If you were late to the game on DVR, high definition TV, or a smart phone – don’t make the same mistake with Google Ad Words (get an AdWords overview here). It is one of those things in retrospect that you can’t imagine life without. If we were having this conversation at Starbucks I’d have you convinced to give AdWords a try before my coffee Frappucino (yum) was ready. It’s not as easy to convince using a blog post, but all you need to know are the following benefits:
- 20% of searchers click on paid results
- control your inventory by choosing the most profitable keywords
- only pay when people click (the exposure is free)
- paid search now will lead to more non-paid searches on your name later (REI says so)
This post assumes you’re ready for a paid campaign and expands on ideas to optimize Google paid search for a photography businesses.
Idea: Target Your Location Only
AdWords offers a Campaign Settings section to target keywords by location. This can be helpful when you need a keyword phrase like “best engagement photography” but you live in Sacramento and don’t want to pay for clicks from people in New York. I type my location (Sacramento, CA) and can choose to reach everyone in my city (595,000), expand to the full metro area of Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto (2,060,000). You’ll notice Add and Exclude links for each location, meaning I can exclude the suburb of Carmichael if I’m not interested in reaching those people like if they’re the super rich.
Idea: Do a Mobile Only Campaign
Mobile users expect a different experience. Use the Networks and Devices section to setup a mobile only campaign where your keywords, ad message, and landing page are mobile friendly. For example, an ad that reads “View dozens of mobile-friendly photo galleries that load fast” should get higher click through from cell phone users, but you wouldn’t want to show that to desktop users.
Idea: Extend Ads
An INCREDIBLE tool, Ad Extensions help you place maps, products, video, phone, or Google Plus right into the ad.
Think you’ll get more contact requests from search when people can click to call you right from their phone? You bet! A video extension as well would be a great choice to stand out among the competition by introducing yourself and why people like to work with you.
Idea: Don’t Be Open 24 Hours
One of the ways Google calculates ad cost is how often searchers click your ad. If your ad shows often, and nobody clicks, Google wants to show a different ad instead that can get clicked and earn them money. If your audience doesn’t click between midnight and 6am – don’t show the ad during those hours. Even if it does get clicked, they can’t call you, so maybe those people aren’t worth paying for anyway. Find which times your ad is most likely to be clicked by looking at the Google Ad Word reports and turn off the times least likely to earn you a click or a call. If most brides search on Fridays (just speculating) so they can plan meetings for Saturdays, then your ad may only need to show one day a week!
Idea: Limit the Match Type
Google sets the default match type to broad so it can show your ad as much as possible and make as much money as possible. If you’re bidding on the phrase “wedding photography” here are potential match types and results:
- Broad – words appear anywhere in the search. Example: “underwater photography at a wedding”
- Phrase – words appear in order, anywhere in the search. Example: “underwater wedding photography”
- Exact – only those words are searched, and in the exact order. Example: “wedding photography”
Broad matches help you appear for lots of great phrases you wouldn’t forecast, but sometimes leads to unqualified clicks (waste of money clicks that won’t lead to a sale). Phrase and exact matches are more qualified, but will show your ads fewer times. I use a mixture of match types depending on the phrase and I bid higher on exact matches that I know are qualified.
Idea: Exclude Unprofitable Demographics
I see glimpses of Facebook advertising in Google’s attempt at demographic targeting, where you can exclude either male or female, or exclude age ranges from being exposed to your ad. Why would you want to exclude people? If the majority of your clients are women, aged 25-34 (I’m thinking maternity clients, family photo clients, and brides) then you can exclude all other demographics and therefore increase click through. To explain a bit further, if only 1% of men over 65 click your ad and 20% of women 25-34 click your ad, then your average click through is skewed and Google will charge you more for the ad.
Another option – modify the bid for a target audience to pay more. You can afford to big higher, and rank higher, for the perfect potential client.
Idea: Get super specific on keywords
The phrase “wedding photography” will include the phrase “underwater wedding photography” but if you don’t break out the underwater one as a separate line item, you’ll pay a higher price since general phrases are more expensive. Plus, if you have an ad that mentions underwater photography and the resulting page on your site is all about underwater photography, your click through and time on site will be higher and Google charges less for the ad.
It all means this – get granular with our choice of phrases to keep costs low and contact requests high. Instead of one campaign centered on wedding photography that all points to your homepage, setup campaigns for less competitive niches like: engagements, receptions, backyard, evening, beach, destination, hotel (maybe a campaign for each venue), church (maybe a campaign for each church in your area).
Idea: Have a dedicated landing page for each campaign
Sometimes companies show ads for something they don’t even sell, like Target and Amazon often add your search term to the top of its ad but they don’t have any products in that category. As a user it is frustrating, and they pay for ads that don’t generate new business. I mentioned it earlier, but the lesson is to have a landing page that matches the search phrase. If you bought the words “Hilton hotel wedding photos” it better link to a gallery or blog post about that venue and not force a user to hunt for it from your homepage.
A word of advice, before creating a landing page that may only get 1-2 visits from paid search, you can link everything to your homepage AT FIRST, then see what is getting a lot of traction. When the hotel keyword phrase performs well, its worth spending the time to build the best blog post of your life to showcase that venue.
Your next step? Read more with my full series on How to Best Advertise a Photography Business Online.