WORKSHOP LESSON #9:
Welcome to lesson #9
After our lesson on search engine optimization, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed and perhaps even a bit discouraged over how complicated and “ever-changing” SEO is. It’s also likely that you’ve come to the conclusion that there really isn’t a completely free path to getting a top ranking in the search engines. As we discussed, you’re either going to have to spend your money on SEO ranking tools or pay experts to help you get a top search engine ranking. Otherwise, you could end up investing hours upon hours of your time to vie for that top spot in the search engines.
As you probably now realize, even if you were to invest your time and money into tools or paying experts to help you get a top search engine ranking, there are no guarantees when it comes to ranking well in the search engines. As mentioned in the lesson on SEO, the constant changes that the search engines make can also move you from the top spot on page one to page 100 overnight, without notice. Obviously, if this happens, the new customers that you were getting, from your top spot in the search engines, would disappear overnight as well.
The purpose of this lesson is to show you that there is a better way to instantly get to the top of the search engines. Instead of spending thousands of dollars to maybe get a top ranking in the search engines from SEO, consider the following: You could pay, as an example, 5 or 10 cents, per person, who makes the decision to click on your ad, because they’re interested in what you have to offer. To put it another way, you could pay $5 or $10 per 100 people who actively make the conscious decision to click on your ad, because they’re interested in what you have to offer. Even if just 1 person out of 100 people became your customer, after clicking on your ad, that means it would cost you around $5-$10 per customer, if you were paying 5-10 cents for each person who made the decision to click on your ad (1 new customer for every 100 clicks, 100 clicks x 5-10 cents per click = $5-$10 per new customer)
You may recognize the form of advertising that we’re referring to as “pay per click” advertising or “PPC”. Just as the name suggests, you only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad. Pay per click advertising is also referred to as “performance based” advertising, because you only pay when people actually click on your ads. Using pay per click advertising on the major search engines can be a very effective way of getting your business in front of people who are actively seeking out your company’s products and services.
Let’s say that you owned a plumbing business in Cleveland, Ohio and you wanted your ad to appear in the top of the search engines when someone typed in a search for the term “Cleveland plumber”. Consider all of the things that would have to happen first, with pay per click advertising, before you had to pay any advertising costs. First, someone would have to go to the search engine that you’re advertising on and they would have to type in the phrase “Cleveland plumber”. Next, your ad would appear after someone completed their search. At this point, you still haven’t paid anything, even if the person sees your ad on the screen. So, at this point, we have someone who decided to go to one of the major search engines and type in a search for “Cleveland plumber”. Obviously, there’s a very good possibility that this person is searching for a plumber in Cleveland. Finally, let’s say that your ad appeals to them and they actually click on your ad. At this point only will you pay for that click. The amount that you pay for that click will depend upon whatever you agreed to pay, ahead of time. More specifically, pay per click advertising works off of a bidding system. There are several things that factor in to where your ad appears in the search engine results. To keep things simple for now, though, the people who bid the most per click will usually get the top spot for their ad. So, when someone enters a search for the word(s) that the advertiser specifies, the advertiser who agreed to pay the most per click will generally appear at the top of the search results.
As mentioned, there are also some other things that determine how high up on the page your ad will appear. For example, a common variable that can determine your ad’s position is the “click through rate” of your ad. Basically, the click through rate refers to the percentage of people who actually click on your ad, out of all of the people who see it on the page. For example, let’s say that 10 people, out of every 100 people who see your ad, actually click on your ad. This would mean that your click through rate for that ad is 10%. If all of the other ads that were competing for the same position on the page had a lower click through rate than your ad, it’s possible that your ad would have a better position than their ad, if you were all bidding the amount per click. The reason for this is because the search engines want to make as much money as possible, so the ads that get the greatest percentage of clicks will often get the best positions on the page. Of course, it also depends upon how much you’re bidding, as compared to the other companies.
As you may have guessed, the search engines do not reveal their exact formula for getting a high position on the page, when it comes to pay per click ads. If they revealed their formula, companies could try to cheat the system and gain an unfair advantage over advertisers who were not privy to the search engine’s formula. Additionally, all businesses would start to run identical ads, if they knew exactly what the search engines wanted.
Another important point of consideration, when it comes to pay per click advertising, is something known as “negative keywords”. Negative keywords refer to words that someone could enter into the search engines, where you would not want your ad to appear. To illustrate, let’s stick with the “Cleveland plumber” example. At first glance, it may appear as though you could get tons of customers by just paying to get clicks from people who enter the words “Cleveland plumber” into the search engines. If, however, someone ran the search “deeply discounted Cleveland plumber” and your Cleveland-based plumbing company charged premium prices, then you would not want to pay for people to click on your ad, if they entered the search term “deeply discounted Cleveland plumber”. Even though their search had the term “Cleveland plumber” in it, the two words that they entered into the search, directly before “Cleveland plumber”, would not make them a good prospect for your company. If you charged premium prices and marketed yourself that way, you would not want to pay for clicks made by people who are looking for a “deeply discounted” plumber. The term “deeply discounted”, therefore, would be a negative keyword that you would want to specify, when setting up your pay per click search campaign.
Another example of a negative search term would be if someone did an online search for the term “Cleveland plumber free estimates”. If your plumbing company does not offer free estimates, you would not want your ad to appear to anyone who enters a search like that. As such, you would want the term “free estimates”, “free estimate”, and probably even just the word “free” to all be listed as negative keywords, for your PPC campaigns. As you might imagine, the word “free” is one of the most common negative keywords that businesses specify, when setting up their pay per click campaigns. The reason why, of course, is because they don’t want to pay for clicks by people who have entered a search that includes the word “free”. The general idea is that if someone does an online search that includes the word “free”, they either don’t want to pay for something or they are at least expecting to get something free that the business might not offer. So, as you can see, specifying negative keywords can be a very effective way of ensuring that your ad does not appear or get clicked on, by people who would not be a good prospect for you business.
At the other end of the spectrum, certain keywords could attract highly targeted people, who really need exactly what your business can provide to them. Using the plumbing example, let’s say that someone did an online search for the term “emergency Cleveland plumber”. As you might imagine, there is a far greater chance that this type of online search is being done by someone who is in a more desperate need of a plumber, as compared to someone who just enters the term “Cleveland plumber”. In other words, the fact that they entered the word “emergency” could very well mean that they are having a plumbing emergency. Of course, people who are having an urgent, plumbing emergency are going to be far more qualified to hire a plumber, as soon as they click on the ad. People who are not having a plumbing emergency could spend a couple of days shopping around, comparing prices, and getting free estimates.
Another example of a highly targeted keyword phrase would be “24/7 Cleveland plumber” or “24 hour Cleveland plumber”. Again, these search phrases have a higher likelihood of being entered by someone who needs a plumber that is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Most likely, if someone is not having an emergency, they’re probably not going to do an online search with the terms “24/7” or “24 hour”, when searching for a plumber. Hopefully, the examples above have shed a little bit of light on how certain search terms can often denote a more targeted prospect, as compared to other search terms, which could indicate that someone is not the right type of prospect for your business.
It’s important to understand that pay per click advertising is far more complicated than how we’ve described it above. The above explanation is a highly simplified version of how pay per click advertising works. The topic of pay per click advertising could be an entire course on its own. There are, in fact, many voluminous courses on pay per click advertising, which contain hours upon hours of training materials.
As you probably understand, any individual type of business could have hundreds, if not thousands, of different search terms and negative keywords that they would want to specify in their pay per click campaigns. As with search engine optimization, the rules for pay per click advertising are known to regularly change too. Ads that may get a high position in the search results one day, could end up getting wiped off of the search results altogether, if the advertising platform changes their rules.
