Paid search is a powerful digital marketing tool, and can place your business ad at the very top of search engine results at just the right moment. But learning how to effectively use paid search (or PPC) can be overwhelming. Here’s a quick but comprehensive run down on the basics of paid search and how it can work for your business.
How Paid Search Works
Paid search refers to ads placed at the top of the results screen on search engines, like Google and Bing. Businesses bid for top placement on these results pages for keyword terms and phrases that are related to their products or services. An example of this would be a cleaning company paying to have their ad shown when a customer searches for “cleaning services”.
The benefits of paid search are easy to see; a customer is in need of a service you provide, and your ad appears at the top of their search. PPC ads generate leads, that when followed up on and closed, can generate more business for your company.
What’s the Difference Between PPC and SEO?
When you use paid searches, you get instant results in the form of ads that can generate web traffic and leads. When you stop paying for paid searches, your ads and web traffic abruptly stop.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the visibility of your website in search results that are seen below PPC ads at the top of the page. SEO doesn’t provide instant results as paid searches do and should be seen as a long term investment in your website’s visibility. Ongoing SEO efforts will generate results that grow over time and provide free, organic web traffic.
Businesses looking to maximize their online presence use an ongoing strategy of combining SEO and PPC for maximum results.
Paid Search Acronyms (And What They Mean)
There are a slew of acronyms being used in the world of paid search. Here are some terms you may come across, and what they mean:
- SEM: SEM stands for “search engine marketing” and can refer to any boost to your website’s visibility that you pay for, but it’s most often used in reference to PPC advertising.
- PPC: PPC stands for “pay per click” and is the most common pricing structure in search engine marketing. Also referred to as paid search, it means that advertisers pay by the number of clicks an ad receives.
- CPC: CPC stands for “cost per click” and determines the price an advertiser pays when someone clicks on their ad.
- Max CPC: This is the maximum cost an advertiser is willing to pay per click. The CPC may come in lower than the Max CPC, but never higher.
- CTR: CTR stands for “click through rate” and refers to the percentage of customers that clicked on your ad and how effective your ad is; a low CTR would indicate that many users are seeing your ad, but few are clicking on it.
- CPM: CPM stands for “cost per mille” or cost per thousand impressions. It’s a different pricing model in which the advertiser pays based on how many times the ad is shown, not how many times it’s clicked.
- CTA: CTA stands for “call to action, and it tells customers what to do next, such as “call now for an appointment” or “book today”.
This information touches on the basics of PPC, but how do you actually get set target keywords, get ads placed, and manage your campaign? We’ll cover that in our next post.