Whether you are a beginner or a professional marketer, you’ll realize that Paid Search is a very important tool for online businesses. And when done properly, paid search can grow businesses exponentially. So, just set your goals, forecast your outcomes and avoid the pitfalls we’ve listed in this article. It’s time to discover how to create a unified strategy.
As well as how it can help you make your customers happier. And, as a result, you will benefit from the search results in a way you’ve never imagined before. Whilst, bearing in mind, every second, tens of thousands of people are searching on Google for products, services, and solutions. This presents an incredible opportunity for you to promote your business.
Especially, to all those relevant and engaged audiences. As well as those that are actively looking to research or purchase products or services. Some other forms of advertising, such as banner ads, are known as ‘interruption marketing’ so to say.
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Meaning, that the person who sees the ad may not actually be in the market to buy something at this stage. Where paid search has the edge, is that by typing something into a search engine we know that the user has the intent to research.
Or even an intent to purchase. Do remember that success will often depend on the quality of your website. In relation to others who are also running ads on the same keywords. Therefore, conversion is king, and sending traffic is only half the job.
What Paid Search Is All About
Paid Search is a form of digital marketing where search engines like Google and Bing allow advertisers to show ads on their search engine results pages (SERPs). And it works on a Pay Per Click (in short PPC) model. Meaning you do exactly that – until someone clicks on your ad, you don’t pay. In that case, this makes it a measurable and controllable channel.
More so, compared to all other marketing channels with more traditional forms of advertising that we may consider. Remember, that most ad formats include text ads, which are shown at the top or bottom of the organic search results. Or even the shopping ads shown above the search results. As for the Organic Search results, you will not pay for a click.
Especially if your website appears herein. And you cannot pay to appear in the listings either. Paid Search Marketing is also known in the marketing and advertising industry by many different names (and abbreviations). For example, Search Engine Marketing (in short SEM), which can include Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to be specific.
Or even, Pay Per Click (PPC). As well as, Search Engine Advertising, Sponsored Listings… the list goes on. And that’s before you start to involve the names of specific advertising programs and ad types. Such as Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), Google Product Listing Ads, Google Shopping Ads, and Bing Ads.
How Paid Search Algorithm Really Works
To begin with, just as aforementioned, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) — is something that can also include SEO, pay-per-click (PPC), search engine advertising, sponsored listings… the list goes on. And that’s before you start to involve the names of specific advertising programs and ad types, such as Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), Google Product Listing Ads, Google Shopping Ads, and Bing Ads.
But, fear not! For one thing, our Web Tech Experts Taskforce is always here to demystify everything. Whereby, in the next section, we’ll give you a basic overview of what paid search algorithm consists of and what it looks like. We’ll also try to explain the different abbreviations and ad types you’ll come across, and examine the benefits and drawbacks of investing in paid search.
Moving on, every time there is an ad spot on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP), an instantaneous auction takes place for the keyword. A combination of multiple factors, including bid amount and the quality of the ad, decides the winner who will appear in the top spot of the SERP. These auctions are what keep the gears of PPC moving.
Auctions begin when someone searches for something on a search engine. And if there are advertisers interested in showing ads related to a user’s search query, an auction is triggered. Based on keywords that are bid on by advertisers. The ads that win the auction then appear on the search engine results page.
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Likewise, in order to get involved in these auctions, advertisers use accounts on platforms like Google Ads to set up their ads. As well as, determine where and when they would like those ads to appear. Accounts are split into campaigns for ease of management and reporting.
More so, according to different locations, product types, or other useful categorizations. Lastly, campaigns are further divided into ad groups that contain keywords and relevant ads. Below is a breakdown of the most important parts of Paid Search Marketing;
Keywords lie at the center of PPC, connecting advertisers to users’ search queries.
- Queries: These are the actual words that users type into the search box of a search engine in order to find results.
Keywords: These, on the other hand, are what marketers use to target these users by matching their search queries.
Keywords work as generalized abstractions of a wide range of search queries, which are prone to irregularities like misspellings. Depending on the keyword match types they use, advertisers can match search queries with more or less precision.
Along with keywords, you need to prepare ads for your campaigns. These are nestled together within ad groups that target shared sets of keywords, and so are organized by common themes. Ads are what the users will see if the auction is won, so they’re very important to get right.
They typically contain:
On a SERP they can show up on top of the results or at the bottom of the page. It’s good practice to test different versions of ad copy to see what performs best. Services like Google Ads and Bing Ads provide features called ad extensions that enhance the appearance of ads.
3. Budgets & Bids
In order to participate in the auction, advertisers need to decide how much they’re willing to spend on a given keyword. This is done using:
- Budgets at the campaign level
- Bids at the ad group or keyword level.
