Paid Search in 2012: 7 Key Areas to Focus

4 minutes

If you are reading this you are probably a digital marketer, and that too one in the Search space. Have you made any resolutions for your PPC campaigns yet? Have you committed to doing something different from what you did last year?

At Position2 we have compiled a list of 7 PPC resolutions to abide by this year. We strongly believe that you will benefit from this information, a compilation of our focus areas, driven by our experiences, learnings, strategies and best practices.

Wishing you the best for a fantastic and a profitable 2012! Let’s get started with the PPC’s 7 key Areas of Focus in 2012.

1) Get Critiqued:

Kick start 2012 with an audit of your PPC campaigns. Identify if your campaigns are hitting target metrics, measure your ROI – is it what you or your clients expected, study the pitfalls and evaluate things you have not done in a while (may be testing or adding negatives). Identify opportunities right from keywords t0 ads to landing pages.

Audits can be done across Campaign Structures, Competition, Keywords, Bid Management and Ads to name a few.

2)    Cut that Fat:

Evaluate your keywords thoroughly. Identify “the budget hogs”, those that eat-up your budget but do not convert or convert at a high cost per acquisition. Weed them out. Analyze your search query reports and think wisely about keywords that do not make sense for your business – add them as negatives. Dump keywords you should not be bidding on to start with.

Search space will likely get expensive by the day, so focus on common misspellings and long tail keywords for efficiency. Put yourself in the searchers shoes. What would they think of when they need your product or a service? Do they search in short phrases or long or do they search in questions?

This is not limited to just search, target content as well. Look at placement reports, find sites that are working for you and those that are not. Add negative sites. Select sites manually if that is what if required.

3)    Be Relentless:

Conduct tests regularly in 2012 and learn from both success and failure. The flexibility to conduct tests frequently is the beauty of PPC. Testing is one sure way to improve your campaign performance. Start testing keyword positions, ads and landing pages. Test keywords in different match types.

Tests can be as simple as bumping  your keywords to top positions for a day or longer and observing the impact or trying new ad messaging (text and images). Eventually you want to get to more detailed tests such as launching large MVTs or SEO VS. PPC testing for example.

4)    Make Friends:

With SEO and Analytics that is. Do not forget, valuable learnings can be drawn from anywhere. So keep evaluating SEO and Analytics performance and reports regularly – at least once a month in our opinion.

You can get significant learnings from SEO and Analytics. For example organic headlines, title tags etc. can be tested in PPC. PPC’s quick customizability and turnaround time could benefit SEO, i.e. if you identify a winner from text ads testing, you could test that message on the site. You can also test landing pages with different designs, layout and content by drawing learnings from PPC and SEO.

It goes without saying that everything you do in digital should be measured and fed right into a robust analytics platform. Study the user behavior, do they stay on your pages once there, if so for how long, where do they go from landing pages, what is the bounce rate, time spent, depth etc.. All this information will help you optimize your PPC campaigns down to a keyword level. There are many benefits of capturing keyword level data within analytics tools, so go ahead and do that.

5)    Better Your Communication:

Marketing is all about communication. Paid search is no different. In PPC you have a governing principle of Quality Score (QS) that plays a major role in your visibility or lack thereof therefore the overall performance.

Regularly monitor your QS this year. Analyze why the QS is low or high. Develop appropriate communication strategies to counter low QS. Always look for relevancy across your keywords, ads and landing pages. Modify messaging in your ads and the content on the destination pages to increase relevancy. The higher the relevancy, the higher the QS and better the performance- which means happy customers and a happy you in 2012!

6)    Try Something New:

Go beyond regular Adwords or MSN. Try Youtube, Linkedin, Facebook, and social and PPC integration with features like Google+ Project. Use Click-to-Call Extension, Communication Extensions and Social Extensions. All these could help you reach targeted audience and some of these, depending on your business, could be more useful than expected. Test these new features and always watch out for latest industry developments and case studies to learn what worked. Be sure to track and measure!

7)    Train your Teams:

All of the above that you plan to accomplish this year is possible only if you have disciplined, subject matter expert, motivated and dedicated PPC professionals. So, make sure you train your employees and team members effectively. Take time out for formal education, set-up casual sessions and most importantly ensure they get enough practical exposure to PPC. If you are a single man/woman team, motivate yourself to learn. Teach yourself and learn from others.

In the spirit of learning and teaching, here are a few great sources to follow: ClickZ, searchengineland, Adwords Blog, Hubspot and Sempo.

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