I have promised for some weeks that I’d do a FREE PPC Guide for those of you who are looking to set up and manage your own PPC campaigns. It is pretty simple, all you need is to take your time and have some research tools to make sure you are doing PPC on keywords that people actually search for rather than guessing or going for keywords that don’t get searched for. This is one of the most common mistakes that people make, so getting a tool that gives you keyword research data is too important not to do.
Below is a step by step guide to how I would go about setting up a Pay Per Click campaign. If you think I’ve missed out on any key points or if something is unclear please do comment below or get in contact with me and I’ll look to add that to the guide.
Keyword Research Tool
Before you do anything I would suggest you get a keyword research tool, for example something like Serpstat does the trick. Serpstat currently have a FREE package which is useful if you are only looking for a handful of queries or a package at $49 for up to 1000 queries per day. At that type of price it is a low price for a tool that is well developed and will help you with keyword research. As well as doing research on your competitors you can see what your competitors rank for in organic search as well as paid advertising, the tool even shows you what your competitors ad looks like and it also gives you an idea on the average CPC ( Cost Per Click ).
So sign up for a FREE account with Serpstat to do some initial Keyword Research so that you can pick, say 10 to 20 keywords just for initial set up of your PPC campaign. You can also see my Serpstat tutorial which will give you more information on how it looks and how to navigate through the dashboard.
There is an alternative too which is called SEMRush, this has been a tool that many SEO and PPC consultants have used for years and it is a very good tool and one that I use daily. SEMRush is a tool that is constantly updating and is becoming a more all-round SEO and Competitor analysis tool. With this tool you can see what your competition are doing on PPC, see what their ads are like and what keywords they are bidding on.
The keyword research that SEMRush provides is invaluable as it will give you how much the monthly search volume is on each keyword and an average cost per click price which is pretty handy when you are doing PPC.
You can go here to sign up for SEMRush. It is advisable to have one of these tools so that you can set up your campaign with some thought and real research going in behind the scenes.
The very first thing you have to do is set up a new AdWords account. Below is a video which will talk you through the process, however, you’ll find that signing up for a Google Adwords account is fairly simple and straight forward. You can go here to sign up for an Adwords account.
Once that is done there is a 4 step process for the initial set up.
- About your business: All you need to do is fill out some generic information about your business which is simple and straight forward.
- Your Campaign: In this part you will need to set your daily budget, the locations you wish to target, the keywords you want to target and the ad you wish to display. ( More information below on all of these )
- Billing : This is where you set up your direct debit or credit card so that Google can bill you. There is no way around this, you need to enter the billing details at this point, you cannot go to step 4 until you have done this.
- Review: At this step your campaign will be live and you’ll be able to view it.
Typically there’s a lot more to PPC than just those brief steps which I’ll go into below.
The above 4 step process is required in order to set your account up, step 1, 3 & 4 are very easy and you should have no issues with any of them. Step 2 is a little more complex especially if you have not set up a PPC campaign before so I will go into a bit of detail on this.
You will see an image like the below on step 2
Setting your daily budget
You will have a daily budget and you simply need to set this at whatever you feel comfortable with. There is no point in putting a strain on your business so make this whatever suits you. I have clients who spend £5 daily and others who spend £500 or more, the choice is completely yours.
You may only offer your products or services in an area which is beneficial because it means that you can choose the location that you want people to find you in. There are a number of different ways that you can do this, you could serve ads to people in Glasgow, you could do it by postcode or you can do it by a combination of areas. If it was me I may choose Inverness, Glasgow, Edinburgh & Dumfries as areas where I might choose to target for new customers for my business.
If you’d like your products/services to be exposed to the full of the UK then you can just have your ads running all over the United Kingdom. You can also target other countries too and again you can be specific down to postcode or you can choose to have your ads served to multiple countries all over the world.
You will have the search network which is Google search as well as other sites that use Google as a search engine and you’ll also have Display which is non-Google partner websites that display ads. Just because someone isn’t a Google partner doesn’t mean that your advert shouldn’t appear on their site so by default I always pick search and display. This is because each PPC campaign I set up is for the sole purpose of being seen by as many people as possible.
This is the easy part of the process, you pick your keywords that you should have selected at the very start of the setup. Typically one keyword per line is the format that you need to use on Adwords, however, there is no limit to the amount of keywords you put in here. Having said this, be mindful that a low budget shouldn’t target hundreds of keywords as it would probably not work that well for you.
