What Is Paid Traffic and Google Adwords?
Paid traffic is a form of attracting visitors to your website with the use of paid advertising. To draw new people to your site you have to spend money for every visitor (sometimes, if your campaign is not optimised correctly, you might spend money and get no visitors at all). The cost varies, as paid traffic comes in many different forms, choice of which will depend on your niche, website, marketing objectives and budget.
In many aspects, paid traffic is the opposite of everything I told you about SEO traffic - check out the below table to learn about the main differences:
When to Use Paid Traffic?
One of the biggest advantages of paid traffic is that it can be almost instant - all you have to do is set up a campaign and start paying for clicks. Of course, getting the best results will require extensive testing, but nevertheless, it is the best form of traffic anytime you need immediate results. This means that paid traffic is perfect for product launches and other time-sensitive offers.
Paid traffic is also used to drive visitors to websites that are impossible to rank using search engine optimisation, usually due to lack of content or links. This makes it a perfect choice for driving traffic to squeeze pages or landing pages of high converting affiliate offers that will offset the costs of attracting visitors.
Once you optimise your paid traffic, it becomes easy to get highly targeted visitors. Extensive audience targeting options offered by some of the PPC platforms, provide you with a significant advantage over SEO. Of course, that doesn’t mean that organic and paid search traffic cannot work well together. In fact, to completely dominate search results for your chosen keywords it’s good to use both of them. Let’s take a look at principles of acquiring paid traffic with the use of search engines, which can be used to achieve any of the above marketing objectives.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Different Types of Ads
Typically, there are two basic types of paid ads offered by the leading search engines (Google, Bing) - search and display ads. While you can set up each of them using the same metrics, both of them should be used separately, with a different strategy and goal in mind. Search ads are those that appear in SERPS above organically ranking websites. This is how they look on Google:
Search ads are usually the number one type of ads most people think of when you ask them what paid traffic is. These ads can be highly successful because they are presented to individuals who are actively searching for something - by optimising keywords in your campaigns, you attract people who are genuinely looking for a solution to their problem.
Display ads, on the other hand, appear on websites that use the search engine networks to monetize their traffic. They are shown on sites that are relevant to the topic of your ad and, while the people who see them aren’t actively searching for a solution to their problem using a search engine, they still might be interested since they spend time on websites full of content on a related topic. Usually, those types of ads appear on blogs and other kinds of content-rich sites:
- You are a beginner, as they are more likely to lead to conversions. Of course, that doesn’t mean they do not need any optimisation.
- Your product or service is something people actively look for using search engines (plumbers, locksmiths, direct solutions to a problem).
And Display Network ads if:
- Your product and brand look well on display ads, encouraging your visitors to visit your site.
- You want to build brand awareness - using display ads, you can familiarise people with your product - especially if the ads appear on reputable websites. Even if they don’t click any of the ads right away, they might recall your brand later, when they spot your ad in a search engine.
- Your sales process takes time - people who click on search ads are usually looking for an immediate solution. On the other hand, display ads are great if it takes the time to make a decision. This is especially profitable if you use remarketing.
Speaking of which, it’s important to mention two other types of ads:
- Remarketing List for Search Ads (RLSA)
- Remarketing display ads
When it was introduced, remarketing - aka ad retargeting - was called “the next big thing” in PPC advertising. When you use remarketing to promote your website, people who visited it will see your ads on other sites within the Google Display Network. This way, your brand can stay visible for them and should they change their mind, they’ll have an easy way to get back to you.
The main difference between the standard ads and retargeted ads is the fact that the latter are shown to visitors who were already introduced to your brand and have a special cookie installed in their browser. This allows you to target even more relevant customers and drive up conversions while decreasing the cost per click.
Of course, there’s a difference between the two types of remarketing ads:
Remarketing display ads are shown on websites that use Google Display Network Advertising, to visitors who have your retargeting cookie in their browsers. These ads tend to “follow” the user from site to site, even if the website is not relevant to your business.
What’s interesting, these ads can “follow” users even outside of a web browser - the below ad has been showing to me on Skype (which uses Google Display Network - GDN):
Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) also use a cookie to target your potential customers, but they work in a slightly different way. Just as the name suggests, these ads appear in search results but:
- As opposed to display remarketing ads, which are presented to users anytime they are browsing sites in the GDN, people who have the RLSA cookie still have to search for your targeted keywords or your brand.
