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How to Make Killer PPC Ads for Your Small Business

Graphic of binoculars looking at PPC ads in search results82% of people using a search engine click on a brand they recognise first – even if it’s not in the first position.*

If you’re a local business doing local PPC ads, that might be just fine.

But if you’re a small business appealing for national attention online, it’s something you’ll need to battle to overcome.

Three pearls of PPC ad wisdom

1. PPC ads can’t stand without brand

As we saw from that stat up there, brand recognition is important even when you’re paying to get seen in search results where you’re relevant.

In a list of similar options anywhere, most people will choose the brand they’ve heard of just to feel safe, even if costs a little bit more. This necessitates a lot of work on building your brand – the bit you’re never sure actually delivers ROI.

But if you’re chucking money into PPC rather than brand because it’s good and trackable, you’re missing the potentially higher click-through rate you could achieve with a combination of both.

Complement PPC with display ads

There’s a reason display ads are still kicking: it’s exposure therapy. They might not get you the direct response you wanted from PPC, but they can help you get the clicks on the PPC ads themselves. 1) Because the more someone sees your brand, the more familiar and therefore trustworthy you seem and 2) because your association with the sites they trust extends that legitimacy to you.

If that’s out of budget, Facebook ads can achieve a similar effect for less money and less design time.

2. PPC ads are…well, ads

Man, I see some shoddy PPC ads. Clearly written by anyone but a copywriter. It’s a darn shame because, just like your web page descriptions that appear in search results, PPC ads require meticulous crafting to stand out and get clicks.

Setting up and running PPC ad campaigns seems technical and scary, so most businesses leave everything to an SEO person. Wrong-o.

Yes, that person is vital for planning, budgeting, running and reporting on campaigns – but they need to brief a copywriter with their expertise, not write the things themselves.

Now, direct response ads are a funny thing. Sometimes AWFUL headlines or techniques actually help click-through because of something bizarre, like people clicking because they’re so appalled. There’s no accounting for psychology. This is why we test.

It’s also why it’s a team effort. A copywriter’s most beautiful storytelling isn’t necessarily the thing that will convert, so combining knowledge is important. And study up: the same tricks have worked in ads for as long as there’ve been ads.

3. Put just as much effort into your negative keywords as your positive keywords

Every time you get a click-through from someone who will never spend a penny with you, you lose money.

We can’t stop that from happening completely but we can limit it by working harder on our negative keywords. If your bra range only goes up to a DD, exclude things like ‘larger cup sizes’ and ‘DD+ bras’ that you definitely do NOT want to appear for. I won’t counsel that maybe you need to increase your cup size range – just make sure you’re not bringing people to your site who’ll ultimately leave annoyed.

As another example, I just searched for ‘rent bouncy castle’ and got a PPC ad trying to SELL me a bouncy castle so I can start a bouncy castle business. If I click absent-mindedly, they waste money. It’s highly unlikely I’m going to launch a new career when all I wanted was a pirate bouncy castle for five hours next Saturday.

Too many businesses are spending wastefully on PPC ads. By working smarter, we can increase click-throughs and conversion while we’re also lowering costs.

* Secret Life of Search, RedC