Of course, many small businesses don’t have the time or expertise to run tests on the successes and failures of their PPC campaigns. This is why simplified tools that use complex machine learning to do the testing for you are so helpful to manage PPC for small businesses. If you’re a small business owner and want to take it on yourself though, follow the winning strategies above to get started on the right track!
You and your competitors are competing for the attention of potential customers. That’s why it's useful to know how your competitors use social media channels and paid acquisition channels to reach their target audience. While digital channels are key in today’s marketplace, you also need to pay attention to offline channels like events, meetups, conferences, and direct mail. This is where the face-to-face interactions occur that are often the key to establishing connections and sealing deals. You can usually find out information about offline events by visiting the “Events” section of your competitors’ websites and also searching for their names in relation to conferences and events on the wider web.
After years of working with relatively inexpensive homes in rural areas, we’re looking to break into the competitive and high-flying Manhattan real estate market. Referrals and word of mouth have been powerful drivers of growth up to this point, but they won’t cut it anymore. We need to get in front of people who are trying to sell their homes in Manhattan, and we decide to run Facebook ads to do it.
Beyond the city level, your geotargeting on Facebook can further narrow your targeted customers to within miles. For example, a fairly standard radius is 10 miles and closer when you’re targeting a specific product or service in a particular vicinity. If you’re in a more rural setting, you can expand that radius to 20 or 25 miles. Urban areas like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York are targeted within one mile.
You need to develop tactics to recognise and double down on the deep conviction you have in your gut that nobody else understands. Stop looking for consensus or opportunities that seem obvious and compelling at first glance. Great opportunities never have “great opportunity” in the subject line. Honing your gut instincts and acting upon conviction is a theme of every successful journey.
Why make the same mistakes your competitors have made when you can learn from them? As its name implies, SpyFu is a great way to spy on the competition so you can learn from their failures and more importantly, their successes. When you type in a competitor's URL, you'll be able to see how many keywords they are ranking for organically and even the ad value of those keywords. It also offers good analytics on backlinks driving the most traffic to your competitors' sites so you can see where you might want to  publish guest blogs or be listed. If they are running any paid advertising campaigns, you can even see what campaigns they're running and how much they're spending.  
Not every keyword is worth ranking for. This may seem obvious, but it’s an important lesson for search marketers to learn. Often times we can get caught falling down the rabbit hole or chasing the long tail dragon to boost our rankings without thinking of the time and resources it takes to rank for these terms. Especially for highly competitive, high-volume keywords – it simply isn’t worth the time and effort it might take to get onto page one.
This emphasis on competition is related to the advent of game theory in the mid 20th century around the same time. The problem is that game theory is one mental model of many to help make decisions, not the only one (Ben Thompson from Stratechery has a good post on the Prisoner’s Dilemma that is a fundamental one). Even researchers are starting to point to the fact that there are no perfect solutions (such as a Nash equilibrium) to most situations.

Create different ad groups. Each ad group consists of specific ads that share the same keyword. For example, if you’re a SaaS company, it makes sense to have an ad group for each product category you serve. The SaaS SEO company, MOZ, might have ad groups for keyword research, link building, site audits and web page optimization. Each group consists of different ads for that category.
…Well, this is a best practices post, right? It may seem obvious to use the highest converting ad formats in your PPC campaigns to boost their conversion rate, but many marketers don’t actually know what these optimized ads look like—nor that they can do the optimizing themselves even after their ads go live! In this next section, we’ll break down a few important ad formats and options that you should have on your radar and use to maximize your conversion potential:

