Paid search is a type of online advertising in which companies pay to have their websites displayed prominently on search engine results pages. These advertisements are clearly labelled as advertisements and appear as text-based links next to or above organic search results. Contrary to popular belief, the ad does not cost anything to place; rather, businesses are charged when users interact with (i.e. click) the ad.
What is a paid search strategy: The core elements
While each business and business plan is unique, the core process and components of a successful PPC campaign are similar:
Phase 1: Planning
In this phase, the target audience, desired results, budget, and KPIs are all identified while a thorough understanding of the market competition is developed.
The research process begins with keyword research, the customer journey, and a competitive landscape analysis. To use an overused analogy, this section is all about determining where you are right now and cannot be skipped.
This may seem self-evident, but the PPC strategy should always complement – and even enhance – the overall business and marketing strategies. This means that the objectives of a PPC campaign must be directly related to one of those strategic goals. If the strategic goal is to raise awareness, for example, one might want to see a top-of-the-funnel PPC strategy that includes remarketing and display ads, as well as the associated KPIs.
This brings us to the budget. If a business is working with a professional PPC agency or consultant, they must first differentiate between their ad spend and fees and budget for both.
Phase 2: Execution
This phase focuses on creating compelling copy, optimising landing pages, and building accounts to ensure greater PPC success.
Campaigns, ad groups, keywords, and ad copy are all part of the basic account structure. The number of campaigns will be determined by a variety of factors, including the various services or products, locations, paid search types, and so on.
The quality scores mentioned earlier have a direct impact on whether or not an ad appears. It’s essentially a diagnostic tool that Google uses to compare the quality of an ad to that of other advertisers.
The first step in ensuring or improving this quality score is to ensure that the ad copy not only contains the keyword but is also relevant to that keyword. Experienced ad copywriters will also ensure that the copy is compelling and optimised – a balancing act that, given the limited number of characters, can become quite technical.
Phase 3: Optimisation
This is an ongoing phase in which overall and individual campaign performance data are used to make adjustments for improved performance.
Negative keyword list
Negative keywords are keywords that a company does not want to rank for. Because we’re talking about paid search, this means keywords that will not appear in irrelevant searches, which may increase bounce rates and lower quality score.
Instead, a negative keyword list can help improve campaign efficiency, drive more traffic to the website, and boost conversions.
A/B testing is a critical component of optimization, and it simply refers to running two variations of the same ad to see which one performs better.
The most important aspect of A/B testing is determining which variable you’re testing, as there can be many – ad copy, landing page design, CTAs, and so on.
Paid search strategy measurement and reporting are just as important as the rest of marketing. These reports should address the PPC strategy objectives, and Google Ads provides a variety of useful information.
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