Here is where you will set up your first ad. The first option is the landing page for your website so the page you want your customers who click on your ad to land on should be the URL you put in there.
You are allowed 25 characters in the title, this includes spaces so make sure it’s an ad that catches the eye and if possible contains a keyword.
You get 2 lines of text, with each line allowing for up to 35 characters to be used again. This includes spaces so make sure that you put in what you need to say in this position. Check your competitors to see what they are saying too to give you some ideas. – Remember it needs to be short and to the point.
You have to stick the main URL of your website in this position as your main URL is shown along with your ad. Below you will see some ads of Scottish Charities and you will see they are short sharp and to the point, with them saying exactly what needs to be said. Everyone gets the same ad space so make sure you use it to your advantage.
At this point you will have your first campaign set up and you may think you are finished. This is one of the most common mistakes as people do an initial bit of research and then think they have it set up and just leave it running. You can still get clicks here and there and if you are lucky you will get regular ongoing clicks and you might not need to change things that much. The trouble is your competition are likely to be on the ball, tweaking and refining the campaign, showing rotating ads, tweak the time of day that the ads are served and many other things that you can do with an AdWords campaign that will help you stand out from the crowd.
Setting up properly
The above steps were you setting up your account for basic use. Now that you have done all of that you are now ready to tweak your campaign and set it up properly. At this point you’ll see a screen that looks like the below screenshot which is your main AdWords dashboard, this is where you will be able to do all of the actions you need to to make sure you get a decent return on your investment.
I’ve just set up a campaign and paused it for demonstration purposes but there are a wide range of options on the dashboard. I will list all of them for you and highlight the important ones so that you can refine your campaign. I’ll start from left to right for each of these, there is text instruction and also a screencast where you can listen to the video for each individual section.
For your website you can have multiple campaigns running, for example I might have 3 services that I offer set up on my Adwords account. I could potentially have SEO Services, PPC Management, Digital Marketing Training courses which would mean that I’d set up a campaign for each of those services. Each campaign would have it’s own keywords that I would target, ads relating to those services, and all ads would land people on the relevant page on my website.
There is no limit to the amount of campaigns that you can set up, however, you don’t want to set up too many. You just have to click on the big red button that says ” campaign ” and it will ask you your daily budget, keywords and the locations you want to target just like you did earlier on.
You can have different ads. I’ll use myself as an example, I might want to have 3 ads for my SEO Services campaign just to see what ad works best. Your Ad Groups are just the ads for each campaign you have set up, so I would have a set of ads for my SEO Services. By default Google will rotate those ads when people are served my ads. I would then have different ads for PPC Management which would be another Ad Group, with whatever amount of ads I may choose to use.
At this part you have settings and then you have some other options just under that.
All settings – This is just your campaign settings where you can change your daily budgets, locations, ad networks and so on so that’s pretty standard.
Locations – If you have a campaign set up and you wanted to add a few more locations or postcodes in or even another country then you would go to locations and then add in more locations to your campaign. You can also remove locations using this option. People regularly try and test locations which is the right thing to do so don’t be afraid to try new locations or postcodes if you think you can work with people from those areas.
Ad Schedule This is a great option and one that I use regularly. You will have analytics set up if you have a website, if not you should. You can see from a tool like Google Analytics that you can see what time of the day people are clicking on your website. As the person managing the campaign you will also be in touch with the business management too who can tell you when most enquiries come through to the business. You can use this option to serve your ads at specific times of the day, meaning that if you or your client wanted the ads served between 8am and 5pm Monday to Friday then you can do so using the ad schedule option or if you felt your ads were only to be served on specific days of the week then you can use this option to do that too.
Devices This is an option where you can adjust your bids on specific devices. Say you wanted to increase a bid by 10% for users who are on a desktop or even a tablet, you can make sure your bids are higher on that device if you have data on your ad that you know people are more likely to click on if they are on a specific device. However, in 90% of cases you will probably not use this option as it’s really down to niche specific and the PPC person’s interpretation of the Analytics. Personally speaking the bidding strategy should just remain the same regardless of the device as there is probably a 50/50 split in people using laptops or mobile devices. It is too hard to drill it down into who actually converts more.
Ads – This is the next option after settings. It’s just your ads and is where you can have multiple ads in your campaign, it’s also where you can add, remove and edit any ads you have. It is always wise to change your ads, mix them up a bit or try several different ones to see which ones convert best. At that point you can remove the ones that don’t convert that well and stick with the ones that work.
