Introduction to Paid Search (PPC)

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What is Pay Per Click?

Sometimes confused with paid search – which refers to PPC on search engines, it’s one of the most commonly used forms of online advertising. And it’s among the simplest to understand too. Pay per click is just what it sounds like – you, the advertiser, pay every time someone clicks on an ad or other listing that leads to your website. No clicks equals no charge.

Because you only pay for users who click through to your website, PPC can deliver strong results and ROI compared to other advertising methods. The most common platform for PPC is search engines – mainly Google and Bing – but you can also create and manage campaigns across social media channels and video platforms.

Pay Per Click Across Platforms

Search engines, social media, video platforms – reach more people with targeted campaigns across multiple platforms. You get a joined-up strategy that helps to boost your return on investment, or ROI.

Search engines

Google Adwords is the king of PPC, and possibly the queen, prince and baronet too. The Google search engine is the most commonly used in the west, so it’s a key focus for any PPC campaign. But don’t ignore other search engines, such as Bing and Yahoo.

Video platforms

A picture paints a thousand words, or so the song goes. A video is basically 24 pictures a second – so that’s a lot of words to tell your story and make a big impact on users.

YouTube is the obvious place to start. Their most common type of ads are called TrueView – you know, the ones you always skip after five seconds. Don’t worry, you only get charged if the ad is viewed for 30 seconds. You can also choose in-display ads, which appear beside videos or in search results.

Video ads are a great way to boost brand awareness as part of a wider marketing strategy.

Social media

It’s not all memes and cat pictures – social media is a goldmine for savvy advertisers.

Social media gives you the chance to get super-specific about who you’re targeting. Only males aged 24-29 who are interested in gadgets and football? No problem. Empty nesters who like taking city breaks? Ditto. Romulan warlords? Probably not.

You can get into the nitty gritty of who your most likely customers are and target them with ads. You can make it work for B2B too using platforms like LinkedIn.

A properly executed PPC campaign can and should deliver real results for your business, like more sales, more engagement with your site, more leads or more requests for information. It’s a cost-effective method across multiple platforms; including search engines and social media sites.

Remarketing

Don’t let them forget you.

Remarketing is one of the smart ways that you can recapture users who have already engaged with your website but haven’t converted. This segmented and highly targeted audience is more likely to convert, meaning you can significantly lower your cost per click.

Remarketing doesn’t just apply to search engines, you can also use it in social media advertising. Facebook and Twitter let you build highly segmented audience lists. Remarketing works best with targeted content which addresses reasons why visitors may not have purchased on their last visit.

In this guide we’ll focus on paid search, mainly on Google, but also on Bing.

Paid Search

What is paid search and why use it?

In a nutshell, when you type something into a search engine, such as Google, you are presented with a list of web pages that are relevant to your query, known as organic results. Paid search ads are the results that appear above these organic results, as a result of companies bidding to appear in a premium, or featured, position.

As you can imagine there are some serious benefits to appearing in these premium positions; you can appear on page 1 at the top of the results and users that are searching have high intent and can be ready to buy. In addition, you can target broadly or very specifically, you can track performance and measure ROI.

PPC for start-ups

As a new business, it’s unlikely your website will naturally appear near the top of the search rankings – it takes time to build up the domain authority which makes this happen. PPC can be a great way for new businesses to reach users who are searching keywords relevant to them.

Many start-ups find their marketing budgets to be tight, and so good return on investment is important. That’s why PPC is one of the best options to get you started, build your brand and find those early customers.

Search Platforms

The two main platforms for paid search are Google AdWords and Bing Ads:

Google AdWords

AdWords is the largest pay-per-click platform. It is run on the Google search engine, Search Partner sites, and Display Network sites. AdWords was launched in October 2000 and has become its main bread winner.

In 2017, Google’s ad revenue amounted to almost 95.4 billion US dollars. That year, advertising accounted for the majority percent of the online company’s total revenues, which amounted to a total of 110.9 billion U.S. dollars.

Bing Ads

Similar to AdWords, Bing Ads shows ads on the Bing and Yahoo networks. The platform also utilises a network of search partners. As of 2017, Bing Ads has 142 million unique searchers on the Bing Network.

Bing now has 34% of the desktop search engine market share worldwide – most importantly, Bing Ads reach 63 million searchers that aren’t reached with Google AdWords. So ignoring Bing Ads could be a huge missed opportunity.

Paid Search Account Structure Basics

Campaigns and Ad Groups

You begin by choosing the keywords you want to target, these are then grouped into themes, which eventually become your campaigns. For example, you may create the campaign “tables”. Within this campaign are subcategories, again themed, these are called ad groups. These adgroups contain your keywords:

Campaign: Tables
Ad Groups: Coffee Tables, Dining Tables, Picnic Tables
Keywords (For Dining Tables Adgroup): Square Dining Tables, Round Dining Tables, Rectangular Dining Tables, Oval coffee tables on sale

Keywords

Each keyword is assigned a match type. This defines the queries for which ads will show. There are seven keyword match types:

Exact – Query must be typed in exactly
Exact (Close Variant) – Query must be typed in exactly, but can include misspellings or other variants
Phrase – Query must be typed in correct order, even if there are additional terms before or after the query
Phrase (Close Variant) – Query must be typed in correct order, even if there are additional terms before or after the query. Query can include misspellings or other variants
Broad – Query can be typed in any order and will potentially show ads for similar searches
Modified Broad – Query can be typed in any order, but must include terms that contain a plus sign
Broad (Session-Based) – A form of broad match that takes into account other queries from that user’s search session

Negative Keywords

These are keywords for which you don’t want your ads to appear. In relation to the above example, you may choose to add ‘free’, ‘bargain’ or ‘cheap’ to the list, to ensure you appear to high-intent buyers.

