Google is constantly adjusting their search results to provide a better customer experience and provide more relevant results.
We – as customers – can now expect to see a variety of content in the results page. As well as text listings we now get video, images, local map results, featured snippets, shopping listings and more.
The standard organic listings themselves also sometimes feature additional results, for example, top pages, review scores and opening times. All this enhances the listing in a way that is easy to scan and visually appealing. Resulting in better click-through rates.
Paid search ads have also changed. The product listing ads – which are still the subject of an EU competition investigation – have increased in size. The number of search ads changes depending on what is being searched for. Some Ads are being displaced by map listings; for other searches up to 4 paid ads can be displayed. PPC ads can also be fairly large with all the extensions that can now be activated.
With Google constantly refining how results are presented, SEOs need to consider which content is displayed – on a variety of devices – so they can attract more clicks from the right search user at the right time.
The Dynamic Effects On SEO
From the classic 10 blue links on the results pages of old, to the more appealing listings of today – dynamic search results has had a huge impact on how website SEOs do their jobs. It used to all be about keywords, content and link building. Now, we must take into account how different content ranks in different sections of the SERP on different devices for users in different locations searching in different ways (keywords are still key!).
High-quality images (for image results).
Video (for youtube results)
Information on your local business – maps/opening times.
FAQs (for a featured snippet).
Each of these elements, in addition to your standard text content, could win a spot in the search results. All this means a lot more content to produce, optimise and track to maximise search performance.
What to Prioritise?
Examine which content type wins the top spot on the SERPs for your targeted keywords (this may also change for locations so think of your biggest market).
Google is never going to show a one-size-fits-all SERPs anymore. In order to sustain and improve your organic search performance, we need to analyse the ranking position of every content element on SERPs for the target keywords. We also need to understand customer intent to see if a keyword produces SERPs with local results — or with any organic listings above the fold at all.
Search engine optimisation is constantly changing, carry on doing the basics, but keep a close eye on the results to discover the types of content being displayed. Manage SEO and content development better and prioritise bigger wins, you are never going to be able to cover everything.
The default AdWords setting will actually show your ads to outside your targeted area. If you just want people in a specific region, you need to change this in your campaign settings. This will avoid people from other areas triggering your ad when they type, for example, “PPC Company Manchester“.
Ad Schedule Bid Modifiers
It’s very easy to set up ad bid modifiers and forget about it. You could change the day, time or device and only months later notice that things have changed and you are losing budget.
PPC Conversion Settings
Whether you are using the AdWords tag, a Goal imported from Analytics, or an imported file – make sure conversion is correct and accurately set up.
Duplicate Keywords – PPC Settings
Often you’ll find treasure in the search query report that you add over time and they are search terms that seem relevant to how they were matched.
It is easy to add duplicate keywords across multiple groups
AdWords is getting pretty clever in how it automatically identified duplicates and offers a solution in the form of an ‘opportunity’. So keeping on top of a well organised PPC campaign has never been easier.
This is a term used to describe how you funnel a search query to a keyword that’s being bid on.
If you are using Broad match types, Google tends to pick the keyword a search term is matched to, and it won’t always do this consistently. You could end up having one search term matching multiple different ad groups with varying levels of performance.
To match the search term to the best-performing ad group, set as an exact match negative to the Ad Groups or Campaigns where we want it to stop getting matched to. This forces Google to match it the way you want.
Search Partners and Display Select
The default setting for AdWords is to include these in your campaign setup if you are not paying attention.
It’s true that Search Partners can do well, but it can also do horribly and gobble up a budget. Test it on a new (separate) campaign.
Display – in my opinion – is good for raising awareness and brand promotion, but not great at producing a quick return on investment. If a rapid ROI is what you, or your client – is after, leave this well alone. If they are playing a long game with decent budgets, then this could play a key role.
Missing or Disapproved Ad Extensions
In addition to expanding your Ads these extensions, extensions can also help to pre-qualify clicks better and give more information to encourage a click from a user.
AdWords is rarely a quick win. Campaigns evolve and require optimisation. If you are struggling with your AdWords campaign, please feel free to get in touch via the contact form.
