The Truth About Pay Per Click Marketing

    May 6, 2003

The key to an effective Pay-Per-Click program is driving the “right” traffic to your website. Since you pay every time someone clicks through to your site you want to attract only visitors who are interested in your product or service. And you want to be sure that, when they arrive at your site, they can find what they’re looking for- quickly.


Broad keywords (“shoes”) will generate many clicks with little or no benefit. Use specific keywords and phrases that accurately reflect your site. If you offer a product in a particular geographic area include the location | (“men’s shoes Seattle”). And consider the many possible variations (“Italian leather shoes,” “men’s leather shoes,” etc).

For help refining your keywords, try Overture’s Term Suggestion Tool [].


The most effective ads communicate a clear message to a specific target audience. Your ad should emphasize the unique benefits of your product or service. Use simple, direct language: avoid gimmicks and jargon.

It’s a good idea to include the search term in your title and/or description. Users will be able to immediately see its relevance to their search. Overture reports that listings which include the search term in both the title and description have a higher click- through rate (more than 50% higher on average).

In Google, ad titles are limited to 25 characters. The two description lines and display URL are limited to 35 characters each– so you have to be concise.


Most PPC Search Engines let you set your own limits for the cost of each click-thru, as well as a monthly maximum. Start with a small list of targeted keywords and a few different ads. Then build on those that work best. Of course you can’t control what your competitors are willing to bid so choosing the right keywords for your specific audience is essential.

Just because you can bid high enough for a top position doesn’t mean you should. A #1 spot may be less cost- effective than lower positions due to “compulsive clickers” who start at the top of the links and click their way down.

Some PPC engines share the top 3 listings with their partners so you’ll gain more exposure by bidding high enough for 3rd position or better. But don’t get in a bidding war for your keywords. If they’re too competitive, do some research and modify them so you don’t pay more than necessary.


Try different messages and keywords to see what works best. One advantage of PPC programs is that they track the Click through rate for each ad so you can identify and remove ads that aren’t working.

You can also use unique tracking URLs for each ad to identify how many of your customers clicked through to your site from your ad. Then you can calculate which ads and keywords converted the most clicks to sales.


Pay-per-Click marketing is an effective method of driving traffic to your site, but that’s really just the first step. Once visitors arrive, you need persuasive copy, clear navigation and good design to lead them to take the action you want.

Barry Harrison, author of “REDiTIPS eMarketing Newsletter” is a partner in Resolve Digital, Web Strategies for the Real World. Visit his site at or