We’re continuing our series on small business promotion. Today’s topic is Paid Search Advertising so we brought in the big guns, aka Asheley Dozier, our Acquisition Marketing Manager. Enjoy!

We’ve talked a lot on the blog about search engine optimization (SEO), but there is a whole other side to getting found in search engines: Paid search. Often referred to as SEM (search engine marketing), paid search advertising is made up of text ads or sponsored links that are found at the top and on the right side of a search engine results page. All search engines have paid search programs, but Google AdWords and Bing Ads are the most popular.

So, why is paid search such a valuable marketing tool? Because you are putting yourself in front of a person at the exact time they have indicated their interest in your product or service. What’s great about it for small businesses is that it puts you in the same field as the big guys, but at budget levels that are much lower than traditional forms of paid marketing.

Selecting Keywords
Just as when you are choosing keywords for SEO, your paid search keywords should be specific to your product and/or service. If you have already been working on organically optimizing your website for search engines, those same keywords can be a great starting point for your paid campaign.

Keep in mind that one-word or very broad keywords will have more competition, thus a higher cost. Bidding on long-tail keywords (very specific, 3+ word phrases), will help keep costs down and can even result in higher sales. For example, someone searching for “silver charm bracelet for girls” is more likely ready to buy than someone searching for “jewelry”.

Writing Your Ads
So, what should your ads say? It’s important to target the ad to the keywords and products, rather than a general ad. Use the actual keyword in the ad when possible and try to incorporate something about you that will attract a customer to click on your ad. Do you have a better price? Special expertise?

Take the time to create multiple ads. You can run different variations to see which perform best.

Choosing a Landing Page
Many people make the mistake of sending everyone to their website’s home page. If you have a page that is a better match to the keyword, send your visitors there. You don’t want to have someone click your ad and then leave because they didn’t see what they were looking for right away.

If you are a local-only business, make sure to use the targeting capabilities of the search engines to show your ad only where your goods and services are available.

Getting started with paid search often involves a little trial and error. Keeping track of how much traffic you are getting from your paid search campaigns and how they are performing can ensure you get the most out of your marketing dollars. Still too nervous to give it a try? Get started for free with a $100 credit to use on Google AdWords when you sign up for a new Enhanced or Pro Webs package or upgrade your website with Webs to Enhanced or Pro. Good luck, and let us know how it goes in the comments below.

About the Author: Asheley Dozier is the Acquisition Marketing Manager at Webs, where she oversees all paid search (SEM) activities. 

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