Budgets are set at the campaign level and can be exceeded on a daily basis, but will not be overspent on a monthly basis. Budgets should be set according to overall account strategy, but bids are a more precise way of controlling spending.
All ad groups must have bids, but keyword-level bids override ad group-level bids. Due to the RTB system, the actual amount paid by the advertiser is dependent on competitor activity and ad rank, not just the maximum bid.
4. Ad Rank
There’s more to winning the auction than having the highest bid. Search engines look at other factors to determine which ads should be at the top and the most valuable spot on the SERP.
Search engines have their own particular ways of factoring in other elements to determine ad rank. Google, for example, considers:
- Bid amount.
- Ad relevance and quality.
- The context of the search (such as the user’s device and time of day).
- Format impact (whether it includes extensions that enhance the format of the ad).
Quality Score is a metric that determines ad relevance.
The components of the Quality Score are:
- Historical click-through rate (CTR).
- The relevance of the keyword to the ad.
- Also, the relevance of the keyword and ad to the search query.
- Landing page quality.
Ad relevance is absolutely essential; the higher the Quality Score is, the lower the CPC will be. Search engines penalize advertisers who bid on keywords with low-Quality Scores by rarely showing their ads, even if they have high bids.
That’s why it’s very important to have engaging and relevant ad copy that includes high-volume keywords. But landing page quality shouldn’t be overlooked either; ads will show less often when they point to sites with poor user experience.
The webpage must be relevant to the user, load quickly, and provide an overall smooth user experience on all devices.
Choosing the right keywords is what allows advertisers to show ads to relevant audiences. But, there are other targeting options available to optimize campaigns. Including the device, location, day and time, as well as demographics.
This way, advertisers can target users who are on mobile in the evening. Or users who are under 25 and within a certain radius of a particular location. In order to optimize the performance of their ads.
These targeting options are incredibly valuable. Simply, because different variations of ad copy, for example, might perform better for one group of users than for another. It can also be possible, to use remarketing tools. That allows for more specific ad copy messaging and adjusted budgets.
Targeting or excluding past visitors to a website who do follow-up searches. Bids can be automatically adjusted for keywords based on targeting options. Giving advertisers more control over traffic and spending by bidding when customers are more valuable to the business.
The point of all this hard work isn’t to just get clicks. For one thing, the real end game is to obtain conversions.
Conversions are the actions that advertisers want users to complete after clicking on an ad. Depending on the type of business being advertised. Conversion tracking can be a bit tricky. Because conversion paths also have a tendency to be more complicated than a simple click on an ad and a direct purchase.
They often include multiple searches and website visits. Or can also lead to an email, phone call, or in-store visit. Using an analytics service like Google Analytics can help to decide how credit for conversions is assigned in conversion paths.
Common examples of conversions include:
- Purchasing a service.
- Signing up for a newsletter.
- Placing a phone call.
It’s super important to track conversions in order to know whether a PPC campaign is doing well and how many conversions can be attributed to paid search rather than other marketing channels.
Platforms like Google Ads can track conversion. By using a snippet of code that is placed into the source code of the conversion page (which is reached after conversion, like a thank you page) to collect conversion data.
Breaking Down The Main Paid Search Elements
As aforementioned, paid search advertising is a type of digital marketing strategy that allows companies to pay search engines to place their ads higher on relevant search engine results pages (SERPs) with the goal of driving traffic to their site. Consider the pay-per-click — or PPC advertising aspects.
Well, these are the most common form of paid search. Using a PPC campaign means companies don’t pay anything until someone clicks on their ad. This makes it an affordable way to advertise and ensures your ads reach users who are actively searching for your company’s services or products.
There are a few different considerations that determine where your ad will be placed on Google SERPs.
Bidding. Businesses can bid on phrases or keywords that are related to their company, products, or services. The highest bidders can get higher rankings on the search results page.
Ad extensions. Companies can include phone numbers and web page links to pages such as contact pages or other relevant information on their website. Your ad placement on SERPs can be determined by the impact of these extensions.
Quality of ads and landing pages. Google will assess and assign a Quality Score for ads, and assess how useful and relevant your landing pages are.
Keywords. The use of several keywords in your ads as well as the frequency of use can determine the ranking on SERPs.
But, there are other additional considerations. Some other factors that are taken into consideration include the term that is searched, as well as the time, location, competing ads/other search results, and device type. A great example of a PPC network is Google Ads for webmasters.
What Google Ads Entail
Google has its own advertising network known as Google Ads. It offers CPM and PPC/CPC advertising. Using Google Ads allows your ads to be shown on one or both of Google’s advertising networks.
