Is pay-per-click search advertising a fast, efficient, and effective way to drive targeted traffic to your business website… or an easy way to put a giant hole in your marketing budget and never see that money reappear?

The best answer is “both,” or more accurately, “it depends.”

That’s because the very best marketers use pay-per-click in a cost-efficient way, setting up their accounts and campaigns in a manner that’s virtually guaranteed to help them squeeze the biggest results from each and every penny they spend. But, the companies that aren’t willing to do the same usually find PPC to be expensive and ineffective.

To help you fall into the right group, here are five things you can do to make PPC search advertising more effective and cost-efficient:

  • Keep adding to your list of negative keywords. Any time someone sees your pay-per-click ad who shouldn’t have, you’re wasting an impression (and possibly your money). So, keep adding to those negative keywords until your list of targets is as refined as possible.
  • Focus your search advertising campaigns on your local area. This eliminates the need to compete with every other business in your market or industry. It also gives you access to buyers who are most likely to ultimately decide to click through to your site and do business with you.
  • Include your phone number in your PPC ads. Since more and more people are using Google and the other search engines through mobile devices, it only makes sense to include your phone number and make it easy for them to take the next step.
  • Test and use multiple landing pages. Not only should you have several landing pages for each group of keywords you are bidding on, but within those you should have different variations that are constantly being tested and refined. Over time, following these two steps can drastically improve the ratio of visitors that you turn into customers.
  • Always include a free offer as part of your PPC campaign. Some people just aren’t going to make a purchase right away, especially if your product or service is complicated and expensive. Give them something free, or a quick action they can take, so you can capture something from the click.

Pay-per-click advertising can be a great way to attract visitors from Google and jumpstart your company’s sales. To make the most of it, not to mention get the most from your money, you just have to do things the way the smartest businesses do. Keep these rules in mind, and you’ll be just fine.