Paid search plays an important role in traffic, visibility, and conversions. However, if you don’t know how to leverage it, you’ll end up wasting resources and watering down your brand image. Do you know what, if any, mistakes you’re making?

Paid search man

What is Paid Search?

“Paid search is a form of digital marketing where search engines such as Google and Bing allow advertisers to show ads on their search engine results pages (SERPs),” Search Engine Watch explains. “Paid search works on a pay-per-click model, meaning you do exactly that – until someone clicks on your ad, you don’t pay. This makes it a measurable and controllable marketing channel compared with more traditional forms of advertising.”

Paid search is also commonly referred to as search engine marketing (SEM). The most common pay-per-click (PPC) platforms include Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Yahoo Search Ads. However, many would also include social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Paid search is the counterpart to organic search marketing – also referred to as search engine optimization (SEO). In order to get the most out of digital marketing, it’s highly recommended that brands invest in both paid search and organic search.

Missed marketing target

4 Paid Search Mistakes to Avoid

Paid search requires some skill and technical competency to get right. As you shape your strategy, be sure to avoid costly mistakes like these:

1. Focusing Too Much on Cost-Per-Lead

For many years, cost-per-lead (CPL) was the preferred metric for gauging the efficacy of search marketing campaign results. However, experts in the field have come to realize that analyzing based on CPL is hugely misleading. It’s even been known to singlehandedly ruin campaigns.

When a campaign is focused purely on CPL, you focus too much on clicks and not enough on conversions. Instead, you should emphasize profitability. Which keywords generate the lowest cost-per-sale, and which ads are creating the most tangible value for your business?

2. Not Understanding Who Your Audience Is

The second big mistake is not understanding who your audience is and what they want. A lack of understanding will limit your targeting abilities. This will lead to improper audience segmenting and wasted ad spend. You can correct this by doing more in-depth analytical study on who your target customers are and what purchase behaviors they exhibit.

Armed with the correct demographic information on your audience, you need to ensure you know exactly what your audience wants so that you can align these needs with your search marketing strategy. As a general rule of thumb, paid search is designed to get immediate results.

“[Paid search is] most effective for users looking to make a purchase or find a solution right then and there,” LumenAd explains. “In other words, it’s great for driving conversions.”

Whereas organic search marketing is all about building funnels and slowly nudging people along until they’re ready to make a purchase, paid search is about reaching the right people and convincing them to convert within one or two clicks. If you can do this well, you’ll be successful.

3. Writing Poor Copy

A lot of brands are so thrilled to discover a keyword fits into their budget that they just start pumping out ads without much emphasis on the copy. This is a huge mistake. Ad copy is arguably the most important element and should be treated as such.

PPC ads give you very little room for error. You’re severely limited by a hard cap on characters and have to get straight to the point. Assuming you know who your audience is and what they want, you have the tools necessary to succeed. For best results, speak directly to your audience and use emotional triggers to your advantage. (Any ad copy that evokes the fear of missing out, or FOMO, is usually quite effective.)

4. Neglecting Ad Extensions

While the ad copy matters most, don’t underestimate the importance of ad extensions. Neglecting them is a big mistake.

“While ad extensions might not always be a part of your ad, when they do show up, they matter,” Search Engine Land mentions. “Google reports that adding a new ad extension typically increases click-through rates by 10-15%, so they’re well worth investing some time into.”

Creating balanced strategy

Implement a Balanced Strategy

A good digital marketing strategy is all about balance. It accounts for both organic search and paid search. Make sure you perfect both sides of the equation through continued optimization. In the end, a well-rounded strategy will help you generate a robust return on investment.