Paid search advertising, also known as pay per click (PPC) advertising, is a way of buying traffic to your site that is targeted and relevant and therefore likely to generate sales/leads.

There are many platforms on which you can do pay per click advertising, the main one being Google AdWords, but you can also set up ads on Bing and Yahoo! via Bing Ads, Facebook, Twitter and many more.

It works by setting up an account, creating ads and then targeting those ads to your audience. You can then set click bids (the maximum amount you would like to spend per click) and daily budgets to limit the number of clicks you get so you don’t spend more than you want to throughout the day. Then the ads are shown on your chosen platform, based on your criteria, and you only pay when someone chooses to click on your advert and go through to your web page.

Unlike other forms of advertising like print, tv or radio, paid search advertising is a lot more targeted as you can be very granular about who you target and also track the traffic throughout the user journey.

For example if you have a website selling an item, especially if it is a sought after item that not many other websites stock, or you have priced extremely competitively in the market, you can set up ads that appear in front of people that are searching for that product. This is the big difference, as the user is actively searching for the item that you have to offer, rather than just watching Coronation Street or driving home from work, trying to listen to music on the radio.

You can write an enticing message in your ad (within the character limits) that shows the user, that is already looking for what you have to offer, why they should choose to click on your ad, rather than the competitions’. Then if they do click they’ll land on your website, preferably on the page where they can buy said item, they’ll pop it in their basket and make their way through to checkout.

Given that you have the correct tracking setup you can then see that traffic coming through to your site and track the value of their purchase so you can then calculate the ROI of your paid search campaigns and prove that the investment is worthwhile as it is generating profit. (This is obviously much more difficult for lead generation sites but you can work out the value per lead.)

So why should businesses be investing in paid search?

  1. It’s an instant way to potentially get to the top of the search engine results pages for your chosen keywords (dependent on budget and competition)
  2. Immediate traffic – as soon as your campaigns are set up and your ads have been approved you can start getting traffic to your site
  3. It’s very targeted – people are searching for what you have to offer so you should be there for them to find
  4. Trackable – you can track the user journey and calculate ROI
  5. Testing – allows you to test different keywords and messaging quickly, that can help you in other areas of marketing
  6. Your competitors are probably doing it

Paid search campaigns can be extremely yielding and lucrative as long as they are set up and managed effectively. If not you can waste a lot of money fast.

Hire a PPC management agency if you can’t manage it yourself, as they’ll be able to get you the best return possible, by not wasting money on irrelevant clicks.