Digital marketing has come a long way over the years. When the idea of advertising digitally was first introduced, you only had to worry about determining your campaign budget and then design a web-ad banner. Very few businesses were advertising this way and results were not as easy to quantify. Fortunately, digital marketing has evolved, and new practices like search engine marketing and paid search marketing have opened the door for measurable results and effective marketing campaigns.
Paid search marketing continues to be one of the most popular and commonly used types of digital advertising today. However, its complex analytics and a long list of available customization tools can deter many businesses who could otherwise benefit from them.
What is Paid Search Marketing?
Paid search marketing refers to a type of search engine marketing that allows businesses to pay to display their ads on search engine results pages (SERP). Google alone receives over 63,000 searches per second each day. Businesses that choose to implement paid search marketing into their marketing campaign can reach thousands of potential new customers daily. These ads are displayed at the top, bottom, or on the side of the search page along with the organic results.
Paid search marketing is a type of pay-per-click (PPC). You only pay for the traffic who clicks-through the ad rather than the number of impressions on the ad. However, if you would rather pay per the number of impressions, that is an option too. While Google is the most popular type of paid search marketing today, there are other forms available such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Bing, and Yahoo.
What is Search Engine Marketing?
As previously mentioned, search engine marketing (SEM) is a type of digital marketing. It includes both search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search. However, more recently, professionals will often use the term SEM to describe paid search only. Search engine marketing can include:
- Paid search
- Display ads
- Pay-per-click ads
- Cost-per-click ads
Search engine marketing uses keywords to connect customers to the websites and businesses that are most related to their search. The analytical and research tools available with search engine marketing allow businesses of all sizes to increase their traffic and conversion rates. Search engine marketing can also increase brand awareness and reach a targeted audience.
Benefits of Paid Search Marketing
There are many reasons to consider using paid search in your advertising campaign. Here are a few of the top benefits:
- Increase brand awareness
- Increase brand visibility
- Increase traffic to your website
- Increase your conversion rate
- Develop brand loyalty among the current audience
- Potential for the first page faster
As paid search advertising becomes a more research-backed practice, businesses across all industries can benefit from it. The tools available within paid advertising not only allows businesses to place their ads in front of a new audience but to track results to optimize their campaign and maximize their advertising spend.
What is Paid Search Results?
Paid search results are the click-through or conversion rates that you get when displaying an ad to a targeted audience. When determining how successful your results are, it is important first to identify your goal.
A few common goals of paid search advertising include:
- Encouraging customers to fill out a contact us form
- Encouraging customer to sign up for a mailing list
- Getting customers to make a phone call
- Having customer complete an online sale
Once you have determined your advertising goal, you can then decide how you will measure your results. You might compare the number of click-throughs on your ad to the number of people who fill out a contact form. You might also compare the number of clicks to how many people sign up for a mailing list. Your success will depend on the objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) of your marketing campaign.
By comparing your results in Google Analytics, you can determine which marketing efforts provide the best results. By finding less competitive keywords, you can reach your target audience for a lower price. Of course, the goal is to reach as many potential customers as possible at a price that still allows you to profit from a sale.
Is SEO Paid Search?
While you might have to invest a little to optimize your SEO strategy, it is not considered a paid search. SEO increases your organic rankings. When your business page appears on a list of search results in an organic method, you do not pay for these clicks. Consequently, you cannot pay to be on the top page listing either.
However, it is possible to optimize your page in a way that best meets the needs of the reader, thus increasing your chances that you do appear higher in the rankings. Many local brands aim to optimize their page so that they are not only on the first page of results but so that they are also listed in the local pack. The Google local pack is a list of local businesses that are more likely to relate to the internet user’s search. Google will display these results with local intent when they feel that a business is a good fit.
The great thing about SEO is that it can offer businesses the same benefits as paid search. However, SEO can take many months to optimize, whereas paid search can generate quick results. Many businesses choose to implement both in their search campaign.
