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What is Search Engine Advertising?

Search engine advertising is a type of paid advertising, also known as pay-per-click advertising or PPC, that gets your business found on search engines. Search advertising is a great way to compete in the online space and directly target folks in your area who are using a search engine to look for your products or services.

The way it works is simple. Say you have a shoe shop. You were smart and placed a huge order of red, white and blue sandals just in time for the 4th of July, and you want to advertise on Google. When someone searches for a keyword you’ve bid on, like “red, white, and blue sandals,” their search term will trigger your text ad, which shows up in the sponsored section of the search results page. This gives you visibility on the page quickly and cost-effectively. Then, if your text ad is compelling enough, the searcher will click your ad, visit your website, and ultimately contact you.

The beauty of search advertising is that you have a chance to compete with the bigger competitors in your local market without spending an arm and a leg in advertising costs. It also gives small business owners like you a way to directly target searchers based on their geography so your search engine ads only show to people who are around your store or service area. Search advertising is like having a billboard online, but your targeting is much more effective because it is only being shown to people in your local area who are actually looking for your products or services.

 

Search advertising

Search advertising, or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, is an easy, low-budget way to reach the right audience. You’re able to control who sees the ads with nearly instant results. The PPC ads are shown directly on search engine websites after a keyword or phrase has been searched.

 

Major advantages

Qualified leads

A PPC campaign, done effectively, boosts traffic to your website and drives higher conversions. This is because customers are actively searching for keywords that result in seeing your PPC ads, so long as their keywords match your product or service. PPC ad campaigns generally drive higher click-through rates than display ads because of qualified leads.

Measurable data

Google AdWords is not only the place to setup your search advertising campaign, but it makes it easy to track how well your PPC campaign is doing. Simply pull up your AdWords account, choose the Campaigns tab, and choose “Keywords.”

Budget-friendly

If you’re just starting out or starting your campaign on a lower budget, PPC may be the best bang for your buck. With a PPC campaign, you’re not paying for the ads unless a user has clicked on them—hence their name.

This means, if you’re choosing and bidding on keywords that are relevant to your product or service, the users are most likely qualified leads, resulting in higher conversion rates.

It’s a great way to test what works before moving on to more time-intensive marketing strategies like SEO and content.

Determining factors

Now that you’re aware of the major differences between search and display advertising, consider some of the factors that you should take into account before making a decision.

Search volume

What are your potential customers searching for? Are they already actively looking for the products you’re selling? Here’s where Google AdWords helps yet again. Use this tool to determine if the keywords you’re using are high volume.

Awareness

Brand awareness is another determining factor when deciding. The first question you should be asking: How many people are aware of your brand already? If you’re looking to increase brand awareness, display ads are your best bet. However, a search campaign can also benefit from brand awareness, especially if your campaign focuses on brand-specific keywords.

Type of services or products

Certain ads may not bring you the highest ROI right away depending on the type of product or service you’re offering.

For example, services like towing, locksmiths, and doctors (also known as “urgent” services) are all services that users will specifically look for, and need, quickly. Using a display ad to advertise may not be the most beneficial if your service is something potential customers may need immediately.

However, this doesn’t mean your services wouldn’t benefit from a display ad—it just won’t be as beneficial to the customer in their time of need.

Mobile first

Did you know that almost 60% of searches are done on a mobile device? Typically, search ad campaigns are better equipped at handling mobile searches.

For example, a user may search for a service on their mobile device, which means they won’t be scrolling through a website. They’ll choose the first ad that comes up, and that’s generally going to be a PPC ad.

 

The takeaway

When you’re starting a new campaign, it’s not always easy to identify which type of advertising to use. Factors such as your budget, your search volume, and your main goal are only some of the things you should consider before choosing one.

Sometimes, it’s in your best interest to utilize both platforms to maximize your ROI. Using both at the same time means you’re reaching customers at different points in the customer journey, which may be a huge payoff for you in the end.

What has worked for you when it comes to search versus display advertising? Let us know your thoughts and your story in the comment section below!

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