When a new search campaign is launched, your first impulse may be to run to Google and search some of the keywords to see whether the campaign is indeed up and running. Next time you’re tempted to do this, remember that you are negatively impacting your own PPC campaign by intentionally seeking out the ads.
Why? There are three key reasons:
1. Waste of marketing dollars.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but search campaigns run on a pay-per-click (PPC) platform. When you seek out your own search ads and click them to make sure they’re working properly, you are using your own media budget on a wasted click.
Depending on the industry, this can be a costly mistake. It is common for highly competitive industries—such as insurance, casinos, bail bonds, attorneys, and banking—to cost upward of $60 per click.
But you just want to monitor user experience, right? Rather than wasting precious budget on your own clicks, a less expensive option would be to contact your agency and ask for confirmation that the campaign is live. They should be able to send you screenshots from the ad platform so you can see what your ads look like. Win-win.
2. Decreased click-through rate.
Let’s say that you fully grasp the intuitive nature of the term “PPC” and you already understand that since you are paying for clicks, you should never click your own ad. So, then, what’s the harm in seeking out your ad but not clicking it?
A lot, my friend. A lot.
There are people who search their own ads every day their campaign is live—“just to make sure” it’s still running. (I’m looking at you, Karen.)
Let’s break it down:
An “impression” is counted each time your ad appears on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
For the sake of keeping it simple, we’ll say a user searches for “hiking boots” and your ad appears. This is counted as a single impression.
So, now that we have one impression and one click, we come to an important key performance indicator (KPI) called click-through rate, or CTR.
(BTW, ICYMI, there are a lot of abbreviations in the world of SERPs, PPC and digital media. If you need a list of definitions, we’ve got one here.)
CTR is one of the most highly monitored KPIs in digital media because it essentially tells us the effectiveness of our keywords, ads and campaigns. CTR is expressed as a percentage, and is calculated as clicks ÷ impressions. In the example above, the calculation would be:
1 (click) ÷ 1 (impression) = 1, or 100% CTR.
So, let’s say you decide to seek out your ads but not click them. The impression is served and then you navigate away from the SERP without clicking the ad. In this case, your equation would look like this:
0 clicks ÷ 1 impression = 0% CTR.
See the problem?
As the campaign progresses, our goal as managers is to continually make optimizations to improve the average CTR across the entire campaign. We look at the CTR of individual keywords, ad groups and ads, and then remove or replace assets that have lower CTRs to help bolster the average CTR of the entire campaign.
However, we are not the only ones learning from and making changes to the campaign. Which brings us to reason number three.
3. Search engines use machine learning.
In addition to negatively impacting the average CTR of the campaign, internal searches are bad for performance because Google and other search engines are continually learning from user interactions and clicks (or the lack thereof).
For example, if you search “hiking boots” several times to make sure your ad is coming up, but never actually click the ad (thinking you’re being savvy and working around the whole PPC thing), Google (and other search engines) will learn from this behavior and may make the incorrect assumption that your ad is not relevant to those keywords. In this case, Google may decide to stop showing your ad for those searches in order to prioritize other, higher-performing searches.
That’s the gist of it. Don’t be a Karen and seek out your own PPC keywords and you’ll be okay. If you have any concerns that your SEM campaign might not be running as expected, reach out to your agency for clarification.
By the way, if you’re confused about using the term “PPC” or “SEM” for search engine marketing, you’re not alone. They are used interchangeably across the industry, so rest easy.
As far as “SEM” vs. “SEO”, we have a blog for that. Check it out here.
For more information or to learn more about how AcrobatAnt can help you achieve your digital marketing goals, give us a call.
AcrobatAnt Marketing & Advertising
1336 East 15th Street
Tulsa, OK 74120