by John Eberhard

If you have a pay per click advertising (PPC) account on Google AdWords or one of the other providers, chances are you have come up against one or more of the non-optimum manifestations that you can get with a PPC account. What do you do? Here are some tips.

Not enough impressions: Impressions is the pay per click term for how many people saw your ad. You need a large enough number of impressions to then have a certain percentage of them click on your ad and come to your site. So if your impressions are really low, you have to come up with a way to get them up. Usually this is a problem of not enough keywords, or the keywords you have don’t have enough people searching for them. Either way, add more keywords, preferably ones with lots of traffic. Use Google’s keyword tool which gives you ideas.

Not enough people clicking on the ads: This could be a problem with not enough impressions (see above). Or if your overall clickthrough percentage is low (that’s the number of people clicking on your ad versus the number of impressions), then you need to try some new text ads.

Google lets you put up multiple text ads on one campaign, and you can then let them run for a while and compare their statistics. This is called A-B testing. One Google searcher will see ad #1 and the next person typing in that keyword will see ad #2. They alternate back and forth. If you put up multiple text ads, you will see after a week or two that one of them tends to have a significantly higher clickthrough rate. You can then pause the ad that is not performing as well.

And by the way, if you want to make a change to one of your existing text ads, create a new one with the change, and pause the existing one. Why? because if you make a change to an existing text ad, Google will trash all the historical statistical data about that ad. It’s good to keep that historical data so pause the current one and enter a new ad.

Some people ask me what is an acceptable clickthrough rate. There is no cut and dried answer to that question because it varies a lot from campaign to campaign and industry to industry. Generally I think you should compare all your ads and see which of them is giving the highest clickthrough rate, and that should be your benchmark. But to give a broad answer to that question, I’d say that clickthrough rates of under 0.5% are pretty low and 2-4% is pretty good.

People are clicking on the ads but not enough are contacting us: The number of people that actually contact you either via email or phone are called “conversions,” and the number of conversions versus the number that clicked on your ad and arrived at your site is called the conversion rate. If you are getting a good number of people clicking on your ads but a low percentage are converting, this is a problem because that means you are spending money on the clicks but not getting the benefit of Google conversions.

The first thing to look at is the conversion rate. If the percentage is over 2% you are doing pretty well. I’ve read that the national average is 3%. So if your conversion percentage is below 1% you need to do something about that. You need to look at your landing page, which is the page you designate for people to land on when they click on your ad.

Many people make the mistake of just having a Google visitor land on their home page. You should create a customized landing page for your visitors to land on.

  1. Make sure the content of the landing page matches what your ad says. This is especially important if your company offers more than one product or service.
  2. The landing page should not have navigation buttons on it. I routinely get arguments from clients about this as they think it would not work as well as having nav buttons. So I have tested it repeatedly over the years and I would say that in 90% of all cases, it works best to not have navigation buttons on your PPC landing page. When I say “works best” I mean it gets better conversions.
  3. The landing page should of course have your logo and company identification at the top.
  4. Include sales text and pictures
  5. Include a phone number and form at the bottom
  6. Come up with some kind of special offer

Google gives you the option to put what they call “conversion code” on your “thank you page” (the page visitors come to after they click submit on your form). This is extremely helpful. That code will send a message back to the Google interface whenever someone fills out your web form, thus tracking the number of conversions. It will not only track the raw numbers of conversions, but you can see which text ads the conversions came from, which keywords they came from, and even see what your cost per conversion is. So it is vital to have the conversion code.

Good luck with pay per click advertising.