paid search marketingUnderstanding the difference between paid search (PPC) and organic search can help you use both aspects of search engine marketing (SEM) to drive traffic to your website, convert visitors into leads, and ultimately increase revenue from your website.

Paid vs. Organic Search

Organic search results are the search results naturally produced by a search engine. They are based on complex algorithms each of the search engine companies has developed to provide answers to searchers’ queries which they believe most closely meet searchers’ needs. You can use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to influence these results to a degree.

Paid search is where search engine providers allow you to pay to place an ad above or alongside the organic search results as they are displayed on the search engine results page (SERP). The ads you provide for placements will be displayed based on the keywords searchers use for their search queries. Whether, where, and when your paid ad is displayed is based on how relevant your ad is to a search query and how much you are willing to pay (compared to your competitors) to display the ad.

While paid search ads are clicked only about 30 percent of the time, they can help to supplement your SEM efforts by driving traffic to your website in the short term and, over time, can improve your organic search efforts.

How to Use Paid Search

Paid search should not be a replacement for organic search engine optimization or your other online marketing. It should be an integral part of a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy. You can use it to accomplish many of your inbound marketing goals.

Landing Page Testing

Paid search is an ideal way to test and optimize landing pages using A/B testing. A/B testing is a way to try two variations of a given campaign element. You can set a single ad to drive users to two distinct destination URLs, and so, to two different landing pages, then analyze the results of the ad to see which page performed best. Test things like copy, different layouts or different forms to see which features performed best.

Finding New Keywords

Paid search is also an excellent way to find new keywords to use in your overall inbound marketing campaigns.

As you construct your paid search campaign, GoogleAdWords will generate a Search Terms report for you. For example, you may have chosen the search term, “lawn mowers.” Google’s Search Terms report will also display effective ancillary terms, such as “electric lawn mowers,” “gas-powered lawn mowers,” or “push lawn mowers.” You can then decide whether to add any of these terms to your campaign.

Getting in the Game

You can also use paid search to improve your visibility in areas and for search terms where you have not yet been as successful as you’d like to be. You may rank well in organic results for “electric lawn mowers” but not rank well for “gas-powered lawn mowers.” A well-placed search ad will boost your efforts to get ranked favorably in organic search results for this secondary keyword. Better yet, if your competitors are not running search ads for this term, your ad will appear at or near the top of the list, giving you a competitive edge.

Paid Search Can’t Stand Alone

Paid search, while effective, is not intended to be a standalone strategy. It will however, complement your inbound marketing efforts to drive organic traffic. When a user sees your website display in both organic search results and as a paid search ad, it signals to them that you are a player, and a leader in your industry, your region or nationwide.