Paid search: why and how

As I’ve mentioned in my previous blog post, a company’s website can be the first step on the digital marketing journey as it’s still seen as the most effective lead generation tactic. That assumes a well-designed and maintained website which ensures the organization’s digital visibility, i.e. how it ranks in the organic search results. Once done, the next step to go with a paid search is typically accompanied with a common question: how much extra traffic does the paid search bring me on top of the organic search?

 

Last year Google published a research about the correlation between organic and paid searches. They’ve come up with a surprising conclusion that 81% of paid search results don’t have an associated organic search result on the first page. Going further with the same data they’ve suggested that the companies with a bad organic search rank (i.e. weak websites) can increase their click rate by 96% when using a paid search. The paper aroused a live reaction from search marketing professionals with different opinions, complementary studies and commentaries. There have been refusals suggesting that the company had simply tried to raise the importance of paid search and hence to boost the revenue from search services. Others were more consensual saying that the paper just confirmed what had been known for a long time.

 

My first take-away

After reading the paper and some follow-up reactions I’ve realized that both types of search tactics can work in sync and bring the leverage effect provided they respect each other’s differences. Like the one that the organic search is usually a mid-to-long term tactic. Website content optimization takes time, it may typically go through some test experiments and also the search engine spying activity needs time to check it up and rank properly. We are talking about weeks than days, so expecting a quick result from the organic search is not realistic. Hence the tactic is advised for promoting a long time strengths or capabilities that don’t change frequently.

 

On the other hand going with the paid search provides an instant effect. Sure, it takes few days to find and purchase the right words but in reality your search exposure starts quickly. That’s good for initiatives when you need to put something on the Net very quickly. Like a temporary promotion or a new product release announcement, etc...You want to have it out immediately rather than wait a couple of weeks, right?

 

Don’t opt for paid search if your website isn’t strong

Let’s assume I concur with Google that paid search can help non-optimized websites to get 96% of new clicks. What we want to achieve though is the actual conversion after the click happens; i.e. turn those additional clicks into opportunities. If a successful paid impression causes a new click to my website, I want the visitor to find there everything he/she is looking for. However a low quality website (it must be low quality because of its low organic rank) won’t keep the visitors for long. Actually they will go away quickly and continue searching elsewhere.

 

Hence the conclusions: fix your website, make it right and rich, keep the content fresh and then go and buy your search advertisement. Paying for an online ad is not necessarily cheap, so getting new clicks and then letting the visitors disappear from your web is a waste of money. Yes, one could argue that such lead will stay in your list and can be nurtured through some follow up campaigns. But that’s not what the paid search is for given the instant nature of the message and immediate impact we expect from it. This is a great example of how the two types of search should work together and complement each other.

 

Talk to professionals

Out of many reactions to the above cited paper I’ve particularly appreciated the one suggesting getting help from a professional. It’s not easy for a small or mid-size organization to get up-to-speed with search marketing. And it may not be cheap either as the learning curve can be long. The topic is pretty dynamic and to keep up with it requires time and money.

 

While the HP Campaign Syndication Service (CSS) provides an easy way to personalize and activate a search ad (try the Online Ad via Dashboard), the follow-up phase when you meet Zift Solutions’ expert is crucial. The meeting is unavoidable to finalize your ad placement but it’s also a great opportunity to get professional help and avoid the common mistakes companies do when buying a search. And the best thing is that the expert’s advice is already part of your CSS subscription; why wouldn’t you take it?

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