Mastering Search Engine Advertising

By Chris Sherman | Posted December 02, 2004

Buying your way to the top of search results may seem easy, but managing an effective search engine advertising campaign requires a thoughtful approach with more than a little elbow grease.

Search engine advertising's popularity has exploded over the past few years, offering marketers top positioning and providing searchers with appealing alternatives to annoying banners and pop-ups. To newcomers, the process of bidding on keywords, then sitting back and watching traffic and online sales start rolling in, seems easy and painless.

That is, until the hapless advertiser gets into a bidding war with a irrational competitor. Or when the boss requests specific return on investment (ROI) numbers to justify a search advertising campaign's expense. These are just two of many issues that can bedevil a marketer embarking on a search advertising effort.

Search Engine Advertising by Catherine Seda offers a wealth of information about the entire process of creating and running an effective search advertising campaign. It's an excellent book, written by a pro who not only understands the mechanics of search engine advertising but also has the ability to describe sometimes difficult concepts with ease and skill.

The book starts off with a critical but often overlooked activity: planning a successful strategy. Search engine advertising's apparent simplicity can become a trap for those who don't create a solid foundation for their efforts.

Long before you place your first bid, it's crucial to go through the often challenging process of keyword research. It's also important to spend time writing ads, creating compelling copy that entices people to click through to your Web site.

Another key activity is creating effective landing pages, your one chance to convince the visitor to spend more time on your Web site and ultimately convert; to buy a product, register for an account, or subscribe to a newsletter. Seda covers these topics in depth, offering numerous tips and strategies from her own extensive experience.

The book also includes excellent coverage of paid placement and paid inclusion programs, their strengths and weaknesses, and when and how to use them most effectively. It covers specialized search engines: shopping search engines and targeted search engines that focus on a particular niche or cater to residents of different regions of the world.

Once you've created and implemented a search engine advertising campaign, you must constantly monitor it, measuring success (or failure) and continually tweaking your approach. Part four of the book provides detailed information about performance measurement, including a look at some popular bid management, analytics, and ROI tracking tools and solutions.

The book wraps up with a section on protecting your profits. Though it's not widely discussed, click fraud can and does occur with paid placement programs. Other problems include improper use of your trademarks by competitors and affiliates using tactics that may do more harm than good. Seda shows you how to identify these types of problems and offers useful strategies and tips for dealing with them before they become major issues.

Full disclosure: I was a reviewer for this book prior to publication. I'll repeat what I wrote then:

The wealth of accurate, savvy information contained in this book makes it a must-read for anyone promoting products or services online. Using even a few of the tips and techniques offered in "Search Engine Advertising" will boost your results significantly, paying for the book many times over.

Adapted from ClickZ Experts, part of the ClickZ Network.

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