Ready to get started with paid search? Here is a quick and easy beginner’s guide to paid search. Believe it or not, paid search has been around for over 20 years now. It started out as a Yellow Page-style directory in 2000 and has evolved to be a top digital marketing tactic for most businesses. It’s rare to find a business that’s not advertising on Google. Many businesses – especially small and medium sized ones – follow the Google Ad’s quick-start setup when beginning their campaigns. It’s appealing, as it only takes about 30 minutes to setup a campaign. However, most advertisers are left to wonder why they are seeing little to no results.
Though Google makes it easy to set up marketing campaigns and start spending money, it’s not easy to make Google Ads truly successful. There are many considerations and components that go into a successful paid search campaign. We are here to share some of the most important factors to getting started. Follow our step-by-step guide to increase your chances of realizing paid search ad success.
Before starting paid search
First thing, ensure you understand what you want out of your marketing efforts and how you can provide the most seamless user experience. The best way to do this is to ask yourself these questions:
- What are your marketing objectives for your search campaign? Before building and launching a search campaign, be clear on why you are advertising. Are you trying to build awareness, generate leads or drive sales? Keyword targeting will look different for each of these and bid strategies certainly will differ.
- Where are you driving traffic? Does your landing page contain relevant content that gives the user what they were searching for? Is there a clear call-to-action (CTA) that aligns with your marketing objectives and goals?
- How are you measuring success/goals? Make sure Google Analytics and conversion tracking are implemented to effectively measure KPIs. And determine what KPIs are most important to you. Once you know this, setup goals to track results with Google Analytics.
- What’s your budget? Keywords can get expensive depending on the demand (search volume) and how many other advertisers are targeting a particular keyword. It’s important to know your budget range. Having a budget in mind will ensure your keyword list is refined enough to be competitive with bids and maintain a healthy impression share for valuable keywords.
Setting up your Google search advertising
Step One: Keyword Research and Creating Keyword Lists
Always perform keyword research to align targeting with your objectives. This will also help you gain an understanding of how certain keywords will perform and what they will cost. There are many tools to help you formulate a successful keyword list.
- Google Keyword Planner is a free tool for keyword ideas and performance forecasts. From your original list of words, this planner will help you identify additional search terms relevant to your ppc campaign.
- Google Search Bar is also free and can be very effective as seeing what common search queries auto-populate when you start to search a base keyword.
- SEMRush is a paid tool that is used to gather more robust paid search, SEO and competitive data. If you are going to be spending a significant amount of money it’s worth investing in this tool, or one like it.
Step Two: Creating Ad Groups
Once your keyword list is developed, organize keywords into tightly themed categories (ad groups). Ad groups are used to align keywords with specific ad copy and landing pages. Ensure your ad copy and landing pages are hyper-relevant to the keywords on your list. You want your landing page content to align with what the user is searching, specifically, the keywords they are using. To improve your relevancy and quality score be sure to use those keywords in your ad copy as well. Speaking of that…
Step Three: Ad Copy
After organizing your ad groups, write engaging ad copy that addresses (and includes) your specific keywords. Be sure to include important value propositions, promotions and/or any other information that will help you stand out from the competition. Also include a strong CTA. This will ensure the user knows what action to take once they click your ad. Don’t forget to leverage ad extensions to make the most of your ads and include more information about your business. Ad extensions also allow your ads to take up even more real estate on the search engine results page (SERP). This will push others down on the page and help improve your relative click-thru-rate (CTR).
Step Four: Determine campaign break-outs
Campaigns are usually separated by product or service categories. Ad campaigns also may have different budget allocations. Bid strategy is another key factor in determining campaign breakouts. For example, your campaign objective may be awareness. In this case, you’ll want to bid based on target impression share. Another campaign may have a lead generation objective. For this campaign goal you will want to bid based on maximizing conversion bid strategy or target cost-per-acquisition (CPA). You may also choose to separate campaigns based on location. This allows budget to be allocated by location/store. Bottom line? Choosing the correct campaign type is very important for success. Be sure to weigh all approaches to campaign structure and determine what will be the best in helping you achieve your objectives.
Step Five: Bid strategies
Bid strategy is a huge component of any paid search campaign. There are several automated smart bid strategies you can use.. These are often recommended by Google and are an easy way to achieve your campaign objectives. This is a good place to start. You may also choose to do manual bidding. This option gives you more control. Which is should you choose? That depends. The automated, as we mentioned, is a great place to begin. But as your campaign matures you will likely want to test different approaches to see what affects results. This is where ppc advertising can get complicated. That is why it’s so important to have a clear objective going into your planning and execution process. This will help you ensure your campaign structure and bid strategy are working together to achieve your goals most effectively.
Step Six: Monitoring your quality score
As your campaigns start to run, be sure to pay attention to Quality Score. Quality Score is a 1-10 rating that Google gives each keyword based on how well your ad quality compares to other advertisers. A higher quality score means that your ad and landing page are more relevant and useful to someone searching for your keyword when compared to other advertisers. The higher the score the better. The quality score has an enormous influence over the cost and effectiveness of your paid search campaigns. Just as your credit score can affect whether or not you qualify for a loan and how high your interest rate is, Google quality score affects how your PPC ads perform and how much you pay for each click.
Landing page relevancy and experience is a very important factor in quality score. In most cases, if your quality score is low for a keyword then you will also see low conversion rates. This is a useful indicator that you need to work on conversion rate optimizations (CRO). To improve your quality score:
- Provide more relevant content to answer questions associated with your keyword.
- Update your conversion action experience. Make the path to conversion as simple as possible.
When to expect results
The good news is that search marketing works. And it is one of the strongest tools in your online advertising toolbelt. However, your search campaign will not likely be successful (at least not what you deem successful) right away. It can take up to a month – sometimes three – to start seeing the impact of your Google Adwords efforts. New campaigns typically take three months to ramp up. And up to 12 months to consistently perform at peak levels. Why you ask? Because it takes time for Google to collect enough data to leverage machine learning and effectively reach the optimal audience. Additionally, having a full year of data allows Google (and you) to really understand seasonal trends and behaviors.
We hope this beginner’s guide to paid search provides you with a greater understanding of what goes into a paid search strategy and running successful campaigns. There are many nuances to Google ads campaigns. It takes a lot of TLC to run a successful campaign. That’s why we are here to help. Our team of digital media experts can help you put a plan together to achieve your business goals, recommend budgets, build the foundation for your campaigns and provide ongoing management and optimization, so you can focus on running your business. Schedule a free consultation with our digital media team to learn more about partnering with us.