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Search Marketing for Dummies

22 Oct, 2007 By: Chris Kenney imageSource

Search Marketing for Dummies

The truth is, companies of all shapes and sizes should have a paid search
strategy and long term plan, be it something very small and simple, or a broad
reaching campaign.

There are over 200 million searches per day on the major search engines (1)
according to COM Score, forcing advertisers and small businesses to jump into
the Paid Search space.  It’s simply something that every good business should do
on some level, given the explosion of the Internet today. This has led to a very
competitive search landscape on hundreds of thousands of terms across a
multitude of industries, including the channel of document technology.

Many companies outsource their paid search efforts, others neglect it
completely, and some just can’t afford to compete in their given area. The truth
is, companies of all shapes and sizes should have a paid search strategy and
long term plan, be it something very small and simple, or a broad reaching
campaign. While it may seem like a bit of a scary proposition to enter into this
market and get your arms around the concept in general, it’s not all that
difficult for a small company to elevate its search engine rankings. The bottom
line is that these efforts can truly drive business, conversion, and ultimately

If you’re a small business looking to generate some additional revenue and
expand your reach online, then you might consider several options, including
something like Paid Search, which may be right for you. It’s not as simple as
bidding on a couple keywords and putting together an ad or two, but with a few
simple tricks and tips, you can be successful.  The sheer volume on the internet
can lead to explosive growth and revenues, but you must be proactive when
managing a search campaign.  By taking a re-active approach, the chance of
losing money can become a reality quickly.

Getting Started

Getting started is easy if you choose this method. You can sign up for
Adwords at http://adwords.google.com.
Once you set-up your “account” you can start creating campaigns using some easy
to follow rules of the game. Here are some helpful tips:

Account Set-up/Keyword Selection

First, select the keywords that are relevant to your products and then start
to build them out with all plurals, misspellings, and different variations, so
that any kind of search term will help bring your page to the top of the
results. For example, the keyword ‘business cards’ can become business card,
businesscard, businesscards (plural one word), etc. You have to keep in mind
that many times people will mistype search terms, so you may opt to add in words
commonly misspelled, such as “business” becoming “buisness” as there is still an
opportunity during those searches for you to snag more “business” regardless of
correct spelling.

Once you come up with the keywords, start to arrange them into ‘campaigns’
usually by product or service.  Within those campaigns create ‘ad groups.’ When
creating ad groups, try to keep the keywords within each ad group as specific as
possible. For instance, all terms relating to custom business cards will be one
ad group, e.g., terms such as custom business card, custom business cards,
business card custom, business cards custom, customized business cards, etc.

You should also consider using negative keywords. Using negative keywords
will allow you not to show to the wrong users. For example, excluding the term
‘credit’ to stop your ad from showing for all the business credit cards. This
alone can cut your costs dramatically. Leverage all the reporting and tools that
your company has to determine which keywords you are matching that are not

Creating Ad Copies, Testing Results

Once you have gotten through the creation of keywords, campaigns and ad
groups, then it is time for writing the copy of the actual ads. There are some
basic tips to writing quality paid search ads. First, use all available
characters.  Filling up the space won’t be difficult when making sure your offer
is clear and actionable. Be sure to call out any promotions or competitive
advantages that your product has to offer.  Also, use correct spelling, but do
not hesitate to try unique characters that may set you apart, such as: (! & $ %
® TM). 

Do not write a misleading ad; try to qualify the user before they click with
a descriptive and informative offer. Finally, test multiple copies against each
other to see which one performs the best and generates the most tangible
results. A/B split testing allows you the controls to test run multiple
different paid ads against each other in current time. Much like the practices
used in marketing, split testing software helps to choose which adaptation will
render the greatest conversion rates. Running split testing in the search space
allows you to figure out exactly what works and what doesn’t. Both Google and
Yahoo allow for A/B split testing and you should always utilize it.

When setting up a test to split run you must do so in the “campaign settings”
so the ads rotate evenly and the results are not compromised. Use split run
testing to optimize your campaigns for ad copy, landing pages, and the price or
specific offer.  This will allow you further insight into what can work best for
you and what doesn’t, and also allow you to stay on the proactive path which
will ultimately lead to success.

Tracking and Targeting

Whether it’s in house reporting or an analytics package offered by the
search engine you choose to buy ad words from, you MUST track everything.
Tracking results provides you all the insight to accurately determine test
winners, move bids up and down, and to add negative keywords. 

At the very least you should get conversion tracking (a service that is
offered by Google, Yahoo and MSN. If you cannot track the performance of your
search engine marketing efforts and assign a value to it, there is no reason to
start it in the first place. There is also a lot of value to Geo-Targeting,
specifically for small regional businesses that might only be interested in
reaching a specific geography.

If your product or service is only available in a specific region,
Geo-Targeting is a great option. This will allow your ad only to show to users
in a select region. You can target by city, state, or even country. By
geo-targeting you will most likely have lower costs-per-click and will get an
additional line of copy calling out your local roots. This can be a boon for
locally based small businesses, and is an option offered by the search engines.


Budgeting is right behind testing and analyzing in terms of importance when
it comes to paid search campaigns.  Make sure you set daily budgets to prevent a
certain campaign from spending too much. You will lose impressions by setting a
low daily budget but you will not run into any invoice surprises. These can
often discourage or even outright kill a small businesses desire to stay in the
space.  Start out slow, and work your way up as you get your feet wet. 
Depending on your industry clicks can range anywhere from a few cents to as high
as $10 plus dollars. A daily budget should range according to your average

Other ways to limit daily spending are Day Parting, or having your ads show
only during select times of the day.  We talked about Geo-Targeting, which can
save you money by being targeted, and always turn off Content Networks.  Unless
you are solely trying to brand your product or service, turn off the content
networks!  Most campaigns when created will have content turned on as a
default.  Make sure it is turned off.  Content networks are expanded areas of
reach that the search engines are able to show your ads.  They are shown on
blogs, emails, web pages, etc. and are supposed to be shown when there is
related content to your keywords on the page. The main difference between search
and content ads is this:  a user is looking for your product/service when
clicking a search ad. They are more qualified because they are looking for you.
When using a content ad, it is like you are searching for them. 

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