Here we are, day 2 of SES Toronto and we're going to start off with the nuts and bolts of SEM. That's right folks, get ready for an introduction to paid search.

This session will be moderated by Amanda Watlington, owner of Searching for Profit. Matt Van Wagner, President of Find Me Faster will be our presenter.

And here we go...

So, Why Does PPC Rock?

  • Lets use a new, small business as an example - your website had just launched, you don't have too much content, you aren't ranking organically and you aren't driving any traffic - so you look to paid search.
  • Paid Search is immediate - you can have your ads appear within the same day you first hear of this great thing called paid search, not that you should do this of course. You want to start off on the right foot, so before you go live with a PPC campaign, keep on reading...

Should You do PPC or SEO?

  • Well, you should really do both - SEO and PPC are like Batman & Robin, they compliment each other quite beautifully.
  • Especially if you're launching a new website, like we mentioned above. SEO can take some time to kick in, so look to PPC to start driving traffic.
  • Also, with PPC, you can manage risk of algorithmic changes to the search engines that could impact your organic rankings - PPC can be your safety net.
  • PPC also gives you more control, it gives you a predictable flow of traffic and you control the messaging through your ad text, you determine what pages people are sent to, as opposed to Google choosing what pages to show in the SERPs.

Okay, Well Who Should I Advertise With?

  • Well, chances are you've heard of Google, and you've probably heard of Google because they hold around an 80% market share (in Canada).
  • If you want to succeed in PPC, you need to look at Google.
  • With that said, you should not ignore Yahoo! and MSN (Bing) - they offer great opportunity to capture those that don't use Google, which is still 20% of the population

This is Great, So Where do These Amazing PPC Ads Show?

  • How about a screen shot?

PPC Search Example

  • See those highlighted areas? Those are the Sponsored Search results, and this is where your ads will show. This is standard across Google, MSN and Yahoo! - with the exception of Yahoo, which will also show ads at the bottom of the SERPs.

Okay, So How Do I Get My Ads There?

  • Well, you need to open an account with Google, MSN or Yahoo!
  • Perfect, now that you have an account set up, lets move on...

How Should I Structure My Brand, Spakin' New Account?

  • Your PPC Accounts will follow this type of structure: Campaign --> Ad Groups --> KeyWords --> Landing Pages
  • Your Campaign is where, in Google, you can segment into geographic regions, demographic targeting, language targeting, setting budgets etc...
  • Your Ad Groups contain your keywords and your ads. Hence Ad group.
  • Now, your ad groups should contain a small number of highly related keywords, which well then allow you to speak to those keywords in the ad copy.
  • For your landing pages, choose wisely. People do not like to be interrupted when they search, so if they click on an Ad that is promoting a Father's Day special, they should land on a relevant page that speaks to Father's Day specials.

Okay, So What Is the Best Position for My Ad To Be In?

  • Well, it really does depend. There are some rules of thumb - if you want clicks, ads in higher positions will naturally draw more clicks.
  • Clicks are great, but look at the data, are they the right kind of clicks? It is easy (and expensive) to drive clicks. You want quality clicks.
  • Can you increase conversions with a lower (and cheaper) position?
  • You should be continually testing ad positioning, through managing your bids, to find the ever elusive sweet spot.

Some More Questions You Should Ponder...

  • What is your primary goal of this campaign? Are you driving leads, sales? Building brand awareness? You must set goals before you go live with your PPC campaign.
  • How do you define success? This differs depending on your goals (which you just set, right?). Are you looking for a strong ROI? Or are you merely looking for high positioning and creating some awareness around your brand.

How Can I Measure Success?

  • Well, once you set your campaign goals and decide what is important to you, your business or your client, you can start looking at the data
  • Google, Yahoo and Microsoft offer free Conversion Tracking, which requires a simple code be placed on each page you want to track.
  • There are also 3rd Party Analytics Tools (Hitslink, Click Tracks, Omniture)
  • And hey, how much are your phones ringing?

Great, Can we Take A Closer Looks at Keywords? Sure:

  • Start with Your Own Brain
  • What words and phrases describe what you are promoting?
  • What words do other people use to describe what you do?
  • Look at Synonyms and misspellings
  • 2-3 word phrases - try to stay away from very broad and generic keywords
  • Use your own brand new - it will provide a high click-through-rate at a low cost
  • Use Search Engines and 3rd Party Tools
  • Google, Yahoo and MSN all offer keyword tools to do market research

Some Final Tips for Your PPC Campaign:

  • Process Creates Sustainable Advantage
  • Its not just about keywords, ads, bids etc...
  • Plan on working in a disciplined manner
  • Use Systems-Level Thinking
  • Align campaign goals with larger company goals
  • Increase sales, not visitors
  • Track Performance and Make Adjustments
  • Be methodical, measure and test everything!
  • Don't react too quickly, but don't get analysis paralysis
  • Set Good Goals and Work Towards Them
  • Write Compelling Ad Copy
  • Perform a Regular Keyword Cleanup

One last interesting factoid: Men will click the first thing they find, and continue to manically click. Women will spend time, look at the results, roll over the links to see what URL they will be sent to..... and will then click.

Alright, there you have it folks, Paid Search 101 as presented by Matt Van Wagner and moderated by Amanda Watlington.

Time for Lunch!