Paid Search Marketing – What is it? How can it benefit my business?

What is SEM?

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is the process of purchasing ads on search engines to gain website traffic. The most common terms referring to SEM activities include paid search advertising, PPC (pay-per-click), CPC (cost-per-click), CPM (cost-per-impression).

Pay-per-click (PPC), also referred to as cost-per-click (CPC), is an online marketing model used to direct traffic to websites whereby an advertiser pays the search engine an arranged price for every time an individual clicks on their ad i.e. cost per click. It is essentially a form of buying visits to your site.

The focus of this blog will be specifically on Google AdWords.


Google AdWords?

Google AdWords is the leading PPC advertising system worldwide. The AdWords platform allows businesses to create ads that appear on Google’s search engine results page (SERP). The success of AdWord advertisers is based on their Ad Rank: this is calculated by multiplying the advertisers CPC Bid (the amount the advertiser is willing to pay) by their Quality Score (calculated by an advertisers relevance, landing page quality and click-through rate). It is effectively an auction that allows advertisers to reach potential customers at a cost appropriate to their budget.

  • An example – chocolate fountain

The SERP displays the paid for search results in the vanilla box at the top of the results. Amazon appears as the first search result as they have paid the most for the search term. The companies below will have paid less for the same term.


Building a successful PPC campaign

This blog below shows examples of successful AdWords ads. Logo Design Guarantee’s ad is simple and straightforward, using numbers and ASCII characters to break up blocks of words, making it easier to read. It also includes an offer, a benefit and a call to action.
The most successful advertisers continually update and refine their page:

  • Keyword Relevance
    Conducting thorough keyword research is crucial however time-consuming it may be. The success directly depends on these, including proper ad text, close keyword groups, and updating keyword lists that are relevant, comprehensive and expansive.
  • Landing Page Quality
    Creating enhanced landing pages with convincing, appropriate content and a strong call-to-action targeting particular search queries.
  • Quality Score
    As defined above, advertisers with better Quality Scores get more ad clicks at lower costs. See


What are the benefits with using Google AdWords?

Using AdWords as a marketing system is particularly valuable as Google is the leading search engine and so acquires enormous amounts of traffic, naturally providing the most impressions and clicks to ads. It allows the advertiser to appear at the top of the SERPs.
Google AdWords has a page that explains how it works, the benefits and costs. It is so advanced that that a recent update in February with Enchanced Campaigns allows adverts to target users based on their location, the time of day and the device they are using.
Google AdWords provides free online training including videos, see link.
They can be set up within an hour for those familiar with the platform, and will appear immediately in the sponsored results. Every ad and keyword can be tracked, allowing the investment and success rate to be measured at any time, minimising the gambling element. Although it requires an investment, money will only be charged if it actually works. Profits from visits can outweigh the cost of the click i.e. a £2 click could result in a £200 sale. Search engines charge less for advertisers who successfully create relevant targeted campaigns.


What are the drawbacks with using Google AdWords?

40% of users are unaware that Google Adwords are paid adverts, resulting in users unintentionally ignoring organic search results. In order to stand a chance of gaining any click-through traffic, they have become a necessity of a company’s marketing strategy.
Smaller business may have a limited marketing budget, and so cannot afford them. Risks can be minimised. Building a strong negative keyword list can reduce non-revenue generating clicks and click fraud. There is plenty of support online, such as this guide covering issues like budgeting (March 2016).
Bing and Yahoo do offer similar services at a lower cost. Long-tail keywords are also often underestimated. Albeit less common, they are more precise and account for the majority of search-driven traffic. They are cheaper as they are less competitive.

To think about..

  1. Is this just done with trial and error, with companies raising their maximum bids incrementally than checking the SERP to see how they’re doing?
  2. How prevalent is click-fraud?
  3. What if a competitor clicks through on your link to raise your costs?

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