Paid Search Marketing Best Practices

by Brook Lenox on November 6, 2009

search-enginesNeed to set up a Google Adwords campaign? Not exactly sure where to get started?

The “I’ll throw something up and just hope” approach is not a good one when it comes to paid search marketing.   




Here is a list of paid search marketing best practices:

  • Create Different Groups for Keywords
  • In Depth Keyword Research
  • Tracking a Must
  • Start Small
  • Test, Test, and Retest
  • Grow the Long Tail
  • Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Metrics

Create Different Groups for Keywords

A common SEM (search engine marketing) mistake is to create a list of initial keywords and put them all into the same Google Adwords campaign.

By first creating simple categories of keywords, you can see how these different groups perform. Spending an hour coming up with the “right” groups might just make all the difference.

In Depth Keyword Research


Keyword research is a very crucial component of any search engine marketing campaign. It’s important to use creativity, research tools, experience, and organizational skills when doing keyword research.


If you really want to dig into this, read my keyword research posts.

Tracking a Must

Being able to track at various levels is essential to creating and optimizing search engine campaigns.

Never start a Google Adwords test before tracking is in place.

Tracking should be in place by:

  • Search engine (i.e. Google versus Yahoo)
  • Campaign (different groups of words)
  • Keyword level (i.e. “red car” vs. “blue car”)

Start Small

At first launch as small a campaign as possible.  Collect just enough data to understand how that test did, so you’ll be ready to start the process of optimizing and growing the campaign.

Example: I have a client that spent over $20k in Google Adwords (previous to working with me!) before stopping to realize that the set of keywords was far too broad.

Test, Test, and Retest

Paid search campaigns are not meant to be set up and left on auto pilot.

Here are just a few things you’ll want to test:

  • Different search engines
  • Groups of keywords
  • Individual keywords
  • Ad text
  • Landing pages

Grow the Long Tail

Another common error paid search marketers make is to focus on too few words that are too expense.

Words like: “car” may have tremendous search volume, but may or may not be too broad and costly.

Phrases like: “how to buy a car” may have far less search volume, but will likely have higher conversion rates and be more cost effective.

Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Metrics

Every search engine campaign should be monitored on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

Here are a few of the metrics that should be carefully watched:

  • Spend
  • Clicks
  • Sales
  • Cost/Sale

In Summary

Going forward I hope you’ll a) waste less time and b) spend money more effectively on search campaigns!

photo credit: Danard Vicente