Targeting Search Intent in PPC Advertising

By Posted in - Blog & Site Traffic Control on April 11th, 2013 0 Comments

At the core of any pay-per-click advertising campaign is a list of keywords. Ultimately the goal of any advertiser is to select a group of keywords that directly connects the website, product or service being solicited to a potential client entering the aforementioned terms.

This can be easier said than done.

Today’s casual web browser is much more savvy than those of days past and subsequently those making a living advertising in an online environment need to evolve along with the consumer.

Target the wrong keywords and you’re facing a sea of unqualified leads, low click-through-rate and ultimately an unsuccessful campaign for yourself and/or your client.

To avoid this pain in the neck, let’s examine an instance demonstrating user intent and how it may ultimately benefit your entire campaign structure.

Casting the Net

Speaking of neck pain, let’s say for instance you would like to advertise your chiropractic clinic. The first step of campaign creation is keyword research and the point where advertisers must ask themselves: what are people going to search for to find my ad?

It sounds simple enough; however, over-simplifying this crucial step can be the downfall of even the most well-executed campaign.

Let’s think about what services are provided by a chiropractor. Just to name a few, we have relief from back pain, migraines, neck pain, pinched nerves, stress, etc.

Any number of these phrases would surely target a large volume of people, however, casting a wide net is not always the sure-fire way to land the white whale of the world wide web that could be your next big customer.

Take the phrase “pinched nerve” for example. Sure, it’s a common chiropractic term and is most certainly an ailment that a chiropractor would treat but would you suppose that someone suffering from shooting pains in their back would know what a pinched nerve was? Not likely unless they had already seen a chiropractor.

All right then, so let’s simplify.

Here we presumably have a person hunched over their computer with horrible shooting pains in their back, so let’s target the immediate symptom: “back pain”.

What’s the issue with this? More likely than not the searcher is going to be bombarded with WebMD or the Wikipedia definition of back pain defining the symptoms. Such a general term will fetch results for users seeking at-home treatment or someone who is in research mode; not an option where they would need to fork out cash to treat the afflicted area per se.

Even if you bid high enough and manage to land the coveted top spot on Google Ads, you’re still hard-pressed to get conversions.

The result of a search query for the term “back pain.” As you can see, such results cater to those looking to research their search term, not necessarily pay someone to treat it.

Know Your User’s Intent

What’s the solution? Get into the mind of your customers and ask yourself the question: what would I actually search for?

In this instance our ideal client has the following criteria: back pain and a desire to pay a doctor to fix it. Simply throwing out the term “back pain” by itself puts you in the position to waste advertising budget on searchers whose intent is to either self-diagnose, self-treat, or simply research their injury.

It should be noted that though “back pain doctor” has a higher suggested CPC bid than “back pain” alone, this should not necessarily tempt one to use it just to ultimately garner cheaper clicks right-off-the-bat. More targeted keywords come with the territory of a higher CPC bid, but this is because bidding on a keyword that mirrors the desired action of pursuing chiropractic assistance for their pain, i.e. “back pain doctor”, allows your ad to be seen by qualified leads and ultimately increase conversions and ROI.

Focus your budget initially on more targeted search terms that best mirror your searcher’s intent. Once you have best optimized that initial set of terms, cast your net wider and then consider capturing secondary search terms.



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