Posted April 9, 2007 9:00 am by with 8 comments

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By Stephanie M. Cockerl.

How often do you check the status of your search engine marketing (SEM) and/or pay-per-click (PPC) keywords? Do you check them every month, every week or everyday? What about checking the status of your keywords after the first 100 impressions or ad views?

What if there are no clicks for a keyword after 100 impressions? This could also apply if the click-through rate (CTR) for a particular keyword is below 1%. Since the likelihood of having direct contact with the users who viewed the ads is nil, the next best thing is to deduce why searchers have not clicked.

1. The text ad did not speak directly to the searcher.
It is possible that the content of the text ad did not correlate with the keyword. This can be explained because when most PPC campaigns are set-up, there are often a few ads to cover as many as 30+ keywords. One tactic is to create and optimize ads for targeted keywords that have received more than 100 impressions, but have a CTR of less than 1%. Most PPC providers have an automatic keyword insertion tool for the headline text. It is also a good idea to customize the ad copy to relate to the keyword. The more the ad speaks to the keyword, the more the searcher would be likely to click.

2. The average position is low.
The ad could be not appearing on page one. A sponsored text ad does not have to be in the top position in order to have a decent CTR.

  1. Look at where you are targeting – If you are targeting a nationally, target a campaign to specific regions, key cities, metropolitan areas or specific states.
  2. Or increase the maximum cost-per-click (CPC) for that particular keyword, not the entire ad group.
  3. Ad text relevance is growing to be a significant factor in determining paid search rank for some search engines By optimizing the ad for the keyword, the quality of the ad would be likely to increase, regardless or not if the paid position increases.

3. Search volume is low
In spite having a position of 1 or 2, the amount of searchers looking for information about a specific keyword may be low. The recommendation for this instance is to do keyword research for related terms and synonyms. A free tool for keyword research includes the Yahoo Keyword Selector Tool (

4. Campaign CTR is low
Create separate campaigns. One search based and one content network based. By separating the campaigns, one can get a clearer view on how keywords are performing in the search environment, as opposed to a content network, where ads are in a passive mode as opposed to an active role in search engines.

By revisiting these tips every 100 impressions (or more, depending on your keyword campaign goals), you will not only be able to optimize text ads, but also be readily proactive about PPC campaigns as they are running.

[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.]