Why Outsourcing PPC Management Makes Sense

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Why Outsourcing Your PPC Management Makes SenseDo you really trust yourself to handle all of your company's search engine marketing efforts? If you do... should you? There are numerous benefits to employing a Search Marketing firm to manage your company's Pay Per Click advertising. Two of the bigger benefits that easily come to mind are time-management and professional assistance.

Why Outsourcing Your PPC Management Makes Sense

Do you really trust yourself, or someone with little to no experience, to handle all of your company's search engine marketing efforts? If you do... should you?

Forget that for a second... let me ask you this instead: Would you do your own taxes or let someone who is inexperienced with tax laws and regulations do them for you in order to save a few bucks? Ok... some of you might, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that a large majority of you don't. Why do you suppose that is? My guess is because you, like I, understand that an error in our taxes can be very costly in more ways than just one.

Sure there are tools and resources available just about everywhere, both online and offline, that can help guide us through our tax forms, but knowing that there is a lot at stake, especially in a monetary sense, we tend to let those with a little more experience take care of us. The same can and should be said for your search engine marketing efforts.

There are tons of great articles, blogs, tools, and online resources available that can make optimizing a website or managing a paid-placement campaign seem easy. However, I, in no way shape or form, would ever suggest to anyone that they begin making search engine marketing related changes or advances to their website, or at least without first reviewing the project with a Search Engine Marketing Consultant.

My reasoning: The negatives, such as having your website banned from the search engines or being charged several thousand dollars more than expected for a PPC buy, out-weigh any and all positives.

Wouldn't you agree?

The Benefits to Outsourcing Your PPC

There are numerous benefits to employing a Search Marketing firm to manage your company's Pay Per Click advertising. Two of the bigger benefits that easily come to mind are time-management and professional assistance.

Time Management

Pay Per Click campaigns should be monitored multiple times throughout each day. If a merchant is going to be successful online, he or she will be responsible for many hours each week managing bid changes, writing and adding new advertising copy, reconfiguring daily, weekly, and monthly budget figures, and reviewing and acting on analytics data. There is a lot to do, and very little time to do it... especially if the merchant is a single-person or smaller operation.

In addition to that, PPC marketers spend a great deal of their time learning. We read industry focused blogs and newsletters, test new products and services offered by the search engines, and attend several yearly PPC seminars and conferences. Therefore, when you employ a Search Marketing firm to manage your company's advertising you are essentially buying their wealth of advertising knowledge as well as their past years of experience in dealing with PPC accounts, platforms, strategies, and techniques. The resources that professional PPC managers bring to the table are endless and are typically without additional costs.

Professional Assistance

Employing a Search Marketing firm to manage your PPC advertising means having the peace of mind that your company's campaigns are being run correctly, in addition to now having the necessary time needed to effectively attend to the many other daily tasks associated with running an online business.

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3 Simple Strategies for Better PPC Budgeting

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Monday, August 27, 2007

3 Simple Strategies for Better PPC BudgetingIn this article, I outline 3-simple budgeting strategies that have personally helped me to become a better Pay Per Click management specialist. While these suggestions are not likely to apply to every company, industry, or campaign, paid search marketers should find at least one of these budgeting tips to be useful in their efforts.

3 Simple Strategies for Better PPC Budgeting

The following are 3-simple strategies for better PPC budgeting. While these suggestions are not likely to apply to every company, industry, or campaign, I'm sure you'll find at least one to be useful in your Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing efforts. Give these a shot.

Don't Spread Your Budget Too Thin

Should your company have a small-to-medium sized PPC budget, it is best that you not divide it into too many parts... say Google, Yahoo!, MSN, and Ask. Instead invest most, if not all, of your PPC budget into one search engine. Doing so will allow your company to adequately compete, in terms of getting top PPC positioning, in at least one front, as opposed to having borderline medium-level or poor positioning on all fronts.

