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10 Core Concepts of Paid Search Marketing You Should Know

August 19, 2022

core concepts of paid search marketing

Since Google AdWords launched in 2000, paid search (also known as pay-per-click or “PPC”) campaigns have remained a staple of digital marketing, and for good reason! These ads are designed to connect people with valuable products, services, and resources that align with the needs behind their searches. 

Are you looking to start or improve paid search advertising at your agency? If so, you should familiarize yourself with some of the most essential core concepts behind the product. 

That’s where we come in. 

Today, we’re going to break down some of the top 10 most essential core concepts of paid search marketing. If you need to add paid search to your own product offering and want to start it off with a team of experts, you can skip reading and book a 20-minute call with us today: 

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1: Ad Formats 

Major paid search platforms like Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising offer multiple ad formats to best suit your client’s goals. For example, Google offers multiple ad formats, such as: 

  • Responsive Search Ads: Text ads that can conform to the specific dimensions of a screen or window for a better user experience. They contain a clickable headline and a description and can be enhanced with extensions. 
  • Product Shopping Ads: Feature a product’s image, a description, and a link to the product page along with customizable extensions. 
  • Local Service Ads: Advertise a business’s services to their local demographic when relevant search terms are entered by the user. 
  • Call-Only Ads: A phone number is provided in the ad for convenient calling and you can also click through to the website. 

For Microsoft campaigns, you can also create Audience Ads within the Microsoft Audience Network to serve impressions beyond the search engine results page (SERP). 

2: Budget Pacing 

Pacing refers to the concentration of a client’s budget spread out over a specific period of time. For example, if you are spending over 50% of a monthly budget during the first week, you are over-pacing the campaign. Conversely, under-pacing may be only spending 30% of the ad budget by week 3. 

How you spread out the budget depends on the nature of the client’s business and their goals for the campaign. For ongoing, month-over-month advertising campaigns, having a budget that is spread evenly across a full 30 or 31-day period would be considered ideal pacing in most cases. 

There can be some exceptions to this rule, however. For example, if your client traditionally receives the most business during the beginning of the month, you may decide to over-pace at those times or even under-pace if you prefer to spend more during periods where traffic and conversion are lower. 

3: Cost-Per-Click (CPC)

The cost-per-click or “CPC” metric refers to how much it actually costs for a user to click on your search ad. For keywords that more businesses are competing for, as well as ones that are highly targeted to a distinct niche, the CPC is typically higher. 

This does not mean that you cannot allocate some of your client’s paid search budget towards higher CPC keywords. In most cases, having a mix of both high and low-CPC keywords can prove an effective strategy for any business or industry. 

A CPC model works excellently for clients that want to increase their sales. You are only paying once a user clicks through to your landing page where they can then convert into a lead or customer. 

4: The Search Terms Report 

Once a user clicks on your ad, the Search Terms Report enables the analyst to see what other searches they have performed in Google or Microsoft. This incredibly valuable data provides insights into the exact queries that are leading to conversions and those that are not. In turn, this information can be leveraged to double down on what is working best and what is underperforming. 

5: Key Performance Action (KPA)

Key performance actions (KPAs) refer to specific actions that users take when interacting with your client’s campaign assets, such as ads themselves or their associated landing pages. Unlike key performance indicators, which are static metrics used to measure the success of a campaign, KPAs account for all actions taken that could tell a more complete story.  

By implementing a KPA-driven strategy, you can more accurately optimize your campaign to match how your client’s ideal audience interacts with their business. For example, if the audience is clicking to call the phone number on the landing page more than filling out a form, you may want to suggest revising the form on the page or adding Call-Only Ads to their Google arsenal. 

6: Keyword Competition

Keyword competition means how difficult a keyword is to rank for. This concept can be applied to both organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid campaigns. 

In the context of paid campaigns, the competition rating indicates how many advertisers are all bidding for the same keyword. While some of these keywords may be worthwhile depending on your client’s business model, you can also apply some basic keyword research to discover alternatives with lower competition ratings which also often feature a lower CPC or CPM. 

7: Landing Pages

The landing page is the destination on the other side of the ad headline. This can be an organic page on your client’s website or one that was specifically constructed and designed for the campaign itself. 

A successful landing page, at its most basic level, should contain an attention-grabbing headline above the fold along with a form or clickable button that the user can interact with. Below the fold, focus on highlighting some of the essential customer benefits of your client’s product or service. 

Landing page copy should focus on the customer benefit, read concisely, and include statements that inspire users to take the next step. These elements will move them from visitors to leads or customers by providing an excellent and convenient experience. 

8: Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords refer to highly specific search terms designed to target qualified users. Rather than allocating a local doctor’s office’s budget toward the general keyword “doctors office”, you could include one with a “long tail” like “doctors office in Ocean County NJ”. 

To find the right long-tail keywords for your client, start using a seed keyword like “doctors office”. From there, you can see what other similar terms are being searched for using a tool like Semrush, Ahrefs, or Google Keyword Planner along with valuable additional insights like CPC data. 

9: Negative Keywords 

In a paid search campaign, negative keywords are keyphrases that you add to your account which prevent your ad from being triggered by those terms. For example, if you’re selling women’s shoes, you might add “men” as a negative keyword so that your ad doesn’t show up when someone searches for “men’s shoes.” 

Why would you want to do this? Primarily, serving ads for irrelevant queries can waste budget if someone clicks on them and immediately bounces because it is not aligned with what they are searching for. Someone searching for men’s shoes will not find ads for women’s shoes beneficial and will likely not click on the ad. 

Excluding negative keywords helps to protect the quality of the keywords that you are bidding on and maintain a more desirable click-through-rate (CTR). The lower your CTR, the lower your “expected CTR” is also, which can impact the quality score, which can also increase your required bid amount to remain competitive within an auction. 

10: Search Intent 

A keyword’s search intent refers to what a person is actually looking for when they perform a search. It’s the reason behind why they opened up that new browser window or tab in the first place. 

We want to show up in searches when we’re relevant and likely to be useful to the searcher. So, let’s say someone searches for “pencils.” Their search intent might be to buy some pencils, learn how to sharpen pencils, find out which type of pencil is best for drawing, or a million of other possibilities.

As an advertiser, it’s our job to figure out which one of those possibilities our product or service can help with and target our ads accordingly. Search intent is just one piece of the puzzle, but it’s an important one. If we understand what people are really looking for, we can be there for them with exactly what they need. 

Here, long-tail keywords can also play an instrumental role. If you are managing a budget for a local office supply store, a term like “buy bulk pencils near me” reflects a commercial intent for someone looking to purchase a large amount of pencils. Meanwhile, “what is a mechanical pencil?” reflects an informational intent for someone looking to understand more information about that topic but may not be ready to purchase one. 

Elevate Your Client’s Paid Search Marketing Performance with a White Label Partner

At Conduit Digital, we partner with successful agencies to provide 100% North America-based white label PPC solutions for your clients. With each campaign directly managed in-house by a certified expert analyst, we equip your team with the ability to say “yes” to better opportunities. 

Whether you need to expand capacity, integrate a service to your internal offering, or you need to scale profitably, we are ready to partner with you. Schedule a 20-minute call today to see if your agency is ready for the power of partnership. 

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