Other challenges with pay per click advertising include knowing how much to bid, how to properly word your ad so that it gets the best click through rate, and how to set up the page that people are taken to, so that it results in the greatest percentage of people becoming your customer. Combine these challenges with the fact that there are so many advertising platforms to begin with, each with their own set of rules, and PPC advertising could become overwhelming. Furthermore, to be successful in pay per click advertising, you often have to bid on hundreds, if not thousands of keywords at a time, in order to get an adequate amount of people to your website. Tracking hundreds or thousands of keywords, across all of the different advertising platforms, where you’re running pay per click ads, is a full-time job in and of itself.
Throughout all of the lessons we’ve sent you, on the various aspects of marketing and growing your business, we’ve provided you with overviews of how to do things yourself. When appropriate, we’ve also shown you how to use free or inexpensive tools and resources, so that you can handle many of the tasks that other companies might try to overcharge you for. When it comes to pay per click advertising, however, we would be doing you a great disservice, if we were to tell you that this is an area that you could effectively manage and run on your own, while also running your existing business.
Unless pay per click advertising is a field of study that you have invested months and years of your time into, there are major risks associated with running your own pay per click advertising campaigns on your own. In our opinion, two of the greatest risks include overpaying for clicks and not getting an adequate number of people who convert into customers, after you pay for their click. This advice is not said to try and scare you or hard sell you into hiring a company to handle your pay per click advertising campaigns. The fact of the matter, however, is that certain jobs really do require legitimate experts. Granted, you could invest months of your time into learning how all of the different pay per click advertising networks operate. You could then devote a large portion of your day to tracking all of your ads and keywords from your own computer. Most businesses, however, would not be able to invest the amount of time that’s truly needed to launch and track hundreds or thousands of pay per click ad campaigns, and do it profitably, while also running their business.
Experienced pay per click advertising companies could, quite possibly, be the best investment that you make into your business. Working with a company that can consistently get you a flow of new customers, at a cost that is less than what you’re paying them – and what you’re paying per click – is about as close to a guaranteed return on your investment as you can get.
Consider the two different scenarios below, to properly understand why a skilled pay per click company could be worth their weight in gold to your business.
In scenario number one, you decide to do your own pay per click advertising for your company, thinking that you may be able to save a couple of cents for each click you receive. You decide that you’re going to devote around 3-4 hours per day, managing all of your pay per click campaigns, learning how all of the advertising networks operate, and staying up to date on all of the changes that occur, with each pay per click advertising network. As you embark on your new task of becoming your own pay per click expert, you begin to run ads. You end up paying an average of 15 cents per click and your clicks end up converting into customers at around 1%. Your cost to obtain each new customer, therefore, is $15 plus the cost of your time. Of course, this first scenario that we’ve described assumes that you want to devote hours of your time each day to managing all of your own pay per click campaigns. This scenario has also assumed that you did not make any serious mistakes with your ads, which could have resulted in your company losing hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of clicks that were poorly targeted for your company. In other words, this scenario assumes that you basically became a pay per click expert immediately.
In scenario number two, you hire a pay per click company to manage all of your pay per click ad campaigns for you. Let’s assume that this company is able to charge you an average of 18 cents, for every click they get you. Understandably, though, since this is a highly skilled firm, they are able to acquire a better conversion rate for you. Specifically, let’s be very conservative and assume that this company is only able to get you a conversion rate that is just one percent better than you were able to get on your own. For every 100 clicks they’re able to get you, therefore, they are able to get you two customers, as opposed to the one customer that you’re able to get for every 100 clicks. Of course, you probably realize that a highly skilled pay per click company should be able to get a far better conversion rate than just 1% better than you’re able to get, while you’re also busy running your main business. We want to be extremely conservative, though, just to show you how you could still end up overpaying for customers, if you do this on your own, instead of paying a skilled pay per click company.
