Search Engine Optimization

Soul-Crushing Failures with Google Adwords PPC Marketing

22 Sep , 2008  

Yes, it is what it sounds like.  I spent a small fortune on one of my sites with Google CPC Adwords last week and lost my investment.  Well, when I say lost, I mean I didn’t make any profit.  I made just barely enough to cover my loss, but to me breaking even is a loss.  Especially when viewed as lost opportunities. 

Why, you may ask, would I ever write a blog post about something I failed at? Aren’t I trying to tell people how to SEO and market their websites? Well, with failure comes knowledge. And a big Ha Ha from Nelson.

I learned from someone smarter than I that one of the most important aspects of using SEO tactics to promote and market websites is trial and error.  In fact, just about every aspect of SEO work is trial and error … and statistics.  The same goes for PPC or pay-per-click advertising.

So what was my big failure?  Improper Horrible conversion pages.  When you start a campaign with Google AdWords (or just about any CPC, or Cost Per Click, service) you have to make sure you are:

  • Targeting the right keywords and customers.
  • Targeting the best sales conversion page on your website.

I’ve written about keyword research before, and now Google makes it even easier with actual volume statistics in their AdWords Tool.  I’m pretty confident I chose the right keywords.  I don’t know if they’re the best, but I continually monitor and track their performance and adjust as needed.  So what was my failure?

Improper conversion pages.  For every keyword you add to Google AdWords you can define a Destination URL.  This is the page visitors will land on when they click on your CPC ad.  By default, all destination URLs are going to be your home page.  Quite often, that’s not actually what you want. 

Unless you’ve crammed your home page with every kind of sales pitch you can dream of for every keyword (and why in the world would you ever do that?) you probably want to target different pages within your site.

For example, if you’ve got a website selling different kinds of shoes, you don’t want customers looking for sneakers to go to your home page or to the page selling patent leather little girl pumps.   You want to send them directly to the sales page for sneakers.  If you send them to the home page they’ve got to click around and look for sneakers, and they’ll probably just leave the site.  If you send them to the page for patent leather little girl pumps then you’re just confusing them and yourself.  If they search for the keyword “sneakers” you want to send the directly to your page which is advertising and actually selling sneakers.  You’ll notice a much higher click to sales conversion rate.

Which brings me back to my failure.  I chose the wrong conversion pages.  Quite by accident, but nonetheless they were the wrong pages.  And that’s where trial and error comes in.  I noticed nothing was performing, and I adjusted.  I should have done a little quality control beforehand and made sure the conversion pages were the correct ones, so that is another lesson learned.

Hopefully everyone can take away a little something here, especially if you’re new to promoting websites with CPC sales.  If you’re an experienced affiliate marketer this is something you’ve probably learned long ago, but hey, even the most salty professionals can learn something new every day.

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4 Responses

  1. Jacob says:

    Nice Post. Even i hate PPC because of this. Waste of money.


  2. Barry Wise says:

    @Neilzb – you’re a very optimistic person! But correct, after tweaking it has turned out to be profitable. Just goes to show you that PPC takes work, it’s not just pay for a keyword and get traffic …

  3. Faster says:

    I’ve lost almost $1000 in a day on PPC before…it’s tricky stuff if you don’t know what you are doing…

    Sometimes putting #s in your ads can really escalate your CTR though…

  4. Laura says:

    It takes a brave man to admit something failed. But the better man succeeds when he learns from it.

    I’m sure there’s a probverb hiding in there somewhere.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. SEO only seems to be about people telling you want you should so and how it worked for them.

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