Best practices

The search engines have made setting up PPC campaigns really easy. There are automated wizards to guide you through the sign-up process, and plenty of tools to help you establish, monitor, optimise your campaign. It’s all very slick, and from a standing start you can have your first ad appearing next to search results and driving traffic to your site in under 15 minutes.

But just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should. Rushing headlong into your first PPC advertising campaign might yield great results for you ‘out of box’, and then again it might not. As always, it pays to do a bit of preparation first.

Choose your keywords wisely

Look for longer keyword phrases that are likely to be less competitive and will send highly targeted traffic to your site. Ideally you should aim for phrases that generate a healthy amount of search engine traffic, without attracting a lot of bids from other advertisers.

Keywords are the foundation blocks for any successful PPC account. To ensure maximum return on investment, a list of relevant keywords must be reached that correctly represent the products and services offered by the website. The presence of these keywords will ensure that when a user enters their search query into the search engine, a quality as will be triggered and a sale captured. There are different types of keywords that can be used within an account:

Brand keywords

Including variations e.g. Croud Marketing, Croud PPC – great converting words.

Product specific keywords

Search engine marketing agency, PPC account management – essential in the buying cycle.

Generic keywords

SEM, SEO, PPC – high volume keywords and typically high CPCs too.

Long-tail keywords

Low volume but often excellent conversions.


Search marketing, account management – often less competition, so lower CPC.

Negative keywords

A negative keyword is a search term that the advertiser does not want its advertisement to appear against. For example, if you sell cruise holidays you might add ‘-tom’ as a negative so you don’t show searched for ‘Tom Cruise’.

It is important to build relevant keyword list with the correct mix of the different types of keywords, so that adverts can be displayed to capture users based on all different types of search behaviour at different stages of the buying cycle.

Match types

Match type selection can massively affect CPCs and ‘quality score’, and needs careful planning. Google has led the way with match types so we detail their policy below. To ensure the largest audience is reached by the keywords it is possible to apply different match types that will kae the keyword work harder.

Exact match

When keywords are added on this match type the advert will only ever appear following a search for this particular keyword.

Phrase match

With ‘phrase match’, the advert can show when someone searches for the advertiser’s exact keyword, or the advertiser’s exact keyword with additional words before or after it. Using phase match, the advertiser appear not only when the exact phase is the search term but also when phases are searched for which contain that particular phrase. The advertiser’s ads won’t appear for similar phrases or when the words are ordered differently.

Broad match

By adding keywords on broad match, a business’s ads may appear in response to the specific search itself, the search term with other words before or after it and for the keyword phased in a different order and with words in between the words. Google may also elect to display advertiser’s ads against ‘related keywords’ which may not even include the search term in question.

Since the main engines provide advertisers with three different match types, and since ‘broad match’ is often likely to display the advertiser’s ad against other keywords that the advertiser wasn’t expecting, but which the search engine deems to be relevant, there are ways in which ad advertiser can control the searches that their advertising appears in response to.

Broad match modifier

This is a process whereby an advertiser, within Google, adds a ‘plus sign’ to the start of a particular keyword. Doing this ensures that any of the searches carried out by users must include word or words in order for the advertisement to appear. Unlike broad match keywords, modified broad match keywords won’t show the ad for synonyms or related searches. For this reason, it adds an additional level of control to broad matching.

A few points to keep in mind

Three key things to remember when advertising on the search engines:

Optimise your ads

Your ads need to entice users to click on them if you’re going to get traffic. Think carefully about your title and ad copy. Remember you want targeted copy that will appeal to people who are ready to buy – so be specific. Generating click that don’t convert here will cost you money!

Converting clicks into customers

Once you get the clicks, you need to turn your nre prospects into paying customers as often as you can. It is your conversion rate that will make or break your PPC campaign. Don’t direct traffic from your ad back to your homepage. Send it instead to a page directly related to the text of the ad they have just clicked on – a product page might work, but better still would be a specific landing page tailored to reinforce your PPC revenue, all your PPC campaign will do is haemorrhage cash.

Measure everything and test, test, test

The best way to learn is to start small, track your campaign carefully and study the metrics. Try out different ad combinations and measure how the changes affect your CTR, your conversion rate, your cost per conversion and ultimately, your bottom line.

Mastering the intricacies of PPC advertising could take a lifetime, but the basics are straight forward enough, and the best way to learn is to dive in and start using it. You’ll also find plenty of resources to help you, both in the search engines’ advertising sections and in the online marketing community. A great place to start is the free online webinars in the Google Learn Classroom and Bing resources for advertisers.

Adapted from

Ryan, D., 2016. Understanding digital marketing: marketing strategies for engaging the digital generation. Kogan Page Publishers.

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