Keywords – This is another tab that offers multiple options:
Keywords – This is where you will find the keywords you selected for your campaign. You can add more here or you can remove ones that might not work for you, making this part fairly straight forward. Just remember that when you choose keywords there is nothing wrong with adding more or removing ones that don’t work that well. This is the option to choose to do that.
Negative Keywords – This option is where you can add in negative keywords. You can do this across the whole campaign or at the ad group level if it is just a negative keyword relating to one ad group.
This part is really important and it’s one that many people miss out on. If you want to pay to be found for a bunch of keywords using PPC then it is vital that you limit the opportunity of people clicking your ad that might not use your services. If you are offering a product or service and someone searches a keyword that is on your list and you have your search on broad match then your ad will be served to people who search for anything relating to the keywords on your list.
If you had ” Property Developer ” as one of your keywords and some chap searched for ” Property Developer Jobs ” then the chances are your ad will show to this user. So if someone who is looking for a job clicks your ad then they’d be unlikely to convert into a paying customer, meaning that you would want to add a word like ” Jobs ” to prevent your ad from being served to anyone who is searching for jobs alongside some of the keywords you have set up on your campaign.
In conclusion, anything you don’t want to be used alongside your keywords you can add to the negative keywords list to refine the campaign.
Search Terms – This option allows you to find out how customers are finding your ad, allowing you to measure what search terms triggered your ad that lead to a click. This data will only show depending on the match types on your keywords.
More about match types are mentioned below but keep in mind if you have a generic campaign set up and the match types are broad or phrase match then this data will be important to you. This is more data than actually a function to do anything on your PPC campaign.
Ad Extensions – Ad Extensions are an important part of any PPC campaign, especially for someone who has multiple products or services. The best thing is it only takes a few minutes to set these up and there is no additional cost for doing this, so it makes sense to make use of this feature to promote other pages on your website that will be useful to the people landing on your website.
An example of someone using ad extensions is below :
You can see they have some clickable links below their advert. This is what ad extensions are, with them letting you you show off your range of services to people rather than just a simple text ad.
Dimensions – This is another analysis tab but can be a very useful one. A lot of people don’t really bother with this tab and I regularly get many people asking me what it actually does. To keep it simple it allows you to go through your campaign at campaign level or ad group level and you can filter things right down to the hour or geographical location if you want to so you can get a real insight to how your PPC campaign is actually working.
Overall the dimensions tab in my opinion is a tab you need to use if you want to refine your campaign properly. It should probably have been called something like Analysis or something similar as many people see the name and don’t look into what it does.
You can do time analysis :
- By the hour
You would use time analysis to work on your ad scheduling so that your ads are served to people at the most appropriate time of the day according to your customers. Every niche is different which means that some companies get more calls and emails at night than they do during the day and vice versa.
You can target any number of locations with your PPC campaign. If you do cover multiple locations then you can do some in depth analysis on what areas are working best for you. You can also work out distance reports in case you need to expand the radius your ads are served to get to the right people.
Display Network This is the last tab and one that has additional functions. Again this tab is not used by many people, I’m not sure why this is because there is a lot of things you can do here to make sure your overall campaign is refined and working well for you.
It’s another tab that provides you with a wide range of data. You will see the sub menu options you have available which I’ll go into in detail below. Using this data can help you refine your campaign.
Summary This tab is pretty simple, it gives you an overall summary of how your campaign is working, clicks, cost, CTR, impressions and all the usual summary data.
Display Keywords This tab basically just shows you the keywords you are bidding on, how much the average cost per click is, the impressions, the clicks and the CTR again, this tab just has it all on one big screen so you have a full overview of the campaign.
Placements At the beginning of this article I said you can choose search or search and display! Well if you do go down the route of having your ad shown on other websites then this is called display and if you click this tab it will show you what sites displayed your ad, how many impressions and clicks your site got when being displayed on these websites. So you can see what websites are working and what ones are not and from this you can establish if display actually works for you.
You can exclude display sites from your campaign by going down to the bottom part of that tab and it will also allow you to add other display websites too.
Topics This is a useful tab because it allows you to search for topics and ensure your ad is found on additional display ad websites. For example say I want to do PPC and want my ad to appear on some sites that might be relevant I can click topics, click the ad group I want to show and then search for topics and add in any additional websites that I want my PPC adverts to appear on (just like the example below). Overall I’d say that this is a tab that is worth looking at because it allows you to target your audience with this option.