Google Search Network includes all ads that appear on Google search results pages, including Google Shopping, Maps, Google Search, and its many search partners.
Google Display Network includes all websites that partner with Google, as well as other Google sites such as YouTube and Gmail.
If you choose CPC or CPM, you set a maximum bid amount and set your bid to be manual or automatic. Manual bids involve choosing a bid amount, while automatic means Google chooses a bid amount for you that is within a budget that you have set.
The Actual Role Of Paid Search In Marketing Campaigns
Notably, a great paid search marketing strategy affords web businesses the opportunity to advertise within the sponsored listings of a search engine or a partner website. Particularly, by paying either each time their ad is clicked (pay per click) or less commonly, when their ad is displayed in CPM (Cost Per Thousand) or when phone contact is generated (pay per call).
This means, that paid search and pay-per-click – PPC – are not directly interchangeable terms, as paid search marketing can also encompass other types of payment models. Including but not limited to CPM (which stands for cost per mille, or cost per thousand impressions) or CPA (cost per action/acquisition).
However, PPC (the cost-per-click model) is still the most widely-used form of paid search, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. So, what do paid search results look like when you encounter them in the wild? Well, in that case, if a user searches for “Web Tech Experts” on Google, the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) will return the following results:
As you can see from the screen grab, the search results are in the carousel at the top, and may be marked with the term “Sponsored”. These are Product Listing Ads (PLAs), more commonly called Google Shopping ads (though other comparison services do appear in these spots, too) – they are a type of PPC ad that is displayed when a user searches for a product on Google.
Considerably, Search Engines, like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, are some of the best ways for businesses to reach customers online. Every day, Google alone handles over 3.5 billion searches — meaning that search engines and search engine marketing will likely stay relevant for many years to come.
Organic SEO may land your website on the first search engine results page, but the biggest benefit of paid search marketing campaigns is your business appearing at the top of the results page. Here are some additional benefits of using paid search campaigns and online marketing.
Keyword research can help businesses target potential customers and searchers who are in the market for their services or products. For example, if a health food company targets a keyword phrase such as “healthy snacks” and uses paid search ads for that keyword, they are more likely to reach customers who are looking for healthy snacks. Bidding for keywords that are most relevant to your company is the best way to reach your target audience.
With paid search, you have control over how your advertising budget is spent. You could spend $1,000 or more for a billboard, but you don’t have any control over who drives past it, or if they have any need for your services. Instead of spending $1,000 for the billboard, you could be using that budget to advertise directly to consumers in your target market who are actively looking for your services and products online.
In addition to being cost-effective, and because most search engines use a bidding format, the market will dictate the price of ads. If you set a maximum bid for a keyword at $4 and the next highest bid is only $2, you’ll only pay $2.01. Businesses will often pay less than their maximum bid price and have the option of changing their bid at any time. It’s also estimated that businesses make an average of $2 for every $1 they spend with Google Ads. This means that paid search marketing is a great option for every company from small businesses to worldwide corporations.
It can take a substantial amount of time to see results from many other SEO strategies, but with paid search, businesses can see measurable results rather quickly. The targeted strategies of paid search ads filter out consumers who need to be persuaded to make a purchase and reach out to those who are looking for your specific offerings. This leads to shorter customer journeys and more consumers who are interested in your products. SEO can take weeks or even months to get the results you want, but paid search ads can make your company appear on the first page of Google immediately after launching the ad.
Why Paid Search Is Important In Marketing
The biggest benefit of paid search is your company’s appearance at the top of the search engine results page. While it’s always possible to improve your organic search strategy in an attempt to rank in position 1. Or position 0, with a featured snippet – on the SERP, paid search will guarantee it.
This is all the more important on mobile. Where a smaller screen means that increasing amounts of real estate are given over to sponsored results. Multiple surveys have also found that many searchers are unable to tell the difference between paid and organic search results.
According to 2016 data, published by Ofcom, found that only 49% of adults could reliably identify sponsored search results as ads. Implying that there is often no difference in searchers’ willingness to trust organic search results over paid results.
Related Topic: SERP | How do you Improve your Google Search Results?
If you have enough investment, PPC is the fastest way to get to the top. If you know your way around the platform, you can set up a PPC campaign in less than an hour. And appear immediately in the sponsored results.
Tracking is also a lot easier using search marketing. You no longer have to take a gamble on ads you’ve paid for in advance in other media, with little way to measure how successful they are.
With paid search, every ad, keyword, and penny spent can be tracked, allowing for a more accurate ROI. This also means it’s a lot easier for an advertiser to test campaigns too.
