Full disclosure: I run a business designed to help other business owners increase user traffic to their sites by using organic Google advertising platform. Despite of that, or rather in light of that, I have decided to write a comprehensive article about paid search with Google search engine. I will present the benefits of it and the challenges which stands before sponsored campaigns managers, and explain when would it by right for a business to continue using this marketing method, or rather consider switching to search engine optimization(SEO) with their own websites.
Take a breath. Here we go.
What is Google ads?
Google ads is an online advertising platform developed by Google, where advertisers pay Google for click-through ads that lead to a predefined landing page. Where are these ads presented? Search engine marketing (SEM) campaign's ads are presented on two main platforms: The search net (Search engine, above the organic results), and the media net (a large collection of website that have prtnered with Google through the Adsense program, and are hosting different advertisers' ads).
In the SEM, in fact, the pricing model is pay-per-click (PPC), the advertiser pays for every user's click on their ad.
How does the search engine decide which sponsored ads it displays for user queries?
Well, before answering this question, one must remember one very important thing: Google is a business, and as a business, its goal is to earn as much as possible. In order to do so, Google aims to put on ds with higher probability of being clicked by users. After all, Google receive payment by each business that decides to advertise with it. Displaying ads that users don't bother clicking on is a waste of precious real estate for Google.
Therefore, the decision whether a certain ad will be displayed on the search engine is based on two parameters: The first is, of course, the price the advertiser is willing to pay, while the second is the chance that users will click the ad. How does Google calculate those chances? By estimating the ad's copy, its relevance to the users query, and the quality of the landing page that comes up by clicking on the ad, as well. This value is simply called Adrank.
What kind of businesses are suitable for paid search?
To choose paid search or Google ad doesn't fit just any business. Paid search has a lot of benefits but there are quite a few challenges along side them. Let's try and understand which businesses can use paid search or SEM in order to increase website traffic.
A new and unfamiliar business, that wishes to drive traffic to its website, can do it by using Google ads. At the same time, the business can conduct a parallel search engine optimization (SEO) campaign, even though sometimes SEO can be a long process, especially in competitive fields. Paid search can help achieve customer movement, right here right now.
New services in an already existing businesses
Often, the sole interest of a business is to find out whether some new service it's about to offer its customers is even relevant. The business is looking to refine the service it provides through a process of trial and error, and to receive feedback from consumers about the quality of the product or service, and its relevance to their needs.
In cases like these paid search is a good choice. This doesn't mean the business shouldn't invest in SEO after the trial is over, of course. SEO could supply a heavier customer traffic for a set budget, in the long run. This only means that this kind of business can try and understand the relevance of a new service for its targeted customer by using paid search with Google ad.
Businesses with suitable margins
In the process of paid search it is very easy to check the cost of recruiting the customer and, on the other hand, the profit gained from that customer. Often paid search is not at all a relevant channel to manage regularly in a business, due to low or negative margins. That is why it is important to make sure the margin of the business- the difference between the income from a curtain customer and his or her recruitment cost, is reasonable, when choosing to use this kind of marketing as the main marketing channel.
If the business owner knows the service he provides is only temporary and is expected to expire at the end of its relevance period, then there is no use in investing in search engine optimization on its website. Keep in mind that one of SEO's many advantages, is that this platform creates for the owner a digital property that can be passed on or sold. When it comes to temporary service that depends on temporary circumstances (for example, the Olympics, a business that operates only during the election period, a business that operates during the World Cup, etc.), paid search is a reasonable solution that can fit more than organically promoting the site.
Businesses who wishes to have control over customer's flow
Not every business has the right capacity and capability to handle large number of customers simultaneously. Businesses such as these, who also are unable to expend, for such and other reasons, can use paid search campaign in order to gain control over the flow of customers. The owner can, at any given moment, stop the campaign and prevent new customers from creating new leads that would have required maintenance and resources.
Businesses who are not interested with putting in time and resources for learning
SEO is complicates process which requires knowledge and specialization, almost anyone can build a campaign through Google ad. Despite the fact that the interface's design is not so pleasant, the operation of such a campaign is relatively simple.
With that in mind, it is important to remember that in order to obtain truly effective results, which will aid with the prevention of spending money in vain, one would probably need the assistance of an advertising agency, small or big. In that case- not all of the funds invested in the campaign are directed towards recruitment of new customers and creation of new leads.
