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March 27, 2007

Set It & Forget It? Pay Per Click Strategies that don’t work

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Barry Schwartz pointed us to an interesting thread over at WebmasterWorld that discusses whether or not the old "set it & forget it" approach to pay per click is long gone. I say "interesting thread" because I couldn’t believe people still subscribed to this method. Can you spend some time creating a pay per click campaign and then leave it to focus on your golf game? Um, no. Nor should you; everyone knows golf is a good walk spoiled.

If it’s crazy to you to believe that Bruce hired Susan and me to be full-time bickerers writers, you may find it just as crazy to know we actually have a pay per click department. We have people here who do nothing but monitor client’s pay per click campaigns and think up ways to make them convert and perform better. I hear they even enjoy it.

We do this not because we like to see what we can get Bruce to pay for next (fencing classes in the break room? A personal Starbucks barista for me and Susan? A masseuse?), but because constant monitoring and tweaking of your search marketing campaign is an absolute must if you want to stay competitive, rank for your niche’s important keywords, and optimize your ad’s conversion rates.

The reason you can’t set and forget your search marketing campaign the way you could a couple years ago is that space is considerably more competitive now than it was back then. Five years ago your competition probably wasn’t running a pay per click campaign; chances are, neither were you. Today you both are and if you want to outrank each other it can be a constant fight.

Another thing: keywords change. Old keywords lose their effectiveness, your company releases a new product, or you find higher-converting, lower-cost terms. It’s very possible that keywords you’re targeting today in early Spring are very different from the keywords you’ll want to target once Summer officially this Simi Valley, CA and living here becomes absolutely, 100 percent unbearable. By continuously optimizing and tweaking campaigns it keeps you thinking about your customer’s needs and puts you ahead of your competition who is busy golfing.

You also have to consider that the search engines are continually working to improve their paid search programs. They’re coming out with new features and changing the way landing pages are judged. Heck, Yahoo just released an entirely new platform. If you’re thinking your ads are going to perform the same under Panama as they did before it, you’re seriously mistaken.

Oh, and if you’re so far out of the loop that you didn’t even know Yahoo launched Panama and you should have been making changes, well, we have no words for you. Actually, we do. We hope you’re independently wealthy and didn’t really need the search marketing campaign.

If your search marketing campaign is important to you, you’ve probably read-through (at least some of) our Pay Per Click Methodology page. That four-step framework you see outlined? Yeah. That’s not a one-time thing. The process is cyclical. Like a loop. It doesn’t end.

But I think that makes sense. If the positioning of your PPC campaign ads are based on a bidding system, then of course things are going to shift and turn as more competitors enter the field, keywords change, and the engines do that wacky mixing it up thing they do.
You can’t set up your pay per click campaign and relax because things change everyday. Like with search engine optimization, the position you have today can be completely erased tomorrow due a change in the way the engines handle things.

What are the key parts of your search marketing campaign that need constant tweaking? Virtually all of it — your bids, landing pages, call-to-actions, keywords, your ad design and copy. It’s all up for grabs. Pay per click is like putting a puzzle together on a moving school bus. Just when you think you got it, the driver slams on his breaks and your puzzle and your face ends up embedded in the seat in front of you. That seat with the marks from the cigarette lighter branded into it? That’s your competition.

And don’t think the search engines and that crazy bus driver slammed on the breaks by accident either. They know what they’re doing. They all want to make sure you’re paying attention. They want to make sure you having just "set and forget" your search marketing campaign. If you have, your puzzle is going to end up all over the floor without a chance in the world of converting.

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One response to “Set It & Forget It? Pay Per Click Strategies that don’t work”

  1. Terry Reeves writes:

    It does sound funny. People actually do get paid to spend all day contemplating ppc ads and landing pages. My how the world has changed.



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