*This article assumes that you know the fundamentals of doing SEO and PPC on Google.
Whenever I hear about a search engine optimization (SEO) versus pay per click (PPC) advertising debate that argues one is better than the other, my heart aches. Then, as someone claims that SEO is the way to go for the long run; PPC is only good for short term traffic; my heart breaks. Today my friends, I’m going to need your help to put my heart together. The only remedy is to build a PPC campaign that will outlast the noise in the online kingdom of contradicting advice.
Let’s debunk a few myths first.
The SEO always gives long-term returns myth
Your SEO efforts are only as good as Google’s next algorithm update. Unless you’re an SEO, search marketer, or a digital advertiser in the field of online marketing, there’s a good chance that you’ll complete a piece of “SEOed content” and leave it there.
One day your evergreen landing page is doing great, the next day Google decides the keywords it targets are location specific – or worse yet, time-specific, and your efforts are wiped off the search engine results pages. You might even realize two months late that someone has outranked your favorite keyword with better content…. SEO is no magic – you don’t get the long-term recurring traffic without strategy or maintenance.
The PPC only gives short-term returns myth
There’s three obvious ways your ads can win in PPC – high click through rates, high conversion rates, and high Quality Scores. A new competitor could always copy your ad, steal your landing page design, but they’ll never be able to replicate the history of your account. Therefore, it is essential that you have a strong history of good Quality Scores in order to build a PPC campaign that will outlast your competitors.
Quality Score is composed of many factors – much of which your competitors can’t emulate.
As your Quality Score histories improve over time, the overall cost per click of your PPC campaigns will go down. Contrary to popular belief, it’s possible to spend less over time to get more out of your PPC campaigns.
Why Your Account Quality Score Matters for the Long Run
Most of us are familiar with keyword Quality Score or ad copy Quality Score, but how many of us know that landing pages, ad groups, and your whole account also gets a Quality Score? (If you haven’t subscribed to our friends in Hanapin Marketing, now is the time to get an awesome PPC newsletter.) Account level Quality Score is the “SEO” in PPC. The higher it is, the cheaper your new keyword endeavors will be based on the trust Google has placed on your Google AdWords account. Like an established website using its domain authority to rank for a new keyword, Quality Score does the same thing for your ads.
8 Tips to Build Up Your Account Quality Score
- Follow Google’s best practices (focus on ad relevance, CTR, and landing page experience) to bolster the individual Quality Scores on a keyword and ad level.
- Long tail keywords are easier to get high Quality Scores (more relevant) so I’d recommend starting with phrase and exact match keywords – consider pausing any broad match keywords if you’re already bidding on them with a low Quality Score.
- Have a corresponding landing page that echoes the content in the ad. Please do not use your homepage as the destination url of your ads with the exception of branded keywords.
- Keep your ad groups small, with only a handful (2-5) of keywords, and just 2 ads to constantly A/B test. Yes, you will have a lot of ad groups. Implement DKI for these ad groups if it makes sense to improve their relevancy.
- Pause ad groups that refuse to improve AND have a Quality Score below 7 if they are lower than your account average Quality Score. Revisit tip #1 and think about your users more before you reattempt this keyword group.
- Have a branded ad group with branded keywords. You should be getting an easy QS win here unless you have a company brand name composed of generic keywords.
- Turn on location targeting for keywords that show local intent.
- Go through your search query report from time to time to look for negative keywords that could be harming the relevancy and CTR of your ads.
Bonus self-plug: These basic tips are just precursor as to what you can do to improve your Quality Score. For a more complete guide from PPC industry experts, I highly recommend reading WordStream’s Ultimate Quality Score Guide.
Rethinking Pay Per Click Campaigns
Getting your Quality Score up to 9 or even 10 is no simple endeavor – it’s even harder to get your whole account to perform at that level. It’s this difficulty that can make PPC a long-term tactic, as the advertiser with cheaper ads and better conversions will always outlast their competition. It’s also the failure of understanding this concept that has broken my heart over and over again. If the traffic and conversion makes sense, SEO or PPC, we should do it!
Can you score quick traffic with PPC? Absolutely – it’s incredibly easy to do so. However, that’s not the way outstanding marketers should look at PPC. You wouldn’t expect SEO to be a short term gig, so why the double standard on PPC?
Special thanks to the landing page experts of Unbounce, Brad Geddes of certified knowledge, and of course Matt Barby for giving me the opportunity to guest post at Wow Internet.