This brings up the common question of which type of SEM you should focus on? It is important to consider the pros and cons of each one:
Pros and Cons of Search Engine Optimization Marketing
- You don’t have to pay to reach the first page (However, you do need to factor in content creation and time for strategy)
- The cost of SEO is ongoing
- Reaching the first page can take much longer
- SEO customers may be looking for information and are not necessarily ready to complete a purchase
Pros and Cons of Paid Search Marketing
- You can reach the first page relatively quick with the right keywords and campaign strategy
- You only pay when a potential customer clicks through your advertisement
- Keywords can be expensive in some markets
- PPC customers are more likely to convert
Both SEO and paid search require a careful marketing strategy and knowledge of the best ways to optimize your campaign. One is not necessarily better than the other. It depends on your marketing goals and the type of business you have. Additionally, in many cases, it actually makes sense to implement a strategy that includes both. This allows you to quickly generate leads and conversions while putting into plan an organic strategy that will continue to increase your business.
Another benefit of paid search ads is that they can increase your brand’s awareness. SEO is an effective strategy that can take time to complete the same goal. Even when users do not click your ad, they are identifying with your brand. If they continue to notice your brand when searching for relevant items or services, they are more likely to consider you when they are ready to buy. This frequent display of your brand’s name will increase the customer’s trust with your brand.
Why is Paid Search Important?
As the number of available marketing platforms increases, businesses are moving toward techniques and strategies that are measurable. Paid search allows you to control your ad spend while also calculating your results. Marketers can use this information to optimize their campaign prior to implementing it, allowing them to maximize their campaign results.
Paid search is also important because it targets the customer when they are more likely to buy. Other forms of digital marketing, including social media and banner ads, target other parts of the buying cycle. Paid search ads instead, target the customer when they have already typed in what they are looking for, showing intent to buy something.
The customers that you receive from paid search are also customers who are searching for a service or product that is relevant to your business. This is why it is so important to implement keywords, both organically and paid, into your content to reach these relevant customers. Keyword research and the identification of long-tail keywords can be very effective in reaching the exact customer who is more likely to complete a sale with your business. Businesses can also use the available tools within Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Facebook to target the exact buying interests and habits of their ideal customer.
Difference Between Paid Search and Display Ads
Chances are, if you have been researching your online marketing options, you have come across both paid search and display ads. Understanding the difference between the two can help you choose the marketing technique that is right for your business and its goals.
Paid search ads differ from display ads in that they are displayed on the search engine results page, whereas display ads are displayed on the actual website. Display ads will show up as a banner image or video and paid search ads instead, suggest that users choose their website.
Again, the best one for your business depends on your campaign objectives. Here are a few key benefits to know between the two:
- Paid search allows you to reach customers who are searching for the exact keywords that match your product or service.
- Display advertising can increase brand awareness and loyalty with your brand across multiple channels.
- Display advertising allows you to be creative with your ad copy and visuals, allowing you to stand out from your competitors.
- Paid search can lead to highly qualified leads with measurable results.
Depending on your campaign objectives, it might make sense to implement both types of ads into your marketing campaign.
Who Uses Paid Search Ads?
Paid search ads are one of the most common types of digital marketing channels used, regardless of the type of business. Both large and small businesses benefit from the conversion capabilities of paid search. Likely, your competitors are already using paid search advertising in one method or another.
You can determine if paid search ads are right for you by comparing the cost of the ads versus the cost of the product you are trying to sell. The cost of the search ads varies, depending on the keyword and how many other businesses are targeting that same keyword. The cost can be as cheap as a few cents or as much as thousands of dollars.
Fortunately, the platform allows you to set a price range. You can determine how much you are willing to pay for your ad to be displayed, while also setting a limit on the entire campaign. You can also identify less competitive long-tail keywords that fit in your marketing budget.
Paid search ads are very effective for smaller businesses that work in a local setting. Service businesses like lawyers, wedding photographers, repairmen, and landscapers might wonder why they need to market to customers online when they complete their services in person. Google reports that approximately 46% of all its searches are for local items. One of the first things that customers do when they require a service locally is to search online. Your paid search ads will direct these customers to your website, while also providing them with your local phone number or address. It is even possible for businesses to direct traffic with their search campaign directly to a landing page that allows them to make an appointment or schedule a consultation.
Paid search ads are also effective for smaller businesses because they can be affordable, especially in the local industry. Because you pay based on the competitiveness of the keyword, businesses that complete services in the local industry are less likely to have a lot of competition. PPC also allows small businesses to completely optimize their marketing budget by controlling spend and carefully tracking results.
