It has never been a particularly closely guarded secret that you can buy your website a great listing in the Google search results for just about any keyword you want.
When you have used Google to perform a search, you have likely seen the sponsored listings. They are displayed on the right side of the search results page, and often up to the first three positions on the left side. These websites are using “pay-per-click” marketing through Google’s Adwords. When you see a sponsored listing, that is an impression. When you click on a sponsored listing, that advertiser pays Google for that click. In other words, that advertiser pays Google per each click their ad receives.
The price that is ultimately payed to Google, will be impacted by the quality score of the landing page. Quality score is driven by a lot of factors, including the relevance of the landing page content to the search term, as well as the Click Through Rate, or “CTR”.
Click through rate is the rate of clicks to impressions. If your ad is displayed 100 times, and receives 10 clicks, then your CTR is 10%. The higher your click through rate, the more relevant Google will think your ad is for the search phrase. This will improve the keyword’s quality score
The higher the quality score is of the landing page, the lower the actual cost per click will be. Adwords is essentially an auction. You bid on keywords. In very straight forward terms, the higher your bid, the higher your ad will be displayed.
Now there are a number of valuations and specific calculations Google makes to specify where your ad will be placed. These calculations happen in real time when the search is being conducted. In a future article, we will take a closer look at the specifics of these calculations. For today, it is simply important to be aware of that what you bid, is not what you will pay for a click. If your quality score is 7 and you bid $5.00 for a click, you will pay less for a click then if your quality score is 4, and you will never pay more then your bid, or $5.00, for a click.
Remember Google’s first priority is to display relevant search results, even for the sponsored listings. They could just give the first spot to the highest bidder, but that would only ensure the person willing to spend the most money would be listed first. The most relevant search result however may not be ad with the highest bid.
The best illustration of this is your company name. Let’s say you are Adidas, and you want to bid on the keyword “Nike”. The most relevant search result for the keyword “Nike”, is obviously the Nike website. Google is going to give Nike a higher quality score for that keyword, in effect rewarding them for their relevancy for that keyword.
Before we look at tips to improving your quality score, it’s important to also understand match types. There are three match types you can and should bid on for each keyword. They are exact, phrase, and broad match types.
Exact Match: Exact match is the best keyword to bid on. An exact match means the search phrase being searched on is an exact match for the keyword for which you are bidding. For example if you are bidding on exact match for “Accounting Firms”, your website’s ad will be displayed only when someone searches for “Accounting Firms”.
Phrase Match: Phrase match means your keyword is a phrase within the search string. For example, if you bid on a phrase match of “Accounting Firms”, you ad will be displayed when someone searches on things like “accounting firms for small business”, or “top accounting firms”.
Broad Match: Broad match essentially let’s the search engine determine if the search phrase is a match for your broad match keyword or not. It is worthy that you bid on broad match keywords, but it can also be dangerous. It’s important because a broad match for “accounting firms” might be triggered when someone searches for “accounting services”. It also can be triggered when someone misspells a word, such as “acounting firms”. The danger is that Google may decide that “Accounting Supplies” is a close enough match to “Accounting Services”, and trigger your broad match keyword. This is why Google allows advertisers to declare “negative keywords”. We’ll talk more about negative keywords in a moment.
Now that you have an understanding about your keyword match types and website’s quality score, here are some ideas on how you can improve your quality score and click through rates.
The copy in your ad should reflect the search phrase, or keyword you are bidding on. The person doing the search will be more apt to click an ad if it includes their search string. For example, if you bid on “CPA Services”, you want the headline of your ad to be something like “Quality CPA Services”. If your ad title says “Jim’s Accounting Firm”, the searcher then has to stop and think… if they click your link, are they going to find what they are looking for? They often make their decision within a split second, so you don’t want the prospect to have to stop and think. Give them exactly what they want. If that means writing 50 different ad titles for 50 different keywords, so be it. Your work will pay off in the end.
The landing page is the page on your site that the searcher is taken to when they click your ad. Typically this should not be your website’s homepage. If someone searches for “Strategic Business Planning”, they should be taken directly to the page on your website that explains your business planning services rather than a generic accounting related homepage. If the ad goes to your homepage, and they have to search through a big pile of CPA related content just to find what they are looking for, they’ll probably just click the back button and go to the next advertiser.
If your website doesn’t have a suitable landing page for the keyword, add one. It really is that important.
Similar to the ad copy, you want to take as much of the decision making out of the process as possible. Make it as effortless as possible for the searcher to find what it is they are looking for. Google will reward your quality score for having a landing page that is specific to the keyword, because it improves the search experience for people who find you through their search engine.
Defining what keywords you don’t want to trigger your ads is just as important as knowing what keywords you do want to bid on. This is very imperative because of phrase and broad matching. If you bid on “accounting services” as a broad match, you probably do not want your ad displayed if someone searches on “accounting supplies”, so you would want to have “supplies” added as a negative keyword.
Your ad will not be displayed, when a search phrase includes one of your negative keywords.
I’ve saved the best for last. For firms that provide services like accounting or CPA service, location targeting is extremely important. CPA and accounting firms typically will want to be able to meet with their clients, and more importantly the client is very likely looking for an accountant close to their business. Having propsects more then 100 miles away clicking on yoru ad is going to become a big waste of money.
There are two ways to target a location. The first is to target your ads to only be displayed within a certain radius, such as 10 to 20 miles from your business location. You can bid on more general keywords, like “accounting firm”, within a very specific location.
The second way to target location is with very specific keywords in a more general area. For example, you might display your ads to anyone in Florida, or even the country, if they type in the specific keyword “Miami CPA” or “Tampa Accounting”.
Keep these basic principles in mind while you’re setting up your websites with Adwords campaigns and you’ll find the learning curve a lot easier and your initial results will be a lot more profitable!
Brian O’Connell is the CEO and founder of CPA Site Solutions, one of the country’s leading website design businesses oriented exclusively to CPA website design. His company at present provides websites for more than 4000 CPA and accounting firms.