Paid search is an inbound advertising channel that matches searcher intent with relevant ads intended to meet consumer needs. It is advertising within the search results of a search engine. Essentially, you’re putting your ad on the search engine in front of people who are actively looking for it. And the word active is really important.
Let’s explore how user intent is the fundamental differentiator for search advertising, and how we can use it to leverage business objectives.
Let’s look at the search as a whole. Now, search as a whole incorporates paid search and organic search or SEO. They look quite similar. There are a lot of similarities across things like site links, clickable headlines, and different things like that. But there is a fundamental difference on the backend to how they’re actually deployed.
Here, you can see that the search ad appears at the top. Generally, the search ads always appear above the natural listings or the organic listings, because from a search engine’s perspective, they want to drive more traffic to clicks that they will ultimately get paid for. Search ads tend to be above the organic listings, but there are some other differentiators.
Similarities between paid and search
There are a lot of similarities between paid search and organic search.
Both have headlines that are clickable, and both have site links. These are the links just below the ad, or indeed the organic copy, that contain a little snippet of information that will drive us deeper into the site, and they both contain descriptions, or meta descriptions as they are known in SEO.
So there are similarities but there are differentiators too. If you look closely at that search ad, you can see, at the very top there, you can see a little tiny icon on the top left-hand corner that says ad, that in itself just indicates that it’s an ad.
And there are other enhancements around phone numbers, around different rich snippets, and other site links and ad extensions that will also differentiate it. Now we’re going to go through all of that later. And as you become more familiar with the features of search advertising, it will be like second nature to you, to be able to pick out the difference between search and in the organic world and the paid search world.
Differences between paid and organic search #
There are some key differences between the two search types.
With paid search advertising you’re obviously paying for the traffic. So it’s built on what’s called a PPC model, or CPC model, which is a pay-per-click or cost-per-click as other people call it. Sometimes people refer to paid search as PPC. And PPC, it’s become a synonym for paid search. So even though it is actually the pricing model, it is also another word for paid search.
In terms of speed and accuracy, we do find that because paid search is a more instantaneous medium, you can get up to the very top of Google or Yahoo or Bing, or whatever engine you’re actually operating on far quicker than your organic optimization, which is really about driving content and links and website development. It can be a less controlled process than with paid search which is pretty much telling Google, “I want these keywords, this ad copy, and I want to appear in position one, and I’m willing to pay for it.” So while there are differences and similarities between the two, I suppose the biggest and most obvious difference is the speed by which paid search kind of trumps the organic world, and that is really the key differentiator between the two.
Though they do serve different aspects of the consumer funnel, which we’ll go into later, speed is something you should always have in the back your mind when considering promotions and different things like that. Bear this in mind when deciding whether you should deploy an organic strategy or whether you should deploy a paid search strategy, or indeed how the two can work together. And remember, they can work together very effectively to deliver amplified results across the marketing mix.
Strategic considerations #
What are the key strategic considerations?
Filling gaps with your organic results is a key facet of search marketing. You can very quickly understand what searches are not being served within the organic world or indeed being served on pages far lower than users are actually seeing.
So if there’s a particular keyword or type of keyword that you want to serve on, you can very quickly fill that with paid search whereas with organic, it can take time to rank, to index, and to build the content, and the domain authority to drive the, I suppose, sufficient rank to get significant traffic for that keyword. So paid search can just fill the gaps left by organic search.
If you are ranking too low with your organic, you can push it up by paying for it with paid search. And that will just push you up higher and higher and higher. And it’s a basic human factor that people don’t scroll beyond maybe page one or two on the results page. They want the result there and then. And those who are willing to pay for it will get the majority of the eyeballs, will get the majority of the clicks, and ultimately, the majority of that qualified traffic with users intending to take action which is the most valuable thing around search.
Access to market
People are actively looking for the product. They’re out there and they’re thinking, “I have a need state. I need that resolved. If I go to a search engine and do a particular search, that will give me the answer.” And we’ve certainly got access to a market that are looking for our product.
More and more people are using their phones to search online and what they want is to find that answer now. The first result they will see on a mobile device will be the paid search result. And because of human nature, they are less likely to scroll very far down the page on their phone to where the organic results are. So, if you know that your consumer is a highly mobile-focused consumer then you need to be using paid search.
This is the cornerstone of all marketing. Always start with your consumer and look at their consumer behavior or purchase-decision cycle:
- 1. The consumer identifies a need or a want.
- 2. They search for solutions.
- 3. They evaluate the alternatives.
- 4. They decide to purchase.
- 5. They purchase.
- 6. They do a post-purchase evaluation.
Search behavior features in stages 2-6 of the purchase cycle, making it a highly effective channel to tie in with naturalized purchase decision-making. This is why search marketing is absolutely fundamental to the buyer process; in the modern age, people use search engines for their research to effectively dive into their consumer/buyer journey.
Paid Search (PPC) with Google Ads Copyright © 2021 digitalmarketinginstitute.com 11
Key benefits #
What are the key benefits of paid search?
- Relevance: It’s relevant to what the person is looking for. Can you resolve the need state? Can you give them the product, service that they desire at that particular moment?
- Timing: We’ve talked about the timeliness and the ability to, I suppose, very quickly adapt and change, whether it’s keyword lists, ad copy or how much you want to spend each day.
- Qualified visitor: The qualified visitor is something that should always be in your head when we’re doing any kind of search activity, because they’re coming to you. It’s not like you’re putting an ad out there and the consumer decides to engage with it or not. They’re actually coming to you, so they’re a qualified visitor. They’re saying, “I’m interested,” and all you have to do is deliver on the promise that your search ad is saying on your website.
- Control: You have the control, of course, to change your landing page, to change your website, to change your ad copy, to change in which you want to spend to change the keywords and all of the different moving parts within a search campaign. So, that kind of control, again, it’s instantaneous in many ways.
- Measurability: The metrics that are associated with search, gives you the accountability that you spent X, you got Y, and that kind of measurement brings it alive, and that measurement justifies the investment. It justifies the investment in time and resource and media spent. And it just allows you to build on what you’ve done in the past to accelerate what you want to do in the future.
- Accountability: Precise measurement gives you accountability within your organization, that is, you spent X and you got Y, helping you justify the investment in time, resource, and money spent.
- Visibility. Your product, brand or services are highly visible at the top of the results page so you are front and center when potential customers are actively looking.
- Mobile micro-moments: Micro-moments are when you have an instant need state and search for answers on a mobile device.