Paid Search Strategies: best practices in paid search

Search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are relevant lead generation strategies for any business that wants to be visible online. Search Engines like Google and Bing are efficient ways for businesses to reach customers online.

Day in and day out, the Google search engine alone takes care of over 3.5 billion search terms. Paid Search Strategies are important to drive more leads and customers to a business site.


This article describes what paid search is, how it differs from organic search and the benefits of Paid Search Marketing. It also explains what a paid search strategy is, how paid search works, how to measure paid search and which best practices you can implement.


What is Paid Search?


Paid Search advertising is

“A digital marketing strategy in which companies pay search engines to place their advertisement higher on relevant search engine results pages (SERPS) to drive traffic to their website.”


Paid Search vs SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Paid Search are not the same. Organic search results help to land a business website for free on the first search engine results page (SERP).




Paid search results are a form of online advertisements a company pays for to appear at the top of the search results page.


The main search engine marketing methods

Search engine marketing (SEM), PPC, search engine advertising or sponsored listing are just a few names to mention paid search.


Specific advertising programmes and ad types, like Google Ads, Google Product Listing Ads, Google Shopping Ads and Bing ads, only make it more confusing. All of this is called Paid Search.


Here is a concise list of the main search engine marketing methods:


Cost Per Mille (CPM)

This is also called Cost per thousand impressions. This online advertising model is based on the number of people who see the online advertisement (“the impressions”), regardless of the actual number of clicks.

This model works best for companies that want to improve brand awareness.


Cost Per Click (CPC).

An online advertisement of a business appears on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) each time a user clicks on the advertisement. The metric CPC measures cost per click.


Pay Per Click (PPC).

Like CPC, PPC is the strategy of online advertisement used to show online advertising of a business on the search engine results page (SERP) if a user clicks on the advertisement.


This model works best for companies that want to generate sales. This is the most used online advertisement model and is often used to refer to paid searches.


Product Listing Ads (PLA)

This is also called Google Shopping Ads. These are the online advertisements in a carousel with pictures above the organic search results.


Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

This is also called Search Marketing. This refers only to paid search advertising but can also include SEO (Search Engine Optimization).


Google Ads

Google Ads are online advertisements that are shown on Google's advertising networks. It consists of PPC/CPC and CPM advertising, site-targeted banner, text, and rich media ads.


Google Ads are ads shown on one or both of Google's advertising networks:


Google Search Network

This includes any ad that appears on Google search results pages, including Google Search, Google Shopping, Maps, and its various search partners.


Google Display Network

This includes any websites that partner with Google, and other Google sites, such as Gmail and YouTube.


Paid Search vs PPC

Although the terms Paid Search and pay-per-click (PPC) are often interchanged, they are not the same. Paid Search Marketing consists of several types of payment models, including:

  • Pay-per-click (PPC advertising)

  • Cost per action/ acquisition (CPA advertising)

  • Cost per thousand impressions (CPM advertising)

Yet, PPC is the most widely used paid search advertisement model.


In a PPC campaign, a company only pays if a visitor clicks on their advertisement. This makes PPC an affordable online advertisement method. PPC ads only reach users who actively search for the products and services of a specific company.


Paid search is a good option if you are not ranking in search engines with organic search alone. Paid Search can help increase a company’s online presence. That said, it is not a replacement for search engine optimization.


Benefits of Paid Search Marketing

What benefits does Paid search marketing involve, besides ranking on top of the search engine result pages? Here are the additional benefits of using paid search marketing as an inbound marketing strategy:


#Benefit1: Landing Page Testing


#Benefit2: Find new keywords


#Benefit3: Improve ranking on search engines


#Benefit4: Target audience

Keywords can help businesses target potential customers and searchers to find specific products and services.


Bidding for keywords that are most relevant to your company is an effective way to reach your business's target audience.


#Benefit5: Cost control

With paid search, you as a business owner have full control over how your online advertising budget is spent.


With paid search, you can advertise directly to your target audience who are actively looking for your products and services online.


Businesses often pay less than their maximum bid price and can change their bid price at any time.


#Benefit6: Immediate results

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can take months for the first results to come in. Paid Search results are immediate for businesses.

How Paid Search Works

If someone searching for “paid search” on Google, the search engine results page (SERP) returns the following:



How to set up a Paid Search Strategy?

Follow these steps to set up your paid search campaign:


#Step1: Location settings

Choose where your online ads are shown, including country, postal code, or city. This is based on where your company is located or where your target audience can buy your products or services.


#Step2: Keywords

Choose the keywords that apply most to your business and brand awareness.

