There are a number factors involved in having a successful PPC campaign. These include everything from keyword selection, bid management, and campaign setup to your destination website. This article will discuss five of the most important areas: Keywords, Ad Copy, Destination URL’s, Organization, and Analysis.

1. Keywords
Having a successful PPC campaign starts off with keywords. While your keyword list will likely change and evolve over time, it is important to start with something that makes sense.

Base Keywords
First you will want to start off with your base keywords. These are any words you feel are relevant to your site. You may not end up using all of these in your PPC campaign but they will act as a stepping stone to finding other related phrases. Let’s say you own a camera shop. A few relevant keywords may include “digital camera” or “digital SLR”.

Use your base keywords and expand them with modifiers. Using the base examples above, you may want to use the camera resolution, or certain features as modifiers. You may even want to use words such as “discount” or “waterproof”. This could expand your phrases to “waterproof digital camera” or “discount digital SLR”.

Product brand names and model numbers are also valuable for paid search. Don’t forget to target your important brands, such as “Canon digital cameras” or “Nikon D200 digital camera”.

Also don’t forget about your location. If you offer sales from a traditional brick and mortar store, or if your geographic location is important for your visitors be sure to include keyword targets with variations of your location like “Seattle digital cameras”, or “Canon digital camera Seattle”, etc. You may also want to use other surrounding areas. As in the Seattle example, Everett, Tacoma and Bellingham may be appropriate.

Do not rule out long tailed search phrases. These are the phrases that contain multiple words and are often seldom searched. In many industries long tailed phrases are those that will offer you a relatively low cost per click and a very targeted visitor. “Canon digital rebel XTi” or “Canon digital rebel XTi Seattle” may be appropriate long tailed phrases for a camera shop. While these phrases will not likely draw a lot of traffic, if you send searchers using this phrase to a page about this camera, the likelihood of a conversion will go up considerably.

Don’t forget about negative keywords, of which “free” is probably the most common negative keyword used. Using the camera shop example, you may also want to use brand names for cameras that you do not carry. If you don’t sell Casio, or Sony, using these as negative phrases will help cut some unqualified traffic. The same goes for pricing. If your products are more expensive than most, you may want to use “discount”, “cheap”, & “affordable” as negative words as well.

Before your ads go live, stand back and take a look at all the keywords you have come up with. Go through them and eliminate any that are too general or simply not focused enough. If you are selling cameras, the single word “camera” is essential to include as part of your longer phrases, however, as a stand alone phrase likely will not make much sense as it will be more expensive, less targeted, and as a result, less likely to convert. Remove any phrases that are simply too broad, or will not offer the right level of relevance.

More information can be found in the article Keyword Research for PPC.

2. Ad text
When it comes to ad text you not only want your ad to stand out, but you also want it to be highly relevant to the keywords and the destination page. Start by taking a look at some of the paid ads for keywords within your ad group and see what people are saying to draw the attention of shoppers. You may want to use phrases like “Cheap” or “Discount” in your ad text, but if you do this you better be sure that your products fit the bill. If the customer sees “discount” and your prices are too high, they will likely walk (or click) away.

Ensure that your target phrases are located within the ad title, description, or both wherever possible. Not only should your ad stand out, but you really want the searcher to see the direct relevance with what they have searched for. If your search phrase is “Canon Digital Cameras” and your ad doesn’t mention Canon at all, you will lose some searchers.

Also be sure to create multiple ad variations and run them against each other. If you see one is converting at a much higher rate, then create a new variation of that successful ad while pausing those that perform at a lower rate. This will help you focus in on what is working and improve your conversion rates.

Now that the major PPC platforms are using quality scores to rank ads and assign minimum bids you also want to ensure that your ad copy is highly relevant to the copy found on the destination page. This has always been important in terms of visitor retention and sales, but now that it plays a role in your cost per click, it is more important than ever.

3. Landing pages
This is really your first chance to sell the user. While you can hook them in and grab their attention with the ads, your landing page better sell your product or service or your chance of conversion will drop drastically. You want the visitor to be sold at this page; having them click all over the site will only increase the chances of having that back button clicked.

This is the page that you want to secure the sale. Ensure that this page is highly relevant to the ad and keyword selection (or on the flip side, ensure that your ad and keywords are highly relevant to this page).

Where it makes sense to do so you may also want to direct individual keywords to specific destination pages using the same set of ads, but remember though, make sure everything flows well. One example of where you may want to do this is if your ad mentions both Canon and Nikon digital cameras. Keywords including “Canon” should be directed at a Canon page, and those including “Nikon” should be directed at a Nikon page.

4. Organization
The organization of your PPC campaign is really dependant on your requirements as an advertiser. In most cases you will be able to get away with a single campaign broken down into multiple ad groups. Each ad group will focus on a set of similar key phrases and ads.

Using the camera shop example, you may have ad groups broken into brand names (Canon, Nikon, Sony), camera types (digital, digital SLR, 35mm), or a combination of, (Canon digital, Canon digital SLR, Canon 35mm).

By having your campaigns and ad groups properly organized you can save yourself time and headache when it comes to ensuring that your ad and keyword combinations are relevant and optimized.

Breaking your account into multiple campaigns can also be very useful. Let’s say you only want to spend a maximum of $10 a day promoting Canon, but have $20 a day budgeted for Nikon ads. In this case you would want your campaigns broken into brand, then each brand ad group could be broken into features, camera types, or whatever is appropriate for your needs.

Another prime example for multiple campaigns is geo-targeting. If you have ads relating to Seattle and some for Miami and you want the ads to appear locally only, then you can set up a campaign for each and assign the ad serving to the respective city.

There are many different scenarios to apply to account setup, but ensure that whatever direction you take it will allow for easy maintenance. One of the biggest mistakes you can make as an advertiser is dumping all your keywords into a single ad group, and serving up a single ad for all phrases. This lower relevance would result in higher cost per click rates, and lower click through and conversion rates.

5. Analysis
Be sure to check the conversion and click through rates of not only your ads, but your individual keywords. If you find that some keywords are simply not bringing you any sales you may want to consider pausing them, or making changes to improve their chances. This may involve setting up a new ad group and creating new ads more focused on the individual keyword, or it may be as simple as just adjusting the bid.

Conclusion – Keep it Relevant
If you take one thing away from this article it should be ‘keep it relevant’. Keeping everything highly relevant is the key to success. Not only will relevance result in lower cost per click rates, it will drastically increase the chances of a conversion and provide you with a higher return on investment. Ensuring that your keywords, ads, and destination pages flow seamlessly together will provide you with the best chance for success.