- These ads allow you to target even more qualified audience, but at the same time drastically decrease the size of it.
Paid traffic can be extremely effective - especially if you use the right targeting options and tailor your campaigns to your audience. There are even more ways in which you can optimise your paid traffic campaigns to boost the profit. Let’s take a look at possible bidding options - while most people focus on PPC (pay per click), there are many different ways to pay for your campaigns.
Optimising Your Spending - How to Bid for Your Traffic?
There are many different factors that you should take into consideration when planning your paid traffic campaign. One of the most fundamental ones is the way you are going to pay for it. And by that, I don’t mean whether you are going to use your PayPal or credit card and whether you will be spending dollars or any other currency. Instead, I will introduce you to different pricing options which you can use to manage risk, related to paid traffic, and drive the costs down.
Let’s take a look at the most popular bidding options:
CPM (Cost per Mille) – a cost of thousand unique impressions (refreshing the page doesn’t count). It works similar to CPV/CPI (Cost per View/Cost per Impression) and is the first pricing model that has been introduced to online paid advertising, even before the PPC! CPM is similar to CPV, but the latter is a cost per single view. Take a look at the below sample cost of a CPM campaign. Let’s say you spent $10,000 and got 2,000,000 impressions of your ad – the CPM in this case is $5.
This pricing option is related to the way you’d be billed on television, radio, or in print. While it can be highly effective for building a brand or promoting high converting affiliate offers, especially thanks to its scalability, it is one of the riskiest pricing options and should only be used by professional advertisers.
PPC (Pay per Click) - probably the most popular pricing option, both for advertisers and publishers. In this pricing model, the advertiser pays for each click on the ads. It’s extremely popular and is the basic pricing option both in AdWords and Bing, which are the two biggest platforms offering search ads. Typically, advertisers compete for the best spots in an auction, which takes into consideration their bids as well as quality score (keywords, text relevance, and the quality of a landing page).
The auction model, together with increasing popularity (due to effectiveness) of paid traffic, has led to huge price discrepancies. While the average cost per Google AdWords click on the search network is between $1 and $2, and below $1 for display network, some of the keywords are ridiculously expensive (and still profitable - data for 2015):
CPA (Cost per Action) - in this compensation method, you pay for each action performed by the person who clicks your ad. For example, an email list signup or registration on a specified page (also: Cost per Lead), download and installation of an app (popular in mobile marketing; also: CPI – Cost per Install) or contact request.
By definition, clicks and impressions are also actions. To avoid overcomplicating, they are classified as CPA). One of the most popular CPA campaigns are email and zip submits. Below, you can see a sample landing page of a CPA/CPL offer:
The next two bidding options also qualify as CPA, but due to their popularity, are often classified separately:
Pay-Per-Call - this bidding option is perfect for high-end products or complex, high-ticket services that may require time and consultation with a professional before the prospect has all the info and confidence to make a decision. They are popular especially in verticals such as insurance, business, legal advice, and health, but there are of course many more niches that use this model to great success.
A huge advantage of pay per call is the quality of leads. As an advertiser, you are almost guaranteed that people who connect with you over the phone are genuinely interested in becoming your customers. It also gives you a better opportunity to close the prospect and sign a deal - it’s easier for a potential buyer to resign from the offer when reading the text compared to a conversation on the phone.
Usually, the landing page in the pay per call offer is already prequalifying the people who will call you, giving you even better control over your resources and the outcome of your marketing process. Below, you can see the first page of a sample pay-per-call offer. Notice that there are as many as five steps of prequalifying before the actual phone call:
PPS (Pay per Sale; also: CPS - Cost per Sale) - in this compensation method, the advertiser pays the publisher each time someone buys a product - this can be a physical product, an online course, SaaS subscription or anything that can be sold online. The most common PPS model is affiliate marketing, in which commission is paid to the publisher for each sale generated. Apart from that, there’s usually a monthly fee required by the platform that hosts and manages the affiliate program.
