7 Elements of Highly Effective Search Marketing

by Angela Jones

Unless they’ve been living under a rock, most advertisers are aware that the implementation of a paid search campaign presents a convenient, controllable and traceable way to attain new visitors to their website.  Why, then, do we find some paid search accounts to be more successful than others?  Why does this occur across accounts with comparable assets and product/service offerings?  Experience shows us the answers to these questions lie in the application of seven elements. Here we lay out the seven elements and some tips on execution.

Element 1: Manage Paid and Organic Holistically

All signs point to 1+1 = 3.  When managing an integrated search marketing campaign and optimizing, plan and execute paid and organic together for greater return.

To do this, you’ll need to understand the differences between paid and organic and the benefits of each. Though organic clicks are considered “free”, the paid search medium is more controllable than organic search.  Keyword bid and ad copy management, for example, can be altered on a whim while organic results rely on an engine’s search algorithm, making optimization efforts’ success less measurable.

Bid on PPC terms whether or not they rank organically. Many sites only rank for 3-4% of the terms searchers use –with paid search, you can serve ads on a larger array of terms that might not have contextual support on the website to rank organically or are too competitive to rank organically.

Even when a search result ranks organically in top position for the search term used, SEO alone does not capture all clicks.  In fact, Google Research claims that ranked in the top organic position, 50% of incremental clicks are lost when a paid ad is paused.  This number jumps to 82% when the listing is ranked between 2 and 4 and even higher when results are ranked lower.

Element 2: Do Your Keyword Research

Remember that keyword lists are iterative and always changing based on a business’ offering evolving over time to meet consumer and industry demand.

Don’t forget negatives – Negative keywords are an important safety layer to protect your ads from serving against superfluous or irrelevant phrases.

Continually test match types and have a match type prioritization strategy (i.e. fully fund Exact Match first as they’re typically cheaper and have higher conversion rates compared to other match types).

Element 3: Account Structure

Your paid search account structure allows for flexibility in management and reporting. Structure is also important for assigning experiences (query  ad message  landing page) which informs Google Quality Score and therefore influences your bid. Separate accounts by lines of businesses and/or by your client’s business structure and align with where budgets are allocated.

Element 4: Tracking

Ensure you track performance to optimize campaigns with and drive greater ROI and cut back in areas that are less profitable. Monitor for single and multiple conversion events per click. Track designated high value conversion events (email sign ups, leads, sales, ROI, phone calls) as well as lower value events that show intent to purchase or consumer interest like store locator, coupon download, social cues (Facebook like or Twitter follow via OpenGraph), etc.

Element 5: Bid Management

Review search query reports to review terms your account is matching to that aren’t relevant (to build out more negative keywords). If budget allows, utilize a bid management technology to use automated bidding algorithms, in addition to manual human bidding. Manage bids to your goals, not just top positions.  ROI should drive your allowable bid.

Element 6: Budgeting

Look at impression share reports.  Brand terms should strive to hit high levels of impression share.

Fund terms that are most profitable, but also look at assist data and understand the attribution effects of higher funnel terms that drive more specific search queries later that result in conversions.

Element 7: Measurement and Reporting

While tracking consumer behavior is the first step, analyzing data to deduce actionable insights is critical.  To only track consumer behavior would be like winning the lottery without cashing in on the winnings.  Google AdWords and Bing Ads offer detailed reporting metrics to assist in account optimization.

This data becomes even more insightful when viewed across all marketing channels.  Often, the success of a paid search campaign requires an analytics tool to show how these clicks can boost brand awareness, drive long-term value and increase acquisitions.

Correct utilization of these seven easily executable elements can ensure a successful paid search campaign. Once you’ve understood the relationship between paid and organic search and have structured the account in a way that makes sense for your business, track performance and use those findings to bid appropriately within a budget that keeps your overall account goals in line!

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