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Blogs by date "08/01/12"

PPC vs. SEO: Which is Better for Ecommerce Internet Marketing?

The competition in ecommerce search marketing increases with each year. Nearly every corner of online business contains a blend of players with both advertising skills and deep pockets. Below is one example of the dense variety of retailers all trying to increase their visibility on the web.

So a sports retailer sells gear and memorabilia in all the major sports (basketball, baseball, football, hockey, golf, etc.) over the web. How do you market the products and compete with all the other big boys? Any query for every type of sports gear is filled with big-budget national retailers that dominate both paid and organic listings.

PPC advertising is one way to attain high search engine exposure. However, at nearly $1 per click for an exact phrase match like [mens baseball cleats], it’s easy to see how the expenses can add up in PPC advertising. The other main option is to target search engine optimization. The goal with SEO is to earn a top spot on the keyword phrase.

The chances of reaching a top spot are hard to predict because of the amount of strong competition. Not to mention SEO takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears. In the end, what should a retailer decide when exploring the possibilities of ecommerce Internet marketing? Is SEO or PPC the answer?

Long-tail Insights Are the Key

Search engine users are more precise with their keyword phrases than ever these days. The habit of Internet consumers is to search a long-tail keyword phrase reflecting the particular product they’re seeking. Simply put, the phrase will include three or more words specifying a product, such as “louisville slugger genesis” or “louisville slugger genesis baseball bag.”

Knowing the tendencies of long-tail search is critical for ecommerce SEO as well as PPC, particularly with limited budgets and close competition. Google’s Instant feature is an ideal tool to increase your scope on these trends with relation to your ecommerce website’s keyword-targeted-phrases. From the results given by Google Instant, it seems like “louisville slugger genesis wheeled bag” is a long-tail keyword worth targeting.

We can create highly-targeted ads specifically for this equipment bag as a means of ecommerce PPC. By doing so, our ad has a chance to stand out from the rest. The headline of “Louisville Slugger Genesis Wheeled Bag” may pertain to searches more than the average “Louisville Slugger Genesis.” For retailers with a limited advertising budget, testing ecommerce PPC waters with long-tail keyword targeting is a smart move. Bid on keywords using only [exact phrase match] to start.

You can also use modified broad match to capture anything relevant that included any of your specified terms. Bidding on a keyword phrase using the modified broad match might look similar to this +Louisville +Slugger +Genesis. This bidding strategy will only trigger your ads when each of those three words are used in a query.

Using Ecommerce PPC to Test SEO Keywords

Search engine optimization is a lengthy endeavor, so it’s important that the chosen keyword targets produce sales. It’s great if we can accomplish a top keyword ranking, but the real goal is conversions. Without the conversions, the SEO campaign’s a bust.

One of the most effective strategies in ecommerce Internet marketing is to use PPC to test the sales of a variety of potential keywords before optimizing for them with SEO. For huge online retailers with endless products, PPC can be one of the best testing procedures for search engine optimization. Typically if a keyword produces sales in PPC advertising, then it will most likely convert organic SEO traffic. The point here is to highlight the keywords that produce the most sales via PPC and decide which of those keywords should be used for ecommerce SEO.

If a keyword is new and unfamiliar, test it for a while with PPC until the statistics are relevant enough to evaluate its sales and SEO potential. Part of the keyword selection process is taking into consideration how competitive each keyword is and whether or not achieving a top ranking is possible. The organic listings for some keywords are too competitive for ecommerce SEO, no matter how successful a keyword converts from PPC.

Localize Your Campaigns

Some retailers have a local market focus allowing them to set-up ecommerce PPC campaigns targeting specific geographic areas.

This enables marketers to write targeted ads with locally-centered content, like “Product of the Napa Valley” or “Found only in…” These ads will stand out from generic keyword phrasing cluttering up the SERPs. A lot of times, users are searching for products locally. Their queries might include a geo-modifier, such as “sporting goods in Kalamazoo.”

If you own an ecommerce site, but also have a physical location of business, you definitely want to consider developing a local SEO strategy. The process of geo-optimizing your website is simple. Make sure to mention the city or region your store is located in throughout the content of your site. You can include your store address in the footer for starters.

Also include your geographic target in your URLS, Page Titles and Meta Descriptions of your optimized pages will help your website significantly for geographic matching in local searches.

The idea to localize your ecommerce Internet marketing campaign may seem strange when you’re also trying to sell products on a national level. But if you’re also looking for foot traffic then the decision to locally optimize is a no-brainer.