Advertise Where It Makes Sense

It's quite common to know that advertising specific industries on certain search engines may actually work better than others. Take for instance the finance industry (stocks, taxes, banking, and investing). Because of the sheer nature of the MSN audience, these companies are better suited to advertise on Microsoft's PPC platform as opposed to Yahoo's or Google's platform. And vise versa depending on other industries. I suggest that you review your advertising options thoroughly and determine which PPC providers provide the best return for your specific industry... then simply allocate your budget accordingly.

Stay in Season

If your company's products or services happen to revolve around specific seasons or other set time frames, I recommend minimizing your PPC spend during "off-season" months while increasing spend just before and during "in-season" months. Dividing your budget as so for each of your campaigns (across all PPC platforms) will ensure that you have the necessary funding available for when advertising becomes the most profitable.

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The Benefit of Multi-Platform PPC Management

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Benefit of Multi-Platform PPC ManagementManaging campaigns across multiple platforms can be a little problematic in the sense that a company has to create and maintain an internet presence at multiple locations. This typically translates into a larger work-load and more advertising spend. However, the benefits certainly out-weigh any of the hassle that goes along with doing so.

The Benefit of Multi-Platform PPC Management

Managing campaigns across multiple platforms can be a little problematic in the sense that a company has to create and maintain an internet presence at multiple locations (say Google, Yahoo! MSN, Ask, and any other PPC provider). This typically translates into a larger work-load and more advertising spend. However, the benefits certainly out-weigh any of the hassle that goes along with doing so.

The most obvious benefit to advertising with multiple search engines is the sheer amount of additional exposure a company will receive. Each major search engine has its own advertising network consisting of smaller search engines and website partners. With only a few buys, one can literally have their brand or message exposed to hundreds of millions of internet users daily... rather than being limited to the reach of just one search engine and its network.

The same pretty much applies for niche and vertical search engines. Pay Per Click advertising is all about being where your target audience is. Setting up local PPC campaigns or those campaigns that allow you to advertise in niche areas is another opportunity for a company to gain exposure. As with all forms of marketing, the more exposure an advertisement receives, the more leads it will be able to generate, which, in turn, could ultimately mean an increase in sales or conversions.

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How To Choose Keywords for Search Campaigns

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Friday, August 03, 2007

How To Choose Keywords for Search CampaignsChoosing the right keywords for your search engine optimization campaign isn't as easy as it sounds. It's quite the opposite. There are so many details to consider and making even the slightest mistake could cause long-term headaches, and not to mention profits. The keywords you'll want to use will vary depending on the industry you're in and goals you wish to achieve.

How To Choose Keywords for Search Campaigns

Choosing the right keywords for your search engine optimization campaign isn't as easy as it sounds. In fact, it's quite the opposite.. There are so many details to consider and making even the slightest mistake could cause some really long-term headaches, and not to mention profits.

When deciding on which keywords to choose, you may find yourself asking such questions as these: "do I use the singular form of my keyword, the plural form, or does it even matter?", "do I include common misspellings?", "do I use brand-specific keywords or do I stick with more generalized options?", "how many keywords do I optimize per each page?.

These are all in fact very valid questions. However, like most things in the world of search marketing, there are no really easy answers that I can share. The truth is that answers will vary depending on the industry you're in as well as the type of goals you've set out to achieve with your SEO promotion. With that said, I've put together these few tidbits to help you:

Singular versus Plural: When it comes to organic search listings, yes, there is a difference between using the singular form versus the plural form. Run a test search and you'll see first hand how the top listings change for your products and services.

I recommend picking one version of the keyword and sticking to it. If you're targeting general terms like "ford mustangs" or "basketballs" than go with the plural. If you're targeting product specific terms like "2007 ford mustang" or "nike airlift basketball" than the singular version is probably the way to go.

Misspellings: Normally I wouldn't suggest using misspellings in an SEO campaign (instead, I'd recommend adding them to your website's PPC campaign), however, there are a few instances when optimizing for a common misspelling does a lot of good.