Of course, these are not all pricing models available, but they are more than enough to get you going and are the most popular ones. If you would like me to help you choose the best pricing option for your product and marketing strategy, hit me up at email@example.com - I can’t wait to hear more details about your business. Now that you know sample bidding strategies, let’s take a look at how you can start your first PPC campaign.
Keyword Research and Ad Creation – Setting up an AdWords Campaign
In this part, you will need your Google AdWords account. Before you start your research, let’s take a look at the principles of PPC keyword research, which in certain aspects is a little bit different from what you’ve learned in the SEO part.
The main difference is the risk related to each keyword. If you are optimising a website and you choose a few wrong keywords (but still relevant to the profitable KWs), and you add them to some of your inner pages, it’s not a big deal – especially if your website is quite big.
On the other hand, in pay per click advertising, once you choose a keyword, you spend money each time someone clicks on your ads. That’s why, it’s so important to quickly cut out keywords that don’t convert.
In fact, discovering those high-converting and low-cost keywords is the key to creating profitable PPC campaigns. I assume you have already created your AdWords account, following the tutorial in part one of this course (the SEO one). Go to https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner and sign into your AdWords account now.
Just a word of caution - if you are creating a new AdWords account, you will be asked to choose a currency. Once selected, you can never change it - remember about this if you are doing business in multiple currencies:
Although AdWords is a very complex system, it’s very intuitive, and Google keeps guiding you step-by-step. I will now go over three of the below points (I will skip the billing - I don’t know your billing information ☺). Although AdWords suggests that you start with your budget and your ads, I believe it’s better to start with keyword research. Click on Tools and then “Keyword Planner” to search for keywords.
Click the first option to find new keywords:
In part one of this course, I have already shown you how to research your keywords. I will quickly recap the basics and proceed to create your first campaign. Let’s assume that you want to promote your web design services in Auckland, New Zealand. Before you type in any keywords into Google AdWords account, spend a few minutes and brainstorm potential keywords that your customers could use to search for your services.
If you were a small or medium business owner in Auckland, what would you type into your web browser? For this example, let’s type in a few keywords related to web design services for business: If you already have a website, you can type in the URL address of your landing page. Don’t forget the category of your product - there are many of them, simply start typing, and Google will provide you with ideas:
Don’t forget to set up Auckland in the location settings:
Once you are ready, click on “Get Ideas”. You will be provided with a list of keyword ideas together with the average monthly number of searches and suggested bid (in the below example, the data is adjusted to Auckland region). Just a word on match types - the default statistics that you get are for exact match keywords - it counts only users who used Google and typed in your exact keyword with no modifications or extra words:
Select a few keywords – you can also download the whole list. Pick a few ones that have low to medium competition, so that you don’t spend too much money in the very beginning. Copy those keywords to a spreadsheet and go to Google.com.
If you are in the location which you specified in the keyword research, simply type the keywords one by one into Google and check the landing pages to find some great ideas. The below is a sample ad I was presented with when I typed in “Web design Auckland”:
Speaking of ads, it’s time to create your first campaign. Go back to AdWords dashboard and click the button to begin:
You will be taken to a page where you can name your campaign, choose its type, locations, language and budget. Let’s create a simple search network campaign. Name your campaign, and from the different types of campaigns, select “search network only”. Next, choose “all features”- I will go over some of them later. To keep things easy, let’s exclude other search partners. As you can see, you can’t choose the device now - you can do that when you create your ads.
As you clicked on the campaign type, you have probably noticed the different types of available campaigns, including display ads, shopping and video. In order not to overcomplicate things, I will focus on search network only. If you would like to go over other types of campaigns, I’d love to help you – just let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Now, it’s time to choose the location - although technically you could sell your services to the whole world, let’s stick to the idea of Auckland, New Zealand:
As you can see, in theory, you can reach over 1.5 million people. Let’s take a look at the available advanced location options:
Unless you have a service or product in a very obscure niche, you don’t have to change the recommended options - if someone is searching for “web design Auckland” there’s no point in hiding the ad from them, even if physically, they are not in the city.
The next option is language - let’s stick to English. Now, it’s time to set up your budget and bid strategy. As a beginner, you should never use automated settings for bidding. It’s better to use manual CPC and slowly increase your bid, following feedback on your Adrank (which is the way Google ranks your ads, taking into consideration your quality score and bid).
