I’ve discusses quite a bit about organic search engine optimization throughout this blog, but something that I haven’t touched on yet is the ability to use paid search strategies. Many people think that natural, organic results achieved with optimal SEO practices are the only important form of Search Engine Marketing (SEM), but you could actually be missing out on an opportunity here. According to HubSpot’s “The Beginner Guide to Paid Search“, 30% of searchers DO click on paid search results, which is definitely a large enough number to appeal to certain companies, especially those who don’t rank high on organic search results alone.
So what does the difference between an organic search result and a paid one look like? Below is a search done for “Google paid search”. The red areas are the paid results and the green area (which, as we all know, goes on for pages) is the organic result section.
Paid search is a great way to perform A/B testing. Like we’ve discussed, A/B testing tests two versions of a landing page to see which one performs the best. You can use your paid search ad to link to two different URL’s with the same offer to find the pages that convert the most users. Paid search will also help you with keyword generation. You can use the Google AdWords Search Terms report to see what keywords people are searching for, allowing you to pick which ones you would like bid on. It’s important to keep in mind that paid search should be used together with other inbound marketing efforts.
Paid search campaigns are relatively easy to set up. You have three main elements, which are:
- Landing Pages
It all starts with PPC (pay-per-click) bidding. This means that you only pay when someone actually CLICKS on your ad. You bid on your keyword by deciding how much you value it at (let’s say $3.00), and then compared to the other bids, your result is ranked accordingly (the highest bidder is shown more towards the top of the page). Google also ranks according to relevancy, using something called “quality score” to ensure that the keywords you’re bidding on actually match what you’re offering. This means that even if you bid lower than a competitor on a keyword, if it’s more relevant to your site, you could actually end up being ranked above them. While more specific keywords have the opportunity to convert more leads, it also really narrows down your target audience. In order to gain more traction, you can set your keywords to “broad match” so you get more visitors. However, you should always monitor your analytics to see if these are actually converting any users or just bring people to your site. You can also choose an option to have Google spread out your daily money cap throughout the day so your post isn’t just served to visitors for an hour until your daily clicks run out. Lastly, it’s important to keep in mind the 25, 37, 35, 35 rule. You have:
- 25 characters for the title
- 37 characters for the display URL
- 35 character description lines with general information
- 35 character description lines with the call to action
*(Note: Google has slightly different numbers than HubSpot, which are 25, 35, 35, 35. For our intents and purposes, this won’t matter in the coming analysis.)
To measure your performance, you use four metrics: impression, click, conversion and spend. Impressions show how many times your ad is displayed when someone uses one of your keywords, clicks measure how may times someone actually clicks on your ad, conversions measure how many times people actually clicked on your ad AND performed whatever action you intended for them to perform (like sign up for you email newsletter), and spend shows you how much money you’ve spent on your campaign.
Let’s look at an example. Say I’m trying to set up a paid search campaign for my fashion blog. First I’m going to look around for some good keywords. Than I’ll start bidding on ones like “fashion blogger”, “free people”, “bohemian fashion”, “trend report”, “beauty and fashion blog”and “fashion”. I chose a few more specific keywords as well as a few broad ones, which I can narrow down later when I have more information that tells me which ones are converting visitors into leads (or which ones cause more people to subscribe to my blog). Then I can set my budget. I’m a college student, so maybe I want to set a lower budget at $20 a day. I’ll want Google to spread this out during the day so that I don’t only have an ad running for an hour before my money runs out. This is going to help me optimize and measure my campaign while I’m just starting out. This also means that I probably won’t be bidding very high on keywords, which is probably going to lower my ranking within the paid results. Now it’s time to optimize my title and descriptions so that they match the 25, 37, 35, 35 rule. My title might be “Bohemian Fashion Blog” (21 characters) with my url being something like “www.bohofashion.com/fashion” (obviously less than 37 characters). My first descriptor could be “A boho girls guide to fashion” while my more specific call to action would be “Follow for the latest style trends” in the attempt to get visitors to subscribe to my blog. Finally, I can track my performance using the four metrics and change my keywords accordingly.
Of course you want to be listed in that sacred first page of organic Google results, but why not shoot for DOUBLE the listings? Utilizing both paid search and organic optimization will yield increased visibility, click-throughs, and a higher probability of a conversion.
So what’s stopping you now?