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5 min read

Launching a Paid Search Campaign? Here's How to Start

8/14/20 8:30 AM

Customer reviewing online search results on a smartphone

You’ve likely heard of paid search or may already be familiar with it by now. Many businesses may have waited to add paid search to their marketing strategy before, viewing it as an option that could come later. But with people spending most of their time at home and online—consuming media, researching, browsing and shopping—, well, paid search is now a must.

Paid search has always been a great strategy when it comes to growing your leads. But if your company is new to the digital landscape, or simply hasn’t been leveraging this option very efficiently, you may need more information before you’re comfortable with it. 

So we decided to cover everything you need to know below.

What exactly is paid search?

Simply put, paid search is a type of digital marketing in which search engines—primarily, Google—allow advertisers to purchase ads in their search results. It’s like when you purchase an ad space in a magazine, but instead of a magazine, it’s the Google results page. 

The ads appear in the top two search result spots, or also at the bottom of the page. Try it—go ahead, search anything—and you’ll see ads right at the top of your results. The ads are easy to point out because they’re marked as ads by the search engine. 

This form of advertising is built on a pay-per-click model, frequently abbreviated to PPC, which means you’re only charged when someone actually clicks on your ad, not just by the number of times your ad is displayed—also known as impressions—which can always fluctuate. This model makes the most sense. With PPC, you pay for exactly what you’re buying: clicks to your website. The lower your average cost per click (CPC), the better your ad is performing. 

You’ll notice that paid search ads don’t include an image or video content, only text. Understandably, you might be wondering why these types of ads still generate a significant return on investment, which leads us to our next question. 

What’s the benefit of paid search for your business?

Let’s remember, there are thousands upon thousands of searches happening every second online. When you invest in paid search, you’re able to reach an audience actively looking for your product or service. Of course, as we all know, warm leads are the best leads. With paid search, we already know a user has the intent to browse or purchase. 

You’re reaching people at just the right time when they’re already curious about what you have to offer. Placed strategically in search results, your ad can drive a tremendous amount of traffic to your website, almost immediately. And even if a user doesn’t click on your ad, exposing your brand name in search results can contribute to brand recognition, often leading to a later sale. 

How do you actually appear on paid search?

Essentially, you’ll bid on particular keywords, which is basically a term that people search in relation to a topic. Whether your ad appears on those keywords is up to the search engine, based on an auction. For example, let’s say you’re a commercial real estate firm looking to rank for the keyword “short term rental in Los Angeles.” You’ll be competing with all the other advertisers who are also trying to rank for that keyword. 

A big factor in whether your ad is shown depends on something called the “ad quality score.” Technically, the factors that Google uses to create this score is not actually known, but most digital marketers agree that it’s all about an ad’s relevance, the expected click-through rate (CTR), and the landing page experience—AKA, how relevant the page you send a user to is to that person’s search query. 

So, ultimately, you want to make sure that your ads are crafted carefully, in addition to choosing the most relevant keywords possible. 

Why do keywords matter so much in paid search?

Keywords are huge! In paid search, you can choose which ads you want to show up for, and also how much you are willing to bid for a click. If you bid more, you’re likely to outrank competitors who bid less. 

Additionally, it’s smart to choose keywords that have a bit lower competition. As a rule of thumb, usually, you don’t want to pick keywords that are highly competitive, because you’ll have a hard time ranking for them and you’ll also have to spend quite a lot more. 

If you are able to choose a keyword that is a bit less competitive, but still highly relevant to your business, that’s when you know you’ve struck gold. To use the example above, it’s the difference between choosing a keyword like “renting in Los Angeles” and choosing “short term furnished rental in Los Angeles.” Oftentimes, the more specific you can be, the better. Using specific locations, for example, is a winning technique. 

What makes a high-performing ad in paid search?

When it comes to paid search, you’ll get limitless data on your ad performance. It’s crucial to know which data is the most important. It can quickly become overwhelming. 

Knowing how to optimize a running campaign is a skill in itself. Once your paid search ad campaign starts, you can then adjust your bid by device, hour, location, audience, etc. There’s definitely a very specific science to paid search optimization, and if you’re feeling lost already, it can be helpful to consider hiring an expert to optimize your ads for you. 

Don’t forget that the copy you use in your ad, AKA the way your ad is written, matters quite a lot. Test different variations of your ad copy to see which receives the highest CTR. Be sure to implement call-to-action statements and ensure your ad copy clearly communicates your message, as concisely as possible. 

Getting started is easy, but interpreting your results and making sure every dollar counts can get more difficult. If you need help creating a winning paid search strategy to generate qualified leads, contact us to start seeing the results your business needs.

Jennifer Pellerito
Written by Jennifer Pellerito

Jennifer, a content expert, collaborates with brands on copywriting, social media strategy, and blogging to create compelling content that resonates with audiences.

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