How do your customers find your business?
Given that Google processes around 63,000 search queries every single second and that the average person conducts between three and four searches per day, the chances are that Google accounts for a lot of your visibility.
But how can you make sure that the right people are finding your business when they’re searching for relevant information?
The answer is Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
SEM encompasses any strategy that leverages search engines, including both organic and paid options, like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid search—also called Google Ads and Pay-Per-Click (PPC).
And in this article, we’ll explain how to determine whether PPC advertising is right for your business.
What is Paid Search?
If you search something on Google, you’ll see a bunch of results come up. Collectively, this is referred to as SERP, or “Search Engine Results Page.”
Within the SERP, there are two types of results that come up:
- Unpaid search results are located below paid ads. These rank according to their SEO (Search Engine Optimization) which is determined using a mix of keywords, article relevance and quality, the website’s Domain Authority, and more.
- Paid search results are located at the top and say “ad” next to them. These companies have paid for specific Google Ads to show their website at the top. This is comparable to buying space on a billboard or TV ad spot in traditional marketing methods. But it’s important to note that simply paying for an ad doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll be displayed at the top of every relevant search term. There are a number of factors in the equation.
Here’s an example…
The different ads shown above are the result of a search for “dentists Washington DC.” The first four are offices that have paid for ads to show up at the top of the SERP. These will be dictated by a number of very specific factors, including:
- Relevant search
- Audience location
- Audience demographics
- The advertiser’s spend amount on the ads
Below them are the organic results.
We’re looking at paid search in this article, but it’s important to know how it compares to other marketing strategies.
It’s also important to note that we typically talk about paid search as it relates to Google, but it can be used across other search engines (i.e., Bing) or platforms (i.e., YouTube).
Paid search is done through Google Ad campaigns. Here’s what you need to know:
- Businesses create ads and pay Google every time someone clicks on them—this is where we get the term Pay-Per-Click (PPC).
- Businesses can set their overall budget cap with Google Ads.
- Google Ads allow you to target specific demographics and locations. For example, you can create an ad that will be visible to people in a geographic area and of a specific age or gender.
- Ads are shown when specific keywords are searched, so businesses need to know what their target audience is searching for.
The more you’re able to tailor your PPC parameters, the more efficiently your ad budget will be utilized.
It’s entirely possible to run DIY Google Ads but it can get pretty complex. If you want to dive deeper into it, here are a few resources to check out:
Or, if you prefer a visual guide, the video below provides an excellent paid search overview.
Pros and Cons of Paid Search
Google Ads and paid search can put your business at the top of the search results page—sounds great! But like most marketing strategies, there are both pros and cons to consider.
Pros of Paid Search
The point of using paid search is to boost the visibility of your business and get more leads. You do this by paying for prime space on the SERP when someone searches for keywords related to your business. But there are other pros, too. Paid search can offer you:
- Quick results: PPC can help get your ad to the top of Google SERP within days of launching your ad, though meaningful results from a campaign will take at least a few weeks. In contrast, SEO marketing might take months to get a high organic ranking.
- Quantifiable metrics: Google Ads allow you to track metrics (i.e., clickthrough rate) to see what’s working. Across all industries, average conversion rates for PPC campaigns are around 6.18%. This article explains how they arrived at that number and why benchmark rates are hard to calculate. That said, knowing approximate norms in your industry helps you know where there’s room to improve.
- Focused audience targeting: Google Ads lets you target specific audiences or demographics so you can reach your ideal clients.
- Increased visibility: PPC puts your brand in front of people and improves brand recognition through increased visibility.
- Keeps you on budget: Google Ads allow you to set a budget cap for your campaigns so that you know how much you’re going to spend at a maximum. It’s important to note that you can run a PPC campaign on virtually any budget, but it’s reasonable to expect to pay between $500-$1,000 per campaign. This PPC budget calculator can help you determine what you can afford to spend based on leads generated.
Cons of Paid Search
Before jumping in and creating your first paid ad, consider some of the cons of paid search:
- Costs can add up quickly as you figure out what ads are working or not.
- Google Ads is complex, requiring businesses to invest time and money into figuring it out (i.e., hiring a specialist).
- Keyword competition makes it harder and more complex for your ads to be successful.
- PPC ads require ongoing management, such as reviewing and adjusting keywords or refining the target audience. (Pro tip: mastering a communication app like Slack can help you and your team stay on top of your ad campaigns).
When to Use Paid Search
So, is paid search right for you? When used correctly, it can be a highly successful strategy to bring new leads to your business. Paid search is a good strategy for companies that:
- Want quick results and an immediate visibility boost.
- Need to target their ads to specific areas or demographics.
- Have team members who are knowledgeable about Google Ads, or are willing and able to hire someone to help, such as a high-quality virtual assistant who specializes in PPC.
- Have an eCommerce store and are selling products online (paid search is very effective to gain customers searching for keywords).
- Are SEO-optimized already and want to add to their SEM strategy.
- Understand that paid search criteria and rules are subject to Google’s tweaks and changes; companies need to be willing and able to stay up-to-date.
Ultimately, paid search takes some time, money, and basic knowledge to get right. But for companies who are willing to invest in the ad spend and put some time into learning best practices, it’s an effective marketing strategy to boost leads for small, medium, and large organizations.
Looking for a well-appointed flexible workspace where you can grow your business in a community of like-minded professionals? Then book a tour of your local Launch Workplace today.