PPC advertising for small business enables you to connect with people searching for your products or services.
Don’t Over Spend
Start small, test lots, measure everything.
The only metric that really matters, in the end, is CPA – cost per acquisition. How much money are you getting back from your PPC campaign? But to improve this, you have to measure everything else. Visits, impressions, quality score, CTR etc.
Optimise your PPC campaigns using negative keywords, location, device and time of day settings. You need to know who your best visitors are and target them.
Select the Right Keywords
Consider keyword intent and select the right keywords.
Read more about customer intent here. You need to select keywords that are relevant to your services or products.
“Long-tail keywords” have a higher probability of conversions and lower cost/lower risk. These types of keywords are more descriptive than short-tail keywords – try and use the exact match as these will be assessed as being better more relevant to the search (better Ad position, lower cost).
Keywords, adverts and landing page all need to be about the same specific thing.
Your ads need to specify to the keyword and the landing page. Take what searchers are looking for and tie it to your unique value proposition. Keyword extensions increase your ad’s visibility and allow you to be more relevant. Fill in as many as you can without padding. Test at least 3 Ad variations with different headlines and descriptions.
PPC Advertising for Small Business: Further Reading
Read more about PPC for small business and how you can improve your ppc campaign performance.
If you’d like to get in touch, please fill out our contact form.
Start or resume your online marketing with a free online lead generation strategy and 2-week trial.
If you have already started researching how to find leads online, you probably have a shortlist similar to the below:
Outsource Email campaign – £15 per lead.
Outsource lead generation (3rd party website capture driven by PPC or social) – £40 per lead.
Outsource content marketing – £5 per lead.
Your own PPC campaign – unknown cost per lead.
Across all the options, the conversion rate is the big unknown variable.If you have outsourced lead generation before, you’ll no doubt be aware that both quality and supply are variable, which is why your ideal solution is to develop a lead source of your own. Unfortunately, this takes some time to refine and conversion rates are untested.
Assuming you have spent time investing in your website, and you are sure that it will be able to convert visits, the challenge is obviously getting the right people to your site.
It’s likely at this stage that you have already tried PPC (probably AdWords) with limited success. This is usually because campaigns are set up to be fairly generic. It’s worth spending more time defining exactly who your perfect visitor is and what they are looking for.
Invest as much time in negative keywords as positive ones, utilise all the site extension and have a strong call to action on all adverts.
Free Online Lead Generation Advice
While you are building your own online lead generation processes, dont put all your eggs in one basket. Try and negotiate low scale tests of all your lead options whilst also trying to develop your own lead generation.
You will know what is too much to risk untested, and if the supplier has any faith in their service they will accept a lower trial. If they won’t then they are just trying to get your money off you. Also, be aware that any test will involve suppliers sending you the very best leads. Quality will only go down. Email and content marketing can sometimes sound too good to be true, but are worth a (very) low-risk test.
SEO and developing your own website is an essential long-term option. But long term can sometimes mean years if you are in a competitive industry. Keep adding some interesting copy to your website that people will find interesting and useful. This is the only way to improve your website performance (along with the other technical factors).
Focus on Your Own Online Lead Generation
Establish more specific keywords and refine your ad text. Also, test other settings such as device and time of day.
This should lead to visitors only interested in your service visiting your landing page. Conversion to visit and qualification could then be established. There are other online marketing options (for example social, content, email and affiliate) but I think AdWords PPC is your best chance for a quicker return on investment.
The Free Online Lead Generation Offer
Online Customer Solutions don’t charge anything to review and set up new AdWords Campaigns. We recommend a test AdWords budget of £250 over 2 weeks and fully detail the plan before putting the campaign live.
At the end of the 2 weeks, we can review the results. This could lead to increasing budgets; refining the approach and testing again, or establishing that other lead sources are more effective.
If we continue past the 2-week test then we would put forward a proposal for our time (c£170-£500 per month depending on the effort required).
It normally takes a couple of days to be ready to launch and progress is monitored daily.
If you are interested in signing up to our free online lead generation test, please fill in this form and quote:2WEEKTEST to get started!
