At heart, I’m quite frugal. The idea of spending money to “buy” clicks to my website via advertising vs. creating really great content that just gets found naturally seems counter-intuitive. However, there is a way to use PPC (pay per click) advertising, like Google AdWords, in a very cost-effective way.
When you’re setting out to optimize your website, you make your best guess at the keywords and phrases that are likely to bring the right traffic to your site, that will result in conversions (leads, downloads, purchases, etc.) You optimize your site for those words and phrases and you watch and wait. Since you can no longer get detailed keyphrase data from Google analytics, you look at things like traffic sources, landing pages and top content to try to discern the best performing keywords. Your data is limited and you are still guessing at which keyphrases actually drove the conversions.
Running a short-term ad campaign starting with your best guess at the right keywords can provide a wealth of information… and not just guesses, you can get real quantifiable data on which keyphrases people used to find your site, which ads caused people to click-through to your site and which phrases have the highest conversion rates. You can even find related search terms and phrases that you may not have thought of before.
You can then take the data you’ve gathered via AdWords and use that information to create a much more effective optimization plan for your website. You can focus on the keywords that you KNOW create click-throughs and conversions. You can use the new keyphrases to target your blog content or expand your product or service listings. You can use related keyphrases to expand the descriptions of your products and services. You can use AdWords as a real-time, very effective research tool for improving your website.
There is a caveat though…. I DO NOT recommend using the “starter campaign” version of AdWords that sets up your campaign for you by leading you through a series of simple questions. Remember, Google’s goal is to get you to spend money on advertising with them, your goal is to make money from the advertising you do with them. Invest either the time or money (DIY or hire someone) to setup or revise your campaigns. Getting the “hard facts” on the right tightly targeted keyphrases that reach the right audience with the right message is well worth the time and effort.