Powerful advertising platforms such as Google AdWords and Microsoft adCenter have made online marketing for small- and medium-sized businesses convenient and effective.

As the Internet continues to burrow deeper into the lives of American consumers, business owners continue to capitalize -- taking money away from print and television to invest in channels like PPC, which have proven to yield exceptional ROI when well-executed.

The ever-increasing popularity of pay-per-click advertising, however, has brought about steeper competition. In the midst of so many campaigns, getting your ads clicked on (and your product out the door) has become a difficult proposition.

To help with this dilemma, we've compiled 6 ways to get a handle on your PPC campaigns, reel in more leads and, ultimately, outperform your competition:

1. Align your selling points with those of your competitors'

The Internet is a heaven for comparison shopping. After all, when a better deal is a mere click away, the urge to browse prices can be irresistible. To combat this issue, you should always know what your competition is offering customers. At the very least, you should strive to match it.

If, for whatever reason, you can't match or beat your competitors on price, focus the focal point of your landing page on a different selling point. For example, free shipping. Producing great copy will also help you positively distinguish your company from a direct competitor, which is never bad for business.

2. Create an intuitive, no-stress conversion process for your customers

While you should avoid a condescending tone in your ads and generally be respectful of your audience, you should still focus on making your conversion process as simple as possible. Make it so that a third grader will breeze through it and you'll be a surprised at the difference it makes.

All of the content your customers see -- from the PPC ad to the landing page to the sales form -- should be clear, concise and compelling. Your design work should be captivating, as well, delivering a clear path for your potential customers to follow.

3. Read the fine print of your campaign performance reports

Pay-per-click advertising demands a detail-oriented mindset. Understanding the finer points can make a profound difference in the long-run. When your AdWords or adCenter report becomes available, be sure to analyze:

·  Search query reports

·  Landing page split tests

·  Keyword/advert level performance

·  Conversion rate analyses for each landing page

4. Isolate your targeted and generic keywords

In most cases, a PPC account that consists of only one campaign will be ineffective. Doing so usually allows for more generic terms -- the one's that everyone has their hands in -- to consume your budget.

Targeted terms that are tailored to your business will convert much better than generic terms.

Therefore, consider creating specific campaigns for your most highly targeted and relevant keywords.

5. Analyze your competitors' marketing behavior

For example:

Are your competitors cutting off their ads at specific times?

Are they using some keywords more than others?

Asking yourself these questions will help you understand what's working for your competition and how you can use it to benefit your own company.

6. Never, ever settle

Complacency is the beginning of the end.

To improve your conversion rates and, thereby, increase your profits, you must constantly test different keywords, adverts and landing pages. As an online marketer, you should always be striving to increase your conversion rates. And the best way to do so is to test. Regardless of your experimental results, the knowledge and experience you gain in the process can make all the difference further down the road.

Do you have any PPC tips you'd like to share? Comment below!

For more information on the PPC strategies discussed in this article, contact your SEO -- we'd love to talk to you!

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