Advertising has evolved. No longer is it restricted to print publications, static billboards, radio, and television. Modern technologies have opened the door to a whole new era of advertising–digital advertising, that is. This means that modern marketers and advertisers can reach and appeal to their core audiences in new ways and with more precision.
On that note, today’s buyers are interacting with your brand across multiple channels and devices. Plus, they have more expectations than any other buyer generation in history. Modern buyers want personalized, one-on-one conversations with brands at the right place and at the right time. Your buyer expects a continuous experience. While this is certainly a challenge for marketers and advertisers, new ad technology and innovations continue to advance at break-neck speeds. New ad technology platforms, types of ads, methods of tracking, dynamic ad content, and advances such as the Internet of Things now provide endless opportunities for marketers and advertisers to engage their customers personally and across channels.
Understanding how the search engines operate is crucial to both your organic search position as well as the success of your paid advertising on the search engines.
Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC) has become extremely important to Internet marketers. As competition for PageRank and search engine position has skyrocketed, Search Engine PPC (sometimes called “Search Marketing”) is now, in many cases, the only realistic way to get traffic for your site immediately. You can still achieve a good organic search engine positioning for your new Website, but it takes more time and effort in today’s competitive climate. Most of us want some immediate feedback after putting forth the effort to build a new Website. We want to begin testing the effectiveness of our new site right away. The way to get these immediate results is through PPC advertising on the major search engines. Within minutes after finishing a new Website and creating PPC accounts with the search engines, you can have targeted traffic coming to your site.
You must use a controlled, limited budget, however, for this initial feedback. Before you invest significantly, you must have a sound, well-thought-out strategy to guide you in your PPC campaigns. Your initial dive into PPC is a gamble. You may be able and willing to throw money at it, but if you do not know what you are doing or lack a clear strategy, you can lose a lot of money in a hurry. That is, if you are not careful, you can spend a lot of money in a short period of time and have no results to show for it. It is crucial that you carefully develop a clear and effective strategy before you invest significantly. Once developed, you should carefully follow that strategy until you have sound reason to modify it.
Remember that with PPC, you bid on keywords. The amount of your bid is a factor in determining your position in the results when that keyword is searched. Do not assume that the top position is always the best one. For example, it can cost several dollars per click to have the first position for some of the very competitive keywords. Only a small percentage of the people who visit your site will result in conversions (i.e. actually buy your products or sign up for your programs). If you have to spend $100 to get one conversion that is only worth $10 to you, then you are losing money…and losing it fast! If you set your goal on obtaining the first position in the search engines’ advertising section for the most competitive keywords, rather than setting your goal on getting the most return for your investment, you will lose money quickly.
The secret to effective PPC is to maintain a position that will bring you enough traffic to have conversions, but at a low enough cost per conversion to allow you a decent return on your investment.
The most popular way to use PPC is with Google Adwords, often just called “Google Ads.” Google ads, like most all search engine PPCs are based on keywords. That is, they design the program to have your ad show up when people search Google for certain keywords that you have chosen and placed bids on.
Google Adwords goes beyond just PPC, however. While the most popular way to advertise on Google is with PPC (which Google calls “CPC” for “Cost Per Click”), Google also offers “Cost Per Impression” advertising and “Cost Per Acquisition” advertising. “Cost Per Impression” is used in campaigns where companies put more emphasis on increasing their brand awareness than they do on driving traffic to their Website. In this type of advertising, you pay each time your ad shows up, whether or not it is clicked on. In “Cost Per Acquisition” advertising, you don’t pay for each click. Instead, with cost per acquisition, you pay only when someone comes to your site and buys something or signs up for your program.
Google does not just show your ad on its search engine, it also distributes your ad through Websites that sign up for its “Adsense” program. Plus, Google displays ads on gmail and its other services. Google can also distribute your ad through its other various ad networks. All of these displays, wherever they may show up, are keyword driven. The keywords or key phrases that you choose when you place your ad, control where it will appear.
Google, of course, is not the only search engine and not the only search engine to offer PPC advertising. Other search engines and other companies and ad networks also offer PPC. The discussion often turns around Google, though, because Google has invested the most in developing this model of advertising, does the most of it, and has the best results. While the details may vary slightly, most of the other PPC opportunities follow similar concepts.
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As we have stated before, understanding how and why search engines operate is crucial to your success as an Internet Marketer, not only to your successful use of PPC, but also to your successful building of a good organic search engine ranking.
To start our inquiry into how search engines work, let’s look first at how Google makes its money: 96% of Google’s impressive revenue comes from advertising. As Google’s CEO stated in a recent annual report to its shareholders, “We generate revenue primarily by delivering relevant, cost-effective online advertising.” The dominant word in this quote is the word “relevant.” The key to good marketing is to make a potential customer aware of your product or service at the time that customer has the greatest need for it. Google can do this better than anyone. Google can place your ad in front of people who are actively searching for what you have to offer. Google can make your ad relevant.
Think of all the services Google offers. In addition to its search engine, it provides email, video, social media, open source software standards, maps, satellite pictures of almost any place on “Earth,” and much more. Most all of these services are offered for free. To provide these services requires great resources that are very expensive to operate, but it serves Google well. The provision of all these services has returns for Google. It brings a tremendous amount of traffic to the site and it provides the information about this traffic so that “relevant” ads can be placed before just the right choices out of billions of people. It is from these ads that Google makes the money to pay for all the other services it offers and make a tidy profit to boot.