Challenges in running a paid search campaign
Maintaining a paid search campaign has quit a few disadvantages. A business that uses this marketing method is faced with many different challenges. Some of the main challenges are brought below:
The competition's clicks
A well-known and recognized methodology used by competing business owners is to waste their own search engine marketing budget by clicking on paid-for-ads of the competition. The damage caused by these kind of 'clicks' is, in fact, a double one: not only is it causing an increase of the business's expenses, for it is charged for every 'click', it is also prevents potential new customers who may be relevant from reaching it, since the business's marketing budget through ads has decreased due to the clicking.
Notably, this phenomenon of fake clicks is a well-known phenomenon, and Google, through advanced technology, is trying to prevent it. However, this method when used slowly and under the radar, can unquestionably make a business's entire campaign budget go to waste.
Paid search prices are rising
This is a critical point that every business must take into account. Naturally, a business's interest is to reduce cost and expenses in the most effective way as part of the attempt to make a bigger profit. Still, prices for paid search with Google ad are rising and are not expected to come down any time soon, at least for the next few years. This is quite a challenge for advertisers: In most cases, an advertiser will consider things for the long run and would redirect more resources towards search engine optimization, but not every business can afford the wait, until it receives effective results from that kind of promotion.
Reliability, authority, expertise
There is something about paid search that sends the customer the feeling of low responsibility, reliability and maybe even low credibility. Many customers avoid clicking on sponsored link on the search engine since they are under the impression that if someone had to pay in order to have their link among the results, than they are probably not authoritative enough to belong there naturally.
Customers who are not as keen
It would be reasonable to assume that users who have reach the business's website by clicking on a sponsored link are less likely to actually make a purchase than users who has reached the site by using the organic link that had been embedded into the reach engine. People tend to take businesses that appears in a paid ads on the search engine's results less seriously and the conversion ratios of such customers are expected to be lower.
Paid search does not produce property over time
One of the main problems with paid search is when the campaign's activity is stopped, the flow of users to the site also stops, and nothing is built for the long term, over time. It is much harder to sell the website as a yielding asset after the campaign is over. It is much harder to rent such website.
How to define a campaign on Google ad?
The process of defining a paid search campaign is easy and simple. First, the goal of the campaign should be determined:
A campaign could showcase the owner's intent to either increase sales, create new quality leads, optimize site traffic, increase customer interest in the product or brand, raise awareness, promote an app, and so on.
Should one ask to better site traffic, for instance, he or she would be asked to choose where they will meet their audience:
The search network, which is in fact, the search engine we all know, or the media network, which refers to a collective of website that have partnered with Google in order to host various advertisements. There is also the option of shopping ads in order to promote products, or to advertise with the well-known Google subsidiary- YouTube.
Ads and ads collection set up
Ads collection is literally a container of different ads. For each ads collection one can define its own price offers, different set of rules and of course the actual ads.
An ad is actually a set of settings on the copy level which represent the text that eventually would be displayed on the search engine for the user to see. Choosing the key-words on the ad has a great importance, when managing a Google ad campaign.
In order for an ad to show on the search engine, there are triggers that are in charge to activate it, and they must be well defined. Those triggers are called 'Keywords' or 'Opening phrases', and has different kinds of matchings. Google offers the website's owner a few different kind of matches:
Broad match – Is the default match. It includes the largest search phrases, best fitting the campaign's defined keywords. Including any spelling mistakes or the type errors made by the user, synonyms, related searches and more.
Phrase match- When the user searched the defined phrase, with different words before or after the phrase.
Exact match- Is only possible when the user searches the exact same phrase that was previously defined.
Negative key word- the site's owner can determined which of the words will not appear on the search engine.
All of the above deals with well-defined ads, where an ad is matched with a user's search phrase. It is known in advance exactly which ad, and in exactly what form, would be displayed to the user. A more advanced approach to ad presentation is by dynamically matching the ads to the search phrase the users has used. In order to do so, one should define a collection of ads as a dynamic one, as well as the ads themselves.
Paid search is a good option for new website owners who want to attract a flow of users into their website, immediately. Paid search could also suit a temporary business that is in no need of a long term asset, as long as the business's margins allows it.
Yet again, there are quite a few challenges along the process of search engine advertizing, which should be taken into consideration before the start of a new campaign.