Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can be very effective in driving customers to your site. It’s a bit of a hybrid of inbound and outbound marketing. On the one hand, it targets customers through direct advertisements for a product—something inbound marketing frowns on—rather than relevant content. On the other hand, it’s still designed to reach people who are specifically searching for something in your field. You bid on certain keywords through Google AdWords, and your company’s ad appears on the sidebar when someone searches for those words. As such, you still need to optimize your keywords so your customers are able to find you. And to do that, you need SEO.
Some of the principles for finding the right keywords to use are the same for pay-per-click as they are for content marketing: look at what people in your field are searching for and make use of those terms. But with PPC, there are other things to consider as well.
For instance, you need to consider negative keywords. In what searches do you NOT want your ads to appear? For instance, if you’re selling shoes, then you’ll probably want your ad to come up when someone types in “tennis shoes” or “athletic shoes” or “dress shoes.” But it’s doubtful that you’ll want people to see your brand when they search for “snow shoes” or “horse shoes.”
With content marketing, this isn’t a problem. As long as the people who ARE looking for what you have can find you, it doesn’t matter if there are a few wrong turns thrown in now and then as well. But with PPC, you pay for every person who clicks on your ad, whether they’re in the right place or not. Obviously, the person who wants horseshoes isn’t going to buy from you, so if they click your ad, it’s a waste of your money. In order to eliminate those wrong turns and maximize legitimate traffic, you need to specify very carefully which words you want to lead to your ad and which words you don’t.
By the same token, you don’t want your keywords to be too broad. Rather than going for general keywords (e.g., “shoes”) that will gain a lot of traffic, concentrate on longer, more detailed keywords that focus on more relevant traffic that’s more likely to buy (e.g., “Women’s shoe stores in New Haven, Connecticut”).
Geographical keywords are essential if you’re selling locally. If your shoe store is in New Haven, a click from someone in Flagstaff, Arizona, is just wasting your money. Ideally, your keywords should help you narrow down who, what and where: who you’re trying to reach, what they’re looking for and where they are in relation to your company. If you can do this, then you can ensure that a larger portion of the clicks you get are from people who are specifically interested in what you’re selling and in a position to buy it.
Pay-per-click can be a very useful tool in your marketing arsenal. It can be implemented quickly and only makes you pay for the people who find their way to your site. But good SEO is vital to its success. With the right keywords, you can drive very specific, sales-ready traffic to your site. But with the wrong keywords, it can be nothing more than a money pit. So choose your keywords carefully and use them wisely, in order to make PPC work for you…