Want your PPC (define) search campaigns to kick your competitors out of the running? Your PPC ads should strive to be as relevant as, if not more so than, their ads are, and you should endeavor to make your ads more relevant than the organic/algorithmic results in every engine. This important point was made clear in a recent high-level meeting with Microsoft; MSN is taking its underdog position quite seriously.
Sometimes, brainstorming and debating search’s future with smart people can be a great catalyst for reminding us of things we know but probably haven’t thought of lately. At the Microsoft/MSN Strategic Account Summit, I had an opportunity to chat with Christopher Payne, a leader in search user experience, about the market’s current state and searchers’ behavior and relevance expectations. I postulated that over time, paid search results should and would become more relevant than organic results for search queries that have commercial intent or relate to researching a purchase. Payne countered that currently there’s often a huge gulf in relevance between paid and organic listings.
Then it hit me. There’s no reason organic search should be more relevant than paid search. Quite the contrary. SEO (define) spammers don’t care if they manage to get a high position for keywords and keywords phrases that are less than perfectly relevant, because a high SEO position delivers clicks for free, be they perfectly targeted or only marginally relevant. PPC search marketers, however, have no such luxury. They pay for every click, and any click with a poor chance of converting due to poor relevance has an ever-increasing cost.
As paid-placement search marketers, we aren’t doing our job if the algorithmic results are significantly better than our ad listings. Our companies and our competitors are part of a search ecosystem where the marketers able to float their ads to the top will be those who have:
With improved relevance comes improved conversion and, in Google, MSN, and, soon, Yahoo, improved position (or the same position for less money). To truly maximize our search opportunities, we must deploy some resources and technology to get our paid placement listings closer than ever to organic results’ relevance.
Here are some tactics that should be revisited regularly by search engine marketers who strive to improve both relevance and efficiency:
I look forward to the day when paid listings are extremely relevant for almost all commercial queries. Of course, when this happens we can expect the search engines to start allocating significantly more screen real estate to paid listings. Already, many search engines dynamically determine how many PPC listings to display at the top of the page rather than the right rail based on a relevance score that compares the paid and organic listings.
As this evolution occurs (it’s already underway), your PPC campaign will become even more critical to the success of your overall search visibility. Start laying the groundwork now for this new era now by thinking paid, and acting organic.
Want more search information? ClickZ SEM Archives contain all our search columns, organized by topic.
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Kevin Lee, Didit cofounder and executive chairman, has been an acknowledged search engine marketing expert since 1995. His years of SEM expertise provide the foundation for Didit's proprietary Maestro search campaign technology. The company's unparalleled results, custom strategies, and client growth have earned it recognition not only among marketers but also as part of the 2007 Inc 500 (No. 137) as well as three-time Deloitte's Fast 500 placement. Kevin's latest book, "Search Engine Advertising" has been widely praised.
Industry leadership includes being a founding board member of SEMPO and its first elected chairman. "The Wall St. Journal," "BusinessWeek," "The New York Times," Bloomberg, CNET, "USA Today," "San Jose Mercury News," and other press quote Kevin regularly. Kevin lectures at leading industry conferences, plus New York, Columbia, Fordham, and Pace universities. Kevin earned his MBA from the Yale School of Management in 1992 and lives in Manhattan with his wife, a New York psychologist and children.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT