Bring Your PPC Efforts to Maturity With These Helpful Tools and Resources
Confession: When I first began managing paid digital campaigns, I thought I had it all figured out. I’d read all the blogs, watched all the tutorials, and even passed the AdWords certification exam on my first try.
Coupled with my growing experience as a marketer and my background in copywriting, I was convinced everything I needed to be successful was positioned directly above my shoulders. I was wrong, but I was stubborn, which meant I kept making the same mistakes over and over again.
My keyword research was lazy, ad copy was sloppy, and landing pages completely at odds with what I was trying to accomplish (not to mention basic best practices). Taken together, this haphazard casserole of incompetence led to crummy quality scores, piles of wasted spend, and at least a dozen questionable looks from my boss. So why would you ever take my advice when it comes to PPC?
Because that was me then, and this is me now.
Over time, I learned that I didn’t know it all — and that there’s no shame in reaching out for help. I also learned to use the resources at my disposal. Once I began looking for help beyond my meager capabilities, I began planning and executing campaigns with less hubris and more confidence. That success was rooted in two major changes to my approach:
- Trusting my coworkers and colleagues as I reached out for fresh perspectives and new insights
- Creating campaigns rooted in data and objectivity instead of abstraction and bravado
If your PPC efforts are struggling or stagnant, I suggest you try making similar changes. But you don’t have to do it alone. Below, we’ll look at some of the more helpful tools and resources to help you manage your paid advertising and how you can leverage them to get more visibility and more conversions at a lower price point per keyword.
Talk to Your Colleagues About Paid Advertising
The best place to start when adopting a new approach to paid search is closer than most people realize. Create a list of everything you don’t know about the campaign and a separate list of the things you think you know but aren’t entirely sure of. Stand up, stretch, take a swig of coffee, and walk over to the cubicle next to you or the office down the hall.
Give a polite hello or gentle knock, sit down with your list in hand, and ask your coworker or superior what they know about the industry, objectives, budget, etc. See if they can help answer your unknowns and verify your knowns. Once the conversation gets flowing, feel free to start asking some questions you might have missed when conducting the initial strategy meeting:
- Are we running any other campaigns — such as social media or content development?
- Who are the main competitors?
- What negative keywords have I not yet considered?
- Are there any trademark issues that could inform the ad copy?
- Should I create custom dedicated landing pages? Or can we save budget by using organic webpages that are already optimized for paid digital campaigns?
- Have we created any videos or infographics that I could use as collateral?
You might think you’re bothering your colleagues, but most people want to feel helpful. If they’re in the position to provide some quality insight, take full advantage. You’ll be amazed what you hadn’t considered, and it’s also a great way to build productive and trusting relationships with the people you work with. More than that, your discussion might inspire them to create new initiatives or adjust existing tactics seemingly unrelated to paid search.
Use Online Resources to Improve Your PPC Strategy
Once you’ve had the chance to survey a few colleagues, your next step should be to utilize your online resources. There are several excellent platforms to help you conduct keyword research and manage your campaigns, but here are a few of our favorites.
SpyFu is a really great tool to help with keyword research because it allows you to take a sneak peek at your competitors’ keywords and how they have set up their campaigns. It’s also simple to use: Just plug in a domain to see where they appear on Google search engine results pages (SERPs) — as well as every keyword, organic position, and ad variation they’ve used over the past 12 years. Or, you can enter your website and cross-reference your efforts with the competition, which makes it easy to capitalize on their success while also avoiding their mistakes. Basic plans start as low as $33.99 and premium plans cost $199.99 and include 5 user logins, 2,000 sales leads and domain contacts, and 10,000 API rows returned.
SEMrush can help improve your marketing efforts across several disciplines, including SEO and social media, but their paid traffic tool is where you’ll find the most value. Their platform allows users to:
Analyze ad strategies
- Group and manage effective and relevant keywords
- Determine intelligent negative keywords
- Research keywords and optimize creative
- Conduct competitive analysis
And we’re not the only ones impressed with SEMrush. Major companies like eBay, Quora, and Overstock use the platform to get the most out of their paid advertising budgets.
We use the most basic package, which costs $99.99/month, and we are extremely happy with the tools available and the results we’ve achieved. However, larger companies might want to go with the “Business” package. It costs $399.99/month, but it comes with all the bells and whistles — including dozens of PPC and SEO tools, white label reporting, API access, and much more.
All successful paid search campaigns rely on engaging, relevant landing pages — and if you don’t have the resources to build your own from scratch, you should strongly consider creating an Unbounce account.
This platform allows novices and experts alike to quickly build beautiful custom landing pages with full creative control. Drag and drop functionality simplifies the process, and their helpful tutorials encourage all users to follow best practices and achieve excellent quality scores in their AdWords campaigns. No coding is required, and minor details can be swapped in and out quickly and efficiently, which means instant updates to your campaigns.