Socialize the Marketing Campaign

Social media plays a part in pretty much every Internet marketing campaign. When it comes to ecommerce Pay Per Click advertising and organic SEO, social media is the ribbon complementing the gift.

Social media is budget-friendly, extremely interactive and always has the potential to go viral for your ecommerce brand. Think about the viewpoint of your target market. Are they using social media platforms? Which ones?

Facebook and Google + are the most frequented due to their popularity. But a social media campaign goes further than just identifying. Building a following and interacting with your followers in specific ways is how you solidify your campaign.

Social media, if done correctly, can really complement all SEO and PPC efforts. The goal is to build a brand while consistently bringing in traffic to your website. Social media platforms may contribute a little to the SEO effort, but for the most part, social media should be approached with an inbound marketing strategy.

How can you lure a potential customer to your ecommerce site?

The End Result

The most successful search marketing campaigns use a mixture of search engine optimization, pay per click advertising and social media marketing. Email marketing can be important too, but that could be covered in a whole other blog post. Study your target market’s interests and slowly assemble your campaign in a way which will relate to them best. Patience is critical as you make your way into PPC and SEO. Internet marketing for an ecommerce brand is relentless. Know your strategies are effective before pouring too much time and money into a campaign.

This article was contributed by Kyle Blasco

7 Impactful Ecommerce PPC Strategies

Managing a PPC campaign for an ecommerce site can be a cumbersome endeavor. In addition to keeping everything organized, ecommerce advertisers battle a lot of clutter in the paid search arena. With big budget retailers dominating the playing field, it's now more challenging than ever to stand out in the SERPs.

Building a well-structured campaign and employing the right ecommerce PPC strategies is paramount for success. Regardless of your business type, budget size, and overall competition, there are a number of techniques to make your ads more effective. Below we highlight seven effective strategies for ecommerce PPC advertising.

Peel n' Stick

Ecommerce PPC - Peel n StickAd groups typically perform optimally when they include a very narrow grouping of highly similar keyword targets.

One of the biggest faults Pay Per Click advertisers make is cramming far too many keywords in a single ad group. Attempting to cover several different keywords with one ad results in numerous inefficiencies. When this appears to be the case, the keywords in an ad groups can be further segmented, or in other words, peel n' stick can be employed.

Coined by marketing specialist Perry Marshall, the peel n' stick strategy involves taking a poor performing keyword and putting it in another more relevant ad group (or creating a new one.) Good peel n' stick opportunities are typically found in keywords with low quality scores.

For ecommerce PPC, this might be a keyword that represent product variation, such as a specific model that's worthy of a new ad group. Often times when a weak keyword is placed in a different yet more relevant ad group, the quality score will increase. Similarly, a new, more targeted ad can be written.

Split-Testing

Ad copy is an often overlooked component when optimizing a PPC campaign for better performance. Not only can the content of your PPC ads impact quality scores, but ad copy influences how well users respond to your ads (measured by click-through rate or "CTR"). It is thus important that you split-test several ads per ad group.

Try running 2-5 ad variations, depending on how many impressions a certain ad group is receiving. If you ads are getting a lot of exposure in little time, it makes more sense to split-test 3-5 ads, as opposed to just 2. By including the primary keywords of an ad group in the ad copy, the improved contextual relevancy helps to increase quality score.

PPC Split TestingFor this reason, it's beneficial to use all or some of the keyword phrase in the copy. Trying using multiple variations in your ad copy. One effective strategy is using Dynamic Keyword Insertion (shown in the middle ad in the image.)

Using this strategy will help improve the keyword relevancy of you PPC ads by having the headline of your ads to replicate what the users searches.

When using dynamic keyword insertion, you include a unique string in the headline like so: Ad Headline = {KeyWord:Kids Army Uniform} If a user's search query is more than 25 characters long (exceeding the headline's character limit,) the alternative phrase "Kids Army Uniform" will be displayed.

This strategy is highly effective in improving both CTR as well as quality score, especially for AdWords PPC campaign management. Just be careful using this strategy, for your competitors maybe doing the same thing. This is particularly common for competitive, product-related keywords where there's a number of big budget advertisers.

