Think about the last time you searched Google for an answer to a question. You typed in something along the lines of “how to...” or “why is...” in hopes of finding helpful content that addressed your question. Did you even notice the ads on the top of the search results, or did you skip down to the top organic search results—blog articles attempting to answer your question?
I’m going to hazard a guess that it was the latter.
The point of this isn’t to argue for pooling all of your resources into organic search, but rather to take a smarter approach to paid advertising for your own company. If you’re really trying to earn the trust of prospects before earning a conversion, it’s a good idea to promote blog content (awareness stage content) as part of your pay-per-click advertising campaigns.
To best determine where to allocate PPC resources, it’s important to think about your company’s current conversion goals and develop keyword lists/PPC advertisements from there.
1. Determine Your Keyword Goals
Is it your company’s top priority to earn quick conversions on landing pages, or is it more important to direct visitors to helpful blog content? If conversions are down for your company, it’s smart to allocate more PPC resources to middle of the funnel content offers. On the other hand, if you have valuable blog content and want to establish an initial level of trust with a prospect before earning a conversion, a top of the funnel PPC campaign is an effective method.
Here are three potential keyword strategies based on the first two stages of the buyer’s journey (awareness and consideration):
A. Trust-building. These keywords will be very general and not based on products/services. Potential buyers are searching for answers to help them identify their problem or educate themselves on a specific topic, so it’s helpful to develop a list of keywords for ads that will direct them to blog content.
B. Solution-oriented. Once in the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey, individuals have identified their problem and are searching for potential solutions. A provider of business technology services, for example, would want to target keywords like “managed IT solutions,” as visitors are simply browsing solutions and not ready to buy. This keyword list would be used in ads that direct visitors to website pages talking about how your company can solve their needs.
C. Product-oriented. This list of keywords will be directly related to your products or services and is designed to capture immediate conversions. Those searching for “the best managed IT company,” for example, could be directed to web pages or landing pages, which are designed to encourage conversions.
Consideration stage keywords are certainly important, but your competition is likely only building ads from consideration stage keyword lists, there’s a lot of opportunity and value to be added through awareness stage keywords. Luckily, building an awareness stage keyword list can be as simple as one in the consideration stage.
2. Focus on Buyer Personas and Address Their Questions
When evaluating buyer personas (a fictional representation of your ideal customer), be sure to ask yourself these two questions: What questions would my ideal prospects search for on Google? What questions is my company currently answering in our blog posts? If these answers are in alignment then you already have quality content to promote via paid search, but if they aren’t the same it’s a good idea to revisit your content strategy so you’re speaking directly to your buyer personas.
Based on this blog content, follow these steps:
- Make lists of keywords and questions that your content addresses
- Enter these keywords into resources like Moz and StoryBase
- Find additional keyword opportunities based on related search queries/questions
- Use this insight to refine your blogging strategy
StoryBase’s Questions feature, for instance, allows you to type in specific keywords and brings up a list of questions and related searches containing those keywords. Moz, on the other hand, has a helpful Keyword Lists tool, which lets you enter in certain keywords and gives an analysis of the keyword’s volume, difficulty, opportunity and potential.
This research is a prerequisite for creating successful blog content and awareness level ad campaigns within Google AdWords.
3. Develop Campaigns in Google AdWords
You’ve aligned keyword goals with blog content and have honed in on questions and queries that your company’s buyer personas have. The final step is to create keyword “short lists” that align with each of your buyer personas, which will consist of 10-20 keywords you've assembled based on your blog content and keyword suggestions found in resources like Moz and StoryBase.
The keyword lists can then be formed into individual campaigns within Google AdWords. For example, if you provide products or services to different market segments, you'd want to create a separate campaign for each of these. These campaigns will not only shape your ad groups and ad copy, but also which keywords to focus on in blog content, so you can create ads that reach B2B decision makers and influencers.
Take Advantage of Awareness Stage Opportunities
While a goal of any content piece is to capture immediate conversions, simply creating helpful content establishes trust with prospects, establishes your company as an industry thought leader and promotes longer term conversions. This value shouldn't just come through organic search, but through paid search ads that help promote blog content and let you get ahead of competitors in the awareness stage of their buyer's journey—and beyond.