Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tips & Best Practices for Paid Search

+Thorne Washington, a recent grad from Northern's IM program, and Brad Hawk, both from board member company Leapfrog Online, have been coming to my classes to share their experiences and tips on Paid Search.  The duo helped students prepared for the Google Online Marketing Challenge last year and for their Paid Search consulting project this year using Google AdWords and Analytics . The two consultants have a great framework, listed above, for analyzing, implementing and measuring a paid search campaign.

We really appreciated  Brad and Thorne's clear approach to the problem at hand. They suggested a framework for the project that they use for their own work. As shown above, they suggested that the best way to approach paid search is to Research, Build, Launch and then Analyze/Report.

I agree that planning is key to effective Search Engine Marketing (SEM). If you don't understand the customer and the keywords they are searching for it is not even useful to start a campaign. Google provides many useful analysis tools to research initially and then modify the campaign once it has been launched. We use Google Trends and the AdWords keyword tool for our initial and ongoing research.  Sometimes we found that the terms the company thought defined its business were not highly searched for by potential customers and had to make adjustments.

Building and Launching a paid search campaign, the students found, was an ongoing, iterative exercise. +Brittany Sarkisian, who is in the class right now, said that the class is interactive and allowed her to apply the concepts we have been learning in the real world. The students monitored their campaigns over a three week time frame, often not finding an effective ad/keyword/call to action combination until late in the campaign.

Some other helpful tips from Thorne and Brad included bidding 1.5 or 2 times more than the suggested initial bid in AdWords to get a high ranking and improve your click-through rate, setting the geographic area of the search, limiting the campaign to the hours of operation of the business and using Exact match when you have a small budget.  Since mobile ads are more expensive than desktop ads, the students also limited the devices on which their ads were displayed (although we may not have this choice in the future).  Thanks to both Brad and Thorne for coming out and sharing their expertise.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.
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