Paid search is a powerful advertising strategy that allows you to get your business listed highly in search engines. The premise is simple: You’ll pay a certain amount of money for each click you earn in your listing. You’ll then decide on a number of variables. This can include which keywords and/or demographics you want to target. Also, you’ll want to determine the nature of your ad (i.e., its position, form, and medium). Once listed, you’ll attract traffic to your site and pay for it on a per-click basis (in most cases).
Paid search marketing is available through Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising. Millions of businesses have used it to improve brand visibility, generate traffic, and earn more conversions. However, it’s not a perfect strategy, and there are many benefits and weaknesses you should understand before moving forward.
The Pros of Paid Search
These are some of the most impressive upsides to using paid search:
Practically Guaranteed Traffic
For starters, you’re practically guaranteed to generate traffic with a paid search (or pay-per-click, PPC) advertising strategy. You’ll be paying a major search engine for each click your ad generates. Therefore, they’re incentivized to list your ad in a way that earns clicks. With so many other marketing strategies that could hypothetically fail, this provides reassurance and comfort to advertisers.
Once you build out a paid search campaign and launch it, you’ll begin seeing near-immediate results. The search engine will start listing your ads, people will start seeing them, and you’ll start earning traffic to your site. Compare that to a strategy like search engine optimization. SEO is valuable, but it takes many months, and sometimes years, to start seeing the results. By contrast, paid search is instantaneous.
With PPC ads on major search engines, you’ll be able to fine-tune your ads so they precisely target your specific audience. With the help of ad management platforms, you can target specific keywords and specific demographics. This ensures that only the most relevant people end up visiting your site.
PPC ads are also ideal for seasonal needs. Rather than investing all year for a strategy that’s only relevant part of the time, you can begin and shut down your paid search strategy as necessary to capture your seasonal audience.
Even if you aren’t attracting clicks, your paid search ads will be listed above organic search results for all searchers to see. That means even when you’re not paying money, you’re getting free brand exposure. That can help you improve your brand visibility and reputation, and ultimately earn more traffic in other channels.
As a paid search manager, you’ll be in direct control of how this strategy operates. You can control exactly when and how your ads appear. And you can set a strict budget so you never pay too much for your ads.
Precisely Measurable ROI
Everything in the world of PPC is measurable. Moreover, Google and Microsoft both provide you with all the tools you need to analyze your results. Accordingly, you should have no trouble calculating your return on investment (ROI) and making adjustments to push it higher.
The Cons of Paid Search
However, there are also some downsides to keep in mind:
Relatively High Cost
SEO may take a long time to develop, but at its peak, it’s an incredibly high-ROI strategy. By contrast, PPC ads carry relatively high costs. That said, you can set an upper limit on your budget and target less-competitive keywords if you want or need to manage a paid search campaign with minimal funds.
Lack of Development
Along similar lines, paid search doesn’t offer much opportunity for development. Over time, you’ll learn more about the strategy. Then you’ll be able to try new tactics. But your ROI isn’t going to exponentially multiply the way it can with other marketing strategies.
Skill and Knowledge Dependency
Creating and managing PPC ads isn’t beyond the potential grasp of most marketers. However, there is a learning curve to overcome. It takes time to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to create an effective paid search campaign.
Good PPC campaigns require ongoing management, gradually optimizing your ads and placements. This can be incredibly time consuming if you don’t have much experience. This prompts many marketers to hire an agency to do it.
There’s also the possibility of facing click fraud. Basically, the idea is that your competitors and rivals could intentionally click on your links to cost you money—while providing no value to your brand.
Use Paid Search Marketing as Part of Your Overall Marketing Strategy
Paid search marketing can be an incredibly valuable strategy, but it’s not without its drawbacks. PPC, or paid search, is best used as a complement to other marketing and advertising services you offer, serving its purpose as part of a comprehensive suite of different tactics.