Like all businesses, freelancers need to be able to efficiently source new business. Word of mouth will always be the most effective and efficient method, and social networks can help this in a big way. My advice on this would be not to spend money advertising on social media. Use it with your existing network, shout about what you do and get your friends and family to help – eventually your happy clients will be included in this, but until you have a steady supply, you need to consider other sales routes. Use social media to increase awareness, which in turn will generate sales.
My advice on this would be not to spend money advertising on social media. Use it and your existing network, shout about what you do and get your friends and family to help.
Eventually, your happy clients will be included in this, but until you have a steady supply, you need to consider other sales routes. Use social media to increase awareness, which in turn will generate sales.
AdWords PPC is a simple, powerful way to put yourself in front of people who are – at that moment – looking for your products or services. But it can also be expensive and inexperience can be costly.
Understand your objective.
As a freelancer, your objective is either going to generate enquiries (phone calls/email/complete a form) or sales, for example, you make clothes, sell jewellery or photographs. You need to be able to link back these goals to your advertising. Only this way will you understand which elements of your marketing are generating returns.
I’m going to assume that by reading this, you know what AdWords is and that you have a basic understanding of how it works. If not, please search AdWords or PPC on this site and read more about the basics.
Selecting Keywords and Negative Keywords
Almost more important that selecting which searches to bid on, is understand which ones not to bid on. It is essential to understand and use negative keywords. The best way to identify applicable negative keywords is via the keyword planner in AdWords. Whilst you are researching which keywords to bid on, when you come across words that you know are not relevant, don’t just include them, actively add them to your negative keyword list.
For example, if you are advertising yourself as a freelance photographer, then relevant keywords you don’t want your advertisement to appear on would be “suppliers”, “training courses”, “rates”, “free”. Don’t waste your marketing spend on searches that are not going to potentially lead to a paying client.
When selecting keywords to active your ads, think about the services you offer, the location you serve and the type of people you are offering them to.
If you are looking for corporate clients, or example, these are more likely to search during office hours on a desktop. If you are selling to a younger audience, they are more likely to be searching in an evening on a mobile device.
Do you serve a specific location? Make sure your ads only show for people in that area.
PPC for Freelancers: Best Practice Top 5 Tips
Relevance – Make sure your advertisements are relevant to your keywords and that your landing page explains quickly what you do and how people can get in touch.
Testing- Using conversion stats, understand what is working and what isn’t.
Sitelinks – Populate as many of these as possible with valuable relevant information. More site links lead to a more eye-catching ad.
Business Page – Although not strictly AdWords, making sure you have a good business profile will allow you to link your address and phone number to your ads. It will also help when you get positive reviews (that you must always ask for!).
Budget – Understand your click-through and conversion rates. Know how much a conversion is worth and this will lead you to be able to set a budget and maximum cost per click that generates positive returns.
Freelance PPC Conclusion
Paid advertising is not for everyone, you will need a budget, it doesn’t have to be huge but you do need to give it a chance to work. Keep an eye on things and keep going!
Online marketing has given smaller businesses a chance to compete in previously unreachable markets. SMEs can now promote their products or services with more limited budgets, scaling as they see results.
Online advertising – especially PPC – provides a clearer return on investment analysis. We can know if our PPC or display ads are working based on conversion data. We can also know how many people see our ads with impressions and even know how many of those people clicked (click-through rate or CTR).
PPC campaign optimisation is not “set up and leave” it marketing, and hiring a PPC management company is often expensive so business owners may think PPC is not ideal for their business – especially if they have tried a couple of techniques and failed.
PPC campaign optimisation: Keyword Selection
A keyword is a word or a phrase used by people searching online for information. Google have algorithms that constantly learn from searches to improve their results and deliver the most relevant results or Ads.
It is important to note that Google considered my intent to retrieve relevant results.
Considering keyword intent and selecting the right keywords (and negative keywords) is vital to successful PPC campaign optimisation. Select keywords that are relevant to your business.
Keywords selection is also influenced by search volume and competition. Select keywords that have high search volume and low competition by using tools such as the Google Keyword Planner. It will help you see what keywords people are using for related searches, the volume of searches per month, suggested bids and competition.
