Tips for successful pay-per-click bidding strategies

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With keyword prices on the rise and competition for popular terms steadily increasing, advanced pay-per-click (PPC) bidding strategies can make the difference between a campaign that performs at optimal level or one that underperforms. Evaluating bidding strategies in three main areas - choosing a match method, refining keyword lists and setting opposite bid amounts - can boost campaign performance levels.

Selecting a Bid Match Method

The first step in creating a successful bidding strategy pertains to setting a bid match method. The two main types are broad and exact keyword match. Both work based on the typical auction-based PPC model where marketers bid for top position among a set of search results.

When using exact match, results are returned only when an Internet user types in a specific keyword phrase. For example, if a user searches for "green pens," only results on the phrase "green pens" are returned.

Broad match encompasses and then expands on the exact method of returning results to include keyword sets with plurals, common misspellings and other related situations. This method can offer optimized return on advertising spending (ROAS) by returning "search tail" traffic.

Generally, marketers who offer limited products or services find it more successful to bid on exact match, because the increased results returned on broad match can be irrelevant to more specific offerings.

Bidding on Keyword Lists

The keywords encompassed in a campaign are highly dependent on the type of bid match method being used. Bidding on broad match often means less keyword research for advertisers new to PPC, because popular term variants are automatically included.

Using either method, keywords should always be relevant and closely related to a marketer's product or service. Bidding on irrelevant keywords can result in low conversions and little exposure to the proper online audience.

When compiling a list of bid-on terms, try including descriptors like "green pens" instead of just "pens" as related to a specific product or item. Also try encompassing branded terms that can have a lower CPC and can help sustain control of a brand while boosting ROT (return on trust) for Internet users.

Setting Bid Amounts

Finally, setting bid amounts in a competitive yet cost-effective way can ensure an overall successful bidding strategy. Industry statistics indicate that the top positions are more visible within search results, providing more exposure. Therefore, search terms that are most specific to a business's core product or service should be placed within the top three to five bid positions.

Many PPC firms have tools that automate the bidding process. For instance, Searchfeed.com's Position Maintenance tool helps determine a maximum bid value to spend for the first position amongst search results. This allows marketers to remain 10 cents above the second position regardless of whether the bid value increases or decreases without exceeding the maximum desired value. Using these types of tools and automating the bidding process can help to avoid overspending and unnecessary bid gaps.

Overall, optimal bidding methods can vary according to a marketer's specific industry and offerings. Therefore, a testing phase always is necessary to determine which methods work best for a business. By performing tests and observing top bids and positions on converting terms, marketers can quickly determine the bidding strategy that generates the highest return on investment and ensure future campaign success.

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