SEO

10 Tips to Tune Up Paid Search Efforts

When it comes time to run your marketing more efficiently, tuning up your paid search efforts is paramount. To help get you started, here are ten tips that I have found to be helpful, in no particular order…

Tip #1 — Update Your Keywords
In every market, current events will shift how people are searching for information and products. Tap the resources available to you in order to update your keyword lists regularly. WordTracker, KeywordDiscovery, and the tools provided by Google and Yahoo! are all great starting points.

Tip #2 — Revise Ad Copy
If your ad copy is stale or less relevant, you may suffer from a low clickthrough rate, and slipping out of position —which allows your competitors to have a stronger opportunity. The beauty of this is that you can always have ads rotating, and if your new efforts do not pan out, Google will automatically stick to what was working.

Tip #3 — Explore the Content Networks
With all three major advertising systems now using content networks, publishers will be eager produce clicks. While content networks are traditionally associated with lower quality, you can police and control campaigns to accommodate for these content network traps. Lower your pricing, build campaigns specifically for content networks, and put that traffic to use!

Tip #4 — Bid High Early, Bid Low Later
When you have some campaigns that are struggling for exposure, you need to increase what you are willing to spend. Once you have developed a strong following (quality score, CTR, etc.) then start to decrease your spend on a per click basis. Keep your costs in mind and be willing to scrape by on minimal profit.

Tip #5 — Launch New Campaigns
Be sure to launch new campaigns early and often to ensure you are covering all aspects of your site. It may seem tedious to do so, but commit to building one new campaign a week (every other day, etc.). And, when you spot a campaign that isn’t performing, end it immediately.

Tip #6 — Revise or Invest in Quality Landing Pages
Your landing pages need to be updated. Read that aloud, and force yourself to admit the truth. Landing pages can always be improved, and you need to test them continuously if you expect to make the most of your paid search marketing efforts. Use resources like ClickTale or CrazyEgg and view what people are doing on your pages. From there, you’ve got some hard evidence to work with.

Tip #7 — Invest in Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Matt and I had a discussion about this earlier today, and it apparently led to a blog post from him. Here’s a quick point from what he had to offer:

Don’t just track the keywords that drive conversions. Track the keywords that drive Key Performance Indicators. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are behavior patterns that are common among visitors who convert, such as long visit durations, deep site penetration, or specific sets of content on the site.

Investing in your KPI’s is a surefire way to build a better online business. While your paid search marketing can be managed in a matter of minutes, the long term effects of strong efforts to focus on KPIs can last a lifetime.

Tip #8 — Expand Your Keyword Lists
To help tap these highly productive and affordable keywords, consider building out your keyword lists in Excel while using the concatenate function. Your short lists of targeted terms will grow exponentially and may introduce your ads to an entirely new audience.

Tip #9 — Use Multiple Analytics Packages
While it is important to use page tagging analytical tools like Omniture or Google Analytics, you need to parse your data on your own terms as well. Use one of the free log parsing applications out there and see what is taking place on your site when a paid search visitor arrives, performs certain actions, etc. In short, understand that each analytics tool will interpret data with subtle differences. Using a few solid tools that you can trust will only provide you with more information with which to improve your paid search efforts.

Tip #10 — Measure & Improve
We have all become complacent with paid search efforts from time to time — and it is important that you test things often. Beyond testing though, you need to be committed to measuring and improving upon what you have tested.

Work with your analytics manager to determine other ways to measure what is taking place on your site. Recently I have seen a few approaches to this process really pay off, and I’d like to share them with you here quickly.

In one situation, the bounce rate of visitors was analyzed against specific campaigns. It was determined that while producing inexpensive clicks, the bounce rate was so high that it forced landing page revisions. Over a series of revisions, the bounce rate of new visitors from the same campaigns was reduced while overall conversions were increased.

In another case, the time of day was tied to traffic productivity. After testing various pricing and timing models, some concrete data was produced. This particular search manager is grabbing the most productive traffic at great prices per click at a time when they will convert the best.

Please Provide Your Tips & Feedback!
Paid search is an enormous market — and one that I have only begun to explore. The above tips have been provided to the valued readers here on Search Engine Journal because I want to share what has worked for me with a receptive audience.

Also, bear in mind that there are endless tips available that work in a variety of scenarios. If you have some to contribute, please provide them (along with any comments or feedback) using the comments area available below.

Involved in the industry since 1999, Eric currently manages organic optimization at a Fortune 500 organization. In addition to contributing here on Search Engine Journal, Eric maintains a blog and consulting business at www.ericlander.com.

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6 thoughts on “10 Tips to Tune Up Paid Search Efforts

  1. Some very helpful tips!

    You pretty much laid it all out.

    I especially like the one about the keyword research and behavior tracking tools.

    I wonder how long it would take to sort all of these things out.

  2. Great tips.

    I know that I’ll put them to use. I am just starting into the world of Paid Search and I can use all the help I can get.

    I tried a few today and already its making a difference.