Using Paid Search for Greenville, SC area businesses

Using local paid search marketing campaigns to market your business is perhaps the fastest way to drive much more traffic to your web presence. Many businesses in the upstate dive right into advertising through Google AdWords or Microsoft Ad Center because the basic setup of paid campaigns is so simple. The hard reality of paid search, also known as SEM or search engine marketing, is that it is very complex and to get great results, you need to follow disciplined steps of analysis and adjustment or your business can waste a tremendous amount of money in a short time.

I would like to share some tips with you for setting up a basic campaign for a small business. Be aware that this type of advertising can get pretty crazy pretty quickly so look at this as a taste of what will help you get started. Later you can get more involved if you like.

First, you need to know how the ads work. Basically you set up an ad. The ad is displayed somewhere on the internet, usually on a search engine results page. If someone clicks on your ad, they will be directed to a page that you predetermine. Google or Microsoft then determines how much the ad should cost you and your tab is opened. When the billing cycle is over, you get a bill for the ad costs. In a perfect world, you made more money on your site than the ads cost. And they all lived happily after.

The actual setup of an account and a campaign is more complex. Significantly more complex. The good news is that Google and Microsoft make documentation available that can walk you through every step and have a support forum that is…let’s just say, more or less adequate. You can learn how to get a campaign going in one to three days depending on how adept you are learning by reading or watching YouTube videos.

This article is going to assume that you have done this or will do it. What I want to talk about are war horse advice that isn’t immediately apparent and can increase the effectiveness of your campaigns. Here we go.

  1. Begin by deciding that you are going to run your ads for at least four weeks before you make your first change. To have that kind of commitment, you’re going to need to know what you will likely spend over that four weeks. Use the tools available to estimate what your costs are going to be and have that amount available. If you don’t have the money available or you are not willing to use that money to see if your campaigns are effective, don’t use paid advertising. Initially you have to be willing to spend whatever that likely amount is without expecting one red cent ROI.
  2. Decide what you want your visitor to do. Do you want them to sign up for something? Do you want them to download something? Buy something? Be specific. If you don’t know what you want your visitor to do, neither will they. You’ll likely rack up a nice bill and have almost nothing to show for it.Â
  3. Now that you know what you want them to do, build a landing page (or pages depending on how many campaigns you have) that entices them to do what you want them to. Have an offer, give them a free download, etc., whatever it takes to get them to do it. Later, you can test different pages to see which one works the best. Do not send visitors to your homepage unless that homepage is designed to entice your customers to do something that you want them to. And no, the “Contact Us” page on the bright shiny new WordPress theme usually won’t do the trick.
  4. Try different combinations of ads and landing pages and run the ones that work until they don’t work any more.
  5. Set a rigid, unwavering schedule of analyzing how your ads are performing. Be merciless in culling or adjusting ads or keywords that don’t work. Same with landing pages. It doesn’t matter if you spent a week developing the perfect landing page for that ad. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. If you find people are visiting your site from a particular keyword and they leave immediately after seeing your landing page, don’t just keep using that keyword, pause it. Don’t “like” any keyword. Be willing to spend the time to find out what’s not working!

These tips are as much business rules as they are paid search tips. It’s work that is dull as dishwater but it’s worth it. On a related note, it’s important to know if you are capable, as a business owner or manager, of learning this topic. If you need help doing it, don’t try to be a hero, go get help with your sem campaigns. Everybody needs help in business at some point or another and it’s the shrewd business owner that knows when to ask for it.