Because the niche I chose in my example is highly competitive and targeted (I target clients in Auckland - which is very expensive, what drives prices of services up), I will set my default bid to $10 and my daily budget to $100 just for the sake of testing. This should give me around 10-20 highly targeted clicks according to data from the keyword planner. Of course, as long as I optimise my ads and landing pages to reach the top of search results. Leave the delivery method as specified:
You have probably noticed the ad extensions and a few advanced settings – I’ll come back to them shortly while discussing click-through rate and ad optimisation. It’s time to go to the next step - creating an ad group.
Creating Ad Groups – It’s Not Only about the Copy
Ad groups are essential for your campaign - they contain all your keywords, text ads, and landing pages, giving you the opportunity to manage and control them in a convenient way. Although you might think they are mostly there for your convenience, search engines look into your ad groups to determine for which keywords your ads should appear and what will they say.
To create an effective ad group, it is necessary to keep the keywords, ad text, as well as landing pages relevant to each other. By doing that and keeping a consistent message, you can increase your quality score what will help you lower your ad costs, helping you get a better position for a lower bid. Name your ad group in a way that resembles the ads inside, making it easy for you to navigate and measure stats. Now, it’s time to write your first ad. Look at the below principles of a good PPC ad:
Manage Your Ad Schedule Well
- Write with your visitor’s goal in mind. If they want a business website, tell them you will design one.
- Include numbers and statistics to increase click through rate. Remember that specific numbers perform much better than the round ones.
- Make sure your URL is relevant to your ad (Google gives you the option to edit it).
- Make your ads specific to your target group. If your clients are small businesses who are looking for affordable web design, don’t forget to say that. Similarly, if you create websites for high-end customers, emphasise how professional your sites are.
- Make your ads local. If you are targeting locally, emphasise that in your ads.
- Focus on the benefits. It’s about your customers and not about you.
- Don’t forget to add a call to action.
In 2016, Google introduced expanded text ads, giving advertisers extra characters in their headlines. Thanks to that, you have more space to focus on what’s most important in your offer. Luckily, as you write, you have a convenient preview of your completed ad. Take a look at the below sample ad for “web design, Auckland” - please note that it just a simple text ad. In the optimisation section I’ll show you some extra tweaks you can add to your ads:
As you can see, the above ad clearly states the benefit of your service. At the same time, it’s aimed at clients who are willing to pay a little bit more compared to people who are looking for affordable solutions. Of course, you could still change the text to make it even more premium-customers-oriented.
Once you write your ad text, it’s time to choose keywords for your campaign. The rule of thumb is to include no more than 20 keywords per ad group, but you should start with less than that. 5 to 10 are enough - make sure that they are relevant to each other and the ad. Click “Estimate search traffic” to see how many clicks you could get for your daily budget:
Once you see your estimates, you can either add billing information or set it to add them later and keep tweaking your campaign. If you have any extra questions so far, you can reach me at email@example.com. Let’s now go some basic optimisation tips that will help increase your campaign profitability.
Optimising Your PPC Campaign – Winning Customers and Saving a Fortune
Paid traffic can cost a fortune. Many times, even slight changes can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. Let’s take a look at some of the basic tips to optimise your campaigns.
- Manage Your Ad Schedule Well
To deliver your ads when your customers are most active, you can set manual schedule for ad delivery. For example, if you believe that people who are looking for your product usually search for it in the evening, it’s much better to keep showing your ads between for example 6 and 10 PM to increase your click through rate:
- Rotate and A/B Test Your Ads
Writing just one ad is not enough - you have to test a few different versions in order to find your golden nugget. To get the data for many different ads, it’s beneficial to set up ad rotation, which helps you optimise ads for clicks and conversions by showing those that perform better than other more often. As you can see, you can either choose to automatically rotate the ads as soon as the statistics are available or evenly, for at least 90 days to get even more data. In the beginning, the first option will be more profitable:
- Experiment with Match Types
To find keywords that convert well, you should also experiment with the match type. There are four different match types:
- Broad Match - this is the default match type for your ads. When you select it, your ads will show for your keywords or relevant synonymous keywords. It allows you to reach the biggest audience but can quickly drain your budget. If you have the money, you can use broad match for some time to gain a lot of data in a short amount of time, slowly optimising your ads using negative keywords, getting rid of unwanted phrases.