All of this, along with access to each search engine’s affiliate network websites and products, and the ability to schedule ads and target them to specific locations and times, makes paid search an essential part of your marketing strategy.
Paid Search vs Organic Search
It’s often asked which is better; paid search or SEO? SEO is the process of increasing your website’s rankings in organic search results. You cannot pay Google or other search engines to increase your ranking.
On the face of it, SEO sounds like a better option. Once your website ranks in position one, the clicks you get are free. And more users click on organic listings than paid ones. But, the important thing to remember is that there is a CPC to SEO as well.
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Normally, SEO takes time! If your website is very new, and you want to rank for very competitive keywords such as ‘insurance’ or buy a car, it can take years of work before your site will even rank in the top 10 results.
All of that work costs money regardless of whether you pay an agency to do your SEO, pay an employee to do it, or even do it yourself. Every hour invested in organic optimization costs money. You can factor in these costs versus the increase in traffic the activity generated.
How Search Engine SERPs Determine Ad Rankings
Any time a consumer enters one of your keywords in their search engine, your display or text ads are entered into an auction. Your quality score and bid are then taken into account to define where your ad will appear on the search page. The combination of these factors will give you an ad rank, and the business in the auction with the highest ad rank will appear as the first search result.
As we’ve mentioned above, your bid is the amount of money you are willing to spend for every click on your ad. If your bid is the highest, your quality score will determine your placement on the search engine page. When you have a good quality score and bid higher, you are going to rank better on the page.
The quality score is a score from one to 10 (10 being the highest) and every keyword in your account is assigned by paid search platforms. This is calculated based on a combination of three factors:
Expected clickthrough rate (CTR): how likely it is that users will click on your ad when it is shown.
Ad relevance: How relevant your ad is to the user’s search.
Landing page experience: How useful your landing page is to users who click on your ad.
The quality score was made with the intention to stop advertisers from paying the most amount of money to appear at the top of pages where search terms weren’t relevant to their website. Paid search platforms now reward advertisers with higher quality ads, rather than those with the most money to spend.
PPC SEO vs. Organic SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing your website’s rankings without paying search engines to increase your ranking. This involves researching the best keywords, appropriate word count, etc., to appear at the top of the organic search results.
SEO may sound like a better option because once your website ranks high on SERPs, all of the clicks you get are free, and a lot of consumers prefer to click on organic search results than paid ones. However, while there may not be an immediate monetary cost to the clicks you receive, SEO often takes a lot of time and more money in the long run.
If your website is new, it can take months or even years of work before your website will rank in the top 10 search results. It costs money to put all of that work into SEO, so it’s important to compare the costs of organic SEO and PPC to determine the best options for your business.
The Simple Steps To Setup PPC Campaigns
Let’s say you run an SEO campaign, costing $2000 in agency/consultant fees, and this campaign increases your ranking from position 10 to position 2. This ranking increase looks to generate an extra 4000 organic clicks.
Therefore, you could say that your organic Cost Per Click in this scenario is $0.50. You can then compare this to your paid campaigns to see what’s providing better value. That said, do you run a small business and have a tight marketing budget? Or simply you don’t want to jump into bed with the major search engines.
Well, you can still make significant headway with organic marketing. Although it seems like marketing is increasingly “pay to play”, there is a lot to be gained from a savvy organic marketing strategy. Whether that be Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or social media campaigns.
If you are ready to use paid search, below are some of the simple steps that you’ll need to follow in order to set up your paid search campaign effectively.
1. Location Settings
Location settings allow you to choose where your ads are shown, including the countries, zip codes, or cities where you want your ads to appear. These settings are typically set to where your company is based or where customers can get your products.
2. Potential Keywords
Choose the keywords that are most applicable to your business and brand awareness. Performing keyword research will tell you what keywords consumers in your market are looking for, and which ones are of the highest importance.
Tools like Google Keyword Planner can help you learn what keywords people all over the world are searching for to find services and products similar to yours. Keyword Planner will show you a list of possible keywords, how many people are searching for them every month, what your competition looks like, and how much each keyword will cost per click.
3. Match Types
Before bidding on keywords in your PPC ad campaigns, you have to choose a match type. The match type you choose tells Google’s algorithm how precise you want your ads to match user searches. When advertising with Google Ads, there are three different match types to choose from:
3.1. Exact Match
An exact match is the most specific match type. In the past, using exact match meant your ad groups would only appear to users when they searched your exact keyword phrase. However, Google has made recent changes to its metrics to make this type of match less specific. When using exact match, your ads might match searches that contain plurals, synonyms, or other variations of your keyword or phrase.
