Paid search (aka: pay per click, PPC advertising, search advertising, search engine marketing, or SEM) is one of the best known forms of digital marketing. In 2013, paid search reigned as the dominant form of online advertising generating $48.4 billion in revenue. According to the CMO Council, paid search advertising accounted for 47% of total mobile online spend in November 2014. Paid search is the main reason Google pulled in $66 billion in 2014. Paid search is big business.

Here are fifteen (15) reasons why advertisers continue to spend their budgets on the medium:

  1. Relevant Advertising

    The beauty of a good search engine is the relevancy of the results. Simply jump onto Google, Bing, or Yahoo, type-in a few keywords and expect to get the info you need within a few clicks.Paid search is a business’ chance to jump in front eyeballs with a targeted ad, ready to fulfill the prospects typed desires. Moreover, the targeted message is perfectly timed to meet the gaze of the prospect in the midst of their pursuit. That’s why paid search is more effective than banner advertising.

  2. Immediate Traffic

    Building traffic is tough. Buying traffic is easy.The problem is buying relevant traffic. The more targeted the traffic, the better the advertiser’s results will be. Paid search fulfills both the need for relevancy (reason #1) and speed (#2). Open a Google AdWords account, enter a few keywords, write an ad, and type-in your credit card. Targeted traffic will then flow to your site. It’s hard to get more immediate traffic gratification than that.

  3. Branding Boost

    There are many benefits to direct response advertising. Paid search is usually considered a medium of direct response. But paid search also boasts some branding benefits. There are entirely different, though compatible reasons to brand. Paid search lets you get in front of prospects and customers in the search engines when they’re looking for your products and services. Then it helps brand your message into their minds in the process.

  4. Keyword exposure

    Going back to the relevancy bit, paid search allows advertisers to bid on particular keywords that prospects type into search engines. These could be keywords like “dog boarding” assuming you own a pet resort.More importantly, you can buy exposure for keywords that you could not rank for organically in the near term. Paid search levels the playing field. Now a mom-and-pop local business can buy exposure on the search engines previously reserved for the big brands. You may have just opened your business’ doors, but paid search doesn’t care.

  5. Manageable & Scalable Advertising

    Search engines show a very useful metric in their advertising platforms called impression share. That shows advertisers how many impressions there are with the current mix of keywords in the account.For instance, if an advertiser spends $1000/month with Google AdWords and they have a 50% impression share hindered by current budget, they can adjust their spend to pay an additional $1000/month for the missing 50% of impressions. Increasing budgets in paid search is an easy way to ramp up exposure for relevant keywords. But monthly budgets are also manageable. Advertisers can easily scale-back the same spend if they need to preserve a monthly marketing budgets.

  6. Consistent traffic

    Organic search (SEO) is anything but reliable. Same thing with viral marketing. There are many channels that produce awesome results, but are not stable.Paid search is different. The search engines want to deliver consistent, relevant traffic to their users. And businesses want to pay to be in front of those searchers. And searchers click on the ads. It’s a win-win-win setup for searchers, search engines, and advertisers. That’s why it’s so consistent.

  7. Targeted messaging

    Sometimes you get to control what is said about you online. Sometimes not.PPC advertising is one way to manage the messaging. You control when your ad shows by bidding on keywords and adding negative keywords. You control ad copy through a well-crafted headline and 105 characters of additional ad text with domain. You showcase other aspects of your business through ad extensions. In short, you control how your company shows in the search engines with pinpoint messaging.

  8. Geotargeted & scheduled advertising

    When it comes to advertising spectrum, on one end you have the sign twirler.  They broadcast a message to any passerby. Not very targeted, but very attention-getting.At the other end, you have paid search. Not only does the person have to be in a particular location to get the ad (ex. zip code 78701), but that person has to be searching at a certain time of day – say between the hours of 8 am- 4pm on Saturday. Targeting messaging by geography and time of day is only possible with digital advertising. It’s another reason why paid search has exploded in growth over the past 15 years.

  9. Retargeting

    After driving traffic to a website through specific keywords, many prospects may be interested but not willing to take the next step along the preferred conversion path immediately.Enter retargeting.Retargeting happens when companies “retarget” those same visitors who previously visited a website with relevant ads on different web properties. And it’s very effective. Venture Beat reported that 90% of marketers say retargeting is as effective as search advertising or email marketing. That’s pretty good.

  10. More listings on the search results page

    Paid search can get you exposure for keywords you don’t normally rank for organically – see #4. But it can also buy you exposure for keywords you normally rank for. That’s also a good thing.Why, you may ask?Because the more results your company has on a particular search results page, the more likely the user will click on either your organic or paid listing. And they more sales you get. Hard to believe? Checkout the case study.

  11. Better keyword data

    It’s tough to pull all the organic keywords that searchers used to find your site. In 2011, we entered the age of not provided with Google Analytics.Not so with paid search.You can still see all search queries prospects typed into the search engines to reach your site. And when you use broad match or modified broad match keywords, you can mine for even more diverse & relevant keywords. So you can gather more relevant keywords and track the performance of existing keywords. Once you discover your best keywords, you can bid up on those to get even better results from your search advertising.

  12. Test offers, promos, website

    Paid search is helpful for driving relevant traffic to your website. But it’s more than that.PPC advertising can test various offers, promotions, and even domain names. For instance, if you’re struggling to decide whether “50% off your dog boarding” or $100 off dog boarding” is more effective, forget the endless committee discussion. Ask your market. Run an A/B split on each offer. Change nothing else except description line 1 and the landing page headline, then wait for the results.Ever heard of Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hr Work Week? Here’s how Tim discovered that title. Spoiler alert: with paid search testing.

  13. Proven Channel

    “If everyone jumps off of the cliff are you going to follow them?” asks the proverbial mom. Sometimes that’s the best course of action.Definitely look before you leap into paid search. Do your due diligence. Pick a paid search agency or consultant with a track record. Don’t bet on business from a proven channel with a new marketer. But after that, jump in. According to Kenshoo, paid search year-over-year growth was up 16% and reported revenues from paid search rose 24% in Q4-2014. You are in great company when you invest in paid search.

  14. Direct conversions: leads & sales

    One of the main points of advertising is generating action from prospects. Paid search can do that.Whether you’re going after new leads for a kids’ swim school or direct sales for an crafting ecommerce site, you can purchase traffic that translates to leads and sales on your website. After setting up a solid sales funnel on your site, install good tracking. The minimum tracking to use is Google AdWords conversion tracking. However, we recommend a solid implementation of Google Analytics goal tracking for even better results.

  15. Assisted conversions: leads & sales

    One awesome Google Analytics section is the Multi-Channel Funnels. This section allows you to see how various channels contribute to your overall lead flow and sales funnel.It works like this: a visitor types in a question to Google. They see your ad, click on it, and land on your website. They’re interested, but not enough to make a purchase. Then they get distracted and leave your site. A few days later, they remember your offer and type your brand name into Google and visit your site organically this time. And this time they purchase. Paid search will not get the credit for the direct sale because it was an organic search visit. But that sale would never have happened had it not been for paid search. That’s an assisted conversion and a major reason to use PPC advertising.

One caveat on paid search advertising:

Maybe you tried paid search and it didn’t work out well. It happens.

But if you have an otherwise sound business and paid search didn’t translate to measurable returns, it may have been your consultant. Or you may have done it yourself. When you test this channel, make sure you have competent help along the way. Not having that could be the difference between scalable growth and stagnation. For a solid paid search partner, checkout Nehmedia.

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