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Grow your Firm: Publicize Your CPA Website with Google Pay-Per-Click Ads

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Posted by steve on June 19, 2011 at 9:48 am

The fact you can buy your website a great listing in the search results of Google  isn’t a very well kept secret.

Having a great CPA website design is a necessary first step towards using the web to grow your firm, but it doesn’t matter how outstanding your site is if you don’t publicize it. There are many ways to showcase your website, but one of the most cost-effective is advertising using Google Pay-Per-Click.

When you have used Google to perform a search, you have likely seen the sponsored listings. They appear on the right side of the search results page, and often up to the first three positions on the left side. These websites are marketing their ads through Google Adwords pay-per-click (or PPC) platform. When you see a sponsored listing, that is an impression. When you click a sponsored listing you are taken to the advertisers website and that advertiser will incur a charge from Google. In other words, that advertiser pays Google per each click their ad receives.

The price you ultimately pay Google, will be impacted by your landing page quality score. Quality score is driven by a lot of factors, including the relevance of the page content to the search term, as well as the Click Through Rate, or “CTR”.

Click through rate is the rate of clicks to impressions. If your ad is displayed 100 times, and receives 10 clicks, then your CTR is 10%. A high CTR signals to Google that you are showing a relevant ad for the search phrase. This will improve the quality score for that keyword.

The higher the quality score is of the landing page, the lower the actual cost per click will be. Adwords is essentially an auction. You bid on keywords. In very straight forward terms, the more you bid, the higher your website’s ad will be displayed.

Now there are a number of valuations and specific calculations Google makes to determine where your ad will be placed. These calculations happen in real time when the search is being conducted. In a future article, we will look closer at the specifics of these calculations. For this article, it is just important to know that what you bid, is not what you will pay for a click. If your quality score is 7 and you bid $5.00 for a click, you will pay less for a click then if your quality score is 4, and you will never pay more then your bid, or $5.00, for a click.

Remember Google’s first priority is to showcase relevant search results, even for the paid results. Certainly they could just give the first spot to the highest bidder, but that would only ensure the person willing to spend the most money would be listed first. The highest bidder however, may not be the most relevant search result.

The best example of this is your company name. Let’s say you are Adidas, and you want to bid on the keyword “Nike”. The most relevant search result for the keyword “Nike”, is obviously the Nike website. Google is going to give Nike a higher quality score for that keyword, in effect rewarding them for their relevancy for that keyword.

Before we look at tips to improving your quality score, it’s important to also understand match types. There are three match types you can and should bid on for each keyword. They are exact, phrase, and broad match types.

Exact Match: Exact match is the best keyword to bid on. An exact match means the search phrase being searched on is an exact match for the keyword for which you are bidding. For example if you are bidding on exact match for “Accounting Firms”,  your website’s ad will be displayed only when someone searches for “Accounting Firms”.

Phrase Match: Phrase match means your keyword is a phrase within the search string. For example, if you bid on a phrase match of “Accounting Firms”,  you ad will be displayed when someone searches on things like “small accounting firms”, or “accounting firms and CPAs”.

Broad Match: Broad match essentially let’s the search engine determine if the search phrase is a match for your broad match keyword or not. It is worthy that you bid on broad match keywords, but it can also be dangerous. It’s important because a broad match for “accounting firms” might be triggered when someone searches for “accounting services”. It also can be triggered when someone misspells a word, such as “acounting firms”. The danger is that Google may determine that “Accounting Supplies” is a close enough match to “Accounting Services”, and trigger your broad match keyword. This is why Google allows advertisers to declare “negative keywords”. We’ll talk more about negative keywords in a moment.

Now that you have an understanding about your website’s quality score and keyword match types, here are some tips on how you can improve your quality score and click through rates.

Ad Copy

The copy in your ad should reflect the search phrase, or keyword you are bidding on. The person doing the search will be more apt to click an ad that has their search string. For example, if you bid on “CPA Services”, you want the headline of your ad to be something like “Quality CPA Services”. If your ad title says “Bob’s Financial Consulting”, the person doing the search then has to stop and decide… if they click your link, are they going to find what they are looking for? They often make their decision within a split second, so you don’t want the prospect to have to stop and think. Give them exactly what they want. If that means writing 50 different ad titles for 50 different keywords, so be it. Your work will pay off in the end.

Landing Page

The page on your site that the searcher is taken to when they click your ad is called the landing page. Frequently this should not be the homepage of your website. If someone searches for “Strategic Business Planning”, they should be taken directly to the page on your website that explains your business planning services rather than a generic accounting related homepage. If the ad goes to your homepage, and they have to search through a big pile of CPA related content just to find what they are searching for, they’ll probably just click the back button and go to the next advertiser.

If your website doesn’t have a suitable landing page for the keyword, add one. It really is that important.

Just like the ad copy, you want to remove as much of the decision making out the process as possible. Make it as effortless as possible for the searcher to find what it is they are looking for. Google will reward your quality score for having a landing page that is specific to the keyword, because it improves the search experience for people who find you through their search engine.

Negative Keywords

Defining the keywords you don’t want to trigger your ads is just as important as knowing what keywords you do want to bid on. This is very significant because of phrase and broad matching. If you bid on “accounting services” as a broad match, you may not want your ad displayed if someone searches for “accounting supplies”, so you would want to have “supplies” added as a negative keyword.

Your ad will not be displayed, when a search phrase contains one of your negative keywords.

Location Targeting

I’ve saved the best for last. For firms that provide services like accounting or CPA service, location targeting is extremely important. CPA and accounting firms typically will want to be able to meet with their clients, and more importantly the client is very likely looking for an accountant close to their business. Having propsects more then 100 miles away clicking on yoru ad is going to become a big waste of money.

There are two ways to target a location. The first is to target your ads to only be displayed within a certain radius, such as 10 to 20 miles from your business location. You can bid on more general keywords, like “accounting firm”, within a very specific location.

The second way to target location is with very specific keywords in a more general area. For example, you might display your ads to anyone in California, or even the country, if they type in the specific keyword “Los Angeles CPA” or “Los Angeles Accounting”.

Keep these basic principles in mind while you’re setting up your websites with Adwords campaigns and you’ll find the learning curve a lot easier and your initial results will be a lot more profitable!

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