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A Guide To Paid Search

Whether your business is big or small, paid search can drive traffic to your website or app, regardless of how highly you rank in ordinary search results.

In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know about paid search, from what it’s all about to whether it’s right for your marketing strategy.

What is paid search?

You probably use a search engine several times a day, and you may know that the results that appear most highly are what Google or Bing think are the most relevant web pages, based on how authoritative, reliable and popular they are.

Appearing as one of these top ranking pages can be a challenge, and that’s something we try to achieve through search engine optimisation (SEO).

But above these so-called ‘organic’ results, you’ll also see items which have paid to take a shortcut to the top, using paid search.

Paid search is an excellent means of quickly driving more traffic to your site because the first result on a search is the first thing you see so you’re more inclined to read it and click on it.

Utilising the Google or Bing ads platform, you can pay a fee to promote your results to appear above the rest. In other words, paid search is an effective way of getting your business seen by customers at a crucial time in their decision-making period.

You’ll often see paid search named PPC or pay per click, which describes the way that you’ll pay for this kind of search advertising: You pay the search engine a sum of money every time someone clicks on your ad. This means there’s a direct connection between what a campaign costs and what it delivers for your business, but there are a lot of variables that determine the fee, as we’ll explain.

Why is paid search important for business?

The influx of traffic you can generate through being shown at the top of relevant search results can increase brand awareness, generate leads and convert them into e-commerce sales so it can have a huge impact.

You can use PPC to market a product or service or as part of an awareness campaign and it can be used as a standalone strategy for new businesses, or form a part of a wider marketing mix or campaign.

You have a great deal of control over what you can say in your advert and you get immediate insights into its performance, enabling you to tweak your advert and optimise it to generate more, better leads for your business.

Hence, paid search is an excellent way to reach your customer at the exact moment they are searching for your product or service; without more long-term investment in SEO.

How to plan a paid search campaign

While search advertising can be very effective, you must have a well thought out plan for your campaign to be a success. Going in blindly risks wasting budget without seeing profitable returns.

You should begin this process by considering your goals: Are you wanting to cast a wide net and increase your brand awareness by displaying your ad everywhere? Or are you wanting to dial into a niche market in order to drive sales?

There are benefits and drawbacks of either option so you need to work out what’s best for you.

The next step would be to analyse the current market: Think carefully about the customer you want to reach, and what they will be searching for when you want to reach them. You should use the keyword planner tool within Google Ads to plan the words and phrases people will search to come across your adverts.

Take the time while using this tool to note down the projected costs and competitiveness of your chosen keywords because some keywords cost more than others. This is especially the case with terms people commonly search for when they’re looking for a product or service.

How To Structure Your Paid Search Campaigns

Once you have planned out your campaigns, it’s time to think about the structure you want to deploy. Think about the keywords you have planned out and segment them into tightly knit groups based on their search intent, these are your ad groups. 

Once you select the keywords you wish to target, consider which match type you think would be best to use:

  • Exact Match: Your keyword typed in word-for-word
  • Phrase Match: Ads may show on searches including your keyword
  • Broad Match: Ads may show on searches related your keyword

Broad match is generally recommended by Google in 2024, but is not suitable for all keywords. Consider the types of searches that may be included within each match type.

You should then tailor your ads in each ad group to suit the keywords. Make sure to include plenty of mention of all your keywords in order to improve your quality score.

How To Manage Your Paid Search Campaigns

Paid search campaigns require close attention, particularly during their infant stages because you’ll want to ensure that your chosen keywords are delivering profitable results. 

There are a number of key factors to monitor and optimise when managing your campaigns, including:

Search Terms

Take a regular look at your search term report for each ad group. Do the search terms align with your expectations? If not, consider adding some offenders to your negative keyword list. Or, if that doesn’t help, reevaluate your chosen match type for the affected keyword. 

Conversion Quality

It’s important to ensure that your paid ads return the sales value you need to make them worthwhile. This can be easy to decipher if you are running ads for e-commerce products but can be a little more ambiguous if you are collecting leads. Be sure to work through a sample of your leads regularly to ensure that they are of high quality. 

Keyword Quality Score

Quality score is a crucial metric used by Google to rank your ads. Google combines this ranking with your bid to decide your cost-per-click. To bring down your CPC focus on the quality of your ads and your landing page by continually split-testing. 

Do you need a PPC specialist?

Although you can manage your own paid search campaigns, there is a lot to bear in mind and you should keep a close eye on your campaigns and their performance which can be time consuming and unnerving.

At Carrington, we specialise in PPC paid search campaign management, helping your campaigns to be as cost effective and impactful as possible so your money goes much further.

You can find out more about our paid search advertising services here, or get in touch to find out how we can help your business.