Long-tail keywords get a higher probability of conversions and lower cost/lower risk. These types of keywords are more descriptive than short-tail keywords and help with PPC campaign optimisation.
For example, if your keyword is “Recruitment Company”, then a longer tail keyword could be “Office Recruitment Company in Hitchin“. Include location and more specific words – this might lead to lower impressions, but clicks will be much more relevant, so increase your bids!
Ad Copy: PPC campaign optimisation
Ads drive clicks and conversion. Avoid being too generic, take what searchers are looking for and tie it to your unique value proposition. For example, if you’re creating an ad for “Recruitment Agency” you may want to create an ad that highlights your 90-day replacement guarantee or your introductory pricing.
Watch your competition, not just your direct competitors, have a look at a what people are doing in other countries and try to offer something better. Remember to use numbers as much as possible. Ads that include them have higher click-through rates.
Keyword extensions are essential. They increase your ad’s size and allow you to add more specific benefits to your offering – enhancing the relevance. There are different types of extensions, such as site extensions (links to specific parts of your site), callout extensions, or call extensions (usually used for mobile devices).
Your ads should have a number of variations. Test different descriptions, headlines and calls to action to discover which one yields the best results. Keep testing! Google AdWords often recommends changes to improve your campaign.
Campaign structure is another factor that will help you optimise your PPC campaign. How you organise them is up to you, often location is a good idea, or by service or product. Group similar keywords together with variants and create specific focused Ads.
Landing Pages for PPC campaign optimisation.
The URL your Ad, that is triggered by the keyword, must point to a relevant landing page. If a customer searched for “Recruitment Consultant” and the landing page displays a list of jobs, then this is not going to be relevant for people wanting to use a company to find employees. Again, it is all about understanding customer intent and evidencing that you can deliver the service they are looking for.
PPC campaign optimisation: Quality Score
Quality score is a system used by AdWords to determine the relevance and quality of your campaigns. Low-quality scores increase the cost per click (CPC) and reduce the number of times your advert is displayed. Ad copy and landing page relevance can dramatically affect your quality score, so make sure you also spend time on your landing pages.
Negative keyword lists can be used to optimise your AdWords PPC Campaign. These keywords are filters for your campaigns – your ads won’t show for such keywords. This can save you a lot of money in irrelevant clicks that cause bad-quality traffic. For example, if you are targeting businesses for your recruitment company, you might want to use “jobs” as a negative keyword, as these searches are likely to be from job seekers. (Although you may want a separate campaign targeting these visitors!).
Another useful optimisation practice is to create new ads with the new copy. Make sure to create new ads and not edit old ones; otherwise, your performance history will be deleted from your campaigns. In addition, it is always a good idea to take a look at your keyword match types and look at the keyword planner to add more keywords to your campaigns.
There are a lot more elements involved with running a successful PPC campaign than mentioned in this article.
PPC campaigns are always a work in progress. Make sure you stay on top of any changes and keep testing new ideas! Avoid wasting money, test often and create organised, optimised campaigns. Finally, remember, to continually monitor your results.
These will not be applicable for everyone. Many companies want people that are doing research, are interested in recruiting or are giving away something for free. But for others, these searches are so far away from entering the ‘customer journey’ that they should be classed as negative keywords.
As mentioned, in every situation the objectives are different, this list is not exhaustive and just happens to apply to our present scenario. Hopefully, it will give you ideas to prevent wasting your advertising spend.
Negative Keyword Examples
The first group come under the heading of research. These people may or may not eventually turn into customers, but even if they do, they are a long way off:
Free Negative Keywords
These searches are fine, everyone does it, but unless you are actually giving something away, or include a free trial, then these are not for you.
Location based negative keywords
You should be using specific location targeting, but still worth including some of the main areas that you don’t serve:
Isle of Mann
People often search simply for quick research, the rise of voice search will certainly increase this. Below are a few terms that can be added to the negative list (unless you are a selling research).
These searches alongside your search terms can often indicate people are looking for ways to do something themselves.
Recruitment and Training Negative Keywords.
People looking for work, recruitment agencies or people looking for training.
