Your digital marketing strategy is made up of many components, each aiming to drive more traffic to your website, resulting in more leads, more conversions, and ultimately, more revenue for your business. Paid search can be an effective part of your marketing strategy when you use it correctly. Before you start building your paid search plan, it’s important to understand what paid search is, how it works, and what types of paid search are most effective.

 

What Can Paid Search Do for Your Business?

At its core, paid search is a digital marketing technique where search engines allow businesses to show ads on search engine results pages (SERPs). These ads appear in the results when a user types a certain keyword into the search bar, and you bid on the keywords that you want to rank for. So if your business sold car insurance in Connecticut, and you wanted to get your ad on the SERP for the keywords “car insurance in Connecticut,” you can bid on these keywords. When someone clicks on your ad to learn more, you pay for each click. This means it’s easier to control how much you spend on advertising, and it’s simple to measure your success. 

Millions of searches are conducted on search engines every minute of every day, which means paid search is an extremely powerful tool if you know how to use it. When you use the right keywords and techniques, you’ll get your products and services in front of those who are actively searching for what you have to offer. In essence, paid search helps your audience find you without you needing to rely on aggressive, in-your-face marketing, which is becoming less popular over time. Consumers want to know that they have the power to make their own buying decisions, so they will conduct research before making a buying decision. Paying to appear on SERPs can help them find you during their research.

 

How Does Paid Search Work?

Unlike organic search engine optimization, paid search focuses directly on ads instead of the content on your website. When looking to create a paid search ad, you must start by choosing who you’ll show your ad to. You can narrow it down to specific demographics that match with the audience you’re trying to target. If you’re focusing on a local audience, it’s important to choose an area like a city, town, or ZIP code that your ad will target. This means if a user is searching for something specific to their area like “car repair near me,” or “closest hair salon,” you’ll appear in their results. You can also choose the keywords you’re looking to advertise for. These are the terms that people are searching for.  You can use a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to learn about which keywords are popular for businesses in your industry, how many people are searching for these terms monthly, and how much competition there is for these keywords. If there’s a lot of competition for a keyword, this means you’ll end up paying more for each click you get.

When looking at your keywords, you’ll need to choose how closely you’d like them to match what people are searching for. Four different keyword match types will help to determine who your ads are shown to:

  • Exact match – When you use exact match keywords, your ads will only be shown to someone who searches the exact term you choose (including plurals and spelling mistakes).
  • Phrase match – With phrase match, your ads will be shown when someone types in a phrase that includes your keywords. For example, if your keywords are “men’s ties,” your ads can be shown to someone who searches for “men’s ties in purple.”
  • Broad match – With broad match, your ads are shown to someone who may search your keywords out of order, or may use synonyms. If your keywords are “men’s ties”, your ad can be shown to someone who searches for “blue neckties for men.”
  • Modified broad – This is similar to broad match, where it doesn’t matter what order the searcher types your keywords. However, synonyms in the search don’t count. If your keyword is “men’s ties,” your ad could be shown to someone who searches for “ties for men,” but not to someone who searches for “neckties for men.”

After you choose your keywords and who your ads will target, it’s time to actually create the ads that users will see when they search for one of your keywords. Ads are made up of three components, a first headline, a second headline, and a description. Each headline can have a max of 30 characters, while your description can be up to 80. You’ll want to create headlines that grab your audience, and explain what makes your product or service unique as concisely as possible. Close your description with a direct call to action. Remember, your goal is to entice people to click. 

Finally, before you launch your ad, you’ll have to set your bid. This is how much you’re willing to pay for each click. Your bid, in combination with your quality score, determines what ad spot you’ll be in on the SERP. Your quality score is calculated based on three factors: the expected click-through rate for your ad, your ad’s relevance to your keywords, and the landing page that your ad links to.

 

What Types of Paid Search Are There?

There are many types of paid search to utilize, and each can provide unique advantages. Here are some of the most common types:

  • Search Engine Text Ads – in most of the given examples above, we looked at search engine text ads. These ads appear directly on SERPs and can help you target audiences when they are researching solutions to their problems or answers to their questions. Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) is the most common platform for these types of ads. 
  • Google Shopping Ads – you’ve likely seen these types of ads when searching for a specific product. They appear at the top of Google searches and include images of the product and the price. These are great if you have a specific product to sell and they often have a lower cost-per-conversion than traditional text ads. 
  • Native Ads – native ads appear on websites and are made to look exactly like website content. You may see these at the bottom of news articles or blog posts. They often contain an image and text and blend in with the other content on the site. All native ads must disclose that they are sponsored posts. 
  • Remarketing Ads – an extremely small percentage of website visitors make a purchase during their first visit to a site.  Remarketing ads track what products users look at and put into their carts, and will advertise these products to them on other websites in a network. For example, if you searched for a blender, looked around at a few different products, and then went on with other web browsing, you may see an ad for a blender on another site. This is due to remarketing ads. These types of ads can be very useful to remind people of your brand. 
  • Social Media Ads – these ads often appear in social media feeds and may look like native content. They can also appear in the sidebar or on other areas of social media pages. With social media being so popular, advertising on these platforms is extremely logical, and most social platforms have smart advertising algorithms built in to help you create a successful ad. 
  • Banner Ads – in the past, banner ads got a pretty poor reputation for being annoying, but ad blockers have gotten pretty good at weeding out these annoying ads. This means that advertisers have to create banner ads that feel truthful and authentic and stay away from aggressive or in-your-face techniques that people don’t want to see. 

Get Started With Paid Search

Paid search can give your marketing strategy a serious boost, and you don’t have to have a huge budget to get started. Incorporating paid search with other strategies like search engine optimization, email marketing, and social media marketing can give you a well-rounded marketing plan that can help your business succeed. For more tips on how to get started with paid search, contact us