, 272KB).

3. Negative keywords: Check the actual search terms that customers use to find your ad. You may find that certain terms are not relevant to what you offer. For example, a shop selling 'drinking glasses' would not want their ad to show to users searching for 'reading glasses'. Use such information to add negative keywords. This will prevent your ad from displaying to people searching for things that you don't offer. In turn, you won't waste your budget on clicks that will never result in a conversion.

4. Dynamic keyword insertion: Consider dynamic keyword insertion, which will update your ad copy to match the customer's exact search terms. This can help to increase your click-through rate (CTR).

5. Call to action: Increase your click-through-rate by including a strong call to action in the ad copy - eg 'Download now' or 'Register today'.

6. Match types: Choose the right keyword matching option. Using the default 'broad match' will display your ad more frequently, but his could mean your ad is less targeted and result in wasted budget from irrelevant clicks. Using 'phrase match' or 'exact match' keywords will offer more control over the search terms that will result in your ad being shown. This should improve your click-through-rate. See choose the right keywords for your PPC campaign.

7. Optimisation: Once your campaigns have been running for a while, check what has been working and what has not. Adjust your bids if they are too low to reach the first search engine results page (and will still deliver a return on investment). Use several ad copy versions and see which is most effective. If an ad results in a high bounce rate or low conversion rate, consider how the landing page could be improved. See optimising PPC campaigns.