Getting prime placement in the search engine results pages (SERPs) can bring tons of traffic to your site, expand your reach, and increase sales. Unfortunately, such placement comes with tons of work if you take the organic SEO (search engine optimization) route. What is an easier option to get eyes on your URLs and content? Paid search, and we will discuss what it is, how it differs from organic search, and how it can help you in this search engine optimization tutorial.
What is Paid Search?
As its name suggests, paid search is a digital marketing method where advertisers pay search engines to place their ads in the SERPs. If you have ever used Google, you probably recognize these ads, as they can sit atop a search engine results page or towards the bottom. And, while some look like your standard search results in text form, others may have images and resemble an online carousel or catalog. To help users differentiate paid search ads from standard results, Google places the word “Ad” or “Sponsored” at the top.
Are all paid search ads created equal? No, as several factors determine their placement or ranking amongst competitors. Google uses the ad auction to determine which ads show and where. Every advertisement in the auction will be given an ad rank as calculated by Google Ads. Ad rank is critical for companies because it determines your ad’s position and whether it is even eligible to be shown at all.
As expected, the advertisement with the highest ad rank will reach the top position, while the one with the second-highest rank will get placed in the second position, and so on. What determines ad rank? The six factors below.
Companies bid on phrases and keywords related to their products and services in an auction format. When you place a bid, that number tells Google Ads the maximum you are willing to pay for someone to click on your ad. Since you only pay if someone clicks the ad, many refer to this marketing model as pay-per-click (PPC).
Bids can be changed at any time, and the amount you end up paying is usually less than your bid.
Ad and Landing Page Quality
You will need an advertisement and a page it links to (landing page) to run your paid search campaign. Google Ads will look at your ad and the landing page to determine how useful and relevant they are to a potential searcher. This usefulness and relevancy will be reflected in a Quality Score that you can monitor and improve via your Google Ads account to get better ad placement.
Ad Rank Thresholds
Google Ads sets minimum thresholds to ensure companies produce high-quality advertisements. Your ad will have to meet those thresholds to be shown.
There are times when two ads with similar ad ranks compete for the same position. Google Ads will give both an equal chance to win that position. If one ad starts to separate from the other and their difference in ad rank increases, the higher-ranking ad will have a better chance of winning. In exchange for that better chance of winning, the higher-ranking ad may have to pay a higher cost per click.
Context is crucial with ad auctions. Google will calculate ad rank using several signals and attributes related to the person’s search, such as:
- Search terms entered.
- User’s location.
- Time of the search.
- Nature of the search terms.
- Type of device (desktop or mobile) used.
- Other search results and ads on the page.
- And more.
Anticipated Impact of Other Ad Formats and Extensions
You can beef up your ads with additional information (aka ad extensions) like multiple links to different pages on your site, your phone number, and more. Google Ads will estimate how such extensions and other ad formations could impact your ad performance and use that as another factor in determining placement.
What are the Benefits of Paid Search?
If you want to drive high-quality traffic to your site or pages, search engines can provide it. How can paid search help? By offering the following benefits:
- Fast results – Getting high organic placement in the SERPs can take a lot of time and effort, plus money if you hire copywriters, designers, webmasters, etc., to implement the proper practices. With paid search, you can set up a highly-targeted ad campaign in very little time to bring in visitors looking for exactly what you have to offer in terms of products or services.
- Easier conversions – Since the nature of paid search is so targeted and precise, you can lure in a high-intent audience ready to convert with little persuasion needed by simply doing a bit of keyword research. For instance, if you sell workout gear and target “best gym shorts” as a keyword phrase, someone who searches for that term and sees your ad could be highly likely to buy from you.
- Excellent ROI – Yes, paid search is not free, but you can get great bang for your buck from it. According to Google, brands make $8 for every dollar spent advertising on the tech giant’s platform. So, not only are the results fast, but they are also substantial. And since paid search typically operates via a bidding format, the market dictates the ad price. In other words, unless you have tons of competitors bidding for the same keyword, you will likely pay less than the maximum bid price. And if necessary, you can always change your bid to keep your expenses within budget.
Paid Search vs. Organic Search
To get the most online traffic, you should diversify your marketing efforts and use both paid and organic search methods. How do they differ, though, so you know which makes the most sense for your needs at this time? Let us take a look at that now.
As mentioned, paid search involves paying a search engine like Google to have your ad or links appear at the top of the search results. Even though Google will place the word “Ad” next to your result, many users will not notice it and could click anyway, giving you that desired traffic. In fact, you could say that paid search results like those ads atop Google look so natural that you would think they were “earned.” This is why paid search has become so popular as of late, as you can get quick ranking results with little work.
What sits just below those paid search ads on Google? The “earned” or organic results that come from using search engine optimization (SEO) tactics like producing relevant, high-quality content. While SEO can take a ton of time to implement, and you may not instantly see your sites atop the SERPs, organic search can lead to long-term rewards. This is why even though paid search can be quick and easy, you should not abandon organic search and instead employ a mix of the two to get the short-term and long-term traffic you desire.
It is worth mentioning that while paid search costs money, and many say organic search is free, that is not necessarily the case since producing content and implementing SEO practices can take a significant time and financial investment.
Types of Traffic: Paid, Organic, Referral
As you look to drive traffic to your pages, you will come across these three main traffic types:
- Paid – Visitors who come to your site after clicking a pay-per-click ad on a search engine, social media, or website.
- Organic – Traffic generated from someone clicking your link on a SERP after entering search terms.
- Referral – Users who reach your site via referral traffic did so after clicking a link on another website, such as a blog or forum.
SEO Tutorials and Further Learning
Now that you know the essentials of Paid Search and the difference between paid, organic, and referral traffic, we recommend you read the following search engine optimization tutorials and digital marketing guides: