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Paid Search: Create Winning Ad Campaigns and Improve ROI

April 15, 2024

paid search

Paid search helps ads land directly on the search engine results page (SERP). 

Search engines allow marketers to show ads to their target audience and drive them to their website. As a result, you can prioritize visibility, traffic, and acquisitions. 

Advertising costs usually vary and depend on your budget and the maximum bid amount you set. Modern marketers leverage paid search intelligence software to get the most value from advertising dollars. 

Let’s explore how paid search can be an essential channel to drive leads and how to set it up for success. 

Ads are shown based on bids, ad extensions, keywords, and the quality of ads and landing pages. The highest bidder gets the highest rankings for the phrases or keywords they’re bidding on. Ad extensions, such as links to a contact us page or a phone number, impact and potentially improve ad rankings. 

Here’s how it works.

Suppose you’re running an ad to bring traffic to a landing page on Google. Google will assess your ad and the landing page to determine their relevance. Then, it assigns a quality score to the ad campaign, which has sway over how the ad ranks.

Search engines also consider various other factors, such as location, time, or competition, to rank paid search ads effectively. 

Most businesses use pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, a common form of paid search. These campaigns make an immediate impact by bringing in clicks to the pages they promote. This helps track returns and justify investments in running these campaigns. 

Why invest in paid search ads

Paid search ad campaigns help businesses attract their audience. When starting a business, you get initial leads from referrals. You assess these leads or customers and build a buyer persona to understand their pain better. When you’re through with this research, the next step leads you toward finding ways to attract more potential buyers. 

Here, you look for ways customers can discover you on search engines, social media, and other spaces. With search engines like Google getting 8.5 billion searches daily, trying out search engine marketing makes sense. 

Here, you will need help deciding whether to use paid search ads or organic search engine optimization (SEO). Both have enormous potential to attract relevant buyers to a website.

Paid search ads vs. organic search marketing

Paid search ads involve bidding on keywords and phrases relevant to your business. This method of generating results quickly costs money. 

On the other hand, organic search marketing focuses on using content marketing and search engine optimization. Your pages rank organically on search engines without any investment in ads. 

Paid search ads vs. organic search marketing

Both of these strategies are equally important for a business. If you’re in the business-to-business (B2B) space, organic search marketing makes more sense since the audience spends a lot of time on your content before they get in touch. Consistent SEO and content efforts also have an added compounding effect on visibility.

However, it’s not like one is better than the other. They’re equally essential in growing your businesses. 

Organic search marketing can take time to show impact and bring in leads. Whereas when you’re building a foundation, paid search advertising keeps up the lead inflow. It supports businesses in the early stages to bring in people who can be potential customers. 

Paid search ads show impact faster than organic search marketing, delivering a faster return on investment (ROI). This ROI essentially helps justify the ad budgets to stakeholders later. 

Benefits of paid search ads

Paid ads offer a variety of benefits for marketers who use them to drive their target audience toward their brand.

  • Better understanding of the target audience: While doing keyword research, you discover a lot about the phrases your target audience uses to find answers to their queries related to your brand. 
  • Control over advertising budget: Suppose you’re bidding for the keyword CRM software on Google at a maximum bid of $5. Another competitor bids for the same at $3. In such cases, your result will be shown for an ad spend of $3.01. It won’t take up the maximum bid assigned. You can change the maximum bid amount at any time, giving you the flexibility to control budgets. 
  • Quicker results: Paid ads help quickly find people interested in your products or services. It gives you several leads to work on and close them faster to maintain incoming revenue while you build out organic marketing. 

7 steps to set up paid search campaigns

Depending on the search engine, you’ll need an account to start the process. For Google, you can create a Google Ads account and connect it to your website. When you’re done, start configuring your paid search campaigns by following these steps: 

  • Configure location: Choose zip codes and locations where your ads will appear. 
  • Choose keywords: Perform extensive keyword research to add phrases and queries most relevant to your brand. Keyword research tools will help you find them. 
  • Select the match type: Depending on your strategy, you can choose an exact match, broad match, or phrase match. 

Did you know? For an Exact Match, Google will show ads to people who look for plurals, synonyms, or other keyword variations. When you choose a Broad Match, the ads get in front of people who include words from your key phrases in their search queries. On the other hand, selecting a Phrase Match displays ads to people who use your key phrases in the exact order, but other words come before and after the key phrase.

  • Create an ad copy: Write an ad copy to attract and engage the target audience. Make sure it contains a call to action (CTA) and phrases related to your keywords. Avoid using prohibited things like trademarked phrases or words, unnecessary spacing, words with all upper case letters, or headlines with exclamation marks. 
  • Select the bid amount: Refer to the amount you should bid for keywords based on suggestions from the advertising platform. You can choose the bidding strategy you think will most impact your business.
  • Add ad extension: Give more information about your company to deliver a good user experience while increasing ad quality scores. You can add details on pricing, links to specific pages, or phone numbers.
  • Launch the campaign: You have already filled in the credit or debit card details. The ad platform will charge you after 30 days of launching the ads or after achieving a threshold limit. After launching the campaign, you can look into the insights to see results. 

Top 5 paid search intelligence tools

Paid search intelligence software helps businesses do better with their paid search efforts. They help you look at what competitors are doing with their search ads and figure out ways to outbid them. 

To qualify for inclusion in the paid search intelligence software list, a product must: 

  • Offer tools to analyze competitors' search ad content and the web pages their ads link to
  • Include reporting functions to gather and organize data on paid search strategies

* Below are the leading paid search intelligence software from the G2 Spring 2024 Grid® Report. Some reviews have been edited for clarity. 

1. Similarweb

Similarweb provides insights into competitors' digital marketing strategies, including paid search campaigns. It shows the keywords competitors are bidding on and where their traffic comes from. 

What users like best:

“What I use the most is the data from competitors, which we can't have in platforms like Google Ads, Meta, etc. It's beneficial to compare two websites or more.

The support is helpful, and I realize that the analysis possibilities are more numerous than I thought.”

- Similarweb Review, Aurélie V.

What users dislike:

“While Similarweb provides extensive analytics and insights, one area for improvement could be the pricing structure. The service can be on the higher end of the budget for small to medium-sized businesses or startups. Additionally, while the data is generally very comprehensive, there are occasional gaps in smaller market segments or niche industries. Streamlining the cost-effectiveness and expanding the depth of data in less prominent sectors could enhance the overall utility of the platform.”

- Similarweb Review, Mehmet A.

2. Semrush

Semrush amps up search engine marketing with features to analyze competitors' search advertising, including the keywords they target and their ad copy. It provides data on search volumes and trends, helping businesses identify effective keywords for their campaigns. 

What users like best:

“I like Semrush because of its comprehensive and detailed SEO tool. The domain overview, Keyword gap, keyword magic tool, and backlink analytics are some of the best features. I also like that they offer a 7-day free trial to test their SEO. This allows students to use it for assignments and research without burning holes in their pockets.

Furthermore, the SEMRUSH Academy is a perfect learning platform for digital marketers and SEO specialists to know more about marketing strategies and how to improve their business.”

 - Semrush Review, Opeyemi O.

What users dislike:

“The only downside of the tool is its hefty pricing, which might be an issue for small businesses.”

- Semrush Review, Ankit V.

3. SE Ranking

SE Ranking focuses on providing detailed SEO and paid search insights. It allows users to optimize their campaigns by discovering gaps and opportunities in their search engine advertising strategy.

What users like best:

“SE Ranking is a friendly tool with a great UI. It has a full suite of tools, including keyword research, keyword rankings, reports, and site audits. I love the Site Audit tool, as it provides a thorough review of the site. I also love the report builder, as it is easy to use and full of great features, including a scheduler and a drag-and-drop builder.”

- SE Ranking Review, Brandon G.

What users dislike:

“My biggest gripe is a feature I've requested repeatedly: transferring the keyword tags from keyword research to project keyword rankings. Repeating the task is exhausting.”

- SE Ranking Review, Sally R.

4. Adthena

Adthena uses artificial intelligence (AI) to give businesses a competitive edge in paid search campaigns. It offers insights into competitors' strategies, including their ad copy and keywords, and provides ways to outbid and outperform them.

What users like best:

“Great insights into who your competitors are on relevant search terms on Google Ads. You can also see what ads your competitor creates.”

- Adthena Review, Michael C.

What users dislike:

“There's a bit of discrepancy between Google ads and Adthena, but for the most part, the trends are the same, if not specific metrics. There's also a lack of a "contains" function within filters, which would be helpful and quicker than search term groups.”

- Adthena Review, Will R.

5. Spyfu

SpyFu provides detailed insights into the keywords competitors target on Google Ads and their most successful ad copy. It helps businesses understand competitors' strategies to create more effective search advertising campaigns.

What users like best:

“It’s a helpful tool for competitor analysis and keyword research. Using this, I can monitor competitors' activity, such as their backlinks and top-ranking content.”

- SpyFu Review, Suman R.

What users dislike:

“The interface is a bit confusing. Some features, such as 'Top Organic Competitors,' are not always accurate.”

- SpyFu Review, Anahit A. 

Click to chat with G2's Monty-AI

Invest intelligently

Choose a paid search intelligence tool that fits your marketing strategy and overall business perfectly. Compare and contrast the options above, and consider actual users’ experiences to inform your decision. 

 Check out the top free paid search intelligence tools to try and explore the most suitable option.

paid search intelligence software
Spend smarter.

Find the best paid search intelligence software to improve the outcomes of paid search investments.

paid search intelligence software
Spend smarter.

Find the best paid search intelligence software to improve the outcomes of paid search investments.

Paid Search: Create Winning Ad Campaigns and Improve ROI Paid search is a digital advertising strategy where you pay search engines to show your ads on search engine results pages. Learn more about its benefits.
Sagar Joshi Sagar Joshi is a former content marketing specialist at G2 in India. He is an engineer with a keen interest in data analytics and cybersecurity. He writes about topics related to them. You can find him reading books, learning a new language, or playing pool in his free time.

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