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May 27

Evangelism by Search Engine - Part 7 - PPC Ads

Posted by Bill Anderton

In today’s blog posting, I am going to write about pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. So far in this series, I have only written about what is called “organic search.” Organic search results are the listings on the SERPs (search engine results pages) that appear only because of their relevance to the user’s search query and the search engine’s on-page and off-page ranking of the content on your web page.

With PPC advertising, you can buy an ad on the SERPs and have the ad appear whenever the specified search term is used in a query

enter_evangelism_by_seach_engine_400w.jpgThere are no fees required to have your pages shown in the organic section of SERPs; it is free! Yes, you do have to earn your organic search rankings and position in the SERPs with good content and good SEO techniques; that does require effort and time. You pay with your sweat. However, you don’t have to pay fees to the search engine for the organic results that your content earns.

Organic search results are the mainstay of search engines and bring millions of users PER MINUTE to the search engines’ web pages. Despite the billions of dollars that it costs to operate such large and robust systems, organic search is free to both the end user and the website because the search engines have found an elegant way of monetizing organic searches by selling ads on SERPs.

PPC advertising is a large and profitable business. Google’s gross sales have gone over $50-billion annually and are based largely on the PPC ad revenue stream.

With PPC advertising, you don’t have to earn your SERP positions; you buy them! Because you purchase your position, you have a higher degree of control over when and where your content appears in the SERPs. Also, your results can be immediate instead of having to wait for you organic page rankings to climb; you get immediate gratification for the money you invest in PPC advertising.

PPC ads provide opportunities for churches to extend their evangelism-by-search-engine strategies very quickly beyond what they can reach by organic tactics alone.

For example, if you wanted to promote your Christmas Eve candlelight service, you could set up a PPC ad for the term “Christmas Eve candlelight service.” If you bid the term high enough (more about bidding later), you could have you ad appear in the number-one PPC ad space at the top of each SERP for as long as your ad budget lasts. Once you place your PPC add, its exposure will begin withing minutes, typically within the hour. Clicks on you PPC ad will start landing visitors into your site very soon after.

Typically, you wouldn't stop at just one keyword phrase; you would make a campaign using all of the usual variations of the term. In total, you might use 30-40 keyword phrases, and even more, bracketing all of the ways that people might search for a Christmas Eve church service.

Your PPC ads can be at the top of the SERPs for each targeted keyword term in an ad campaign regardless of where your pages appear in the organic results.

PPC advertisers usually make specialized landing pages that are matched with each PPC ad and its keyword terms. In our example above, the PPC ad could link to a special landing page promoting your Christmas Eve candlelight service; when people click on your ad, they will go directly to the specialized landing page and its highly-targeted and matched messaging. This allows you to quickly capture the interest of your visitor. You visitor had enough interest to search on the term and click on you ad in the first place so if you can fulfill their expectations for the promised content immediately upon arrival in your website, you can capture them for deeper interactions and then be able to convey them to additional once they are finished with the landing page.

You pay the search engine a small fee for each click your ad receives. You don’t pay for “exposures,” only clicks. “Exposures” are the advertising term for merely having your ad displayed to users. With PPC advertising, instead of paying for exposures, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad and lands into your website. You pay only for the click (as the name “pay per click” implies.) In other words, you pay only for the results; the visitors to your site that you gain.

How much you pay for each click depends on several factors.

The most important factor in determining the fee that you pay is determined by an auction-like process whereby each organization wishing to have their PPC ads shown bid in an auction for the privilege. Advertisers bid separately a specified amount of money for each and every keyword phrase they want to use. The auction takes place in real time each time a SERP is displayed for each keyword searched. The winners’ ads are shown and the higher the bid, the higher in the results each winning ad is shown.

In our example above, if we want our ad to appear whenever the keyword phrase “Christmas Eve candlelight service” used in a search, we will bid a certain amount for the keyword term.

Over-simplifying the process, for all of the bidding on the keyword phrase, the ad with the highest bid appears in the number one ad position; the second highest bid appears in the number two position and so on.

