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PPC & CRO: Balance your efforts to optimize your campaigns and generate revenue

July 2, 2011 · 8 comments

in Affiliate Marketing, PPC Advertising

Many website owners use Google Pay-Per-Click (PPC), or AdWords, to generate revenue for their site, but do not understand how to maximize the efficiency of their campaigns. Google makes it very easy to users to set up an AdWords account and start a campaign, but it can take a lot of hard work to get the most return from search engine advertising.

Those who rely on Google AdWords must know how to identify high traffic keywords, track conversions, control their budget, and scale their campaigns. Effort invested in optimizing AdWords campaigns (PPC) often has to be matched—at the very least in an initial stage—by effort invested on Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO): making sure that the path from your various landing pages to the pay page is designed in a way that creates a seamless, hassle-free experience for the user.

All the highly motivated, finely calibrated, precisely targeted traffic in the world will not buy your product if visitors are landing on unappealing landing pages without a strong, seamless route guiding them to conversion.

 High Traffic Keyword Identification

The easiest way for a site owner to identify high traffic keywords is to use Google’s Webmaster Tools in conjunction with his AdWords account. The Search Queries page in Google’s Webmaster Tools provides many useful information, including the total number of queries that lead to your site in a given timeframe, a list of the top queries that returned pages from the site, impressions and the Click-Through Rate (CTR).

Using the information on top queries and the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, the website owner can build a solid picture of the kinds of queries that would be most beneficial to target in a campaign.

 Conversion Identification

Once you’ve identified your keywords, you have to optimize your landing page to capture the attention of a visitor searching for that keyword and build a path from landing page to pay-page that will move the visitor from Point A to Point B.

Using the conversion tracking system in AdWords, which requires adding special code snippets to each landing page, makes it easy to identify conversion types and their numbers. Segmenting conversions into page views, sign-ups, purchases and leads provides webmasters with a useful tool to determine which keywords result in the most profitable conversions.

For example, high traffic keywords that routinely result in sales are, in general, a better investment than high traffic keywords that only result in page views for an online retailer. It can also be useful for advertisers to specify negative keywords, meaning words that, when part of a search, will never result in their ad being served. This can help by not showing ads to people who have a low probability of becoming customers.

 Budget Control

Budget within Google AdWords can be a  ”set and forget it” affair, but like with AdWords in general, continual tweaking will yield far better result. The built-in conversion optimizer attempts to use the site’s tracking data to gain more conversions for a lower cost, so that would be a good tool for a site owner to use until they have done all their research.

Ad scheduling allows an advertiser to choose what time their ads should be shown, which will eliminate ads running during less profitable hours of the day or week. Creating localized ad campaigns will reduce the competitiveness of an advertisement, resulting in a lower winning bid. Utilizing long-tail keywords will often result in more targeted advertisements as well as a lower cost.

 The Basic Equation

The basic budget equation is the following:

X=Total cost per click on a specific keyword
Y= Percentage conversion of that specific keyword

X*Y=Z

If the profit you are making on the sale of an item is greater than Z, then you are working within your budget. You can set goals to make more or less profit on specific keywords, and there are various strategies to pursue along these lines, but this equation sums up the basic idea behind how to budget PPC campaigns.

 Campaign Scaling

With all the tools made available by Google, advertisers can easily begin scaling ad campaigns. By continually identifying new high traffic keywords, long-tail keywords and conversions, website owners can see new avenues of expansion for their campaigns.

Google provides a free application (available on Windows and Mac) called AdWords Editor that allows a user to make bulk changes and copy or move items between groups and campaigns. By analyzing conversions and specifically looking for new conversion opportunities, new avenues of campaign expansion can be found.

This type of scalability is what differentiates PPC from other marketing strategies. Whereas there is always an initial outlay for email marketing software, a company can invest $10, $100, or $1 million in PPC. A balanced marketing portfolio will include SEO, email marketing, and even traditional media; just like a balanced PPC campaign will always be complemented by onsite design renovations called for by robust Conversion Rate Optimization efforts.

Maximizing the potential of Google AdWords takes time and extensive research, both into search trends and a site’s performance. Advertisers have to balance high traffic keywords, conversions and their advertising budget in order to make the most of Google’s powerful PPC service. While it may not be as simple and flashy as a social media marketing solution with Facebook, it can be just as effective and help website owners reach a wider audience.

Authored by Thomas Stone

Thomas Stone is a contributing author at Technected.

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