3 Things You Must Do Before Starting Paid Search Advertising

May 16, 2013 | Jonathan Weber

We know you’re eager to start paid search; it can be a crucial way of bringing potential customers to your site. But there are a few things you should make sure you have in place to be successful.

1. Work the Numbers


Stop. Do not pass go. Do not deposit $200 in your AdWords account (yet).

First, figure out what your conversion is — a sale? a lead form submission? Then you have to try to figure out how much money it makes sense to pay to bring people to your site so that you get more value from that conversion than you spend on the advertising.

You can go at this two ways. If you know the value of the conversion (you sold a $100 widget), you can work the ROI calculation backwards to figure out what a reasonable cost per conversion and cost per click might be. Alternatively, if the value of the conversion is less well-defined (like in lead generation), you might simply pick a reasonable target for cost-per-lead.

Here’s a great article from the LunaMetrics archives to give you perspective on how to think through the numbers before beginning paid search, and really understanding whether and how you can make an impact.

2. Be Ready to Convert Traffic with Landing Pages

OK, so you figured out what kind of budget you need to be looking at and some targets for success. But before you start spending that money, you (and your website) need to be ready to receive that traffic and do something with it.

Rarely is your home page a great place to send visitors who clicked a paid search ad. Sure, it may be a good introduction to your company, but you’re not fully utilizing the most important aspect of paid search, which is that we know just what someone is looking for (based on the keyword we bid on). We don’t have to give them a generic page; we can be specific and targeted.

So, it pays to have specific, targeted landing pages ready to go for those visitors. Sometimes an existing page on your site might suffice, but take a hard look at it to make sure it’s clear and easy for the user to make the conversion. Here’s another article from deep in the LunaMetrics archives (from 2006!) about fourteen things to pay attention to on your landing pages, and they’re all still quite relevant today.

3. Be Ready to Measure the Conversions

You must be a new visitor to this blog if you don’t already know we are ALL ABOUT MEASUREMENT here at LunaMetrics. But there’s a very good reason for that: if we don’t know which keywords, ads, and landing pages convert on our site by measuring them, how do we know where we are spending our money well and where we’re flushing it away?

So get Google Analytics (or the analytics tool of your choice, but GA is free, after all) on your site, and make sure it’s set up to measure your conversions.

Once you’ve got (1), (2), and (3) in place, then you are ready to start putting together your paid search campaigns.