Much of the job of a search engine marketer is finding the perfect balance between competitiveness and value in keyphrase choice. Much has been said about utilizing the long tail (including by us here at FindYourSearch), and of course most SEO/SEM articles focus on how to rank for and profit from nearly any keywords, including those in high-competition, if you have the time and money and find them worthwhile in terms of return on investment. In PPC, in particular, it is usually accepted that highly targeted, highly relevant terms provide the best ROI. One article contends differently, however.
The basic premise is that, although some level of relevance is necessary (e.g. cat breeders shouldn’t market to people looking for roofing companies), sometimes a bit of cross-marketing can be profitable. For instance, a business just outside a city can profit by marketing to people looking for hotels within the city, as long as certain care is taken. The article outlines three steps.
First, separation of the ad campaigns is essential. Ads targeting the most relevant keywords should not be the same as those going for the less relevant. In fact, you should have a few campaigns of varying specificity going at any one time. This makes tracking much easier and allows you to properly refine the ad copy for the keywords being targeted.
Secondly, the messages of the ad campaigns need to cater to the audiences they target. Less relevant keywords need more qualification. If someone is searching “purebred puppy breeders” it’s impossible to know whether they want to buy puppies or simply research breeders, or what breed of puppy they’re looking for in what location. Therefore, an ad for a dog breeder selling Golden Retriever puppies in Las Vegas needs to specify all that information in the ad to ensure only qualified click-through.
The third and final key is persuasion. Since you are targeting people who are not directly searching for your product, you need to explain the reasons they should choose you. If you’re promoting a hotel just outside an area being searched for, you should express how easy it is to get to the area. That way, you weed out people unwilling to consider something nearby before they click your ad and cost you money.
As you can see, it’s important to be extremely careful with ads targeted for moderate relevance. When proper care is taken, however, it’s possible to get returns even for these terms.