Posted April 11, 2007 9:10 am by with 3 comments

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By Simon Heseltine.

Hi, I’m a fairly new web site, I’ve been in the area for about 6 months (ok, if you want to check out my registration date, 7 months). My primary interests are sign ups to my newsletter, and sales of multicolored sprockets (I have over 700 colors in my inventory). I’m looking for quality traffic, but am also interested in casual linking, although I’m not really into reciprocal. I’ve ‘dipped my pages’ in a couple of the social sites, and while I had fun (especially with that article on weasels and phlegm) I didn’t get a warm glow in my bottom line. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve paid for traffic in the past, in fact at one point I was paying for as much as I could get, with my goal then being to maximize my CTR. Now that I’ve matured and know more of what I want out of life, my focus has switched over to conversions. So if you’re interested in finding out more about multicolored sprockets in the local area, give me a click and we’ll take it from there.

The above paragraph is 978 characters, quite a bit more than the 2 lines of 35 characters allowed by Google AdWords, the 75 characters soon to be allowed by Yahoo (heck, even more than the current max limit of 190), or even the blurb that displays below your organic listing in any of the engines. Obviously when you have these limits, you have to try to be as concise and targeted as you possibly can (ok, I could tighten it up a tad by taking out the weasels bit). So, assuming you’ve done the appropriate keyword research for your site, what can you do to push your PPC ad over those of your competition, and maximize those conversions?

Dynamic Keyword Insertion

For PPC you really want to make sure that your ad resonates with the search phrase entered by the user. The easiest way to do this is with dynamic keyword insertion. Each of the 3 main engines supports the {KeyWord:default} tag. What it does is insert the key phrase entered by the user in the place that the tag appears. If the phrase would cause the line to exceed the character limit, then the default text is used. How does this help? Well, the search engines have a habit of making any word in the ad that was entered in the search box bold. This makes it stand out to the user. If they typed in chartreuse sprockets, and that exact text is in bold in the header of your ad, that’s a big selling point, and makes them more likely to click through to your site. Now you don’t want to overdo it, and you need to make sure that any other text around it would make contextual sense with the dynamic text there, i.e. trying to force a location in the heading may result in a strange looking heading should the user search with that location “Duluth {KeyWord:Multicolored Sprockets}” would result in “Duluth Duluth Sprockets” for the search “Duluth Sprockets”.


If you’re doing PPC for a local business, you need to make sure that you geotarget your campaigns appropriately (see this post for an overview of available geotargeting options in the big 3 engines). What else can you do? Well, it makes sense to reinforce your geotargeting in your ad copy. The majority of users are unaware that geotargeting is happening in front of their eyes, so for you to be able to state your location in the ad really makes them take notice that this is a local firm. Don’t forget to make sure you mention your location on your website, while it’s nice to show up for multicolored sprockets in general, it’s not much use if you can’t ship them across state lines due to some arcane federal regulation. By getting your location featured on your website you’re reinforcing the relationship between your location and your product for both the spiders and the users.

Now that you’re nicely geotargeted, there’s no need to add key phrases for “Duluth Sprockets” right? The geotargeting will take care of that for you won’t it? Well, depending on the level of competition for the key phrase it may, but in my experience it’s good practice to have the location in with the key phrases as well as without. As I mentioned before, people don’t realize that geotargeting is happening, especially if they’re looking primarily at the organic / national PPC ads (which tend to be near the top), so they’ll frequently narrow their search down by adding in their location, and with you having that as one of your key phrases, you’re going to get a nice position.

The Right Landing Page

You’ve done it, they’ve clicked on the site, so you’ve taken them to the right landing page for their query right? No? Well, for specific product searches you should take them to the product page, for informational queries you may want to drop them on your main page, or an ‘about sprockets’ page, etc. The more the landing page resonates with the user, the greater the chance they’re not going to quickly click that back button and go to your competitor. If you can pull through the search phrase from the referrer and place it in a prominent place for the user i.e. “You searched for ‘Maroon Sprockets’, here’s our XJ9 Maroon wonder sprocket…”, then they’re going to get the happy feeling of a continuation of the relevance flow from their original query.

There are many other ways to increase your conversion rate, but these few should get you thinking on ways to improve your PPC campaigns and improve the quality of the traffic that they send to your site, because after all, you don’t want your site to hook up with just anyone…

[This has been an entry for Marketing Pilgrim’s SEM Scholarship contest. Keep up to date with all entries and other marketing news by subscribing to our rss feed.]