To maintain its traffic, Google must constantly strive to keep this relevance. Its search results have to be useful to those searching. Even the ad placements have to be useful to the viewers–otherwise they would find using Google resources tedious and uncomfortable. The great effort that Google puts into determining what organic search results are displayed for a particular search, as well as the great effort it puts into determining which ads to show in particular places, helps it to maintain its relevance.
Thus, although you might be inclined to believe that when you pay for ads they shouldn’t be judged, Google will judge them. How your ads fair in what Google calls the “bid auction” depends upon their relevance. If your ad is not relevant to your keywords and your keywords are not relevant to your site, your ad will show very little, if any–even though you may be bidding a very high amount for that ad. Google has to balance the money it could make from allowing ads to be entirely bid driven to the long term success it will continue to have by insisting that the ads be relevant.
Google’s counterpart service to Adwords is Google Adsense. The Adsense program allows Website publishers to run Google ads on their pages. We are all familiar with these ads. If you have spent any time at all on the Web in the last few years, you will have seen countless Google Ads appear on Websites. Google uses the extensive knowledge it has acquired about users to target these ads to the most relevant Websites.
Google goes even further and attempts to make the ads relevant to the particular visitor’s overall demographics and preferences. Google is in a position to obtain a great deal of knowledge about the people who use it services. Google also works out deals with various social media sites and shopping sites to share the knowledge that they acquire about users. For example, you can go shopping for something on the Web and then you will notice that ads for the very thing for which you were looking start showing up on other Websites you visit. (I have seen one fault with this, though. Often, I see ads for days after I have already found and purchased the item I was seeking. I am not likely to buy it again so soon. It makes me feel a little bit better about my privacy, though, to know that Google doesn’t necessarily know what I bought on these Websites–just what I went there seeking.)
Placing ads on Google or the other search engines can be a big project. You have to sign up for an account, compose your ad, come up with relevant keywords and key phrases, and set your bids for each keyword or phrase. You also have choices about targeting. You can limit your ad to certain geographical regions, certain types of Websites, and/or certain types of visitors. The particular steps involved in this process change over time and have to be learned at the time you are doing it. Understanding the concepts ahead of time can make the process easier, though, when you set up your ads.
The search engines are not the only place you can advertise. You can also advertise on the many social media sites.
Facebook says that advertising on Facebook begins with your creation of a “page.” Note that a page is different from an individual Facebook profile. Pages can’t have friends, they just have “likes.” It doesn’t cost you to create the page, but it does cost you to promote the page. Without paying for promotion of your page only a few of your posts will be seen and only by a few people–even though many people may have “liked” your page. You can promote your page in general or you can promote specific posts on your page. By making one of these promoted posts a link to your Website, you are essentially advertising your Website on Facebook.
Facebook allows a number of different ways to personalize and target your advertising. Facebook also knows a great deal about it users. By monitoring posts that people make, they can categorize people into all sorts of demographic and preference categories, which are often quite accurate. Thus, when you place an ad on Facebook, you can target specific types of people with specific interests and in specific localities.
Facebook, like Google and most of the search engines, uses a bidding model for the ads. Like Google, on Facebook you can set your own bids or you can just set a budget and let Facebook do the bidding for you.
Twitter, likewise, has similar advertising opportunities, and many of the other popular social media sites do as well.
The advantage of advertising on social media is that you can more seamlessly tie it into you social media presence. You can have a continuous stream of posts and use paid promotion in very subtle ways to push the important posts to a greater audience.
The search engines and social media sites are not the only places you can advertise, of course. There are many ad networks to which you can submit your ad and many Websites that will sell you ad space. While it is usually easier for the beginner to start with the most popular, trusted, and well-known ad opportunities such as the search engines and social media, the particulars of your product or service might work better with one of the specialized ad networks or on specific Websites.
PPC is not the only type of advertising. As mentioned above, cost-per-impression and cost-per-acquisition are also available. Plus, some ad networks and Websites simply charge a set fee to appear on certain of their pages for set periods of time. (For example, $100 per month to appear at the top of the first page for the entire month.) You can also buy ads on email newsletters. There are countless different ways you can advertise online.
In addition to paying to have your ads shown, you can also pay someone to set up and manage your advertising program for you. Or, you can pay for software or services that provide you with much help in setting up and managing your advertising program.
One service that showed up in a quick search I just did will help you manage your PPC by providing various data about keywords and provides tools to help you maximize your results. Another (for from $249 to $649 per month) will assign three experts to help you manage your ads. Google certifies some of these businesses as “Google Adwords Premier SMB Partners.” There are also many consultants available in most metropolitan areas you can hire. Be careful, though, like many of the so-called SEO experts, it is easy to claim you are an expert in Ad Management also. From my experience, many more people claim to be experts than actually are. Look at their certifications and make sure you get references before trusting someone.
This blog provided a brief overview of promoting your Website through paid advertising. PPC advertising on the search engines and on social media is keyword driven. As it can be complicated to pick your keywords and place the right bids, you should start out with a limited budget. Learn the ropes before investing significant amounts into advertising. Understanding the motivations and strategies of search engines can help you to create effective ads, make them relevant, and bid them wisely. If it fits your needs better, there are many other ways to advertise as well. If you can afford it, you can also hire professionals to run your advertising program for you.