How often do you find yourself clicking on the first link when you search for a business or service online? Chances are, you just clicked on an ad created by a paid search campaign. Paid search, or pay-per-click (PPC), marketing is a valuable online advertising strategy that guarantees visibility to your potential customers, but is it a worthwhile investment for your business? Which industries garner results from PPC, and which ones should just leave it alone?
Questions to ask before launching a PPC campaign
When determining if your business could benefit from PPC, there are a few variables to consider.
1. Is your website ready for increased traffic?
With the launch of a successful PPC campaign comes an influx of traffic. Can your website withstand increased traffic—or should you optimize your site prior to launching the campaign? Once a user clicks on your ad, can they easily navigate your site? If not, it would be wise to invest in some UX design before starting a campaign.
2. Who is your target audience?
If you aren’t targeting the right people, your ad won’t convert. For example, promoting a product, service, or feature of your business that cannot be located on your website will not convert ad clicks into customers. “For an ad to be successful, special offers must be within one click of the landing page for an ad,” BigWing’s Director of Search Marketing, Bill Martin said.
3. What’s your budget?
It’s always a good idea to have a budget in mind before launching any campaign, but it’s especially important to know your spending limits before you start bidding on search terms. Luckily, you only pay when people click on your ad, so PPC can be affordable—spending as low as $18 per day.
Who is a good fit for PPC?
Now that you’ve got those pesky variables out of the way, it’s time to see if PPC is a good fit for your business. People search online for almost everything, so there’s a pretty good chance you will benefit from paid search. “Paid search acquires customers who are seeking answers to questions,” Bill said. Healthcare, education, law, finance, insurance, retail, and tourism are examples of industries that heavily benefit from PPC.
“Looking for which colleges and universities have an astronomy degree, or want to know what courses are involved in a computer science degree? Paid search can help on those searches,” Bill said. “And then there are law firms. People don’t know lawyers until they need one. That is all paid search, and because the stakes are high—expensive paid search.”
PPC benefits a lot of large companies and industries, but what about the small businesses—the local boutiques, restaurants, or hardware stores? Fortunately, the benefits of paid search are attainable for a variety of businesses. “Any vertical where someone would use Google to search for a product or service—that is where paid search works,” Bill said.
Who can’t use paid search?
As they say, there is always another side to the coin. PPC isn’t right for everyone. There are restrictions on who can advertise on search engines, and there is a basic rule of thumb for which businesses can’t use paid search. “Can it harm you or someone else? Then, it’s banned,” said Bill.
To be safe, we’ll break it down further. According to Google AdWords policies, the following content and practices are prohibited (check the link for any updates to the policy).
- Hazardous or harmful products or services—This includes anything relating to or facilitating drug use, weapons, explosives and their components, tobacco products, and more.
- Dishonest operations —This includes anything that is fake or counterfeited, services to facilitate cheating or other artificial success offerings, hacking goods or services, and more.
- Disrespectful or offensive content —Any form of discrimination, profanity, extortion, murder, graphic images, hateful content, or bullying is banned.
- Deceitful operations—Any form of deceit on the behalf of the advertiser to mislead a user to click on their ad cannot use paid search. Examples include phishing, click bait, deceptive claims of product results (weight loss, cures, or financial benefits), hiding fees, hidden contact information where required, and more.
- Mistreating the network—This includes attempting to trick the AdWords approval system, promoting social network gains, and purposefully breaking policies.
- Information collection —This includes gathering user data (such as contact, financial, or personal information) without clearly stating the security, purpose, or method for obtaining the data.
There are also several examples of restricted content to be aware of. For the following categories, Google can limit the geographical reach of the ad or add requirements prior to launch.
- Alcohol—A touchy topic for many states, alcohol has several legal regulations that must be abided by.
- Adult Content—You can’t target minors for certain adult content, such as strip clubs, matchmaking sites, and more.
- Copyrights and Trademarks—You must provide documented legal authorization to use copyrighted or trademarked content in paid search ads.
- Gambling—State and local laws affect gambling and gaming sites just like they affect alcohol ads.
- Healthcare and medication—There are many advertising regulations across the board for the healthcare and medicine pharmaceutical industries (in both a digital and traditional environment), and these laws apply to paid search as well.
- Political content—This is especially important in certain elections.
- Financial investment, management, and advice—It’s against the rules to mislead searchers into making irresponsible financial decisions through paid search. Be honest and abide by local and state laws.
This is just a sampling of the Google AdWords policies. When using PPC for any product or service, it’s always smart to read the rules before attempting to launch a paid search campaign.
As long as you aren’t harming or facilitating the harm of searchers, your industry could benefit from PPC. Play by the rules and budget your campaigns wisely, and you can reap the benefits of paid search campaigns. Google’s core ideology is “Do No Evil”—keep that in mind.
Think PPC is right for your business?
Contact us today for assistance in your digital marketing campaign. Our Paid Search team is always up-to-date on trends and algorithms to help launch your business into PPC success.