Interests & Remarketing This tab allows you to create a list that you can add to any of your ad groups. This gives you the ability to focus on people who have a specific interest in your services or products rather than those doing generic browsing, this can in turn help you to reach the right customers. – Just remember you need to have a campaign that allows you to target display in order to do this.
In conclusion, that takes you through all of the tabs and what each one does. In most cases you won’t need to use some of the tabs however, there are others instances where you may need more information. A simple Google search on any of them can help with this and generally when you set up an AdWords account and spend £6 or more per day Google will give you free advice so you are not left alone to hope for the best.
Below I am going to go into more detail on a few of the tabs that are most frequently used by myself. I look after a number of PPC campaigns for clients in different niches so there isn’t one campaign that is set up exactly the same as the next one. Typically the methods are the same but some of the targeting, keywords and bidding will be different.
Now that you have your basic campaign set up you will be able to go in and refine it.
You’ll be able to pick your daily budget and can allow Google to auto bid on your keywords – this will allow you to get as many clicks as you can for the keywords you selected and is where you can try and maximise your PPC budget, however, it does have it’s limitations. Google’s biggest revenue stream is their paid search so it is in their best interests for you to get clicks and use your daily budget. With this in mind, it’s always advisable to manually bid so that you have full control over the bidding strategy and you can get the ads into the positions that are getting you the most clicks.
Google will prompt you on your AdWords campaign if a keyword is below page 1 in terms of a bidding strategy and it will give you a rough idea on what you should be bidding. You simply have to try and test things with the bidding to get it 100% and working well for you. Take your time doing this and ensure that you are not going crazy with the bidding as the last thing you want is to enter a bidding war with one of your big rivals.
Google offers 4 slots at the top of the page, and 3 slots at the bottom of any page for their paid ads, as of the 22nd of February they no longer have ads down the right-hand sidebar. This is to ensure that the desktop version is similar to the mobile version. It is likely that the cost per click is going to increase as a result of this change.
Keywords (Match Types)
Now you will have selected a bunch of keywords after doing your initial research that’s great, however, there is something else you must consider and that’s the match types you have chosen.
Exact Match – The search term must be typed in exactly, this will ensure that your campaign is very specific but this can reduce your chances of clicks in a lot of cases.
Phrase– Search term must be typed in correct order even if there are additional terms before or after the query, this gives you more opportunity than exact match but still keeps it refined a fair bit.
Broad – Query can be typed in any order and it will potentially show ads for similar searches, although you can get clicks here with this option it’s more than likely that they aren’t all that relevant.
For example say I had SEO as one of my keywords and I had it on ” broad match ” Someone looking for SEO Jobs, Marketing Jobs, FREE SEO and so many other terms are likely to be triggering my ads. All I want is someone to come to me to use my SEO services and I could potentially have lot of clicks but a lot of them will never convert as its too broad.
It’s wise to have a play around with match types and try things out however, very generic keywords in your niche I’d have on phrase or exact match and the long tail keywords or more specific searches you could have on broad or phrase match.
This is really important to ensure you look after negative keywords on your campaign having a list of negative keywords will help you get rid of traffic that won’t convert. If you are selling products or services the word ” FREE ” is likely to be the first one as anyone searching for FREE isn’t looking to pay and not really the type of person you want your adverts being served too. Words like cheap, jobs, budget, employment are just some of the ones you may want to look at to start with but make sure you keep on top of this.
You can have as many ads as you want as long as they fit in the space you have available:
Headline – Up to 25 characters (including spaces)
Description Line 1 – Up to 35 characters (including spaces)
Description Line 2 – Up to 35 characters (including spaces)
Display URL – Up to 35 characters (including spaces)
You can refine the ads as you go. Try a few different ones to see which one converts best and make sure you do try and test different ads and stick with the ones that are converting to clicks.
It is safe to go with at least 2 ads for every campaign just for testing purposes and this will allow you to see which one works best.
You will want to tie your AdWords campaign into your Google analytics which is very easy to do. Your AdWords ID number must be entered into the relevant section on your analytics account when you login to analytics click on the admin section:
You click on the AdWords linking tab and it will allow you to link the two of them together which will enable you to see all the AdWords data via your analytics, this will help you gauge what percentage of your overall website traffic comes from paid search.