You actually bid the maximum cost-per-click amount that you are willing to pay (similar to E-Bay, by the way) for each keyword phrase. If you set your maximum bid to be $2.00 but nobody else bids (none at all), you might get the term for the minimum fee which is typically 5-cents. If somebody else bids a maximum of $1.00, your $2.00 maximum bid out-bids them and you would get the top ad position for the minimum increment over $1.00.

In my example above, I have over-simplified the process to introduce the concept to you. In reality, there are a few other factors that also get involved in the bidding process. One such factor is an ad-and-page relevancy test called a “quality score.” Quality scores rank each keyword phrase you bid to its relevance to the text used in its landing page linked to the ad. The reason for the use of the quality score is that all search engines want the PPC ads that are shown to be relevant to the keyword being searched. If ads are not relevant, PPC will cease to work. Therefore, it is in everyone interest that the ads presented to users are relevant to the keyword term being searched.

Quality scoring works very similarly to SEO. If you buy an ad using “Christmas Eve candlelight service” and the landing page uses the phases “Christmas Eve candlelight service” in its text, headlines and page title, you will be rewarded with a higher quality score than another advertiser whose page is selling “christmas tree stands” and use such terms in their text. Your ad would be considered more relevant for your specified keyword phrase.

Quality scores have a big impact on the placement of your ad and its cost per click. In the example above, if both of you bid the same amount on the same terms, the higher position on the SERP will go to the ad with the higher quality score because it is assumed to be more relevant. Also, the ad with the higher quality score will pay less per click in the bidding process than an ad with a lower quality score.

As a result of the auction process, how much you pay for your PPC ad depends on the competition for each keyword terms on which you are bidding. If nobody else is bidding on the term, the PPC fee will be very small, perhaps as low as 5-cents per click. If lots of people are bidding on the term, the PPC fee could be more expensive; sometimes very expensive. In essence, the free market and open competition set the PPC fee for each and every keyword term. That is worth repeating; Google and the other search engines DO NOT set the prices for the advertiser; the open auction determines the price each advertiser pays and where on the PPC ads are displayed on the page.

It is a very elegant system that couples directly to the economics of the marketplace.

Some keywords will be inexpensive and some expensive. You can use any mix of keywords you desire. If any keyword phrase is too expensive for your taste, simply don’t bid on it! The system rewards people who creatively mine the system for keyword bargains that deliver results and are significantly less expensive than commonly-used, but expensive, keywords.

Here is where it gets interesting for churches. Many of the keywords that a church might be interested in using for ads supporting an evangelism-by-search-engine strategy might only be of interest to other churches and the vast majority of churches do NOT use PPC advertising. The prime keyword terms you might be interested in using in your ad campaigns for your church might have little, if any, competition; they have a pretty good probability of being inexpensive.

Also, if you integrate local terms into your PPC ad keyword strategy, you will have better relevance than national advertisers. Your local ad will be decisively advantaged and cheaper per click than a broader national ad might be.

Local PPC advertising works very synergistically with the hyperlocal concept strategy that I wrote about in the sixth posting in this series

Obviously, you can use PPC ads to promote any event, service, mission or project of your church. Also, you can use PPC simply to build traffic and viewership for any specified web pages in your website

PPC advertising is a very powerful tool that can be surprisingly inexpensive to employ if done well.

However, most churches automatically reject the use of PPC advertising as too expensive without really looking into its costs or understanding how PPC advertising works. PPC advertising doesn’t have to be expensive and you can tailor a specific strategy to fit both your objectives and your budget. You should at least consider using these techniques in your overall web program.

To help PPC advertising to work within your budget and strategy, there are many methods for controlling how, where and when your budget gets spent.

