It seems everyone is talking about audience optimization these days, or the shift in focus from optimizing for the search engines to optimizing for the people who will actually be reading your content and buying from your business. This shift in thinking is primarily a result of ongoing changes by Google that make organic search optimization increasingly difficult to achieve. The funny thing is, PPC has always been about audience optimization.
PPC keyword research begins with the buyer
PPC hones in on the audience from the start and maintains that focus all the way through the conversion. Even in the early keyword research phase, the audience is a primary consideration. To generate ideas for possible target keywords, advertisers often try to put themselves in the mind of a potential buyer and think about words they might use to find that information in a search.
In fact, optimizing for the audience at this stage is critically important. The mistake some advertisers make is choosing keywords that make sense to the company, but not necessarily the audience. This is often an issue in highly technical fields, where the average buyer may not be familiar with industry terminology.
Audience segmentation allows for better targeting
Google actually provides advertisers with some pretty powerful tools to help them generate leads and revenues with PPC. The ability to target ad groups to different subsets of your audience is one of the most valuable targeting methods available.
For instance, you can target certain ad groups to run during different day parts, or specific blocks of time throughout a 24-hour period. This is valuable if you know that your ideal customer rarely searches Google after 5:00 p.m. on a weekday, for instance. For local businesses, the ability to target geographically is incredibly valuable and significantly reduces wasteful spending. Age is another targeting option that can filter out uninterested searchers if your audience consists primarily of people falling within a certain age range.
Interest categories get even more personal
Advertisers can also target audiences based on their interests from more than 2,300 category options. Categories range from broad interests, such as home décor and travel, to niche specifications, such as timeshare and vacation properties. These interest categories indicate the interests of your target consumer, based on the types of websites they visit most frequently and other data that Google collects on its registered users.
Broad interest categories are known as Affinity categories and are typically useful for generating brand awareness and expanding your reach to new customers. The niche interests are better for targeting specific interest groups to target the visitors who are most likely to convert. Targeting granular categories is the best way to boost your CTR and conversion rates.
Someone searching for information on HVAC installation, for example, probably won’t be inclined to click on an ad about a cosmetic product. Sure, it can happen, but the idea is being visible to the people who have the highest likelihood of becoming your customer. When you fail to use targeting options to narrow down the potential audience, your ads could end up appearing to all the wrong people, producing poor results and wasted ad dollars.
Targeting in the Google Display Network
Of course, PPC advertising doesn’t just place ads in the Google search results pages, but directly on websites within Google’s Display Network. Websites that are a part of the Display Network earn a percentage of advertising revenues based on the number of visitors the site sends to an advertiser’s landing page by clicking an ad.
That means your ads could appear on many different websites with all types of content. Obviously, you want your ads to appear on relevant websites where the visitor has at least some chance of being interested in your products. Combine this with interest targeting, and you can ensure that your ads are displayed on relevant websites and to users who frequent websites with similar content regularly.
Using the cosmetics example, a cosmetic company can get better results from PPC by limiting the audience to users interested in health and beauty topics and opting to display its ads on relevant websites. Google’s Keyword Planner enables advertisers to list specific websites where ads are permitted to appear, so a business can actually list two to three preferred websites and its ads won’t appear anywhere else. This can be done individually by campaign and ad group, enabling you to reach distinct subsets of your broader audience.
Ad copy ties it all together
All the targeting capabilities available in the Google Keyword Planner mean that you can write exceptionally engaging ad copy designed for just a small portion of your audience. When advertisers use broad targeting or no targeting at all, the ad copy should appeal to all potential members of that audience. But by creating ad groups with a small group of keywords and limiting the potential audience, you can cater your ad copy to pique the interests of that group without alienating others.
The headline, for instance, is usually the component of an ad that draws a user’s attention. If you’re writing a broad ad but using language that appeals more to women, you might miss out on male members of your audience who would otherwise be interested in your products. Likewise, knowing that your visitors will have specific interests enables you to customize your landing page copy to relate better to those specific groups.
Audience optimization has always been a part of PPC. Now that it’s becoming a crucial underpinning of organic SEO success, businesses stand to learn a lot about refining audiences and targeting interests from a typical PPC campaign.
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