The first stage is to pick your PPC advertising supplier, i.e. Google, Yahoo, MSN, Miva or perhaps another. A good place to start is Google Adwords, as this is likely to attract the highest possible volume of searches, although the cost per click (CPC) will also be higher so you may find your budget draining quicker than if you used one of the alternative search networks.

However, it is certainly worth noting that Google Adwords has by far the highest potential audience so you may pay higher rates but your potential for clicks is higher. You will need to consider how best to spend your allocated PPC budget to get the best results.

Your first step will be to set up an account with your chosen supplier. You will need to go to the main login page and then follow the on screen instructions from there. Make sure you have the relevant payment details to hand before you start! For post payment you can provide credit card details, but if you prefer to pre-pay some networks will accept bank transfer payments.

Once your account is up and running you will need to set up the actual PPC campaign which involves choosing the keywords that best describe your products and services and then writing the adverts that will be shown when someone searches on your chosen keywords.

Writing Effective PPC Adverts

With Adwords, you are given just 95 characters to compel people to click on your advert, that’s 25 for the headline and 35 for each subsequent line of description. Yahoo is only slightly more generous with 40 characters in the title and 190 for the description. It might sound like a reasonable amount, but when you start trying to write the advert text you will realise that it can be quite tricky to get your message across in such a small space.

With just 95 characters, you need to grab the searcher’s attention with an eye catching headline, give one of your unique selling points followed by an effective call to action – i.e. “buy online today”.

According to Yahoo and Google’s relevancy considerations, you should include the search phrase in both the headline and description as people are reportedly more likely to click on adverts that follow this format. Some key points to bear in mind when creating ad text are:

  1. Avoid hype / gimmicks, superlatives (“best”, “cheapest”) and subjective words.
  2. Keep ads simple with short sentences.
  3. Experiment with capitalisation, plurals, word order etc.
  4. Provide an accurate description of what the searcher will find on your site.

When you are setting up the adverts you also need to choose a landing page, i.e. the page in your website where people will be taken when they click on the advert. It is very important to carefully choose your landing pages as their relevance to the keyword (search term) is a factor in Google’s “Quality Score”. The Quality score formula is as follows:

Quality Score = (keyword’s CTR, ad text relevance, keyword relevance, landing page relevance)*

The Quality Score (QS) is important as it directly affects your advert positions and pricing.

Another point to bear in mind when setting up your landing pages is that if you make an offer in your advert, for example; “Special deal – all caps £4.99”, according to Google’s guidelines, your landing page should show the details of that offer or product. You landing page should deliver any promises made in your advert.

Consider adding landing pages, it is far better to add relevant content than have PPC ads pointing at pages that are only vaguely relevant. Consider splitting down any pages that are offering many services and products, by separating your products / services you will be able to write much more specific and targeted ads within your PPC campaign.

Retailers are losing between 30% and 40% of sales because they are failing to provide specific destination pages for products when consumers click on PPC links. [Logan Tod, November 2005]

Choosing keywords and Setting the Max Cost Per Click (CPC)

After you have written your ad text you will need to choose keywords for your PPC campaign. In Adwords, you can use this keyword tool. Overture (Yahoo) provide a similar tool here: Overture Keyword Tool. Microsoft Ad Centre also supplies a built in keyword research facility.

All of these tools provide not only estimations of traffic volume, but also estimated clicks, cost per click, and subsequent advert positions. This will help you set up the maximum CPC you are willing to spend on each keyword.

The Google keyword tool (this can be accessed for free) so offers a ‘ Use synonyms’ option that will show any other keywords the tool thinks is relevant to the initial keyword search. This can be very helpful in finding keywords that are relevant but perhaps had not occurred to you.

You should always add negative keywords to your campaign; nearly all campaigns will have negative keywords associated with the products or services offered. Negative keywords are keywords that youdon’t want you ads to show for. A popular negative keyword is ‘free’ as many of the companies who offer products and services for sale using PPC methods don’t want to have people who want a free product or service clicking on their ad.

Tweaking Your Pay Per Click Setup

Once you have gathered data for a few days, it will be necessary to go back into the PPC campaign and review your advert positions. You may need to tweak the max CPC bid in order to improve the advert position. Some people argue that they get more clicks being positioned 3 to 4 so that their adverts are shown on the right hand side, but other data shows that those people who do not know the difference between PPC and natural listings will click on the PPC adverts that are above the natural listings in positions 1 and 2.

  • 38% of web searchers know the difference between paid-for and organic listings. [ITFacts, 2005, US data]
  • Only 31% of searches looked at the sponsored results on the right of the page, while 95% looked at the sponsored results at the top[Source: De Vos&Jansen, February 2007]

You should experiment yourself to find out what works best for you, as it will vary between industries.

To give you the best chance of interpreting how effective your PPC campaign is, use an analytics program, Google offer a free analytics package which can be linked to your Adwords PPC campaign.

While we have only scratched the surface of factors that can impact your pay per click campaign performance, you should now have a good overview of what is involved in setting up a pay per click campaign. If this all sounds too much and you feel you could use our advice to either setup a PPC campaign or setup and manage it on your behalf, please contact us or take a look at our page on PPC Management.