Text-Link Advertising: Making the Most of Your Budget

Reading through a text-link advertising forum recently, I noticed a number of negative posts. One post in particular stuck in my mind and I want to answer it here.

The poster had been frustrated with his results from a text-link ad campaign. He mentioned that he was new to text-link advertising and he wasn’t getting any results.

My short answer to him would be, “Your text-link ads can get results, but you have to use the right text links and the right ads.”

My long answer follows, in the form of five key tips for any text-link advertising campaign:

1-First, make sure you have a product that’s good. In this case, your product is your website. Make sure it’s designed well, easy to navigate, with content people are interested in. Nothing is worse for a bad website than a good text-link ad campaign–you drive people to it once and then they never come back.

While you’re at it, be sure your website is designed to encourage visitors to do what you want them to do (i.e. click on CPC ads, buy your or your affiliate program’s products, etc.), ETHICALLY, of course.

2-Second, what’s your ad campaign objective? Before you spend a penny on text-link advertising, you need to decide what you want your ads to do for you. Do you just want more traffic to your site? Or do you want people to take some action once they get to your site (i.e., buy a product, sign up for a newsletter, etc.). Make sure you’re clear on what you want for your text-link ad dollars first.

3-Related to step 2, take advantage of any special features offered by the website you’ve placed your text-link ads on–especially if they offer conversion tracking. Conversion, for the uninitiated, means CONVERTING a visitor into either a customer (they buy a product), a subscriber (they sign up for your newsletter) or whatever other action you want to “CONVERT” your visitors into taking. Conversion tracking will help you figure out which of your text-link ads are getting you the kind of visitors you want.

4-Test, test, test. The beauty of most text-link advertising is that it’s not prohibitively expensive to advertise or test your ads (as long as you watch your spending limits). If you can, run a few different text-link ad variations.

Something to consider when creating your text-link ad: put yourself in your visitors’ shoes as much as possible. When you’re just surfing the web casually or looking for information in a broad sense, your searches tend to be broad, don’t they? But when you’re ready to buy, or take some other action, your searches are more narrow and your search terms are more specific to what you want.

For example, if you’re casually interested in bicycles, you might search just using that as your keyword, “bicycle.” But once you’ve decided to buy a bike, you’ll probably have something more specific in mind: “red ten-speed bikes” or “Mike’s Bike Shop.”

If you want your visitors to do something specific at your website, then your text-link ad should be as specific as possible.

Once you set up your text-link ad campaign, give it some time to see what ads work, at least a week or preferably a couple of weeks. Be aware of the season, or if a holiday weekend falls during your testing, as those factors will affect your text-link ads’ results.

5-And last but not least, don’t be afraid to make changes to your text-link ad campaign. Just make sure they’re incremental, and give each change some time to see if it works.

For example, pick the text-link ad that gives you the best conversion rate and tweak it, while you drop the others. Change the times and days of the week it appears (if you can) to find out when to schedule them. Or try another text-link ad variation.

Just make sure you make these changes to your text-link ads one at a time and keep track of them (enter your text-link ad changes into a diary or journal, for example) so you can easily measure their effect. A tweak as minor as changing a word or two in your text-link ad could increase your conversion rate significantly. Or it might not. So keep track of what works (and what doesn’t so you don’t repeat it).

Don’t make the mistake that poster made, throwing money at his text-link advertising and then cutting it off in frustration when it didn’t work. Make sure to set up your text-link ads properly and then tinker with them until you get the results you want.

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