Paid search advertising is the placement of adverts on web pages that display search results. This includes the large search engines such as Google and Bing, but it could technically be found on any search engine results page (SERP). The most well known paid search platforms are Google Adwords and Bing Adwords.
This form of advertising is not seen as intrusive because people use search engines to find out information, and therefore have a specific intent. It is therefore possible to place adverts that are highly relevant to the user’s search making it a really attractive advertising medium for growth marketers. This means that you can get your product/service in front of people that are looking for it or something similar.
The way advertising is targeted in paid search is through the use of keywords. When a user uses a search engine, they will type in a question or phrase, enabling businesses to place adverts around those keywords that they believe are relevant to their business. This means that adverts are highly targeted to the need of that searcher.
One of the main benefits of paid search advertising is that advertisers can connect with users across the range of their buying journey and ensure relevant content is provided at the right moment. For example is a user is researching ‘gift ideas for xmas’ it would be great to target users searching for generically and provide a resource that helped people get ideas or perhaps a tool to help them decide. This way a business can be sure to be in the consciousness of the searcher during the consideration phase of purchasing. As the intent of the search increases can a business can make the content delivered more specific. For example when a user types in ‘buy leather wallets brown’ it would be appropriate to then serve an advert that took users directly to a page with a range of brown leather wallets for purchase.
This form of advertising is called Pay Per Click (PPC) and advertisers can buy adverts via an auction, effectively placing a bid on keywords to show how much they would be willing to pay for a click, which is known as the Cost Per Click (CPC). Another key component of PPC is the Quality Score (QS), which is how a search engine decides how relevant the content you are taking users to is to the keywords you’re bidding on. For example if you were bidding on ‘buy leather wallets brown’ and taking users to a page where you can purchase a red bicycle the search engine will downgrade your QS. Therefore it is important to ensure the content you are taking users to is really relevant to the keywords that you are bidding on.
The search engine will display the advert with a combination of the highest bid and those with high QS. If you have a really QC you can actually expect to be displayed above other advertisers with a higher bid but lower QS. Therefore, making sure you are looking out for the user experience from search is critical to the success of paid search advertising.
Testing into these paid search channels needs to take into consideration how the platform specific algorithms work. Using this channels it is important to manage your own expectations, as things can start slowly as campaigns are configured and optimised. Whilst you build out search campaigns testing is continuous, as a range of functional and campaignsThere are others areas that would fall under the category of paid search advertising that should be understood such as: