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PPC Management: A Paddle When You’re Up a Creek

PPC management is the science of creating and maintaining profitable campaigns on pay-per-click (PPC) platforms like Google Adwords. Such platforms are capable of producing an extraordinary amount of traffic for a modest investment if they’re set up correctly — or being a complete waste of money if they’re not.

The Money Pit

There are a number easy ways to render an otherwise excellent PPC campaign completely unprofitable. The most common mistakes are:

  • Using keywords with such high competition that you don’t earn any clicks,
  • Using keywords with such low traffic that you don’t earn enough clicks,
  • Using keywords with such a high price that you lose money on every click.
  • Using “tire kicker” keywords rather than search terms use by people actually looking to buy.

There are, naturally, dozens (possibly hundreds) of other details that you can get wrong that will reduce the profitability of a PPC campaign; these are only the most often-committed errors. Let’s look at a few of them in detail.

Competition, Traffic, Price

The three basic ‘vital statistics’ of a keyword are its competition level (how many other advertisers are currently bidding on the same keyword), it’s traffic volume (how many searchers are actually using that phrase on Google searches every day), and its approximate value (about how much successful people are bidding on that keyword). The ideal keyword has low competition (so your ads will get displayed more often), high traffic (same), and a modest approximate value.

Approximate value is the challenging statistic to comprehend, because you simultaneously want it to be high (because high numbers are the sign of a valuable keyword), and low (because you want to be able to get a reasonable number of displays for your PPC budget. Besides, if you’re spending $3.00 per click, and 2.5% of your clicks turn into purchases, those purchases have to average $120 in order for your PPC campaign to break even.

Tire Kicker vs. Buying Keywords

Quite often, “tire kicking” keywords have tempting statistics — because smart marketers know to avoid them, their competition volume is often low, and because smart consumers want information, their traffic volume is often high. The problem, however, is just that: information. Tire-kickers aren’t looking to purchase anything, so you’ll get lots of clicks (which means lots of cost), but no purchases — the worst case scenario.

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