Paid Search: Reaching for that Number 1 Spot

Published 12 November 2019 by Philippa Gamse

“I want to be Number 1 in the search engines!”  

If you’re in search marketing, you’ve almost certainly heard this cry of many business owners, managers or clients.  It makes sense for them – naturally they want their products and services to be immediately visible to prospective customers.  And perhaps they know that the first three search results on the page tend to receive more than 40% of the total clicks.

Unfortunately, nowadays this goal can be very difficult to achieve. Search engine results pages (SERPs) can include a lot of different components in addition to the organic (unpaid) listings, from carousels to knowledge boxes, images and videos.  There’s a lot of competition for space – and usually, a lot of similar products or services vying for the same limited placements.

But search engines are also businesses that need to make money, which means that paid ads will always appear among the first results and in other prominent areas of SERPs.  So if you’re prepared to spend the money, you can potentially buy your way to the top.

In pay per click (PPC) advertising, you’re only charged when searchers actually click on your ad.  It’s the primary method of advertising within search engines because it’s so powerful – it allows users to define what they’re looking for by their search, and to be connected with the results – including ads – that are most likely to meet their needs.  So it’s a win-win for both users and advertisers.

PPC advertising has a number of advantages, including:

  • If you have the necessary budget, your ad can start to show immediately, in contrast to the much longer time that it takes for organic listings take to be indexed.
  • You can specify when you want your ads to show – by categories such as device type, location, days of the week or times of day.  You can also define the types of audience that you’re looking for.
  • Your results are clear and measurable, allowing you to discontinue ads that aren’t working, to test and refine your ad copy and your landing pages (where visitors are taken when they click), and to reallocate your ad spend to generate the optimal return on investment.
  • The data about the keywords, promotions, and target audiences that you gather from your ad campaigns can be very helpful in informing other marketing efforts.

Now you might have heard that people don’t tend to click on paid search results – or maybe you personally prefer not to use them.  Perhaps you feel that ads are by definition biased and promoting their product, and so you instinctively trust the unpaid listings more.  But surprisingly, recent studies show that 65% of searchers who are ready to make a purchase click on paid ads, as opposed to only 35% who click on the organic results.  So PPC ads can be highly valuable if you’re able to catch the eye of a potential buyer at just the right time.

Of course, running effective PPC campaigns takes some know-how and practice.  You’ll need to research possible keywords and to think carefully about what your ads will say, and about the design of your landing pages.  You’ll have to assign your budget across all of your different ads, and understand how to interpret the reports that you’ll receive from the search engines.  And because there are many different pieces that can change often you’ll have to do this on an ongoing basis.

But don’t worry – we’re here to help.  Our new PPC course will give you a solid grounding and some best practices to get started.  So jump in and start shooting for that Number 1 spot!

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