For nearly every business with an online presence, pay-per-click marketing (PPC) is an effective tool to acquire new customers. And with each passing day, the landscape becomes more competitive. Here are a few reasons why you must include PPC and some common snags to avoid along the way.

Why PPC?

Most websites have some form of organic ranking, or at minimum, a presence on the maps. So why PPC? And more so, why PPC if those rankings and placements are very good?

First, you control the page. Let's assume you've not only secured an organic listing for your main keyword, but also the map listing. Even with these placements, you're still not guaranteed the top section, which is reserved for ads. With PPC, you'd completely dominate the SERP.

Second, you control the message. Organic listing for your maps page? Great ranking but the link listed is your lowest performing page? Control the message and conversation instead - send that traffic to the right landing page with PPC!

And finally, you dramatically expand your reach. Picture a bullseye in your head. In the center are the number of terms you likely could rank for on a maps listing - maybe a half dozen or so. The next circle out represents the few dozen terms you'd rank for organically. Now picture that target in a giant field filled with keywords. Hundreds or even thousands of them. Now that's reach!

Avoid These Snags

Remember the Atari game Pitfall? I know I'm aging myself, but the game centered around a man who had to swing on vines over tar pits, alligators and other hazards. The game reminds me of what PPC is like for the business just starting out.

Here are some snags to avoid:

  1. Poor keywords. Too many PPC campaigns are short on keywords. You should have many dozens, if not hundreds of phrases, permutations and the like in your keyword lists. Use Google's free Keyword Tool to get a suggested list of phrases based on your root words, and/or from the words Google identifies on your website.
  2. Not targeting local marketing. When creating your campaigns, include geographic place names and neighborhood names within your keywords, ad copy and landing page. Also, I'd suggest creating a separate campaign where you deliberately target a local market via Google's IP detection -- so you'd just advertise root keywords (like restaurant, plumber, etc.) and let Google display your ads to people who originate in your target geographic market.
  3. Sending all clicks to your homepage. Often the biggest snag, since most homepages are the worst at converting. Unless it's your only page, it's rarely right for the first click. Instead, consider a direct response landing page that tells your visitor what to do (i.e. "print this coupon", "call for appointment", etc.).

Organic and map results are always listed second to paid ads. So, to borrow a phrase from politics, pay to play with Google and get guaranteed traffic to your website!