If your account is currently achieving a return on ad spend (ROAS) of 5, and your goal is to achieve a ROAS of 6, your strategy should focus on efficiency optimizations to improve ROAS. If your account is achieving a ROAS of 5 and your goal is to increase revenue as long as your ROAS is at or above 4 (and you have additional budget to spend), then your strategy will need to focus on growth initiatives.
You should always track and monitor the effectiveness of your PPC campaign. You should know what things are working for you in a better way. If you are publishing your ads on the Google search platform using the Google Adwords tool, use Google Analytics to get better insights into searcher’s behavior. You should measure the bounce rate of your website. Bounce rate will tell you how many searchers visited your site but did not perform any action. You should also track CTR and conversion rate of your campaign. This will help you to optimize your PPC campaign and your landing page.
Take Coca Cola and Red Bull for example. They have massive marketing budgets, and the majority of that budget goes into branding and (I am guessing) very little attention is paid to determining the ROI of each individual activity they sponsor. They just know that the more they can build equity in their brand, the more products they will sell. The result? They are some of the most recognizable brands in the world. They are also extremely profitable at the end of the year – they just achieve that profitability differently than what we are used to seeing as direct response marketers.
Monitoring also allows you to notice trends. If there’s a high bounce rate (people leaving your landing page before making a purchase) but a high click-through rate as well (lots of people are clicking on your ad), it’s a sign that the issue isn’t with your ad but with your landing page. Instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, you can focus exclusively on improving your landing page.
a) Look for any gaps ("0's") on you score sheet and try to fix them. Yes, to an extent–an "ideal" score would be all "4s" down your brand's column. However, that's not always possible and highly unlikely. That said, it might not be the most pertinent thing to address technical SEO issues if you can see that your area of greatest weakness is, for instance, building an audience. Look for the greatest difference in performance between your brand and your competitors, which will illuminate what their main legs-up are.
This is a particularly useful strategy for local businesses (or any business that takes calls, really) to target people who are likely to call them directly from a search query. With Call Extensions you can easily add a click-to-call button to your mobile ads and phone numbers to your desktop ads. Additionally, you can track customers who make calls from your website using Website Call Conversions.
Some examples of typical insights from this document would be the average number of referring domains that our competitors have and how that relates to our own backlink profile. If we are ahead of our competitors regarding backlinks, content creation might be the focal point of the campaign. If we are behind our competitors in regards to backlinks, we know that we need to start a link building campaign as soon as possible.
The secondary and tertiary groups are both your indirect competition.Their products may not be the same as yours, but could satisfy the same need or solve the same problem. You should primarily focus on your direct competitors, but you should watch your indirect competitors. These businesses may move into another group as your business, or theirs, grows and expand product offerings.
Use the search intent of a keyword to help determine what sort of page it should be used on. Informational keywords should be used on pages optimized for a branding campaign with content such as how to guides or product comparison articles. Avoid using these pages to target more specific in-market keywords. Those searchers have no use for a how-to guide or product comparisons. Use those to target your product pages that include specs, reviews, options and, most importantly, price and the "buy now" button. Of course, the “buy now” button could also be the email sign-up page or contact information form, depending on the type of goals you’re targeting.

b) Compare to your competitors pages and devise a plan to beat them. Sort of–I may want to write a follow up piece to this checklist with what comes next! It may not be realistic for you to go toe-to-toe with Amazon, for instance, if they have more linking root domains than your site does. However, if it's clear that you've got a very poor backlinks profile and your competitors outperform you here across the board, that means it's probably time to start discussing creative link building strategies, or content marketing plans.
Unfortunately, whilst digital marketing provides these tools, most advertisers still find themselves in a situation where they don’t know what is working. The ubiquity of search engines in our modern lives has led advertisers to skip straight past considerations for strategy, planning, and measurement and dive straight into tactical marketing efforts like Pay-Per-Click and SEO, where they are as equally unsure if their efforts are delivering a meaningful return for their business.

We at SEMrush continuously monitor Google’s updates, as the search engine rarely stands still. While testing the updates that are most likely to impact advertisers, we have come to the conclusion that Google is moving in the direction of “autopiloted” campaigns. The message is clear, the more you delegate to Google Ads’ artificial mind - bids, placements, banner sizes, etc. - the more benefit you and your customers will get from the campaign.


