Skip to content


5 steps to pay-per-click (PPC) success

Author: Ben Jeffery

So you've tried Google Adwords, written a few keywords and an advert, spent £50 or £100 or even £1000 and got nothing for it. Sound familiar? People often tell us Adwords doesn't work, but the harsh reality is you're probably doing it wrong.

Managed right, pay-per-click advertising is the perfect form of marketing because it appears at exactly the time your potential customer is looking for your service, and you only pay when someone looks at your website. The problem with Google Adwords is it's just too easy to use, and too easy to get wrong, but with these 5 simple pay-per-click tips you can make it work for almost any business.

Pay per click success

1. Check the real search terms

Google does not just show your adverts to people putting the exact keywords you specify. It will also show it to people using words that have a similar meaning, or sentences that include the keyword within a different context. For example you might be advertising web design services and paying for people who are searching for web design jobs.

Check your account now by changing the date range to 'all time', viewing the 'keywords' tab and selecting the 'see search terms' button. This will tell you the actual search terms people are using before clicking on your ad, and will probably be a bit of a shock.

So what can you do? Now you know what search terms you don't want, it's quite simple to avoid them:

  • Add negative keywords like "job" or "free" to filter out those searches
  • Use speech marks, e.g. "web design Cheltenham" so people have to use that exact term
  • Add a plus sign to make certain words more important, e.g. +web design

2. Manage your pay-per-click bids

The position of your ads is based on a combination of the amount you're willing to pay and the 'quality score' of the keyword (more on this below). We recommend aiming for the second or third position on the page. This is because people typically click the first three ads anyway, and you'll pay less for these positions than first place. Any lower and you'll get fewer clicks.

3. Use ad groups

The 'quality score' of your keywords is based on relevance, much like the free Google listings, and will determine the position of your ad. Keywords with low quality score may not be shown at all. Quality score is based on the relevance of the landing page, the relevance of the ad text and the loading time for the landing page.

The best way to improve this is by grouping similar keywords together. This way you can write a very specific advert that uses similar keywords, and even create multiple landing pages that relate to the user's search term. This not only improves your quality score, but more importantly will increase the chance of people clicking your ads and getting in touch, because they are being reassured with their own search term at every stage.

4. Use PPC geo-targeting

It's a fancy name for a simple concept: only show your ads to people in a certain geographical area. For any business offering a local service this is invaluable, because it allows you to target people who do not use their location in the keyword, for example by adding the keyword "web design" and setting a location radius of 20 miles around our office, we can reach anyone who either uses local terms like Cheltenham, or is based in this area.

If you're offering your service within a local area, this could dramatically increase the number of people you reach. It also allows you to target more general searches, for example we might use the keyword "SEO tips" to attract people who might be interested in our services, and can increase our chances by only showing this to people in the local area.

5. Track PPC conversions (ROI)

It may sound simple but most people spend money on marketing without really checking if it's working. If you're paying for people to visit your website, you need to know they are getting in touch or buying products. Google Adwords offer conversion tracking or you can get more detailed information with Google Analytics. If you can't track actual sales, track other actions that might indicate interest, like signing up to emails or using the contact page. Apply your tracking before you try the steps above so you can see the difference your changes make.

Still confused by pay-per-click?

It's easy to get started with Google Adwords, but it takes a little more work to be successful. We provide pay-per-click management as a monthly service, and offer a free pay-per-click review of your Adwords account. Just get in touch.