Keyword research with Google Keyword Planner shows what keywords your target audience is looking for, and which ones are most important.


It also gives a keyword list, search statistics, insight into competitors and the cost per click of each keyword.


#Step3: Match types

Before bidding on specific keywords in a PPC ad campaign, you first need to choose a match type. This tells Google's algorithm how precise you want your ads to match user searches:

  • exact match: your ad group only appears to users if they search for your exact keyword phrase. This may include plurals, synonyms, or other keyword phrase variations.

  • broad match: Your online ad appears whenever a search included any of the words in your key phrase or searches with synonyms.

  • Phrase match: a combination of exact match and broad match. Your online ad appears when a user has a search that includes your keywords in the exact order, but other words can be included before or after the key search phrase.

#Step4: Create your ad

Good ads copy contains the following features:

  • Call-to-action (CTA)

  • Words and phrases related to your keywords

  • Engaging content

#Step5: Bidding

After creating the ad copy, you choose the Bid, the amount of money you want to pay the maximum for each click, including keywords. It can differ for each keyword and keyword phrase.


Bidding lower than the recommended amount will let your online ad appear less frequently.


#Step6: Ad extensions

You can use ad extensions to provide more information about your company or show your online ad on several search engines. Examples of ad extensions include:

  • Pricing: provide costs of different services and products you offer

  • Call Outs: any additional information about your business

  • Location: provide your company’s address

  • Site Links: links to other pages on your site

  • Phone Number: add a phone number and give mobile users the option of click-to-call

#Step7: Ad launch and payment

Ads show within a few hours after payment. When you create an online advertisement account, you will add a credit/debit card to the account and be automatically charged.


Measuring Paid Search

How do search engines rank and measure the quality of your online advertisements?


Google assigns a Quality Score for each online advertisement placed on their Google ad platform. The search engine also investigates how useful and relevant ads and landing pages are.


Each time a user enters a keyword in their search engines, the action of an online advertisement takes place. The bid and quality score are considered:


#Measuremen1: Bid

The amount of money your business is willing to spend on an online advertisement. If your bid is the highest, your quality score will determine your placement on the search engine page.


#Measuremen2: Quality Score

A score from 1 to 10 that every keyword and landing page in an account is assigned by paid search platforms.


The quality score is calculated based on three factors:

  • Expected clickthrough rate (CTR): how likely it is that users click on your ad when shown.

  • Ad relevance: relevancy of the ad to the user’s search.

  • Landing page experience: How helpful your landing page is to users who click on the ad.

These two factors define where the online ad will appear on the search page. The business in the auction with the highest ad rank appears as the first search result.

Paid search platforms reward advertisers with higher quality ads, rather than those with the most money to spend.


Best practices in Paid Search


#BestPractice1:

Create a layered audience with Google Ads and Google Analytics

A campaign will perform best when you first define its target audience.


To define who your target audience is:

Use both Google Ads and Google Analytics to improve the chance of success for a paid search campaign. Look at demographics and affinity to see who your actual target audience is and what their actual needs and desires are.


To define what your target audience does:

Use In-market audiences. This audience is showing that they are actively interested in buying a product or service.


#BestPractice2:

Run one responsive Search Ad (RSA) per Ad Group

To find success outside your target audience and set of keyword variations, you can use RSA, or Responsive Search Ad, based on Machine Learning.

Put in quality headlines and text descriptions.


#BestPractice3:

Set a Target Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) or Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

Optimising a specific online ad campaign can be done with automation. Therefore, specific CPA and ROAS come in handy. For this you need:

  • The various marketing campaigns required to take a buyer from pre-awareness to conversion.

  • The lifetime value of a customer.

Yet if you lack a proper context, CPA and ROAS are just numbers.


#BestPractice5:

Always test smart bidding strategies first


#BestPractice6:

Invest in Microsoft Ads

There is no guarantee it will be effective for your brand, but Microsoft Ads get reliable results and do include some new features, that Google Ads are missing.


#BestPractice7:

Use Google Analytics to create remarketing campaigns

A quality visit entering the site of a localized page is an opportunity to create remarketing ads promoting the in-store experience.


#BestPractice8:

Review and revise your campaign structure

Optimize your paid search advertising strategy with Xplore Digital Agency.

Contact the marketing team of specialised b2b marketers for help.



We understand that modern businesses need flexibility so that we will adapt our resources to your needs. A marketing department is on demand for as little as 1,000 euros a month.

Our services
Editorial Design

Ask us anything

Cost effective

Complete knowdledge

Flexible contract

A la carte menu

Talk to an expert