Pay Per Click September 16th, 2016
Over the last month, rumors have swirled that Google might revoke free access to their most important tool: the Keyword Planner. What makes this change so important?
If Google removes free access to this tool, what are we going to do? We’ll have to resort to third-party tools for this kind of insight. There many of these tools available but they:
So, as long as we’re going to have to pay for keyword research data, I had a thought: Why not start a PPC campaign? I figured that I’d have to spend, at least, $100 a month for a good keyword tool. I took that budget and started a small PPC campaign.
Here’s what I learned.
Although this started from the fear of losing access to Google’s Keyword Planner, it’s clear that tool has limitations. These limitations can be overcome with a small PPC campaign. Here’s how:
One of the common frustrations with Google’s Keyword Planner are the Search Volume estimates. This number is often misunderstood.
With these limitations, search volume data from the Keyword Planner is still useful. It helps you compare phrases against each other. It tells you that more people search for “this phrase” rather than “that phrase.” With that information, you can set your content priorities, rather than waste time with words or phrases for which people aren’t searching. You can also do this with a small PPC campaign.
Using modified broad matches, I tested keywords that I thought related to my industry:
After running these campaigns I quickly learned the phrases for which people searched more often than others. One of the reasons I learned this fast: my limited budget was so small the ads weren’t being served.
Now that I know which of these searches are more common, I can determine which should be my priority for my SEO campaign. I also have a realistic expectation of which are more difficult to achieve than the others.
Some people use Google’s Keyword Planner for long-tailed keyword ideas. I’ve never found this particularly helpful. Frequently, Google’s suggestions are irrelevant. I’ve always brainstormed my own list with help from tools like ubersuggest or keyword.io.
Thanks to my PPC test I was able to get some great keyword suggestions. Once I started to get some clicks from my ads, Google was willing to tell me the phrase users searched. That gave me some great long-tailed keyword ideas I could use on my page. It also gave me some good suggestions for other pages.
A significant limitation of the Keyword Planner has to do with conversions. Sure, I might see a lot of people looking for a keyword. If I get some of those searches to come to my site, I’ll get some visitors. Will those visitors ever become customers? Google has no idea.
My PPC test told me. Eventually (and it’s slow because my budget was so small here) my ads produced some customers. Awesome! Now I know which phrases not only have search volume but which can help grow my business. SEO might be a slow process but now I know which phrases have the potential to give me more leads from SEO.
Another way of looking at this: for each customer I get from my PPC keyword test, the cheaper my tool becomes. These conversions end up paying for the test. Beat that Third-Party Keyword Tools!
An added bonus of my PPC campaign is in its ability to test my messaging. I had two theories of why customers might look for what I have to offer as a consultant:
I tested these messages by writing two sets of ads, for each Ad Group. From there I could see which one was more likely to produce a conversion.
This gives me benefits outside of online marketing. It helps me write my own elevator pitch. Now, the next time I only have 20 seconds to describe my business to a prospect, I know what to say.
BingAds is Better than AdWords – Maybe.
Confession time: I am someone who uses “Google” as a synonym for “search.” I’m also an SEO who almost only looks at data from Google. That’s short-sighted, I know.
Considering those facts, now you know how hard it is for me to tell you: I did this PPC test on Bing, not AdWords.
Bing is a better solution for my PPC keyword research method because it is a lot cheaper. I found the cost per click on Bing was one-fifth what I could spend on Google (at least for my phrases). That allowed me to spend more money and get more data faster. Sure, Bing has a fraction of Google’s search market share, but that doesn’t matter for this test. I still know which phrases people search for more, and which are more likely to convert. I was also able to test my message.
One limitation might be due to the nature of Bing users. There might be such a fundamental difference between their user base and Google’s. If that’s true, my data could be completely invalid. That’s the risk of using Bing here.
Despite this potential limitation I’m happy with my results. I now know the most popular keywords in my niche. I know which keywords produce potential customers. I also know the message to which these customers respond. It was better than any other keyword tool I’ve ever used. Try it yourself – I think you’ll agree.