Specific Research Negative Keywords
Some search terms indicate more in-depth research. Specific keywords like the below will only need not be triggered unless your business deals in such services.
If your website ranks high in the search engines, you might even want to add your company name as an exact match negative keyword (the exception to this is if you have competitors competing on your company name!).
Negative keyword selection is almost more important than positive ones. Remember there are different types of keyword matching, including a phrase, broad and exact. This also applies to negative keywords. You might want to exclude exact phrases, but not the words within that phrase.
PPC strategy and management can get complicated, but keeping a close eye on performance and measuring conversions will help drive up your ROI.
Negative keywords are completely subjective, what might be obvious for one campaign might actually be a keyword trigger in another. For example, negative keywords could include: “free”, “definition” and “instructions”. These would tend to indicate that the person searching these words are not interested in purchasing. But instead only looking for information. In some instances, however, this could be exactly they type of people you want to find.
As with normal keywords, negative keywords can take the form of broad match, exact and phrase. These can also be combined to completely lock a campaign down and ensure you aren’t wasting your PPC budget.
You may not want to show your adverts if a search is too broad. For example “Advertising”. The person searching this could be looking for almost anything. In this example, you may want to trigger adverts for “TV Advertising” but not for [Advertising]. You don’t want to block the word “advertising”, just when the search query matches [advertising] exactly.
Normally this problem wouldn’t crop up if your campaign was made up of just phrase match keywords, but this could be limiting your audience.
Depending on your company name, SEO position of your home page and competition, you might also want to block searches for your company. It’s just wasting budget and people will find you anyway (assuming you are number 1!).
Optimise your PPC Budget with Negative Keywords
One (slow and expensive) way of identifying negative keywords is to run a broad keyword campaign and constantly check the search terms that are triggering your adverts. It will very quickly become obvious how varied search queries can be, and how quickly they drain your budget.
There is little more irritating than have someone click your advert when, at least to you, it was completely obvious they were not going to find what they wanted on your website. It is exactly this that you need to predict and prevent. Not only will your conversions increase (hopefully you have setup conversion tracking!) you will probably notice that your quality scores rise too.
Make your keyword advertising campaign specific and focused to your landing page. Make sure if people are searching for exercise equipment, they don’t trigger your adverts for advertising classes!
SEM, SEO, Websites and Google Adwords. Manchester Based Online Marketing Consultancy
Search Engine Marketing can be used as an umbrella term to encompass both SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and paid search activities. For example Google Adwords. Although some in the industry have adopted the SEM acronym to refer solely to paid search.
The below activities all form part of Search Engine Marketing:
SEO – Search Engine Optimisation. Appearing high up in the results for searches related to your company, services or product.
PPC (pay-per-click) – Advertising your company / product and paying when someone clicks on your advert. Ad Words being the most popular.
CPM – The cost you pay for your advert to be displayed to 1000 people.
Google Adwords – Paid Search Marketing
Google AdWords is by most measures the most popular paid search platform used by search marketers. Using Ad words and Analytics together provides insight and analysis. Measure your web traffic and marketing campaigns.
Online Marketing for Small or Home Based Companies.
In addition to Search Engine Marketing, the below are also otions for small and micro-businesses:
Social Media Marketing – if suitable, get on Facebook and recruit followers. Then start promoting your services.
Content Marketing – start a blog and create great content for people to find. (also helps SEO!)
Local Marketing – get reviews on your site, or (and this is essential) register your business with Google Business. Ask for reviews and remember to update it with images. Google+ also helps with SEO
Manchester based Search Engine Marketing company, Online Customer Solutions, help small businesses establish a web presence; refresh their current website and manage the digital marketing, including Google Adwords and other paid search.
Online Customer Solutions also support small and micro businesses in the Manchester area with Local Search advice, Social Media and Content Marketing.
OCS also provide generic IT advice and support, from purchasing to outsourcing and finance.
Find out more
Based in SK8, just south of Manchester in the UK, Online Customer Solutions provide Google Adwords and SEO solutions to a range of business, but specialise in helping small businesses grow.
Contact us today, we can advise and provide a range of services, from setting up a website, to improving online marketing and conversions.