While Paid Search came from small beginnings (Adwords launched with only 350 accounts), it has now blossomed into a significant part of the marketing mix, and shows no signs of slowing down. Changes, both good and bad, are constantly rolled out and it's more important than ever to stay on top of this ever-changing industry. Why? How? Let's dive in.
Learn the Basics
As part of their professional certification process, Adwords and BingAds have put together an extensive training curriculum which helps guide search newbies through the basics. Not sure what all the crazy acronyms (CTR, CR, CPA) stand for, how to bid, write good ads – the resources here explain these and so much more in great depth, and then give you the chance to test your knowledge with an online test. Unlike in school, a 70% won't pass you, so you'll definitely gain confidence in your abilities from earning certification and maybe even post it on your fridge (or maybe that's just me)!
Both engines have also realized that long, wordy documents aren't for everyone and have extensive video collections. Below is one of my favorite AdWord's videos which explains the bidding process:
By learning the basics, you'll be able to successfully understand and manage a paid search campaign. Clicks, Impressions, CTR will no longer be gibberish to you. It will also help you understand more advanced techniques. For example, without knowing what a sitelink is, my colleague Chris's blog on sitelink optimization tips would make no sense!
Read & Write Blogs
PPC Blogs are a great way to learn more about the industry. The Google & Bing certification programs will definitely give you the PPC framework, but through blogs you'll get more an idea of more advanced techniques, cool findings (Centered Forms Did What?), creative tests, announcements from Search Engines themselves (Adwords Blog & BingAds Blog), and much more. These can help spark new test ideas, save you tons of time, and even confirm/destroy everything you believed. Here's a great list of blogs to get you started. Don't be afraid to share them either!
Connect with Industry
The Paid Search industry is super friendly and always willing to help out. Even better, there are tons of outlets - PPCReddit, #PPCChat, Adwords Support Forums, to name just a few. I've posted questions plenty of times, and gotten feedback from awesome industry professionals, including the #PPCChat founder, himself!
By expanding your PPC connections, you are building a great network – people to bounce ideas off of, to learn from, and so much more. While I'm limited in what industries I can compare it to, the paid search industry is definitely seems friendlier than most.
While this can be a bit more challenging given the cost of most conferences/seminars, conferences are a great way to connect with industry professionals, search engines themselves, and come home with lots of new swag (I'm the proud owner of a Google umbrella), learnings, & ideas. I came home with a bunch of ideas after SMX East, one of which I decided to further share with SEER's paid search blog readers!
As you are hopefully starting to see, staying on top of the Paid Search industry is important, but also easy! Don't become a set it and forget it account (If you are, June 30th is going to be a scary day!), get into your accounts, play around and test! You won't regret it.
Please share your tips for staying afloat and why you think continuous learning is important, within the comment sections.