So, to re-cap, in scenario 1, you had the following results, when you decided to become a pay per click expert yourself and spend a few hours per day managing your own campaigns:
$0.15 per click x 100 clicks = $15 to acquire one customer at 1%
In scenario 2, we were just about as conservative as we could be, and we only assumed that the pay per click company was able to get you a conversion rate of 2%; just 1% better than you were able to get on your own. We also said that you ended up paying the company $0.18 per click. While your cost per click was more, when you paid the company, take a look at what your results were, in scenario two:
$0.18 per click x 100 clicks = $18 to acquire two customers or $9 to acquire each customer!
Clearly, it’s a better situation if you can acquire customers at $9 each, as opposed to $15 each. This would save your company $6 on the cost of acquiring each new customer. Also keep in mind that if you had a company handling all of this for you, you wouldn’t have to invest your own time each day, trying to do everything yourself.
To be even more conservative, though, let’s assume that, after you paid the company, that they too were able to get you each new customer at $15 each, which is exactly what you were able to do on your own. In this even more conservative example, it would still be worth it for you to hire the pay per click company, because the work would all be done for you, as opposed to you having to invest hours of your own time each day, to get the exact same result.
A crucial thing to understand about hiring a pay per click company is the following: Their entire business model is based off of “pay for performance” metrics. In other words, you would be paying them for each click they get you from a live person who is actually, physically clicking on your ad. When you compare this advertising model to running a newspaper ad that is not performance based, it should be clear which model makes more sense. Of course, when you run an ad in a newspaper, all they’re guaranteeing you is that your ad will be on some page, in the middle of the newspaper, and that they will deliver a certain number of newspapers, to a certain number of homes. The newspaper is not guaranteeing you how many people will turn to the page that your ad is on. Of course, the newspaper is also not guaranteeing how many people will actually look at your ad and read it.
On the other hand, when you hire a pay per click company, you are paying them per click, so you are actually paying for performance. From there, if becomes a matter of tracking conversions, to see how many clicks actually turn into paying customers for you. Fortunately, due to the entire nature of the internet and online advertising, just about everything can be tracked!
There are tons of ways to see exactly how many clicks are turning into paying customers. If you take orders online, you can track your conversion rate by viewing the pay per click company’s performance report of how many clicks you received within a certain time period. Then, simply compare the clicks to how many orders you received within that time period too.
If you take orders over the phone or book appointments by phone, you could have a special phone number appear, on the page that people are taken to, after they click on your ad. You would have this phone number forwarded to your main business line. Then, you’d just take a look at the phone records, for the number that gets forwarded to your main line. You would then simply compare the number of calls that were made to that number with the number of new customers or new appointments that were scheduled.
You could also take the more traditional route that businesses use, when advertising in newspapers, and provide people with a coupon that they can print out and bring to your place of business. This would allow you to track your clicks against the number of coupons that were redeemed at your place of business. Similarly, you could just add some simple verbiage to the page that people are clicking on to, which says, “Mention this page to receive x% off your next purchase.” Again, you would then just count up your clicks within a given period of time and compare it to the number of people whom you extended the discount to.
The important thing to understand is that just about everything can be tracked, when it comes to pay per click advertising. Most reputable pay per click companies will get your tracking all set up for you, so that you can see the exact return on investment that you’re getting from their services. As opposed to investing thousands of dollars into a newspaper ad, and hoping for the best, you can carefully monitor your pay per click costs, to gauge the profitability of these performance based campaigns.
There are some excellent pay per click companies out there. Here’s one of our favorites:
As with any form of advertising or marketing, start small until you feel comfortable with the results. As you begin to see consistent results, and you feel secure in the return that you’re getting on your pay per click advertising, you can always scale things up, at a pace that makes sense to you. While many of the methods that we’ve taught you throughout this course can generate a great deal of new business for you, pay per click advertising is, perhaps, the most efficient way to acquire new customers – when it’s done the right way!