Retail businesses, both locally and entirely online, can also benefit from paid search ads. Internet users who are searching for a specific item are already considering buying that item. Whether it is a vehicle or a new entertainment system, paid search allows you to place your product front and center in their search process. These products are displayed in a carousel method, marked with the term sponsored, which means that the business is paying for them.
Additionally, many studies show that many consumers are not even able to determine the difference between the top organic result and the paid results, meaning paid search like AdWords, is a very effective digital method.
Optimizing Your Paid Search Ad for the Highest ROI
Optimizing your paid search ad will allow you to maximize your budget and get the best results possible, getting you a higher return on your investment (ROI). You can optimize your search campaign based on specific search terms or ad groups. You can also adjust your ad copy or AdWords targeting based on your prior results.
Consider a few of these tips to optimize your search campaign:
- Narrow in your location: If your business offers services or products locally, it is important to narrow in on your exact location. Choose the cities and target areas where your customers live and work.
- Do keyword research: Keywords are the basis of both your organic and paid search marketing. Identifying which keywords your customers are searching for and how competitive they are is an important part of optimizing your paid search ad campaign. Adjust your search terms as needed to reach the most relevant audience.
- Get creative: Because the goal of your paid search ads is to reach the largest number of potential customers at the lowest price, you might need to get creative with your keywords. Use a good mix of exact, phrase, broad, and modified match keywords and take advantage of tools like Google Keyword to create an effective keyword strategy for your campaign.
- Follow Google’s guidelines: Google has certain text limit guidelines in place that allow your ads to be displayed in the best way possible. Following these guidelines is crucial in optimizing your advertisements and ensuring that the user has a great experience.
In addition to these tips, it is also important to keep things like relevancy and off-site optimization in mind. Google wants to provide the internet user with the best experience possible, and that means displaying results and ads that are most relevant and useful to the customer. It also means providing search results that are free from coding or interface error.
Analyzing Your Paid Search Campaign Results
The in-depth analytics available through PPC platforms like Google and Facebook allow you to track your paid ad results. With these tools, you can measure every aspect of your campaign. Not only do these tools allow you to determine how many people are clicking the ad or how many are converting, but how much of your total overall sales come from these advertisements. This data will become valuable in planning future campaigns while also optimizing your current campaign to reach the highest ROI.
GEO-Targeting and Paid Search
Geo-targeting is one of the newer tools used in the digital marketing industry. Geo-targeting allows you to target potential customers based on their location. This is an especially powerful tool when used by local businesses. Combining geo-targeting with paid search ads means you can pay to display your ads in front of the exact customer who is not only more likely to interact with your brand but is also currently near its location.
Geo-targeting is an AdWords feature that customizes the placement of your ads based on the customer’s current location or locations that they frequently visit. This can be especially useful for restaurants, hotels, events, and car dealerships.
Bing and Yahoo Search Ads
Google has captured much of the paid search market. However, Bing and Yahoo Search ads are still relevant. Bing ads work similar to Google ads, except that they are displayed a little differently. Bing search results allow for an additional line of text beneath the image of the advertisement. This is in lieu of Google maps. While Bing does not have as much of the search market, it can be a great way to decrease your ad spend because fewer businesses choose this channel.
Yahoo Search Ads still has a relatively small but important part of the search ad market. Fortunately, with new changes, businesses can reach Yahoo Search users through Bing Ads, allowing them to extend your reach.
The Implications of Mobile Search
In a world where 48% of buyers use their mobile device to begin their search process, including mobile targeting in your marketing campaign, is more important than ever before. Paid search also allows you to target potential customers based on the device they are using when searching for a keyword.
Targeting paid ads to users on their mobile phones means you can reach them with they are most active. While the strategy of optimizing a mobile paid search ad campaign is similar to any other type of campaign, it is important to create a call to action that is mobile-based and that focuses on landing pages that are mobile-friendly.
Search engine marketing is expected to increase in terms of importance. Brands who have found success with channels like AdWords and SEO will allocate a larger portion of the marketing budget for even greater success. Smaller businesses that have yet to find their digital placement will test out different channels until they find the one that works for them.
The tools and analytics that are included in paid search and search engine marketing, in general, allow marketers to create effective and measurable marketing campaigns. With a carefully planned and optimized campaign, businesses have the capability to increase traffic within set ad groups and increase their brand awareness significantly.