Lower Costs: When there is a near-infinite supply of search query impressions each month, your strategy is to lower your cost per click in order to drive more click (and conversion) volume to your website. This generally involves making use of keyword list refinement (match types, negative keywords) and lowering bids while keeping an eye on average position.
Also, click on the “CTR” checkbox at the top of the graph. That will display a line graph overlay that displays your click-through rate for search. If you see that it’s dropped recently, it might be a good idea to check your meta description tags to make sure that they haven’t changed. It’s possible that people aren’t as “tempted’ to click on your link in search results because there’s not a very good description of the page contents.
WHAT TO EXPECTAn in-depth investigation and analysis of your competition is one of the most important components of a comprehensive market analysis. A competitive analysis allows you to assess your competitor's strengths and weaknesses in your marketplace and implement effective strategies to improve your competitive advantage. This Business Builder will take you through a step-by-step process of competitive analysis, helping you to identify your competition, determine and weigh their attributes, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and uncover their objectives and strategies in your market segment. WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE GETTING STARTED [top] What Types of Organizations Should I Consider as Competitors? Any business marketing a product similar to, or as a substitute for, your own product in the same geographic area is a direct competitor. Firms offering dissimilar or substitute products in relation to your product or service are considered indirect competitors. Indirect competition would exist between the manufacturer of butter and a manufacturer of margarine selling to the same customers. Another example is the manufacturer of eyeglasses who competes indirectly with contact lens manufacturers. Stated in other terms, indirect competition will satisfy the customer's need with a particular product or service, although the product or service used may be different from yours. If a firm has similar products and distribution channels, but has chosen to operate in different market segments, they are not at this time your direct competitor. However, it's important to monitor the marketing activities of such firms because they may decide to move into your market segment, just as you may decide to move into theirs. Take a moment and identify your direct and indirect competitors: Why is a Comprehensive Competitive Analysis an Important Part of a Marketing Plan? To achieve and maintain a competitive advantage in reaching and selling to your target market, you must possess a thorough knowledge of your competition. An in-depth competitive analysis will provide you with the following:
Having initiated a Geo Targeting conversion experiment, you are faced with an inherent problem: how can you verify that your Geo Targeting works? One option is to ask people that are located worldwide to browse your targeted pages and inform you of the results. Another, far more convenient method, is to use a “global geo proxy network” that allows you to browse the web from different global locations.
Geo-Targeting allows you to run different campaigns in different locations. Your ads might be served all over the world and vary in their marketing message according to the segment and audience that you approach. Is the marketing message on your site the same as the geo-targeted ad? Experiment with sending traffic from a geo-targeted banner to a geo-targeted landing page (in language, currency, offer, etc) and to a generic page – what converts better?
It works like this – if there is an IP address the company wants to locate, they ping ‎it from a few of their servers, for which they already know the location.  A ping is ‎just a way to test if a computer can connect, and how long it takes to do so, but ‎doesn’t transmit any meaningful data.  Then, by looking at the time it takes each ‎server to connect, it can establish a shared point or origin, and thereby physically ‎locate the user.  It uses the public IP locations to validate their approach and check ‎for anomalies in network latency which would lead to bad data.  ‎
It’s good for search engines – PPC enables search engines to cater to searchers and advertisers simultaneously. The searchers comprise their user-base, while the advertisers provide them with their revenue stream. The engines want to provide relevant results, first and foremost, while offering a highly targeted, revenue-driving advertising channel.
Some competitors solve the same problem with the same technology but focus on a different customer. For example, Zum provides schoolchildren with rides to school, solving a transportation problem for kids and parents. Zum solves a slightly different problem too: safety. Safety is the primary concern for parents when it comes to kids riding back from school. However, it’s ultimately grounded in the same tech as Uber.
Long-tail keywords: Longer keywords or specific phrases might not be used as search queries as frequently by your audience. In the above example, for instance, it’s likely that a freelancer looking for a coworking place queries ‘coworking bristol’ rather than ‘coworking space in bristol’, however, the traffic generated by all combinations of long-tail keywords can provide your site as much traffic as the short-tail keywords. And why would you risk losing any opportunity you have to be present on search engines? We are not the only ones saying this, HitTail also give facts about long-tail keywords; about 70 percent of queries are long-tail.

