Every year thousands of businesses feel that paid search is not for them. They have spent hundreds or thousands of pounds trying to get their PPC strategy to work with little success.

Paid search failures are mostly attributed to high CPA, less accurate targeting, account and campaign structure, or poor bidding. However, in this article I’m not going to talk about any of these. Instead I’m going to address some of the bigger reasons why your paid search strategy may not be working.

  1. Landing Page

If your paid search is doing its job then your users are landing on the most accurate page. That shouldn’t be a problem. Instead, I am more concerned about the content of your landing page and the website in general.

Put it simply. Assuming minimal difference in traffic quality between organic and paid your paid search and organic traffic is expected to behave similar. Before you start accusing your paid search strategy to have failed you need to ensure that your website is doing its job.

Go into Analytics and look at the data for organic search and paid search. If the bounce rate and conversion rate for your organic traffic is 80% and 0.05% respectively then you really can’t blame paid search for the same results.

Review and compare the search term report for both organic and paid search. Like any qualitative analysis, it takes time and effort but is well worth it. See if there is any significant difference between the two traffic sources and their behaviour which is causing a dip or improvement in performance. This segmentation and analysis will help you understand your traffic better and identify real problems to work on.

  1. Campaign Objective

Generally speaking there are five types of website objectives:

  • E-commerce
  • Lead Generation
  • Content Publishers
  • Information or support sites
  • Branding

Now imagine you run a content publishing website and are looking for ways to build traffic. Before you dive into paid search it is important for you to understand that driving traffic is not a business objective. It is only a measure of how your business objectives are being met. Unless you know what that traffic is doing for your business goals, getting traffic onto your website is meaningless. Furthermore irrelevant traffic can harm your website by increasing bounce rate and decreasing time on site thus affecting your website performance.

Let’s say you run a paid search campaign to build traffic on your website. Now while it may boost your traffic momentarily it is unlikely to have long lasting impact. Similarly, if you are a car manufacturer and want to use the internet to educate your customers about your new product, paid search is unlikely to work people are unlikely to search for something they don’t yet know about.

Paid search can be used for the above purposes, but using paid search blindly is unlikely to churn any substantial results. We need to understand that paid search doesn’t work on its own. It needs to be part of an integrated strategy in order to maximise its ROI. For example, if you are using paid search to build traffic to a site that deals with content, then you should have a way to capture a user’s details in place.

You also need to align your business goals with the campaign. For example, image display advertising is likely to generate better results for a new product launch campaign as compared to paid search.

To summarise:

  1. Paid search needs to be understood in the context of your website’s business objectives
  2. Paid search cannot be entirely blamed for failure
  3. Your landing page, website goals, web tracking etc. need to be in place to get the best out of paid search.
  4. Segmenting and comparing your organic traffic with paid traffic can uncover great insights about your users and website.

Rick Tobin | Managing Director | Circus PPC Agency

Rick Tobin
Managing Director

Over 20 years dedicated PPC experience working with some of the world's biggest brands.

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