The Perils and Pitfalls of Advanced Keyword Buys

Although today's pay-per-click (PPC) programs offer tremendous potential to boost your Web site's online visibility, new keyword buying options pose unique challenges for even the savviest online marketer. Paid keyword variations, now available within both the Google and Overture paid programs, provide clients with even more flexibility in determining when and how ads are displayed - a process which can either work in your favor or frivolously exhaust your budget.

By turning the PPC campaign creation process to your advantage, online marketers can achieve multiple goals, ranging from acquiring leads to generating sales. PPC data analysis can further provide a wealth of market research along the way, which can prove invaluable to establishing a solid e-marketing strategy.

As one can quickly see, PPC campaigns are often complicated to design and maintain. Both Google and Overture currently offer multiple methodologies (ranging from broad, phrase, exact, negative, and even enhanced matching keyword alternatives) designed to assist you in tailoring ads to reach your target audience.



For example, quantifying the term eyeglasses as a "broad search" will result in that ad being displayed each time a user searches for the term eye and glasses in any order, and in combination with other terms. Phrase matches (prompted by the above query placed in quotation marks) will trigger your ad to be served to users searching for "prescription eye glasses," but not for the user searching for "designer glasses for almond shaped eyes."

Exact matches (query placed within brackets) will appear only when that specific term is in that specific order, without any additional terms queried. The eye glasses ad listed above would be displayed only to users querying [eye glasses]. Negative match options further allow PPC clients to exclude certain terminology from displaying their corresponding ad when queried.

So, how can one craft a pay-per-click campaign that will most likely result in qualified traffic reaching your site? Despite multiple options, effective keyword selection, and purposefully written ad copy are essential to achieving success. Keep in mind that keyword/phrase selection is a process that will be refined throughout the duration of your campaign, accomplished by iteratively testing keywords, keyword phrases, match types, creative, and analyzing the corresponding impact within your server logs.

This methodology will allow you to determine which keywords are driving traffic to your site, engaging your users, and inciting them to perform the desired action, often resulting in lower bid rates due to the specific nature of a phrase.

PPC log data analysis can also be instrumental in determining which keywords have been driving untargeted or "unwanted" traffic to your site. The "cost-per-click-thru" structure of these campaigns makes it critical to wean out unwanted traffic and clicks, which do not result in the desired call to action.

So, if you are a travel site dedicated to travel packages for Disneyland, and you buy the term "travel packages," you could receive clicks from any query derived from a broad match "travel packages" search in combination with any destination (i.e. New York City Travel Packages).

By negatively matching "travel packages" to exclude terms that serve non-relevant traffic and by including terms which could be potential targets within your market, PPC clients will be assured that ad groups will be served only to qualified traffic.

For example, it would be important to include ads for expanded keywords such as "California travel packages" or even possibly "discount theme park travel packages."

Remember, the intrinsic nature of a pay-per-click program is precisely that: to charge you (the client) each time a user clicks on your ad. With the variety of keyword matching potential available, it is important to be wary when designating keyword match types by including (and excluding) the correct keywords.

PPC costs can easily become artificially inflated when bidding on broad matched terms that result in clicks generated by unqualified traffic, and ads served by a keyword match that is too specific can equally miss the target audience, resulting in lost opportunity and decreased ROI.

Through repeated testing and log analysis, incorporating targeted keywords into your PPC buys as exact matches will ensure that the traffic you are driving to your site is qualified, potentially lead-centric, and cost-effective. An added plus: bidding on qualified terms often allows you to appear at the top of search results when utilizing the "exact match" option, as both Google and Overture default to exact match bids as their priority.

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