Even national marketing campaigns can benefit from geo-targeting, as regional differences create opportunities to test multiple messages and refine them as a campaign continues. Geo-targeted experiments has been used successfully by businesses, charities and even political campaigns. Factoring out cultural and ethnic variations, there are still subtle regional differences in something as universal as language. A campaign for donations might be better served by using a “donate” button in one area and a “support” button in another. Similarly, customers might respond differently to the phrase “book your trip” than they do to “buy your ticket” or “schedule your trip.” The same goes for the look and feel of the advertising copy and other content.
It’s easy to get blindsided by our own opinion on “high-quality” content. You might be thinking you have an awesome idea that everyone wants to read about, but how do you know with absolute certainty that it’s really that great? And even if your hunch is spot on and you’ve discovered something truly worth sharing, how do you quantify its value? How do you find the right content marketing keywords?
"Since consumers know what they are looking for, you can optimize your content around the core needs and problems your target audience experiences. It is your job to build an SEO strategy by knowing what your customers are looking for. This will allow you to create relevant content that your customers want to read, and as a result, your content will rank higher in Google."
Geo-Fencing refers to drawing a virtual barrier around a location using your devices global positioning system (GPS) or Internet Protocol (IP) address, which is just like your virtual address.  Ads inside of geo-fenced areas can be seen on computer, tablet, or mobile devices as potential customers are browsing the web.  Technically, geo-fencing can be any size radius from a particular location, anywhere from a mile to state-wide.  But most people when they are referring to geo-fencing are looking for a very tight radius around a location.   A misconception with geo-fencing is that once inside the fence you receive push notifications, or text messages to the device, which is not accurate.   What geo-fencing does instead is show ads to the person inside the geo-fenced radius if they are browsing the web, to alert them of a local deal or the distance you are from a particular store location.
It can be easy to go down a deep rabbit hole with this process. There are thousands of blog posts with helpful hints (you’re reading one right now), and hundreds of tools that can potentially improve or otherwise streamline the process of researching keywords and devising a smart keyword strategy. That’s why we advise you keep things simple for starters. You can always layer on complexity as you gain experience. More than anything, good SEO efforts revolve around creating content experiments, measuring them, then doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Simpler is often better, especially if you are resource constrained. A good content governance strategy should dictate that you take on only as much as your resources allow.
…Well, this is a best practices post, right? It may seem obvious to use the highest converting ad formats in your PPC campaigns to boost their conversion rate, but many marketers don’t actually know what these optimized ads look like—nor that they can do the optimizing themselves even after their ads go live! In this next section, we’ll break down a few important ad formats and options that you should have on your radar and use to maximize your conversion potential:
Use voice search to your advantage by skewing your ad strategy toward answering questions customers need to know (intent), rather than just including keywords. Search engine AI for voice and mobile search is getting more sophisticated and better at serving results that meet the user’s intent, therefore PPC best practices will be continually refined.
That said, if you’ve never had to come up with a keyword strategy before, it might seem a bit daunting to generate a list of terms that will drive qualified search traffic to your website. Not to worry. Creating an effective keyword strategy—figuring out which terms you should create content for—isn’t hard. It just involves a little bit of reverse engineering and some research.
Every business can benefit from attracting higher value customers. Whether you’re a real estate company looking for high net worth individuals looking to buy property or a B2B SaaS company looking for a higher average revenue per user (ARPU), attracting customers who will pay you more than others is a powerful way to amplify the growth of your business.

For example, say you run your own B2B marketing agency. If you’re advertising high-level digital marketing services, you want to make sure that the traffic you get from PPC campaigns only includes quality leads. Using negative keywords like “free” and “cheap” will help you avoid people who are not looking to pay for marketing services. If you only work with clients in the United States, you could also use location-based negative keywords. For example, to avoid keywords like “B2B marketing services in Russia” you could add “Russia” as a negative keyword.
Using negative keywords in PPC campaigns is an often overlooked but highly effective strategy. These are keywords that you add to your campaign that you don’t want to target. Adding negative keywords will let Google know that it should not show your campaigns in searches that include these words. This is a crucial step in order to make sure that you don’t waste money by displaying your ad for irrelevant searches.

Pick your battles. Sometimes a keyword is so competitive, it's best to let it go. Focus on keywords where you have the most opportunity to move up in the ranks. Moving up from a ranking of 60 to 50 won't have much of an impact, but moving from a ranking of 15 to 8 pushes you from Page 2 to Page 1 of Google's search results, where you'll have a much better chance of being found.
Zee came to Distilled after several web development and digital communications positions in the nonprofit space, including the Ad Council, Power Poetry, VolunteerMatch, DonorsChoose and Planned Parenthood. With her background, Zee learned how to make the most impact with shoestring budgets. A graduate of Smith College, Zee studied French Studies and Psychology and studied psychoanalysis at Paris IV – Denis Diderot University. Aside from analyzing languages and humans, she found a home in the tech space, where solutions are complex and (sometimes) easier to come by. Ask her about: user experience, web development, analytics, technical SEO questions, and rescue dogs like hers.
×