Many of you have already developed a PPC from scratch, but for those of you who are new to search, it can sometimes be daunting to know where to start. With that in mind, today’s column will focus on the seven key steps to building a PPC campaign.
Step “zero” – which you should have already done if you’ve decided to develop a PPC campaign – is to do your research. My last column talked about the various intelligence tools you can use to understand the search marketplace and competitive environment. All of this should feed into your overarching search strategy.
However, even more important than understanding the landscape is to have an in-depth knowledge of your company’s or clients’ products and services and their Web site content. And naturally, that’s where the PPC campaign creation process starts!
- Content/Category ReviewYou will want to review the content of the Web site you’ll be marketing to carefully, to understand the subject matter and offerings. You may want to “scrape” the site for keywords as you go through this process, noting any terms that you deem relevant to the campaign.If you are developing a campaign for a new site launch, you can use the content map or Information Architecture (IA) wireframes and copy decks to help understand how content will be organized and what types of themes will be present.
In addition, if the category or offering is completely new to you, it may be helpful to do additional research on the topic to broaden your general knowledge based on the topic. These efforts should leave you with my next point.
- Account Structure DevelopmentOnce you have a good sense of what the category, site, and product/service offerings are all about, you can begin to group your initial content/keyword findings into high level themes or content blocks. These can be used as the basis for your campaign’s structure and will help guide your keyword research.For example, if you are working with a Web site for a home renovation company, you may find the following key content areas/themes:
- Home renovation – general
- Home improvement contractors
- Kitchen renovations
- Bathroom renovations
- Finishing a basement
- Home renovation guide/how-to
Based on the relative importance of the topics in this list, you may decide to assign a budget proportionately to each of these areas.
- Keyword GenerationNow that you have your high level structure in place, you can begin comprehensive keyword generation. This involves employing various keyword research tools to take your initial list of tens or hundreds and turn it into thousands.Your goal is to discover as many related terms, keyword variations, synonyms, related terms, and misspellings as you can. With paid search, you start with a big list of keywords for testing purposes and then whittle down your list as you find what is working and what’s not.
It might make sense to tackle each key content theme/topic individually and capture the output of that research on individual tabs in a spreadsheet. This will come in handy when we move to the next step.
- Keyword GroupingWith your keyword generation exercise complete, you should now be sitting with long lists of keywords under each high level content area. Your job now is to divide these lists into very narrow groupings of similar keywords called “ad groups.” So, for example, under your “bathroom renovations” group, you might create the following ad groups:
- Modern bathroom renovation
- Redoing your bathroom
- Bathroom upgrade
- Retiling shower
- Replacing bathroom cabinets
- Bathroom sink installation
Within each of these ad groups would be highly focused keywords in close relation to each other. There is no set number of recommended ad groups or keywords within each ad group, but the smaller and tighter each ad group is, the better.
- Match TypingArmed with highly focused keyword groups, you can now go through each group or keyword and assign the match type. (Match types help define the rules around which queries your ads will be shown for.) Many people will simply default to “broad match” – meaning your ad will be shown on any and all queries that contain your keyword – and that’s fine. However, you may want to assign a more narrow match type such as “phrase match” or “exact match” if you want to restrict when your ad is shown, limit your spend, or if you want to test out various match types.In addition to regular match types, you can also assign negative matches to each of your ad groups. “Negative” keywords are essentially terms that you don’t want your ad showing for. So, for example, if you put all your keywords on broad match, anytime the word “home renovation” is part of a keyword phrase, your ad would show up. Which means it could also show for undesirable queries such as “horrible home renovation” or “home reno companies to avoid.” To avoid your brand being associated with these terms, you can added such keywords as “negative” terms to your account, which restricts your ad from showing in those instances.
- Ad Copy CreationWith your ad groups and keywords well defined, it’s time to create ad copies for each group. Ideally, you will run more than one ad per ad group at any one time for testing various messaging. The rule of thumb is to run at least three ad copies at a time. There are many approaches to developing A/B testing methodologies for search ads, but that’s a whole other discussion.What’s most important is that you make sure your ad copy is as relevant to the keywords as possible. So, for example, in your “modern bathroom reno group,” you might explicitly state in an ad that your company “specializes in creating stylish bathrooms with a modern aesthetic.” In your “retiling shower” group, you might ask, “Thinking about retiling your shower? Learn how a professional contractor can help.”
- Landing Page SelectionThe final step in the process is landing page designation. As part of your ad copy development, you will need to select “display” and “destination” URLs for each of your ads to drive to. The display URL is what will actually show in your ad copy (usually the domain), whereas the destination URL is where the ad will actually drive (usually a sub-page).For each ad group, your goal is to find the page on the site that is most relevant to the group’s keywords. In some instances you may choose to promote a specific “call-to-action” in your ads and therefore drive directly to an action page. You might also want to create campaign landing pages to up your chances of conversion. You can also test drive the same ad to various landing pages to see which generates a more engaged visitor.