Searching Beyond the Paid

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More Popular PPC Pitfalls

A while back, I outlined some of the most popular PPC pitfalls in a Search Engine Watch article. I pointed out two things advertisers do that they shouldn't do, and one they don't do that they should.

Here are some more PPC advertiser "don'ts":

Don't optimize for click-through rate alone. Click-through rate is important - it's the most leveraged facet of Quality Score, after all. However, if you're optimizing for click-through rate alone, you may be paying for a lot of non-converting clicks. Instead, focus on both click-through and conversion rate. Make sure you're getting as many converting clicks as possible from your PPC campaigns.

Don't bid on broad, general keywords. While it's possible to successfully bid on broad terms like "dvd players," it's difficult to do - especially for PPC beginners. It's also a huge budget drain, as broad terms are usually super-competitive. Don't fall into that trap. Choose more specific keywords at first, like "buy dvd players," "dvd player reviews," "discount dvd players," or whatever makes sense for your business. Develop a successful campaign with these terms, and then decide whether you want to take the leap into broader phrases.

Don't set your maximum cost per click too low. Many people erroneously believe that the max CPC is the amount you'll have to pay for each click. Not true. The max cpc is actually one component of the Quality Score algorithm. In fact, in the "old days" of PPC, ad position in Google was determined by click-through rate multiplied by max CPC. It's more complicated than that nowadays, but max CPC is still important. If you set your maximum at $0.12, I can almost guarantee that you'll see few impressions and even fewer clicks on your ads. Granted, you won't ever pay more than 12 cents per click, but you won't get enough clicks to make it worth your while.

Instead, use the Google Traffic Estimator to find out what the estimated max CPC is for your keywords - and set your bids there. Once you've built up a good Quality Score, you can ease your bids down to a more comfortable level. But don't start out too low, or you'll see little to no traffic.

If you're just getting started in PPC, make sure to avoid these pitfalls. If you're a PPC veteran, it never hurts to review your campaigns to see if you've fallen into any of these traps. It's never too late to take care of these issues and increase your conversions as a result.

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