Seven Tactics For Leveraging Paid Search To Build Brand Awareness

Everyone managing cost-per-click (CPC) campaigns lives by three magic letters that can make the difference between a friendly pat on the back and a hefty push on the back… out the door. Those letters are ROI (return on investment). Put another way, are you bringing in more money from your CPC campaigns than you are paying out in clicks?

I say “everyone,” but maybe I should clarify: everyone who actually has something they can measure their ROI against—be it product sales, lead generation, or maybe just newsletter signups. But what if you don’t have a hard measurement—what if your aim is purely brand visibility?

How can you get your site to appear in relevant search results, not for any financial gain, but to simply achieve even more awareness and exposure for your brand?

The first and most obvious way is to ensure you always appear under your own brand name. Even if yours is a well known brand and already appearing top of the organic results, it’s worth doing. For a very cheap CPC, you can ensure you also always appear for the (often surprisingly high) number of brand variations and misspellings people will use to find you. You’ll often not show up organically for your brand misspellings (though you may find your competition is using CPC to ensure they are cashing in on your misfortune), so it’s a good opportunity to ensure you’re not missing out on potential visibility.

Utilizing the ad copy also gives a valuable opportunity to shout about your biggest unique selling propositions, latest developments, or marketing messages, perhaps sending visitors off to a specific landing page as opposed to the homepage Google may have indexed for you.

A second method is to try and appear in the search results for the many products or services your company offers. Not only is this is a great way to generate lots more traffic to your site, but it can increase your company’s image as a leader in your market.

If your company offers thousands of products, this can be no small feat and needs very tight reins to ensure that this visibility is maximized without the need for a massive budget. Here are some ways to do this:

1. Constantly adapt the keyword list to ensure you’re only paying to promote the products that your company is focusing on in any given month. This will require a close relationship with your sales / admin teams to get monthly updates.

2. Appearing anywhere in the top 4 positions is sufficient for the aims of providing both traffic and visibility. The easiest way to achieve this ranking is to use Google AdWords Editor, where you can:

  • Use the “showing stats for:” option to bring up the stats for all keywords

  • Sort them by “Average Position”
  • Highlight all terms showing up below position 4
  • Click on the “Advanced bid changes” link
  • Use the option to increase all highlighted words’ CPC by 10 percent

Start with fairly low CPC across the board and repeat this process once a week, gradually increasing the bids that are falling short of the target position. You’ll find that the list of terms outside the top 4 will reduce quite quickly. Set yourself a maximum keyword CPC limit based on the budget you have available, and when that is reached you’ll be left with terms that are just too expensive and will have to be disregarded or changed to a less expensive variant.

3. You’ll have to accept that you are never going to be able to appear across all products for all searches, even when narrowed down to just your specific headings. The best option for maximizing traffic and visibility is to appear under just a couple of very broad terms for each product—use keyword tools to ascertain what prospects and customers are most likely to search for.

4. Use Exact Match or at least Phrase Match to help keep the visibility to only these core terms. Using broad match with lots of negatives is another angle to come from, but with thousands of terms it can be overly time-consuming.

5. Some keywords will get very high levels of traffic and can eat into a disproportionately large amount of your daily budget, thereby decreasing the potential exposure of all your other terms.

If this happens to you, then a quick fix is to create a separate campaign with its own capped spending amount and add the few over-performing ad groups into it. They’ll fight over this limited budget, leaving the bulk of your money for the less greedy terms.

6. There are lots of research articles out there stating that you should ideally show CPC adverts even if you are appearing high organically. That is an ideal world, but if you are looking to maximize your exposure with a limited budget then only target the areas that organic is not covering. This is one of the trickiest areas to manage, and although you can do this manually, there is a quicker way to do this.

Export all your Google campaigns as a CSV file (again, Google AdWords Editor is excellent for this) and import them into a search engine visibility tool to find out those terms with organic rankings. Export out of this tool and set all these organically appearing terms to “Paused” in the status column, which will be showing on the original exported CSV spreadsheet. Simply import this back into Google AdWords Editor and all organic terms will stop showing.

7. Using Day Parting means your adverts will only show up when your prospects and customers are typically going to be looking for these products on Google—i.e., 8am to 6pm on weekdays. This can be set up via the “Edit Campaign Settings” page and is a vital tool to help maximize the budget so it saves the exposure for when it can have the greatest impact.

Matt Lester is the Search Marketing Executive for, a comprehensive online buyers’ guide and vertical search engine, with more than two million company listings from over 155 countries worldwide.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Search Ads: General | Search Marketing: Branding


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