Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Marketing Basics

PPC ads hold out the promise of an easy way to drive targeted traffic to your site. Unfortunately, though,  it’s easy to waste a lot of money and get no sales. Here are the 3 most common mistakes search engine marketers make in their PPC campaigns.

The plan in your head seems so simple: bid on keywords on pay-per-click (PPC) engines then watch your business skyrocket. Some marketers do achieve instant success. However, many are losing money because they’ve got gaping holes in their PPC strategy. Don’t overlook the basics.

Just because it can take less than 15 minutes to set up a PPC campaign doesn’t mean you should! Let’s look at three common mistakes PPC advertisers make:

1. Choosing the Wrong Keywords
The wrong keywords deliver too much traffic that doesn’t convert, or too few visitors to impact your bottom line. The trick is to choose highly-targeted keywords that are targeted, yet popular enough that you’ll get decent traffic without blowing your entire budget in 24 hours. If you’ re trying to get visitors to take action on your site, it’s mission critical to track your leads or sales at the keyword level. Without knowing which keywords did and did not perform, you won’t be able to maximize your advertising profits.

2. Writing Ad Copy that Attracts Non-Buyers
Generic-sounding copy is terrible, especially for pay-per-click. Something like “we offer business solutions to help your company succeed” is so vague that it’s going to attract people who have no use for your company. You’ll be paying for wasted clicks. A worse offense is to over-promote your offer which also attracts non-buyers; the word “free” has to be used carefully for this reason. Make your ad descriptive and compelling so potential customers know what you’re selling and get ready to buy before they land on your site.

3. Using a Landing Page that Doesn’t Sell
Do not, I repeat, do not send PPC traffic to your home page. Besides certain exceptions, it’s not the most relevant page for the users’ search query. The landing page you send visitors to, and the way it’s designed and written, determines if people stay or abandon your site. Design and test your landing pages for optimal conversions.

Successful pay-per-click campaigns start with careful consideration of the basics. New advertisers should take time to plan out their campaign while existing advertisers should optimize these basic ingredients. Protect your profits!

Catherine Seda, author of Search Engine Advertising (New Riders, 2004), shares search engine marketing tips in her seminars and free e-zine at

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