I recommend not optimizing for the proper and misspelled keyword variation on the same page. Instead, create a separate page solely for the use of the misspelling. This may be classified as "spamming" or "creating doorway pages" to some; however I see it as helping the bad spellers of the world to find the products, services, and information they're looking for.

Specific versus General: Deciding when to use specific keyword phrases versus general is actually pretty easy. If you're looking to optimize a category or product line page, I would consider using only general keywords... those keywords that best describe all the products within that category. For example, if your website sells athletic shoes, a category page may be "Nike Shoes" or "Adidas shoes". In this case I would optimize these pages respectively for "Nike Shoes", "Nike Running Shoes", "Adidas Shoes", or "Adidas Running Shoes". However, if you're looking to optimize a product specific or service-specific page, I would consider using specific keywords to do so. Following the previous example, I would choose such keywords as "Nike Air Max 360 II SL" or "Adidas Adistar LJ"... as my keywords.

Keywords per Page: Believe it or not, optimizing a page for multiple keywords at once could ultimately lead to a "watered-down" SEO campaign... meaning that you've optimized it for so many terms that the search engines are even confused as to what the page is really about. In most cases, search engines will rank such a page mediocre for each of the terms instead of highly for a few of them.

My recommendation is to pick 2 - 3 keywords per page (choose 4 - 5 for the home page) and go from there. I feel that you'll get a lot more out of your optimization efforts that way than you would if you tried to optimize a single page for 20 or so keywords.

Once you've got a grasp on those ideas, it's time to move on to the actual steps leading to the selecting of keywords. The following are some very simple steps that you can follow to help you in your keyword research efforts:

Phase One: Brainstorming

In this first step of the keyword selection process, you and several other members of your company should sit down and begin pooling together keyword suggestions based solely on everybody's knowledge of the products and services at hand. It's important to note that every suggestion should be included (regardless of how far-off or ridicules they may seem). And, as a great way to obtain the most diverse keyword list possible, members from every department within your company (research, marketing, development, IT, sales, etc) should be invited to participate. Why is this? Well it's quite common for a member of your marketing team to view a product differently than others do... say the sales team or working the line at the warehouse. Everybody's suggestions count!

On a side note, depending on the product or service your company sells, it may also be beneficial to include clients or customers in the brainstorming process as well. Sometimes their insights are just as important as your own

Phase Two: A Popularity Count

The second step in the keyword selection process is to determine which keywords your general audience (those that will be buying your products and services) are using most in their search queries. In doing so, you'll see first-hand which keywords are worth optimizing for, and can proceed in removing those which have few or no searches from your list.

To determine popularity counts for your keywords (the number of times each term was searched for in a recent 30-day span), you'll need to run them through an online database known as a keyword suggestion tool. In addition to a popularity count, these tools may also highlight additional keyword suggestions that you either forgot about or simply didn't think of. In regards to keyword suggestion tools, I recommend using Wordtracker or MSN's Search Funnel tool, but there are certainly plenty of other great tools out there to choose from (many of which are free).

On a side note, to attain a better data sample, one could use a Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign to determine a popularity count simply by monitoring the number of impressions each term receives in a 30-day span. The down fall here though is if you don't already have a PPC account with Google or Yahoo!, you'll need to set one up as well as pay for any clicks that are attributed to those campaigns.

Phase Three: Assigning Keywords

So you've brainstormed in order to create a list of keyword suggestions. Then, using "popularity counts", you've determined which of the keywords on that list were worth keeping and which weren't. Now, the third and final step in the keyword selection process is to assign those remaining keywords to specific pages.

Essentially what you'll be doing here is paring keywords from your revised list and pairing them together with the specific pages of your website. Doing so will determine which keywords will be optimized and on which page. One thing you should keep in mind while assigning keywords is that it is in your company's best interest to assign only those keywords which are relevant to each page. For instance it is best to assign the keyword "Ford Mustang" to the "Ford Mustang page" or "cars" pages, rather than the "Chevy Cavalier" or "Ford Trucks" pages.

And that's that... a simple 3-step process for finding quality keywords for your search engine optimization campaigns.

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