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  • Chris Mellor-Dolman

Paid Search for Small Business Part 1: The Basics

You’re a small business that wants to tell potential customers about your products and services. You’ve heard that ‘paid search’ is a good way to achieve this. But what is it?

This mini-series of blogs from True Blue Marketing aims to help you navigate paid search marketing so that you can consider it and make it work for your business.

demystifying paid search

Paid search is a form of online advertising that appears in search engine results. You’re putting your ad in front of people who are actively looking for it. Their intention is to find something specific. Search ads appear at the top of the results page, and natural/organic (otherwise known as SEO - ‘Search Engine Optimised’) results appear below them. The paid ads are at the top to drive more traffic for brands and thus create more ad revenue for search engines. That’s what you pay for.

With paid search advertising you’re paying for traffic. It’s built on what’s called a PPC (pay per click) or CPC (cost per click) model. You’re telling Google mostly (the leading search engine with 86% market share in the UK in 2020) that you want specific keywords and ad copy, you want to appear in a high-ranking position, and you’re willing to pay for it. Because unlike organic search that takes time to show results, paid search results are almost instantaneous.

why use paid search? It’s important to use both paid search and organic search in tandem - they should complement each other. Always consider how they co-exist when planning your search activity. Taking this into consideration, these are the main reasons why you should use paid search:

1. Achieving business objectives by telling customers what you want them to do, from buying a product to downloading a catalogue. Translate your objective into a search by building keywords around it.

2. Being there for your potential customers is key. They’re actively looking for you if you have the solution for their need. Their ‘go-to’ place to find it will be a search engine. They ask the question, you provide the answer in a paid search ad.

3. Filling keyword gaps quickly that either aren’t being served or are appearing in pages far lower than users are looking for in organic searches presents opportunity. Paid search will get you into a top position to take advantage quickly.

4. Increasing visibility if your organic ranking is too low and you’re not getting traffic is vital. Paid search will push you up higher to get more views and clicks. Remember, few people scroll beyond pages 1 or 2.

5. Targeting devices that your potential customers are predominantly using is key. Phone users tend to have a more instant need state. Phone screens stack vertically and appear one-by-one, so paid search results appear first. No prizes for guessing where the lion’s share of business goes.

6. Extra advertising features and enhancements from tracking to site links improve the search experience and increase the likelihood of your ad being clicked.

7. Launching time sensitive promotions is a powerful tool that’s waiting for a consumer when they need something that’s triggered by a need state.

8. Being competitive is crucial as in most sectors the majority of your competitors will be there using paid search already. Stay away and you’re effectively losing out on ‘ready-to-buy’ customers.

9. Highly measurable metrics delivered by paid search give you crystal clear visibility of how your ads are performing. You spent £X, you got £Y. You can see if the investment is justified, and where to adjust to make improvements.

10. Capitalising on ‘micro-moments’ which are mobile-specific. They’re questions that consumers have on-the-go. This is where you have the opportunity to deliver your message in the ‘I need/want’ moment, which is an emotive state where you can be front-of-mind.

From this list it’s easy to see why paid search is used so extensively; it’s an essential part of digital marketing strategy for all businesses. You just need to make sure you’re at the races.

how your customers are using search engines As with all things marketing you should always start with your customer. In the case of paid search you need to look at their purchase-decision behaviour, which is clearly defined in a widely understood 6-part process:

1. They identify a need or want

2. They search for solutions

3. They consider the alternatives

4. They decide to make a purchase

5. They purchase

6. They evaluate their purchase

Search marketing has developed quickly over time to be more and more efficient at driving consumer buying behaviour. Take it as given that your customers are using search engines for their research. Paid search is a highly effective digital marketing tool that impacts stages 2 to 6 in this purchase cycle, and that’s why it’s absolutely fundamental in the process. Be in it to win it as they say!

essentials of a paid search campaign

You’ll need three key things to run an effective paid search campaign:

1. Keywords are the centrepiece of paid search advertising. They’re what customers put into search engines to find your product or service.

2. Ad copy is what customers see when you respond to their question in the search engine.

3. Landing page(s) are where the customer is taken when they click on your ad.

It’s vital to consider how they relate to each other to ensure that your campaign is relevant when it’s matched to the intent of the searcher, but essentially it’s a conversation. They ask a question, you respond, and then you take them to where the potential solution is.

It really is as simple as that.

So that’s the fundamentals covered here in part 1 of the ‘Introduction to Paid Search for Small Business’. We hope you found it useful. Look out for part 2, coming soon, to find out how to generate a paid search campaign in Google Ads, which will include account set-up and keyword research.

As ever this is an open invitation to drop me a line to share your thoughts about this blog, and indeed any other marketing topic that you want to discuss.

True Blue Marketing provides affordable outsourced marketing services to SME’s. For more information call 07900 812391, email or follow @TrueBlueMarketing on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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