Ad copy

Once ad groups are created and the keywords chosen, ads can be written. Ads should include the targeted keyword theme, any value propositions, and a call to action.

AdWords text ad structure and character limits are as follows:

Headline 1 – Up to 30 characters (including spaces)
Headline 2 – Up to 30 characters (including spaces)
Description Line – Up to 80 characters (including spaces)
Path 1 – Up to 15 characters
Path 2 – Up to 15 characters

For each ad group we suggest creating two ads for testing purposes. Don’t forget that your ad will appear on both mobile and desktop.

Quality Score

Every paid search ad is given a quality score. The score is determined by a few key factors; the quality and relevance of your landing page, historic click through rates, and keyword relevance.

Higher quality score means lower cost per click and better ad placement. In other words, it can cost you big not to have relevant ads and landing pages that compliment your offering.

Paid Search Account Settings

These are some of the settings you can apply to your activity.

Device Targeting

Ads can be shown across Desktops/Laptops, Tablets & Mobile Devices

Desktops/laptops and tablets are considered similar enough by the search engines that the same bid is applied to these platforms. However, mobile devices have the ability to apply a bid modifier. For example, if the bid is £1.00 and the mobile bid modifier is set to -50%, the bid on mobile devices becomes £0.50. A bid modifier of 150% would set the mobile bid at £1.50.

This can be very useful if you notice that particular searches/sales take place largely on one particular type of device.

Location Targeting

PPC across search engines can be incredibly granular – going all the way down to post code level. This is great if you are a local business or have a particular group of prospects you wish to target in a specific area.

Budgets

Each individual campaign is allowed a daily budget. Budgets should be created in accordance with account goals.

Delivery Method

There are two options for which ads are delivered: standard and accelerated.

Standard delivery – shows ads evenly throughout the day. This option is good for advertisers who may have budget restrictions and want to ensure their ads show throughout the day.

Accelerated delivery – shows ads until the budget is depleted. This option is best for advertisers who may not have budget restrictions and want to ensure their ads are shown for every query.

Paid Search Ad Extensions

Extensions give people more reasons to choose your business and click on your ad. They can increase the click-through rate by a few percent. AdWords selects which extensions to show for each search, so it’s best to use all the extensions relevant to your business.

Sitelink Extensions – These are additional links to help searchers navigate deeper into your website.

Location Extensions – These are perfect for brick and mortar businesses. Location extensions show the business address and are available in Google and Bing.

Call Extensions – available on both Google and Bing. On mobile devices, call extensions supplement ads with the ability to click-to-call, giving mobile searchers an easy way to call the business.

App Extensions – exclusive to Google, this extension works great for businesses looking to promote app downloads.

Message extensions – Encourage people to send you text messages from your ad.

Price extensions – You can showcase your services or product categories with their prices, so that people can browse your products right from your ad. Great if you are competitively priced!

Bid Strategies in AdWords

Bid strategies are a form of automated bidding where control is handed to the search engine based on predetermined goals. Bid goals are setup within the shared library and the search engine changes the auction bids through algorithms. There are several different strategies that can be employed at the campaign and ad group level.

Enhanced CPC – For the conversion-focused advertiser. AdWords will automatically increase or decrease CPC bids to drive most conversions. Bids can be raised up to 30 percent for clicks that are more likely to lead to conversions. Bids are lowered for clicks less likely to convert.

Target Search Page Location – This is a flexible bidding strategy. Google changes bids so your ads can be consistently shown either at the top of the page or on the first page of the SERPs. Perfect if you want to maximize the number of people who see your ads.

Target CPA – Sets bids to maximize conversions at your target cost-per-acquisition. Aimed at keeping costs down while growing conversions.
Maximize Clicks – Sets bids to help you get as many clicks as possible while maintaining spend. This strategy is useful when click volume is the primary goal.

Target Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) – Some businesses, particularly eCommerce, place higher value on certain conversions over others. It sets bids to maximize conversions within a target ROAS goal.

Maximize Conversions – An automated strategy which seeks to push your campaign budget to its maximum value.

Remarketing

Users who have visited your site are both more likely to convert upon visiting again and less likely to click your ad a second time if they aren’t already considering converting.

Remarketing Lists For Search Ads (RLSA)
You’ll need to set up ‘remarketing lists’ – these are lists of users that have, or have not, conducted certain activity on your site, such as visiting a particular page or set of pages.

Its important to note that AdWords requires at least 1000 prospects on your list before you can take advantage of the remarketing function.

If you do not have this sort of traffic, then there are alternatives which you can leverage.

You could use more broad keywords and higher CPCs if you know the audience is more qualified.

Audiences

Audiences are groups of users that have been segmented in a variety of ways. ‘Audiences’ are usually used in remarketing activity.

Audiences can be segmented based upon specific pageviews, time spent on site, pages per visit and more. Audiences are bid upon based on relevance e.g. you may choose to bid more to remarket to shopping cart abandoners vs. homepage viewers.

Conversion Tracking

PPC is all about tracking and testing. You can create conversion goals in order to gauge performance of campaigns and account performance.

Both AdWords and Bing Ads provide code snippets that can be placed on your website.

AdWords allows a range of conversion tracking:
– Web Page
– Mobile or tablet app
– Calls from ads using call extensions
– Calls to a Google forwarding number on your website
– Clicks on a number on your mobile website
– Imported goals (from third party platforms like Salesforce)

Google Analytics

AdWords can also be linked to Google Analytics accounts to provide information on pre and post click behaviour.

 

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