Paid Search Advertising 101

/ Thoughtspace - Programmatic, Strategy

Do you ever wish you could wave a magic wand to drive your customers through the sales funnel faster? Something that cuts the time needed to build awareness and pushes them straight through to consideration? Good news – one of the most tried and true digital marketing tactics can do just that. Enter: paid search advertising. 

Organic Search vs Paid Search

When looking at search engines as a marketing opportunity, it is important to know the distinction between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid search, also known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM). 

SEO is the process of optimizing your website to be more appealing to search engines. This increases the chances that your site will show up organically in search results. SEM is a marketing channel where you create search ads to show when specific terms are searched and then pay when your ad is clicked. 

While you can implement some aspects of SEO in SEM design, SEO primarily requires time and human resources whereas SEM requires that plus financial investment in the search marketing platform (Google, Bing, etc.). However, the best results occur when SEO and SEM are seamlessly integrated, optimizing toward your overarching business goals.

Why You Should Incorporate Paid Search Into Your Marketing Strategy

Paid search marketing is a must-have advertising channel for most any brand. There’s a multitude of reasons why, but the primary benefits are:

  1. Cost efficiency: Only pay for ad clicks, rather than impressions which may or may not provide any value. 
  2. Competitive advantage: Ability to strategically target and bid on competitor search terms to place yourself as the alternative or preferred option. It’s an excellent tool to level the playing field among businesses.
  3. Conversion-driving: Paid search is a strong driver for site traffic. Highlight your most high value landing pages or educational content by showing up for common search queries. 

Implementing paid search in your marketing mix is highly influential, especially for driving lower down-funnel results. It presents a unique avenue to reach audiences with high intent. If a user is searching for terms that demonstrate interest in the product or service, they are immediately exhibiting more value than a user who simply sees a banner ad. In the latter case, you are hoping to pique their interest. With search, they are already interested or in-market for products or services similar to yours, and are that much closer to selecting your brand. 

Broad Match, Exact Match and Phrase Match: Keyword Targeting Options

Exact match keywords are what they sound like: targeting searches that match exactly to your target keywords. Broad match expands your reach to show your ads in searches related to your terms. An example of a broad match targeting is if a brand targets the phrase “low carb diet plan” and then has their ad show up when “Mediterranean diet book” is searched. 

Phrase match provides a middle ground between in between exact match and broad match. With phrase match, your ad will show up for searches that include your targeted terms but can include other relevant words. These other relevant words are often adjectives and additional descriptors helping the user narrow their search, but your ad will still show.

Use a strategic combination of these keyword targeting options to show up in the highest opportunity searches for your brand. 

Responsive Search vs Dynamic Search Ads 

Responsive search ads are the most common ad type within Google Ads. This format allows marketers to add up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions. The search algorithm then cycles through and tests, optimizing towards the combinations driving the greatest amount of desired actions based on your campaign objective. Responsive search ads are great for those looking to create flexible ads that can reach a variety of people. 

Dynamic search ads pull headlines and other ad content directly from a brand’s website. These are excellent for targeting people who know exactly what they want and are using intent-based search terms. The Google algorithm can pick up on things from your website that you may not think to add manually. If you are looking for an ad format that constantly updates with your website, dynamic search is a great choice.

Best Practices for Paid Search Campaigns

Building a search campaign differs from programmatic or social campaigns because audiences are of lesser importance. Instead, keywords are king in search campaigns. Knowing the specific terms associated with the product or service you are promoting is essential. Use keyword research to understand what people are searching, how the target audience speaks, and what information is most valuable to them. Then, further the reach of those terms using both broad match and exact match search terms. 

To maintain high-performing search campaigns, it’s important to consistently monitor search terms. With broad and phrase match keywords, it’s possible to show up for terms that do not align with your brand or campaign goals. In Google Ads specifically, you can view every search term your ad appeared for. Then create an exclusion list for words and phrases you no longer want to appear alongside. Making this a regular practice is important to ensure all campaign traffic is relevant and has the potential for conversion. Keyword blacklists also help optimize for cost per click (CPC). By analyzing performance, you can avoid paying expensive CPCs on keywords that do not have high intent or are not driving website conversions. 

Everyone uses search engines, make sure your brand does too. Test out various keyword tactics and ad formats using both organic and paid search to find your competitive edge. Then, use these tips to fast track your conversions. 

Need a strategic partner to manage your paid search advertising campaigns?

Contact Coegi for a discovery call today. 

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