- AdWords Modified Broad Match - by using this, you can “lock” certain words and phrases using “+” parameter in front of chosen words. If you put it before “website” in “+website design”, all relevant keywords that your ad appears for will have to include the word “website”.
- Phrase Match - your ads will only appear when your exact keyword appears, with the words in the same order as specified. There can be other words accompanying the phrase in the keyword (before or after), but the phrase itself cannot be modified.
- Exact Match (default KW Planner) - if your exact match keyword is “web design Auckland”, your ad will only be shown for this particular keyword.
Luckily, you can easily change the match type for each of your keywords in the campaign settings:
- Use Ad Extensions
Let’s now take a look at another great way, in which you can modify your campaign - ad extensions. They are a perfect way of increasing your click through rate and conversion by making your ads more appealing to your visitors and relevant the goal of your campaign. The best is, you don’t have to pay any extra fee for the extensions - as long as they do not harm your Quality Score. Let’s take a look at the available extensions:
Below, you can see some examples (some of the ads include more than one extension, so the main one is marked in blue):
Location – show the exact address of your business:
Sitelinks - link to other parts of your website can significantly increase your CTR (click-through rate):
Call extension - on desktop:
As well as mobile (in this case, even the headline has been turned into a phone number):
Callouts - perfect to emphasise the most important benefits of your offer:
Structured snippets (unfortunately, you can’t choose your own header):
If used well, they are a perfect way to increase your conversions and click through rates by giving the readers the exact information they might be looking for. Combine this with ad copywriting tips I shared with you to get some real winners. But how to tell which ads convert better than others? The key to success with PPC lies in tracking your conversions and testing.
Conversion Tracking in Google AdWords
PPC can make you rich or it can make you broke - if you don’t know what you’re doing, the latter can come much faster than expected. Luckily, every paid traffic platform will give you tools to measure and optimise a lot of tiny pieces of your campaign. One of the most important is conversion. How do you know which ads generate ROI and which eat up your hard-earned money with nothing in return?
The easiest way to tell which ads are converting is adding a special code to the relevant page on your website such as the thank you or confirmation page that the person is taken to after conversion. To insert the code, go to your AdWords account, click on “Tools” and select “Conversions” from the drop-down menu:
Click on the “+Conversion” button. You will be taken to a menu, in which you can add the conversion to a website, an app or phone calls. Select website and go over the settings form. For the sake of this tutorial, let’s assume that each form submission on the website is worth $400 - I close one in five clients, and the average value of the contract is $2000. Of course, you should do your own calculations. I chose to categorise the conversion as “lead”, and decided to track every conversion. Select the appropriate category and to finish, click on “Save and continue”:
You will be given a special code. Add it to the thank you page which appears after someone submits the contact form on your page to track conversions for a given campaign:
Tracking conversions is the first and most essential thing to improve your ROI. Remember to use it during your A/B testing to find out which ads and landing pages convert best. When making changes to a landing page, try to change just one element each time you test something as it’s easier to find out what works and what doesn’t.
Unless you are incredibly lucky, it’s highly unlikely that your first campaign is profitable from the very beginning. Of course, by using different landing pages, ad copies, and looking for those that are the most profitable, you can slowly optimise your campaign to turn it into a real moneymaking machine. Don’t forget a few other things which you can do to skyrocket your Adwords ROI:
- Don’t be afraid to use remarketing - let your ads follow your customers especially if you are into display ads.
- Try dynamic keyword insertion in ad headlines (this way, your headlines will automatically match the keyword used in the user’s search query). I have omitted DKI in this course as it’s a highly controversial topic and is not suitable for beginners. If you would like to learn more about it, don’t hesitate and contact me.
- Collect emails of your prospects – only a small percentage of people who click your ad and go to your website will buy right away (unless you have something that people need immediately once they search for it, for example, you are a locksmith).
To make your paid traffic campaign successful, there’re lots of things you have to manage. If there’s anything you would like to discuss in more details or would like me to help you set up your first AdWords campaign, don’t hesitate and let's get in touch - send me a message with everything you would like to know at firstname.lastname@example.org.