Ask most people about promoting a business or brand, and the conversation will probably centre on advertising. Even in the digital age when content marketing and SEO have become major trends, the time-honoured practice of buying space to advertise your products and services still holds plenty of sway.

Some people argue that the impact of advertising is not what it once was. Certainly the freedom the internet has given people over the media they use, what they read, watch and listen to, has led to a degree of skepticism about paid-for content online. Consumers nowadays generally want to choose their own content, not have it pushed on them by marketing professionals.

But despite this change in dynamics, Hubspot reports that 64 per cent of people shopping online still click on Google ads, although long lists of organic search results are available. So for driving traffic to your site, paid search advertising definitely still has great value for your online brand.

Types of paid search advertising

Although not exhaustive, you can place most forms of online advertising into three main categories:

  • Banner/display advertising: This is the online equivalent of buying space in a newspaper - you pay to run an advert with your branding and design on other websites. These are usually arranged through third-party advertising networks, who will place your ads with participating sites matching your criteria.
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising: The most common type of PPC advertising is the ads you see at the top of search engine results. Instead of trying to gain high search rankings through SEO, you pay for relevant keywords for your brand. A text advert then appears at the top of search results for those words and phrases, and you pay each time someone clicks through from the ad to your site.
  • Social media advertising: Major social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram increasingly offer their own bespoke advertising and marketing packages to business users.

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Making paid search advertising pay

Just as effective SEO requires a degree of understanding of the strategies and approaches which work best, paid search advertising also demands a certain amount of expertise to make sure you are not paying for something which offers little discernible benefit.

The aim of online advertising is mainly to drive more traffic to your site. By promoting specific products and services, it can also boost conversion rates.

Banner and display advertising tends to cost more than PPC. Although it allows you to share branding and more detail, it tends to be aimed at incidental traffic - people who are not necessarily looking for what you have to offer, but who notice your ad. It can therefore be hard to generate high traffic volumes without investing in long term campaigns and picking where you place your ads very carefully.

PPC means you are targeting audiences who are actively searching for topics related to your products and services. You have to choose your keywords correctly, but if you do, you know your ad is relevant to the audience. PPC also gives you more control over costs - you pay for the traffic generated by the ad. 

Here are some quick tips for getting the most out of PPC:

  • Monitor performance. Paid-for advertising should always be results led, you don’t want to be paying for something that is giving you no return. Fortunately, PPC makes it especially easy to track performance of your campaigns. Using tools like Google Adwords and Google Analytics, you get access to in-depth data about your site traffic, which links and ads are working best, which lead to most conversions and so on.
  • Aim for long-tail keywords. There is a tendency to assume that the secret to effective keywords is to choose the ones that have the highest search rates. The problem with this approach is that these tend to be shorter and more general. That means there will be a lot of competition, they cost more, and the search context might not be relevant to your brand at all. The secret is to tap into the longer search phrases people use when the are looking for precisely what you offer. They might be used less, but they mean you are reaching the right audience every time, and are more likely to convert into purchases.
  • Go local. Having your business appear in search results for someone searching on the other side of the country, or abroad, is no good if you cannot provide a service to them. Localising your PPC campaigns will help to make sure you reach the right audiences, and that you are paying for click throughs that can actually result in a sale. For many of our customers, for example, we will create PPC Cheshire or PPC Manchester campaigns to reflect the regional markets our clients operate in.

Find out more

Let Ultimate Creative’s digital marketing team help you grow your brand online with effective paid search advertising campaigns. We offer specialist, professional PPC management services across Greater Manchester, Cheshire and beyond. Contact our team for a no obligation quote today.

Written by Anna Carruthers November of 2017