For example, and important for local churches, the PPC advertising systems of all of the major search engines allow you to specify a highly-constrained geographic area where your PPC ad will be shown. All of the search engines allow this to be as small as a single city or town and Google (and some others) also allow you to specify a radius around defined point (measured in miles or kilometers.) Google Adwords’ radius targeting is practical for something as small as a 10-mile radius. Radius targeting is great for neighborhood churches in large urban cities so you don’t wastefully spend you valuable, and perhaps limited, advertising budget. City or radius targeting means that your ad will not be shown in places that won’t do you much good because the users outside this defined area would be too far away. You can concentrate the “spend” of your ad budget within your parish or a wide as your advertising strategy dictates.

You can also specify the day parts you wish your PPC ad to be shown as well as the days of the week you wish to advertise.

You can add as many or as few keyword terms to your campaign as your wish.

You keywords terms matches can be as broad or as narrow as you like. You can even specify “negative keywords” within each ad group to further refine your matches in searches. Negative keywords define certain keyword phrases where you specifically don’t want your ads shown. In our example above for “christmas eve candlelight service,” you might use “christmas tree lights” as a negative keyword. Without negative keywords, a broad match might be too broad and result in your ad being shown where it wouldn’t be productive. Negative keywords provide another tools that allow you to intelligently sculpt your keyword strategies so you target only those people most likely to respond to your ad.

You can control your advertising spend by specifying a daily budget. When the daily limit you specify is reached, the search engines simply will stop showing your PPC ads so you don’t incur additional costs.

All paid adverting on the web is very responsive in as much as you get almost real-time results from your campaign. You can even react intraday and adjust your campaign strategy and tactics as conditions or opportunities change.

There are no long-term contracts to sign and you pay for only actual results. You can go into the market one day and leave the next. Yes, that means you can design campaigns around a few important events at your church each year, each lasting only a few days or weeks. Or, if you wish, you can advertise every day; it is your call.

In addition to these few examples I cite above, each search engine has many other factors you can use to tailor the fit of the use of PPC advertising to your ad strategy and budget. I have only covered the highlights.

Done well and appropriately targeted, a small daily budget of a few tens of dollars can produce meaningful results.

Complementary to PPC advertising in search engines, social media like Facebook and Twitter have productive paid-advertising products that can be integrated into your campaigns as well.

Please note that the use of paid advertising is an art form in and of itself. While it is similar to organic SEO, it has its own nuances and quirks. This blog posting by itself isn’t intended to make you an expert in paid advertising on the web. Indeed, I have skipped over important details and over-simplified things a bit in my introduction.

The main goal of this blog posting is to get you to starting thinking about using PPC advertising to augment a larger evangelism-by-search-engine strategy and to NOT reject its use out of hand.

Paid advertising on the web is NOT difficult to learn and you can become effective quickly. There is nothing overly complex to learn and only a few key concepts to grasp in order to implement good paid-advertising strategies. Those only take a bit of experience to master. Google AdWords have hundreds of free-use web pages that provide information that will teach you the ins and outs of PPC advertising. With a day of diligent reading, you can teach yourself enough of the basics to begin advertising your website effectively and bring traffic to your important content.

You can learn these techniques yourself and can do PPC advertising for your church without hiring professional experts with their inherent costs. If you are going to devote a big budget to paid advertising (hundreds of dollars per day), by all means hire good professionals who use best practices to assist you. However, if you are using only a small budget, learn to do paid advertising yourself.

Paid advertising on the web is very easy for a newbie to get started since it is so responsive; you can learn as you go and gain experience even from hour to hour. Even if you make mistakes getting started, you can correct them as you go; you can see the results quickly and make mid-course corrections. Similarly, you can also replace entire strategies as soon as you learn how to do something better. As you gain experience, you can instantly apply your experience to improving the strategies and tactics of your ads without delay.

Any complete search engine strategy for a church should at least consider paid advertising as an important component of your plan. Don’t reject paid advertising out of hand; look into its details. Yes, many churches might then decide that they can’t do it. Many, however, might find that they can use paid advertising on the web to help meet their objectives and still stay within very modest budgets.

Category: (05-13) May 2013   Tag:

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