Search engine optimization can take a long time to show results. The Google sandbox alone can delay optimization results by 6 to 8 months. So, what can you do to get traffic while you wait? Pay-per-click [“PPC”] campaigns fill the time gap. This article discusses the basics of PPC advertising.
What Is A PPC?
A PPC search engine allows you to bid for placement in search results. Search engines such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL, and most others bolster their organic search results with sponsor advertisements. If you search on Google, links in blue across the top and the little ads down the right side of the search results are PPC listings. In one form or another, similar listings appear on every major search engine.
How Does It Work?
When you use a PPC, you will bid for placement in the search results under particular keywords. Instead of optimizing your site to appear high in the listings, you simply pay for the position. While this may sound great, keep in mind you are paying for the listing and have to watch the return on investment closely.
To get started, you must open an account with the PPC in question. The two biggest PPCs are Google Adwords and Overture. You will need to register with the PPC, provide a credit card number and, depending on the PPC, deposit money into the account. Next, create ads with a title, body text, and link to the landing page of your site. The title of each ad should correspond to a particular keyword you want to promote. If at all possible, include the keyword in the actual title. Finally, you will be asked to bid on placement in the search results.
Bidding for placement is not as simple as it may sound. Ideally, your ad should be in the top 3, but never below the 10th position. This has to be balanced, however, by the return on investment of the campaign. If you sell a product that produces a $10 dollar profit per sale, you probably can’t afford to pay $.90 per click. If your site converts 1 visitor out of every 100 into a sale, you will spend $90 for every sale. Obviously, that is going to work out very well. The one caveat to this situation is a business with reoccurring revenue.
If your site charges clients a reoccurring monthly fee, you can bid in excess of your immediate profit margin. To do this safely, you must determine how long the average customer will stay on your site. For example, if you make a $10 profit per month and the average customer pays for 5 months, the total profit is $50. In this situation, you can spend $20 or $30 to obtain a customer and still turn a profit. To properly manage a PPC campaign for a reoccurring charge site, you must recalculate the profit per customer every week to protect yourself.
Why not just use a PPC campaign instead of pursuing search engine optimization? There are a number of reasons. First, you are paying for each click with a PPC, which requires a budget and may impact your cash flow. Second, PPC bidding is competitive and that translates into higher costs, so much so that a profit may be hard to make. Third, many people simply do not click on PPC ads with the figure being as high as 20 percent. Fourth, you run the risk of having people click on your ads with no intention of buying, whether they are just browsing or are trying to exhaust your advertising budget.
PPCs definitely have a place in the online marketing field. Manage your campaigns with an eye for detail and you should be fine.