Quick Tips for PPC Optimization

Guest Entry by Nick Guastella, Search Engine Marketing Analyst–Bruce Clay, Inc.

In April of this year, Yahoo took a cue from Google and began requiring advertisers to create shorter ads of 70 characters or less, in addition to the longer 190 character ads also available to them. Prior to this announcement, Yahoo had already been shortening longer descriptions when ads were displayed on their site and some partner sites. In terms of PPC management, this means search marketers must work to master the art of conveying their message effectively in a very limited number of characters.

While the initial idea of this may have caused some difficulty and confusion for advertisers at a loss on how to create effective ads with such a limited length (I myself had fun mastering the so called Google Ad Haiku.), it presented a good opportunity for PPC optimization and for advertisers to tighten up messaging to prospective customers.

As most people know, PPC optimization is a lot more than just picking keywords and then choosing bid amounts. In the past, many advertisers tried using the long ad format to stuff keywords as a laundry list rather than providing a clear message. Other times they tried to work their URL into a title or description hoping that searchers would just copy the URL into their browser, saving themselves from paying for a click, perhaps also earning them some branding juice. Not surprisingly, these practices often did not result in more clicks or increased conversions.

In the world of PPC ad creation, I think the often used saying "less is more" is very appropriate. Shorter ads may be harder to write, but they force us to be better marketers and to work harder at creating more effective ad copy.

So, to help those who spend their days in an endless circle of PPC optimization, I offer up the following tips that I use in my day-to-day responsibilities as Bruce’s Clay Pay Per Click Guru.

Let’s start with that all important title that we craft to catch a searcher’s eye. Thankfully, titles are still allowed 40 characters. There’s nothing more annoying than having to abbreviate a word to say what you want. For example, using "PPC Mgmt" instead of "PPC Management" may get the message across, but it doesn’t look good, at least to me. It would be nice if Google and the rest of the PPC platforms would give us 5 more characters to make titles more readable. (Google, are you listening? What do you say?) .

Yahoo and Google both argue that putting a keyword in the title increases clicks. While this is true, it does not always mean you’re going to see better conversions, and really, that’s what we’re after. Conversions equal money.

Instead, what I try to do is to create a clear message that highlights what is most important about the site or what I think will draw in the searchers most likely to convert. I will often use keyword insertion to help me accomplish this. In order to test the effectiveness of keyword insertion, create two ads: one with static content and one utilizing keyword insertion. Then, use A/B testing to run them against each other and see which one converts better. Many times a regular title, while it might get less clicks, will still convert far above a keyword title.

One personal preference/pet peeve of mine are the ask-a-question titles. When I search, I don’t want to see a title asking me if I was looking for what I just typed in. Obviously I was. While some search marketers may find this effective, to me, and probably to most searchers, it’s very annoying.

Thankfully, Yahoo’s shorter description of 70 characters, while similar to Google’s, does not have the restriction of 35 characters per line. This makes it a little easier to write an ad without the fear of a word getting chopped down the middle.

With only 70 characters, now is not the time to write the great American novel. Try not to chop up sentences into fragments. You want your copy to flow naturally for the person reading it. Fragments are often jarring and could result in lower clicks.

Each word in a description should ad to your marketing message. Be direct. Highlight your features and benefits. Why should I choose your ad over another advertiser? Talk about your pricing or special offers.

Avoid using "Free" in the beginning of a sentence. This will definitely result in a higher click through rate but, depending on the goal of your site, may not result in the type of conversions you’re seeking. Saying you offer free shipping is appropriate but should be saved for the end of the message.

Try not to use needless words. An ad that reads "Now vitamins on sale Bargain Prices" can be shortened and made more effective by changing it to "Vitamins at Bargain Prices".

Get to the point. Instead of saying "We deliver Fresh Baked cookies" write "Fresh Baked Cookies delivered to you". Make your customer the focus.

Use a positive message. Writing "People have been known to love our cookies" is not as strong as saying "People love our Chocolate Chip cookies".

These are just a few things to get improve your PPC optimization. Paid search advertising can be a tricky art form. With practice and analysis, your ad campaigns will succeed.

Susan Esparza is former managing editor at Bruce Clay Inc., and has written extensively for clients and internal publications. Along with Bruce Clay, she is co-author of the first edition of Search Engine Optimization All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies.

See Susan's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (1)
Filed under: PPC/Pay-Per-Click
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One Reply to “Quick Tips for PPC Optimization”

Great advice. A strong controversial title always does well.


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