One dilemma of placing value on organic content is it’s often hard to test. This is especially true of product, signup, and informational pages. It’s unrealistic to simply create six or more versions of a cumbersome page, launch them all simultaneously, and receive any sort of meaningful, interpretable results.
In the world of content marketing, paid search often get a bad shake, but I’m here to help you think about a different way of using PPC (pay-per-click).
With a modest budget of $25/day for three or four days, you can now test the best performing keywords for your industry, and your content.
The Role of PPC in Content Marketing
Before you even begin to write, determine whether your audience has an interest in your topic.
When running a PPC campaign, you can measure (and use impressions) based on your targeted demographics and keywords as a metric for success. This enables you to see how large (or small) the search scale is. If no one is searching for the topic-related keyword, it’s time to shift your strategy a bit.
The possibilities with A/B testing are endless and the results can differ from targeted audience to industry to writing style.
Online ads are the perfect way to quickly test your headlines, calls-to-action, ad content, prices, or promotions.
A good thing to keep in mind: A/B testing is only effective when validating one element per test. For instance, perhaps you are unsure of an email subject: Should you use “Dan’s Annual Scooter Warehouse Sale” or “Scooter Warehouse Sale Up to 75% OFF”?
Use the headline in an ad, and run two identical ads testing only the headlines. Let the data be the judge.
When we think about negative keywords, we often think about what we aren’t receiving. Think of this differently. By eliminating irrelevant search queries, you’re going to gain benefit.
Let’s say I have a client who sells motorized scooters for the elderly or disabled. Without negative keywords, my ad is displaying in any search results related to scooters.
Do I want search queries from people looking for a toy scooter for their five-year old? Sounds sweet, but no. Do I want a search about a Vespa? No, a little too slow for me.
By using negative keywords such as “-Vespa Scooters” or “-Toddler Scooters,” you can eliminate unwanted traffic, and gain more relevant searches.
There are a number of keyword tools available, ranging in quality and price. The majority of these tools provide you an estimated search volume for any given keyword or phrase.
If you are an avid Google Adwords user, try out the Keyword Planner. It not only provides traffic estimates, it can give you suggestions on keyword variations, which show new estimated volumes and different match types.
Here’s the caveat: Keyword tools are typically missing the action — what causes the click in the first place. It’s not just about selecting keywords that get searched, but selecting keywords that cause a reaction.
PPC allows you to test the “actionability” of an actual keyword or phrase through headlines, as well as your body copy. After all, you’re not writing content solely to be found, right? You want site visitors to take some specific action.
Landing Page Quality
The quality of your landing page depends on several variables. Design, structure, and calls-to-action all play a part, but so does the quality of the content contained on the page.
Maybe you’ve done this: You develop a landing page, and include lingo that make sense to an industry, but completely ignore industry terms. No wonder no one is clicking on the page!
Most PPC platforms (Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, for example) have an ad metric of Quality Score, which is measured by looking at your ad content, and comparing it against your landing page.
Am I writing ads for bananas but my landing page content is about sneakers? Quality Score ranges from 0-10, 10 being the best. If your keyword has a low overall quality score, it is likely not used frequently enough on your landing page.
There is No Secret Sauce to PPC
Anyone who uses PPC or focuses on organic keywords knows there is no secret sauce. You’re not gifted with the formula after you’ve failed 16,000 times. It’s trial and error, and you have to just do the work.
Remember there are people behind those searches. As marketers, SEM, and SEO diehards, we need to do our best to provide those people with the most relevant content to help them make an informed decision. The only way you’ll know for sure is through testing and experimentation.