Welcome to the Delicious but Filling World of Paid Search

In past articles we’ve gone to some pretty good lengths to teach you search engine optimization tips for optimizing your website to rank well in Google’s organic rankings.  However, organic search is just one aspect of search marketing.  So that’s why I’m changing things up a little this time. Today we are going to discuss paid search – Google’s cash fed; non-organic search results.

Now I know what you’re thinking:  “Paid search? But shouldn’t my rankings be organic and as free as the free range chicken is in my Chipotle burrito?” In a perfect world, yes; however, in the world of search that’s not always possible or plausible. The search world is a competitive one and it takes time to improve your organic rankings, but fortunately for us, anyone can show up in the search results today if they want to – all they have to do is pay for it.

Welcome to Paid Search

Paid search is pretty great. It allows you to pay to deliver enticing ads that promote relevant content that captures the search intent of a persons’ search query. It’s the perfect way to stay competitive and get traction for the keywords you may be trying to develop organically or don’t have the authority to rank high enough for.

With paid search if you don’t know what you’re doing you can burn through your money pretty quickly with suboptimal results. So that’s why in this three part blog series I’m going to start off by introducing you to paid search and then start working my way towards teaching you some actionable strategies to implement once you’ve become familiar with how it all works. So let’s start off by overviewing some of the basics, and then we’ll dive into some more advanced techniques.

First, let’s look at where the paid search results are located in Google.  In the image below, you’ll see that the paid search results can be found in the top 3 positions above the organic rankings and in the column to the right of the organic rankings.


How this works is you place bids to have your ad be one of the featured ads in the paid search results for a particular search query. The more you bid, the higher the placement; however in addition to your bid, having relevant ads of high quality can also influence your ad’s placement. Good placement will get you more clicks, which hopefully means more traffic and more conversions.  The beauty of the paid search process is that you don’t get charged for these ad impressions until someone actually clicks on your ad. This is why paid search is also commonly known as cost per click (CPC).

Getting Started

To get started with running paid search ads, you’ll need an AdWords account, which is free to start up. I also highly recommend downloading something like the AdWords Editor to help set everything up. Once you have your account, you’ll note that the account can be divided up into three levels: campaigns, ad groups, and keywords.

Campaigns - These are your overarching themes of content that focus on what users are searching for.  For example, if we’re a triathlon store, then some of the campaigns we would likely want to setup would be Swimming, Cycling, and Running or Running Shoes depending on how segmented we want to get.

Ad Groups - An ad group is a group of keywords that trigger a corresponding ad or group of ads to be delivered in the paid search results. So to continue on with our example where our campaign is Running Shoes; some examples of ad groups within that campaign might be: Men’s Running Shoes and Women’s Running Shoes.

Keywords – Keywords are the actual search phrases that you want a particular ad or group of ads to be delivered for when someone searches for that phrase within the search engine. We’ll cover the several keyword match types in a later post, but to continue on with our example, let’s say our ad group was Women’s Running Shoes.  In this case some keywords we would likely include in that ad group are “women’s running shoes” and “ladies running shoes”.

To recap, your paid search account is made up of campaigns that each house an ad group or collection of ad groups, and each ad group will then deliver ads based on the keyword search queries that trigger their delivery. It’s that simple.

Anatomy of a Paid Search Ad

Now that we’ve see where the ads are located, and how they fit into the paid search process; let’s take a closer look at what comprises a paid search ad and explore what some of our limitations are. Paid search ads can be seen in two different formats –long and short. Long ads are what you’ll see when your ad is in one of the top three spots or the search results, and short ads are what your ad will look like when it’s featured on the side.

running_shoes2 running_shoes

Furthermore, there are four basic elements of a paid search ad:

Ad Title - Limited to no more than 25 characters.
Ad Copy Line 1 - Limited to no more than 35 characters.
Ad Copy Line 2 - Limited to no more than 35 characters.
Display URL - Limited to no more than 35 characters.


There are some additional ad extensions that can be used as well, such as: site links, phone numbers, reviews, etc. but the single most important factor to consider in any paid search ad is the destination URL. This ultimately is going to determine whether you ad is successful because this is the landing page in which the visitor interacts with your site and hopefully converts.

Summary – 60 Percent of the Time it Works Every Time

In summary, paid search is a great way to expand your marketing efforts into keywords you don’t rank well for. After reading this you should now know the basics of how it all works. This means the next step is for you to setup an account and begin thinking through what types of content and keywords you want to market. In my next post in this series, we’ll take a closer look inside the world of paid search, and the important factors you need to keep in consideration in order to set yourself up for success. After that we’ll run through some paid search strategy and you’ll be playing some celebratory jazz flute in no time.