Many companies have been using search advertising for 15 years now. That’s a long time, and yet so many still get things the wrong way around. I know search is all about what people are searching for, but if you start with the search terms where you’re going to advertise, I’ve always believed that you’re making a big mistake.
The most important thing is to advertise the right product or service. That might sound daft, but too many companies select products or services that nobody will be searching for. If it’s a whole new technology, or if it’s something normally broad-ranging but targeted to a very narrow sector, there may be better ways of advertising than search.
The next most important thing is the page on the website where you’re sending people. If you haven’t got this right, you’re paying for people to arrive, take a quick glance, and leave. Always remember that they haven’t seen the rest of your site. The page where they arrive from an advert is their first point of contact. Who are you? Do you explain at a glance, or does your presentation assume that the visitor has read the blurb on your home page first?
The third most important thing is the advert. It’s amazing how many companies obsess over the keywords but barely give their message a glance. It’s the advert which ensures that if you sell blue widgets, and advertise on the results page for ‘widgets’, you don’t waste your advertising budget on people who want red widgets or yellow widgets. It’s the advert which governs clickthrough rate, which in turn helps set the quality score and therefore your ability to compete and your cost per click.
Finally we have the keywords. I honestly believe these are the last thing you should consider, and in many ways, they’re the least important part of the campaign. If we make an analogy with billboard advertising, the landing page is what you’ll say when people call you after seeing the poster. The advert is the poster. And the keywords? These are the places where you put your poster. Maybe a cheap backstreet billboard might prove cost-effective; maybe you simply must have the expensive one in the city centre. You’ll need some trial and error, but you wouldn’t even attempt to decide that until your poster looks good, and you’ve ensured your response to enquirers will be first class. At least, I hope you wouldn’t.