Seven things your business
should know about
By Rosalind Gray
IF YOU WANT more bang out of your
marketing buck but, like most small-business owners, you’re short on spare
cash, time and patience, then pay-per-click (PPC) might be right for you.
Pay-per-click is a form of online
1. How does it
advertising. When you type specific search
phrases or words into search engines, such
as Google, Bing or
Here are seven things
you should know about
PPC is all about keywords. Once you’ve set up a
PPC account with one of the
search engines, you choose keywords or
phrases that are related to your products and
services. You then create a simple ad with a
title, subheading and short description. When
someone uses that search engine to look for
your products or services using the keywords
you’ve specified, your ad will be displayed.
The position of your ad depends on how
much you bid for the keywords.
You fix your bid price before your ad goes
live. The higher your bid, the higher your spot
in the results listings you will be. For example,
“landscape architecture in north Boston” may
be one of the terms you want to target. When
someone searches for “landscape architect in
north Boston,” if you bid high enough, your
ad will appear first in the listings, giving you
higher visibility and potentially more
clicks. Each time a customer then clicks on
that ad to get to your site, you will pay your
pre-set bid price.
2. How much does it cost?
3. What can I do on a tight budget?
While some search engines may
charge a set-up or
account fee, after that
you only pay your
pre-set bid price each
time someone clicks
on your ad. When
you set up your ad
you will probably
be bidding against
for the keywords
you want to use.
You can specify
spend on any
given day, so
it’s fairly easy
PPC gives small businesses with modest
budgets an opportunity to beat the big spenders. Usually the more specific your keywords,
the cheaper they’ll be and the more targeted the
traffic you’ll get. For example, if you have a
sportswear shop you might think “gym clothing” is enough, but in fact it’s way too general;
something more specific to your stock, such as
“women’s Nike DriFIT athletic shorts,” will give
you much more relevant click-throughs. Try
adding qualifiers; instead of “car dealer,” go for
“Toyota car dealer in Palm Beach.”
Small-business owners are wired to respond
to market conditions much more quickly than
bigger, more established competitors. Tweaking
your keywords to reflect recent developments
can help you capture a new audience or
respond to a newly discovered demand.
Larger organizations would have several lev-
els of sign-off and approval to go through
before enacting such a measure.
4. Why advertise online?
Businesses with a mainly regional service area, such as a restaurant, garage or hairdresser, may have dismissed online
advertising in favor of traditional local marketing. But most PPC services now offer geo-targeting, which allows you to show your ads
only to browsers located in the area you’ve
specified. Geo-targeted pay-per-click is perfect for businesses that expect customers
from a particular region only. You could tap
into a whole new segment of customers who
aren’t seeing your posters in the window.
5. Can PPC work with other ads?
Yes. PPC is the most controllable form of
online advertising. You can turn it on and off
in a flash. This makes it a flexible tool that
can help you fill in any quiet periods. You can
turn your ads off any time you like, allowing
you to match your stream of leads or orders
to your ability to fulfill them.
6. How do I know it’s working?
When you’ve set up your pay-per-click
account and kicked off with a keyword or
two, you can immediately see which ads are
bringing results. You’ll know how many people clicked on your ads. If you track visitors
on your own website, you can see if they
went on to place an order or make a booking.
7. How do I get started?
Most major search engines accept paid
listings, but Google AdWords, Microsoft
adCenter and Yahoo! Search Marketing are
the ones you’re likely to have heard of. Try
each with a small budget and find which
setup suits you best. C
FEBRUARY 2012 ;e Costco Connection 23
Rosalind Gray is a London-based freelancer
who frequently writes about small business.