The best thing about using exact match is you’re reaching an audience that is interested in your specific offerings. If consumers click on your ad after searching for that specific service, they are more likely to be interested in your offerings, which keeps conversion rates high and reduces unwanted costs. However, you will likely have less traffic when using the exact match type, as more specific searches often have a lower search volume.
3.2. Broad Match
Broad match is the match type that will reach the widest audience. If you choose a broad match, your ad may appear whenever a search includes any of the words in your key phrase, in any order. Your ad may also appear in searches containing synonyms to your keywords.
The broad match approach is great for driving lots of clicks, but it’s important to keep an eye on search query reports to make sure you aren’t paying for traffic that is irrelevant and won’t convert. Negative keywords can be set up and used to prevent your ads from appearing in searches that are unrelated to your company.
3.3. Phrase Match
Phrase match is a combination of exact match and broad match. It offers some of the flexibility of broad match with the control features that are similar to exact match. Your ad appears only when a user has a search that includes your keywords in the exact order you enter them.
But, other words can also be included before or after the key phrase. Google AdWords has recently expanded phrase match to include searches that contain plurals, synonyms, and other close variations of your keywords and key phrases.
4. Create Your Campaign Ads
The next step is to create an ad with ad copy that is engaging to your target audience and will guide them to choose your ad over other ads or organic listings that appear on the page.
Good ads contain features like:
One or more calls-to-action (CTA)
Words and phrases related to your keywords
Distinctive and engaging content
When creating your ads, there are a few things you cannot include.
Some of these are:
Trademarked words or phrases
Headlines containing exclamation points
Unnecessary spacing (e.g., F R E E S H I P P I N G)
Symbols that are used to make your ad more noticeable (e.g. **Free Shipping**)
Words in all caps (e.g., FREE SHIPPING)
You want your ads to work for your business, not against it. So, be sure to include the right information and steer clear of the prohibited content to create profitable paid ads.
5. Elementary Bids
You decide and set the amount you want to pay for each click on one of your ads, including your keywords. This is known as a “Bid” or “Max CPC.” You can set a different bid amount for each keyword and keyword phrase. Paid search platforms will give you a guide on the amount you should bid for each keyword, but the choice is still yours.
For example, if Google recommends a bid of $4 but you only want to bid $3, you can still bid the $3. However, bidding lower than the recommended amount could mean your ads will show up lower on the page or appear less frequently in the search engine.
6. Ad Campaign Extensions
Ad extensions can be used to provide more information about your company and can be shown with your ad on different search engines. These can not only provide a better user experience, but they can also help increase your ad’s quality score, in turn helping your ads reach the top of the search page. Some ad extensions that are available include:
Pricing: provide costs of different services and products you offer
Call Outs: this includes any additional information about your business
Location: provide your company’s address
Site Links: links to other pages on your site
Phone Number: provide your phone number and give mobile users the option of click-to-call
7. Ad Launch/Payment Plan
Ads typically start showing within a couple of hours, allowing you the ability to view the results in your paid search accounts in a shorter amount of time. You also have the ability to pause your ad campaigns at any time to accommodate new promotions or discontinue old campaigns.
While every paid search platform is slightly different in terms of billing, you are likely to have a similar experience with all of them. In most cases, when you create your account, you will add a credit or debit card to the account. From there, you will then be charged after achieving a certain threshold, or every 30 days, depending on which comes first.
As can be seen, Paid Search Marketing affords businesses the opportunity to advertise within the sponsored listings of a search engine or a partner site. By paying either each time their ad is clicked (pay-per-click). Or less commonly, when their ad is displayed (eCPM or effective cost per mille) or when phone contact is generated, which is ‘pay per call’.”
Generally, any form of advertising (may it be digital or traditional) is the art of creating awareness of a business in the mind’s eye of a consumer. In most cases, soliciting an eventual sale of a product or service, however, its main job is awareness creation.
Related Topic: eCPM | How to Earn more from the ‘effective cost per mille’
Newer forms of online marketing may include any web-based medium. Such as social media, webpages, blogs, and online advertisements. However, more traditional types of advertisements still exist and prove to be quite effective to this day.
That said, with AI-powered insights and optimizations from the likes of Sprinklr Modern Advertising, you can automatically deliver personalized experiences across social channels — and scale top advertising campaign results.
Finally, I hope the above-revised guide was resourceful enough to you or even your marketing team. But, if you’ll have more questions in regards to this or more of our other blog research topics, please feel free to Contact Us and let us know. You can also share your additional thoughts, opinions, suggestions, or even contribution questions (for FAQ Answers) in our comments section.