Search marketing places paid advertisements directly into the results of a search on Google, Bing or other search engines. The great thing about this type of advertising is that you pay only for clicks. In a newspaper, you pay for an ad whether anyone looks at it or not. For search engine advertisement, you only pay when someone clicks on it meaning they already have some interest in what you are selling.

Search marketing also allows you to target users who are searching for specific keywords within a search engine. For example, if you are a landscaping business, you may want to advertise to home owners who are searching Google for the search term “Yard Service”. Type those two words into any Google search bar, and you will see something like the following.

Example of search advertising

You can see that the initial results have small “Ad” markers – indicating that these businesses have paid to be there, at the top of the search results. Think about it, this search term yielded 7,8100,000 results. Google places 10 results per page so you would need to click 781,000 times to see all the results. Since Google rankings are based on other websites linking to you, if you are a new company with a new website, you are not going to rank well – not yet. The fastest way to drive results is to pay to get on the first page. Your customer won’t differentiate between organic search results or paid search results; they just want answers to their problems.

The process of placing your ads into a Google search results page is straight forward, and this article is not meant to be a tutorial on how to do it, but more of a list of a few things you should keep in mind as you go through the process.

Know your budget

When you target keywords. i.e. “yard service”, understand that there may be other businesses in your area who are also targeting keywords. You are going to need to decide how much you are willing to spend to get visitors to your site. I like to start with a monthly budget. For most of my clients, they are simply redirecting existing advertising budget over to Google. If they already spend $3,000 a month on advertising, then maybe a good place to start is $1,000 a month, with $2,000 continuing to be placed in traditional advertising.

Once you set your monthly budget, divide it by 30 as Google will ask you what your daily budget is once you begin the setup process.

Placement of ads are based on a per click bid. As you set up your Google Adwords account, you will need to place a bid on keywords. Let’s say you are willing to pay $1 for every time someone searches for “yard service” and clicks on your ad. You would set this dollar amount as a limit. If your next closest competition bid only 50 cents, you’re not going to pay $1 per click, you are probably going to pay around 51 cents per click, and Google will use your remaining per day budget to place more of your ads within the search results.

On the other hand, if your industry is very competitive and you bid $1 but your competitors are bidding $2 per click, your ad may never show up. Google’s setup process will initially ask you for some keywords and then give you an idea of how much it will cost, you need to go in with some preset idea of how much you are willing to pay.

Control your cost with geographic focus

One of the most powerful tools in online advertising is your ability to target specific groups, including targeting geographic areas. This also allows you to control your costs. If you are selling yard services in Hawaii, why would you want to pay for a click from someone in California? The best way to target is to decide ahead of time on the geographic area of where you want to offer your services and limit the paid ads to searches within that area. You can home in on a State, and set of cities, or drill down to specific zip codes, all within the Google Adwords interface.

Control you cost by using long tail keywords

I often have a difficult time getting business owners to focus their marketing on specifics, largely because they are so used to broad marketing efforts that try to capture a larger market rather than a focused meaningful market. In search marketing, one way to improve effectiveness and control costs is to target very specific keyword phrases. Our previous example, “yard service”, is a broad search term. You can focus in by adding to the search term “yard service and tree trimming” or “lawn and garden maintenance services”. The more detailed you get, the more likely you will attract customers that are looking for your specific type of service, but also the more likely that you are targeting a set of keywords that don’t have as much bidders which will lower your cost.

Long tail keywords may seem counter intuitive as you may reduce the number of searches that you show up in, but remember we are doing targeting marketing here, and staying broad can get expensive quickly.

Try multiple campaigns

I realize it’s a little more work, but I think it is critical that you prepare multiple sets of keywords with ads targeting each set. For our yard service business, you may want to try the broad term “yard service”, but you should also be preparing campaigns for different search terms such as “landscape design”, “tree trimming”, “landscape maintenance”. Track results over the course of the next year, dropping campaigns that don’t work or cost too much in favor of those that deliver better results. Google’s Adwords interface makes this process straight forward.

Direct click throughs to landing pages

Once you set up your ads and start to get some clicks, you need to think about where those users are landing. Since you are doing targeted advertising, you should lead those users not to your generic website homepage, but to targeted pages that deliver the content that those potential users want. Going back to the yard service business, the “landscape maintenance” ad should lead to the services page within your site that describes that particular service, and clearly tells the visitor how to engage your company in regard to that particular service.