Ad Copywriting

Successful PPC ads will include three important elements to promote greater click-through rates (CTR). These include:

  • Offer - what's the product you're offering
  • Value - why buying from your ecommerce store is beneficial
  • Proposition - what kind of action the user should take

The offer is almost always a given and is typically included in the copy naturally. The value and proposition of the ad are the elements that most often go overlooked. The proposition is simply a call-to-action, or a verb of some kind. A few of the most common for ecommerce PPC is "Shop," "Buy," and "Save." Get creative and try more appealing verbs like "Discover," "Gain," or "Realize."

Express value in your ad copy is one of the greatest challenges of copywriting. Paid search ads have limited character space which makes it difficult to sum-up the unique benefits and qualities. Some of the most obvious and over-used examples are "Free Shipping" or "100% Money Back."

In some instances, taking a more emotional approach can be highly effective. Take the time to learn about the product your advertising and its target market. Knowledge is the best sources for great ideas for ad copy.

AdWords Ad Extensions: Product Extensions

A powerful PPC advertising strategy that can significantly help improve CTR is using ad extensions in Google AdWords. Ad extensions are simple enhancements that can greater improve the presentation of your paid ads.

Keep in mind that ad extensions influence an entire campaign (not per ad group,) so any ad extension you implement will impact all ad groups within that campaign. One of the best ad extensions for ecommerce PPC is product extensions. Using this extension will show an image for the specific product being advertised.

For competitive keywords, this strategy can really make your ads stand out from the clutter. In fact, eye-tracking studies have shown that product extensions are among the most effective techniques to capture the attention of Ecommerce PPC Product Extensionssearch engine users.

To use product extensions, you'll need to set-up a Google Merchant Center account. This is basis for Google's shopping results which display in the top right side of the search engine results. After this account is established, you can sync your AdWords account with your Google Merchant Center account to start using this excellent extension.

AdWords Ad Extensions: SiteLinks

Ecommerce PPC Sitelinks Extension

Another effective ad extension is using Sitelinks. With this extension you can include links in your PPC ad that take users to specific pages of your ecommerce site. Not only can this help make your ads appear more prominent in the search results, but sitelinks can help facilitate conversions on broad keywords like "triathlon wetsuits."

In a campaign like this, you ad sitelinks to men's or women's wetsuits or perhaps certain brands. Utilizing the sitelinks ad extension can also contribute to greater usability by minimizing your conversion funnels.

Keyword Bidding

PPC Keyword Bidding StrategiesA great method to make your paid advertising more efficient is employing keyword bidding strategies like modified broad match. Unlike broad, "phrase," or [exact] phrase match bidding, modified broad match uses a "+" symbol in front of keywords that must be included in the user's search query for your ad to appear.

For instance, if we bid on the keyword phrase +access +control +systems, those three words must be used in a user's search query for our ad to be shown. (So the keyword phrase "access control systems for banks" would trigger the ad, however "security access system" would not.)

This bidding strategy can help ensure that you ads are being shown when users search long-tail keywords or phrases with greater detail. Another advantage of using modified broad match is that the cost per click (CPC) for some keyword combinations is significantly lower.

You can try using creative bidding strategies like security +access +control. By leaving "security" as a broad match (no "+" symbol,) our ad may display for searches like "surveillance access control" because "security" and "surveillance" are closely related with respect to Google's broad match standards.

Remarketing via the GDN

Have you ever visited a product page on an ecommerce site (did not make a purchase) and later while browsing other websites (or even watching a YouTube video) noticed ads being served of that same ecommerce store?

That's called remarketing, or advertising to market segments that may have had some previous contact with your brand. However, instead of using Google Search, the most effective remarketing channel is using the Google Display Network or GDN. 

Remarketing via the GDN is a bit unique compared to traditional paid search advertising. As an advertiser, you need keep in mind that those individuals being served display ads are not actively shopping like they are using Google search.

Remarketing is the strategic process of serving a follow-up ad to someone who has already connected with your site. This practice, although very powerful, can sometimes appear intrusive, so it's important to use this approach in moderation. Google has recently unveiled some new features in Google Analytics for remarketing.

In essence, Google has made it more efficient to create highly targeted customer lists and run ads to these individuals.

Summary

Depending on the size and nature of your online store, ecommerce Pay Per Click advertising can be a complex undertaking. In addition, to properly structuring your campaigns and ad groups, developing effective strategies for ecommerce PPC is essential to thrive amongst your competitors. We hope that these seven strategies will help you stand out from the crowd and start realizing greater return on ad spend.

 

This article written by Tyler Tafelsky, one of our Ecommerce SEO Specialists here at ClickCentric SEO.

Visit Tyler on Google+

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