All packages include built-in A/B testing, and their Dynamic Text Replacement tool allows users to automatically change copy based on which ad is clicked. This increases relevancy and quality score without having to build dozens of custom landing pages. Basic plans start at $79 with a free 30-day trial and include 75 landing pages/month (i.e., all you’ll likely need).
Google Reigns Supreme!
We can vouch for the tools above since we use them every day, but you don’t have to spend money to access helpful AdWords resources. Google has three platforms that can help you create, launch, and optimize your AdWords campaigns.
The Keyword Planner is a free resource located under the “Tools” option in the navigation of every Google AdWords page. It helps users research the best keywords for their campaigns based on objective data. It even provides suggested bids so you can make informed decisions based on your budget. Keyword Planner also allows you to conduct competitive research and focus on niche industries by selecting product categories.
To use the Keyword Planner, simply enter keywords related to your industry, product, or service (e.g., “car accident” for personal injury attorneys) or enter your final destination URL (likely either your website’s homepage or a dedicated landing page). You can refine your search to target a certain region, language, or even a Google network search engine, such as AOL. In addition, filter your search to specify a desired cost per click (CPC) or hide keywords you know are technically relevant but will result in wasted spend.
Like the Keyword Planner tool, AdWords Editor is a free tool you can use to help maximize your PPC potential. Just download the application to your computer and use it to manage your AdWords campaigns offline. This is especially great for individuals who travel frequently and don’t want to pay sky-high Wi-Fi fees when flying. This tool works best for companies running a lot of different campaigns because it allows the user to make bulk changes quickly. So, if you have a diversified product or service line, you should definitely be using AdWords Editor.
Additional benefits include the ability to:
- Export and import files
- View stats and metrics for all campaigns and subsets
- Manage multiple accounts simultaneously
- Move items at the ad group and campaign level
- Develop drafts before uploading new elements live to the account
- Undo/redo multiple changes while editing
When you make changes to existing campaigns in AdWords, those changes take effect in real-time. Using AdWords Editor allows users to create draft versions of their campaigns and then review them before setting them live. Save money. Reduce stress. Download and use the AdWords Editor.
Another free tool from our friends at Google, Trends is a simple way to identify the most effective keyword or key phrase in sets of up to 25 terms. Just visit the site and enter a search term and any variable of that term. Trends will generate a graph that shows which key term is the most popular over a defined time period. You can also adjust by region, category, and what type of search you want to focus on.
For example, if we’re still using our personal injury attorney from above as our example, we might be unsure which is the most commonly used (and therefore most effective) keyword of this bunch:
- Car Accident
- Car Crash
- Car Wreck
Most personal injury attorneys prefer not to use the term “accident” because it connotes an unavoidable mistake when, in fact, at least one person is almost always responsible for a car wreck.
But people who are in a crash clearly prefer to use the term “accident.” See for yourself:
The problem is that even though most attorneys we interact with are loath to use “accident,” it is far and away the most commonly used descriptor (minus an unusual bump for “crash” in July of 2017). And this is where Google Trends is so helpful. Like all great data sources, it eliminates opinion and delivers objective facts. Hate on the word “accident” all day every day if it suits you, but if you want to compete for the most common keyword, rely on the truth rather than your truth.
LaFleur Can Help You Get the Most From Your Paid Campaigns
Now that we’ve given you the Cliff’s Notes on some of the best paid digital advertising resources, we would like to offer you the full encyclopedia of PPC expertise. Our paid digital professionals have decades of experience and have helped thousands of clients exceed their PPC goals. We are strict adherents to industry best practices, but we also use cutting-edge technology and resources to develop innovative strategies that place our clients ahead of the competition and increase their revenue and market share.
If you would like to discuss your current paid campaigns or the possibility of building new campaigns from scratch, we would love the chance to speak with you further. Please contact us by completing this brief online form or giving us a call at (888) 222-1512. And if you’re not quite ready to take the PPC plunge, we also specialize in content development, email automation, social media marketing, and much more, so reach out to learn more about how we can help lift your company’s marketing and advertising efforts to new heights.
Goodwin, D. (2018, February 2). 4 PPC experts on the best new features & strategies of 2017 (so far). WordStream. Retrieved from https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/05/16/best-ppc-strategies-and-features
Rogers, S. (2017, November 27). More realtime data on Google Trends. Google Blog. Retrieved from https://www.blog.google/topics/journalism-news/more-realtime-data-google-trends/
Victory, G. (2018). 9 Pay-Per-Click tools that will help you do keyword, ad copy, and profit analysis. KissMetrics. Retrieved from https://blog.kissmetrics.com/9-ppc-tools/