Tired of investing hundreds and even thousands of dollars into search engine marketing (SEM) without seeing a commensurate return? Stuck wondering what is tripping you up with SEM? Stop throwing darts in the dark and re-examine how you’re approaching SEM.
If you’re looking to learn how to run SEM as more of a branding play, you have come to the wrong place. My experience resides in hard-core direct response tactics.
Driving leads and sales at an efficient rate is my bread and butter. With this in mind, I offer you my tips on how to increase your return on investment (ROI) of your SEM dollars, whether your goal is driving a sign-up, lead, sale, or whitepaper download.
Website Is the Fulcrum of Keyword Development
Before diving headfirst into SEM, take a moment (ok, more than a moment) and examine the content of your business’s website.
View all of the product pages, the About Us page and the Capabilities or Services page. Your keyword development for SEM should always be rooted in the content of your website. Google’s keyword tool and other third-party keyword research tools are great, but the meat and potatoes of your keywords will come from the content of your website.
Organize Keywords Thematically
Keywords should be grouped thematically within your account.
By this, I mean that similar groups of keywords should be bucketed together in the same ad group. For example, if you’re a florist and you offer roses, tulips, lilacs, and hydrangeas, you will bucket each of these types of flowers into individual ad groups.
You may find that one of these types of flowers, roses, spends the majority of your campaign’s budget. If you’re finding that one or two of your ad groups are eating through your campaign’s daily budget, then move these keywords (within the ad groups) into separate campaigns and independently fund these.
By doing this, you will allow other keywords within the original campaign to “breathe” a little bit and show up in the auction with a campaign budget that lasts longer.
Organize Keywords by Match Type
Organizing your keywords by match type is an absolute must. By this, I mean that you should separate all exact, phrase, broad, and broad match modifier keywords into individual ad groups. For example, if you have a tulips ad group, you will create four ad groups as a result, one for each match type.
This ensures that you are able to identify and pinpoint exactly where your top performing keywords live and where those poor performing keywords are driving up costs. You will also be able to better manage top performing keywords and bid up these keywords where appropriate.
Tightly Correlated, Smaller Ad Groups
I have a general rule of thumb when it comes to the amount of keywords in any one ad group: less is more and less is generally better.
Think of it this way. If you were to place 120 keywords in an ad group, are four text ads really going to accurately reflect all keywords within that ad group?
Conversely, if you place 10 similar keywords into a single ad group, you’re more likely to be able to insert the actual keywords into the heading of the text ad and in the body of the ad. This leads to increased relevancy to the user’s query, which helps to improve quality score and drive down cost-per-click (CPC), a tactic that ultimately saves you money and provides you tighter control over performance, not to mention a better user experience.
In addition, the keyword a user is searching for appears as bold when this keyword appears in your text ad, a feature that is eye-catching and often generates user action.
Use Phone Numbers in Your Ad
If your business has a phone number, you should absolutely append phone numbers to your SEM ads. Searchers who pick up the phone are exponentially more likely to convert than those who fill out a Lead form. You can add phone numbers across all your campaigns in Google, across all devices in just a few simple steps.
On Google, go to the Ad Extensions tab. In the “View” drop-down, select Call Extensions. From here, select “+New Extension” and submit your business’s phone number. Presto, you have Call Extensions enabled across your campaigns.
To have these numbers appear on computers and tablets, you’ll want to activate a Google Call Forwarding Number. This populates a vanity number that redirects to your business’s phone number once an individual punches this into their phone.
Independently Target Mobile and Tablet Devices
Lower costs and high conversion rates can be found in abundance on mobile and tablet devices, due to less competition and owning more of the “real estate” on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
Many marketers target all devices in their SEM campaigns, which provides them zero control over how different channels perform.
Mobile traffic accounts for 10 to 15 percent of total volume.
Mobile traffic accounts for 10 to 15 percent of total volume.
By splitting out and independently targeting (and funding) tablets and mobile devices with full browsers, marketers are also able to craft mobile-specific ad copy that speaks to users who are on the go. Across three different verticals, I have found that mobile traffic accounts for anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of total account volume (clicks), while tablets have accounted for anywhere from 2 to 5 percent of total account volume (clicks).
Leverage Radius Targeting in Google Adwords
Recently, Google sunsetted drawing custom shapes to indicate what areas you target through SEM (called Polygon targeting).
They have since replaced this feature with radius targeting. This works exactly as it sounds. In short, you punch in your business’s location and once submitted, you can target any number of miles in any direction from your business through radius targeting.
If you’re a local business in Barrington, Ill., there’s no sense in wasting money targeting the entire state of Illinois. Heck, the folks who live in Olney, Ill., have probably never heard of Barrington. If you know that 95 percent of your customers live within 30 miles of your business, then it’s wise to set the radius targeting at 30 miles from your business’s location.
Be Wary of Keyword Matching Options
At the beginning of this year, Google launched a beta (that has since been fully released) called the “Near Exact/Near Phrase” match beta.
Essentially, this means that with this keyword matching option on, your phrase and exact match keywords will show against close variants. Close variants include misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings, abbreviations, and accents. In my experience, having this keyword matching option on (Google automatically opts all new campaigns into this keyword matching option, so be careful) has led to 20 percent decreases in efficiency.
When you opt out of Near Phrase/Near Exact you gain more control over the account. If you’re worried you may have wide gaps in your keyword coverage (where this keyword matching option would have helped fill in these gaps) pull search term performance reports regularly. This will help you identify those keywords that are driving performance for you, including those that are not in the account.
Get Busy Media is a blog and resource center that helps small businesses and entrepreneurs build smarter companies. For more information on how to jump-start your small business marketing, please visit www.getbusymedia.com or connect with us on Twitter, @GetBusyMedia.
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