About the Author: Brook Lenox is an online and mobile marketing consultant that shares what he learns on his blog Online Marketing Rant – read a longer version of this blog post there.
The “I’ll throw something up and just hope” approach is not a good one when it comes to paid search marketing. Here is a list of top 10 paid search marketing best practices:
#1 Create Different Groups for Keywords
Create simple keyword categories to see how these different groups perform vs putting all keywords in the same Adwords campaign. For example, categories could be as simple as: a) trademark, b) product specific and c) long tail (explained below).
#2 Do In-Depth Keyword Research
Use creativity, research tools, experience, and organizational skills.
#3 Use Free Tools for Keyword Research
There are many great free keyword research tools; here are some that I use:
• Scrap paper – really. Brainstorming on scrap paper is a great way to start.
• Google Adwords Keyword Tool – Type in keywords for suggestions and volume for each.
• SpyFu – Type in a competitor’s website and see some keywords they are bid on!
#4 Tracking is a Must
Be able to track at various levels; tracking should be in place by:
• Search engine (i.e. Google versus Yahoo)
• Campaign (different groups of words)
• Keyword (i.e. “red car” vs. “blue car”)
#5 Start Small
Launch as small an initial test as possible. Collect just enough data to understand how that test did, so you’ll be ready to start the process of optimizing and growing the campaign.
#6 Test, Test, and Retest
Search campaigns are not meant to be set up and left on auto pilot. Examples of what to test:
• Different search engines
• Groups of keywords
• Individual keywords
• Ad text
• Landing pages
#7 Grow the Long Tail
Words like: “car” may have tremendous search volume, but may or may not be too broad and costly. Phrases like: “how to buy a car” may have far less search volume, but will likely have higher conversion rates and be more cost effective.
#8 Don’t Just Focus on Google
Because Google is by far the largest search engine, many companies focus entirely on Google. That is a mistake. Because your competitors may not set up accounts with Yahoo and MSN, these search engines can at times have significant, but less expensive traffic.
#9 Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Metrics
Every search engine campaign should be monitored on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
Here are a few of the metrics that should be carefully watched:
#10 Know When to Outsource
If you want to excel in search engine marketing, put the time and effort into following through on these and other best practices. If you know you don’t have the time, make the decision to hire someone that can focus on paid search and give it the attention it needs.