The first place where people go to for information about a product is the search engine. Google accounts for more than 65% of searches, while Yahoo and Bing have less than 30%.
When users look for information to solve their problems or research about a product, the search engines give them the most relevant and best results (as determined by links and other search engine optimization factors). Users often do not go beyond the first page when looking for results. If your site does not appear on the first page, you cannot expect to get a lot of referrals to your sites. There is a way though to be visible in the search engines by paying for it, and that is through search engine advertising.
In Google, search engine ads are found on the right side of the results page. It can also be found on top of the “unpaid” or organic results. They are clearly labeled “ads” so that it is clear to users that they are paid results. The appearance of your ad is triggered by the keyword search you want your ad to appear in.
Search engine text ads normally consist of a headline, two lines of copy message and a web address or URL.
One great benefit of search engine advertising is that it turns up when people are searching for your product or terms related to your product (or whatever keyword search you would like your ad to be visible in). This way, you are showing your ad to the user who is already interested in what you are selling or offering.
Another benefit of this form of advertising is that you only pay when your ad is clicked, or when the search engine sends a user to your site. This is why search engine advertising is also called pay per click ads or PPC. Paying per click makes advertising more cost efficient than many other forms of advertising because you only pay when the user who is actually interested in your product actually goes to your website.
Google and other search engines place ads not only on their results pages. They also partner with thousands of website owners with informational content on their site. These are called “content networks”. Search engines have the ability to put ads on a page with content that is related to your product, as determined by their algorithm. Ads that show up on these websites are called “content ads” or “contextual ads”.
Since content ads show up on content that are related to your product, you are making it visible to users who are already interested in your product and are predisposed to buy. For example, a golf-related website has Google ads of golf-related products.
In the content network, you can also choose to show image ads. Also, ads in the content network are usually much cheaper than ads in search result pages.
The price of a click is determined by bidding and the quality of the page where you are taking your audience (the “landing page” or “destination URL”). You compete with other advertisers who want to show up on the same keywords. The more competitive the keyword, the higher the price per click tends to be. The higher you bid, the higher you show up on the “paid results”. The higher you appear, the more visible your ad becomes in the search engine. A click can be as cheap as .10 and as expensive as $35.00 or more.
In a nutshell, you perform Search Engine or Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising as follows:
- Create an advertiser account with Google, Yahoo or Bing, indicating billing and other advertiser information.
- Do keyword research to find out what keyword phrases users use to look for your products and services, as well as other keywords that relate to the solutions you offer. You want these keywords to trigger your ad in the search engine.
- Create an ad following the copy constraints.
- Create a page where you want users to land when they click the link on your ad. Your landing page must have content that effectively converts your visitor into customers.
- On your search engine account dashboard, create a campaign with its own keyword group and ad copy.
- Indicate your bid or the amount you are willing to pay per click on your chosen keywords.
- You can also control the day and time when you want your the ads to appear, in which location, and whether your ads appear on the search results, on the content network, or both. There are many other options that you can choose to make your ads as cost effective as possible.
- Prune the keywords and ads that do not perform well, and bid higher on the ads that prove to be profitable.
Being successful in PPC and search engine advertising takes analytic skills and knowledge of specialized advertising strategies, beginning with keyword research, tracking your results, and so on. If you do not have the time, the inclination or the skill to perform PPC advertising, you can hire an agency or a freelance advertiser.