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Common PPC Mistakes

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As I manage quite a few PPC campaigns I always notice the silly and sometimes not so silly mistakes that advertisers make with their PPC programs.

Mistakes when creating PPC ads, click fraud detection, and lack of testing are just a few of them. Fixing each of these mistakes could mean an extra 70% of revenue or a savings of thousands of dollars every month.

Below is a list (we all love those lists don’t we?) of the most common mistakes marketers make with their paid search (PPC) advertising campaigns.

1. Bidding Broad – It’s important to not be lazy when setting up that campaign of yours. Every industry has their giant keywords that bring the most traffic but there are many more variation of keywords that are being searched. The more you focus on the “long tail keywords”, the less you’re going to pay per click. Furthermore, your ads will be ranked higher if the keyword is closer matched. Take your 100 keywords and make them into 200 by just looking at your own web statistics for exact keyword variations people use to search for your product.

2. Fighting for #1 Spot – Most of the time (from my experience), being #1 ad in paid search results is not the brightest strategy, especially if you’re paying a lot per click and the keyword is broad. I found that one of THE best ranks in paid search is being #3 (top left side for Google). Look, most people do research before they buy online. Being #1 could mean that you’ll attract visitors who might have not used the right keyword for their search or ones that are just starting their research and thus you’ll be remembered last when they are ready to buy.

3. Avoiding Geo-targeting – Even if what you sell works all over US or world, people are still more keen on using a local provider or at least a company that recognizes “their state”. It’s just a psychological thing. Google and other search engines allow you to geo-target your PPC ads by state. Create 50 ads and drop in the state name inside the ad. You will surely get a higher click through rate (CTR) and thus a lower CPC. Furthermore right from the start, your visitor will know that you “recognize” their location.

4. Losing Relevance on Landing Page – Whatever you say in your ad repeat it on the landing page where you’re taking the visitor! If you are advertising an 80% sale in your ad, you can be sure that people are looking for it when they land on your landing page. If they don’t see it they leave. It’s kind of like a scent they pick up on when they read your PPC ad and look for when they land on a page you take them to.

5. Getting Rid of Fraud Networks – Every paid search engine, be it Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc, has a network to which they distribute your ads. Unfortunately, many of these networks are fraudulent and do not refer quality traffic. Look into your web statistics and find domain names that bring you traffic with a high bounce rate. Usually it will be around 90%. Google allows you to drop these domains into a “negative excluded sites” folder while Yahoo and others make you call them to address the problem. Doing this will prevent you from paying for garbage traffic.

6. Being Boring – I still see marketers go online, search for a keyword, look at the advertisers (competition) and create ads to fit in with the “community”. Silly right? Unfortunately, very true. Anytime you create a paid ad you MUST look at what is already being said by the advertisers and come up with something unique and yet relevant. It’s a tough one but you have to identify what is unique about you and why people should buy from you. Just make sure that it’s what your target market wants and cares about.

7. Using Telephone Numbers – Using a telephone number within your PPC ad is an eye catcher that’s all. Not many people will pick up their phone and dial your number if they see your ad. So what you’re doing is just wasting space that can be used for a good message. Tests have been done and this was proven quite a few times get rid of that phone number in the ad.

8. Not Bidding for Your Name - If your competition is targeting your company name as a keyword I’d suggest taking legal actions (if applicable). In our company we send out those legal letters at least every other month to a competitor. If you’re in a different situation bidding for your keywords will mean more traffic and another real estate space devoted to you on that search results page. I’d even bid for the company name if there were no competitors at all. You will pay around 0.05 to 0.10 cents per click and see the amount of searches (impressions) that are done for your brand name. A little of extra statistics that shows you the possible growth of your company.

9. Lack of Affiliate Control – The company name is usually the highest converting keyword. Your affiliates know this and advertise under your company’s name in paid search. What happens is that not only do you now have to pay your affiliate for the sale “they” brought in, but you’ve already paid your due with your own advertising methods for that customer to know your name before the search. Be sure to prevent your affiliates advertising in paid search for your company’s name. All they are doing there is collecting the cash from your own advertising.

10. Not Separating Content Match from Search Results – This is a mistake 101. Yes it takes time, but any campaign should separate their regular search advertising from content match. This will allow you to get better reporting, set different cost per click, different budget and overall have a cleaner look at both of these campaigns. Just separate into 2 campaigns. Both will have same keywords but one campaign will be created only for “search” and the other one for “content match”.

11. Ignoring the Seasonal Copy - It works. Including a seasonal discount or a “holiday special” in your ad copy is a great way to increase your CTR and get more sales. Furthermore, your ad will clearly stand out from the rest. Make it a Christmas special, Spring special, Summer blow out, etc. Make it relevant to “today”.

12. Lack of “Exact Tracking” – You must be able to track every visit to your site from PPC advertising by the exact keyword, campaign and ad group used. To do so you can set variables (yourcompany.com/?keyword) or integrate your PPC campaigns with your website analytics software. This is the only way you can really calculate the effectiveness of every keyword you use to get traffic.

13. Paying for Negative Keywords – Google and other search engines allow you to report keywords for which your ads should not be shown. If you’re paying for “broad match” keywords, you’ll see a lot of visits from people who’ve typed your keyword with a word “free” or “stock” or “jobs”. Do you want to pay money for visitors who’re looking to pay $0 for what you sell? Do you want to pay money for visitors who are researching stock info on what you sell? Be sure to use that “negative keyword folder” to get rid of these worthless clicks.

14. Mistaking CTR with conversion rate when testing ads – We love to test and that’s great, but what should marketers look for when choosing which ads to keep and which to delete? Looking only at the CTR (click through rate) is a false indication of a better performing ad. If you add a word “FREE” to your ad, you’ll see a jump in your CTR but what good will it do?

15. Not Using Keywords in Ad Copy – This is a simple one. Put keywords into your ad copy for which you are serving the ad. Not only will your ad be more relevant but the keywords in it are going to be bold.

16. Not Calling Google – Ok, I am not a fan of being a “rat” or telling on someone, but my friend when it comes to business and playing fair, you have every right to raise a flag when you see a competitor engaging in bad techniques. You’ll notice some of your competitors creating multiple accounts and having 2 ads simultaneously on the Google PPC results page. Google has a policy against this. Call Google and let them know if your competitor is doing anything that’s against the rules of the search engine. You’ll be amazed how quickly they take care of the problem.

17. Avoiding Brand Name Keywords - It is unfortunate, but many companies do not take advantage of their competitors. How do you do this? Bid on their brand / company name. Think about it anyone searching for your competitor could easily be your customer instead. Why not have your ad show up under that keywords? What if they are still shopping around? What if they are searching for your competitor’s name because they saw their TV or radio ad. Bottom line is, bid on your competitor’s brand names. Most of the time the ROI on those keywords is excellent. If you get a “legal letter” from the competitors and it holds water, I’d suggest comply with it.

Other related and helpful articles about PPC mistakes

“Avoiding Search Hobgoblins”

“10 Worst AdWords Campaign Mistakes”

“The Pay Per Click Mistakes of a New Marketer”

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Igor Mordkovich is an in-house marketing director for a NYC based online company. He also writes a personal blog on search marketing and advertising.

Igor’s Blog: http://www.bizmord.com/Blog

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