One of the most common pain points amongst those who run online communities is visibility. How do you make your community known and findable? Paid marketing can give new or established communities a much needed boost in exposure. Our friends at SiteWit know quite a lot about this area and provided us with a great four-part series on this subject. 


In an ideal world you’d have so much money to throw at online advertising that you could just wait to see what works and then fix it. But here in the real world we need to start with best practices and expand with success. So I’ve put together a small list of the mistakes I’ve made and have seen others make over and over again.

5 Common Pay-Per-Click Mistakes to Avoid


  • Mistake #1 – Too large of a scope
    Within the two major ad networks, you get to choose to display your ads on the primary search network or extend it to context sensitive ads on other sites. While it’s alluring to reach out to a larger audience remember that for most sites the primary search network provides the best and most cost effective results. So, by spreading your budget out you will get less impact and you will typically weaken your ROI.
  • Mistake #2 – Too broad of a phrase
    When you’re working in an industry, you start to think that your key terms could only apply to you. However, even terms like “appliances” could refer you a lot of dental related traffic to your home goods store and waste untold dollars in click waste and lost traffic. So, start by adding a qualifying word to all of your keywords. In this example, only buy clicks for “kitchen appliances” and, until your budget expands, use keyword and phrase matching only.
  • Mistake #3 – Targeting the wrong audience
    The world is very large place, despite the popular Disney ride jingle that may counter my argument. There are a lot of people who can’t read your site, can’t make use of your product, or can’t have your product shipped to them. So, keep this in mind and set your geographic and language targeting to focus on just those who can.
  • Mistake #4 – Forgetting about Quality Score
    You researched your keywords, carefully crafted your ads…Now what? Dump those keywords in your homepage, put together a graphic with a pitch and call it a landing page? No, you need to spend as much time and energy putting together a landing page that matches the keywords that you’re buying. Otherwise, your ad will be seen as irrelevant and cost more per click and get shown less often. So be sure to use keyword relevant text instead of images and make a compelling pitch on all your landing pages, even if it is your homepage.
  • Mistake #5 – Follow-up
    This is the big one. It’s so easy to create a great campaign and then forget about it. But things change, keyword bids go up and down, popular culture and trends can both benefit and ruin previously unknown keywords, and some things simply work better than others. It’s important to regularly monitor your keywords, bids, and ROI. This takes a lot of time. We built SiteWit because campaign management is laborious to do right. There are lots of spreadsheets and calculations to adjust bids, maximize ROI, and find the gold in your campaign. So frankly you’re better off letting our giant brain keep track of your campaigns while you focus on building your business.

In conclusion, I’d like to say that while there is never an excuse to make mistakes 3, 4, or 5, there is a time and place for expanding your ad scope and casting a larger keyword net. How will you know when that time comes? The best indicator is when you can no longer spend your monthly budget. When this happens you need to start expanding your reach with great oversight, even if it means harvesting a few more weeds with the wheat.


(Image: affirmative, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from torley's photostream)

This post originally appeared on the SiteWit blog and is part of a four article series on paid marketing for communities.


About SiteWit

SiteWit is a Do It Yourself (DIY) online marketing platform specifically designed for small and mid-sized businesses. With SiteWit you can get started with pay-per-click advertising through Google and Bing. Our solution fully automate SEM management and optimization to maximize budgets and drive new customers to your site.



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