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ABCs of Paid Search

Perfecting Paid Search Strategy

Paid search is one of the most effective forms of marketing to drive conversions and desired actions on your website. This isn’t surprising considering the volume of searches that take place – Google alone receives an estimated 5.6 billion searches every day!

Search engines provide businesses with a great opportunity to grow their brands using paid search advertising, but understanding how to set up a campaign and all of the terminology around it can seem daunting. That’s why we’ve created your go-to guide for the ABCs of paid search! Growthlabs’ experience within the Paid Search and Advertising sector is deep and illustrious – read more to learn how we can support a brand like yours!

The Essentials of Paid Search:


When you search for something in a search engine like Google, you’re presented with a list of results. These search results include organic results and paid results. The paid search results have the word “Ad” displaying before the URL. Check out the example below of one of our Google Ads.

Paid search ads often appear at the top of results, ahead of organic results. This is an incredibly competitive spot to be in, as websites ranking highest on the first page of search results always receive the highest number of clicks! Worried about the “Ad” disclaimer? Don’t be – over one-third of consumers can’t tell the difference between paid and organic search results on Google.

Audience Intent

One great thing about paid search is that you can understand the level of consumer intent based on search terms, known as keywords. Following some keyword research, you can target consumers that are more likely to be searching for the product or service that you’re advertising.

For example, you can be sure that someone searching “mot centre near me” is looking to have an MOT on their car, whereas with other platforms like paid social you would only be able to target people who are likely to have a car based on various audiences.

Bidding on Keywords

Essentially, paid search is bidding on a number of keywords to make your ad appear at the top of search results. A bid is the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for a click on your ad. Keywords are words and phrases used to match your ads with your target audience’s search queries.

Creating Campaigns

A paid search campaign contains all of your ad groups, keywords and ads. Each ad campaign will generally cover different areas of a business, each of which will have several ad groups that focus on more specific groupings of keywords.

Using the same example as before, a car servicing centre might have campaigns for MOT, Servicing, and Parts, each of which would be split into ad groups. For example, the Parts campaign may have ad groups for Brake Pads, Front Bumpers, and Door Panels.

Having ad groups sorted by keywords allows you to create specific ad copy for the people you want to click on your ad and convert on your website. The more relevant the ad copy, the better it will perform. To make your ad copy relevant, you must use the keywords that you’re targeting in the body copy of your ad.

Google Ads

Good ads are essential to ensure that people click through to your website amongst the competition, but also play a vital part in quality score and the amount you pay for each click.

An ad on Google consists of three varying sections – two to three headlines, one to two descriptions, and a tailored URL landing page.

Google Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are used to expand your ad with additional information, giving your audience even more reasons to click on your ad. Using ad extensions helps to increase your ad’s click-through rate (CTR).

Some recommended ad extensions to use would include:

  • Sitelinks – used to direct users to pages of your site that you want them to visit

  • Callouts – limited to 25 characters, these snippets of text highlight key sales messages

  • Call Extensions – place your number and allow mobile users to call you from the ad

  • Price Extensions – list prices for key products and services

  • Image Extensions – add an image to your ad

  • Promotion Extensions – display promotions and offers with promo codes and discounts

More Bespoke ad extensions can also be suited to your advertising campaigns to include features such as location prominence, seller feedback, and mobile app promotion, but these tend to be reserved for specific forms of consumer-focused businesses.

How Ads Rank

To determine how ads rank on the search engine, an auction takes place for the keyword you’re targeting. Numerous factors such as ad quality and bid amount determine who will be the winner and get the most visibility at the top position.

Ad rank determines your position in the search results using a combination of your bid and your quality score. The quality score is a metric ranked from 1 to 10 based on various factors, most importantly including – the relevance of the keyword to the ad, the relevance of the ad to the search query, the quality of the linked landing page, and the historical click-through-rate (CTR).

As can be inferred, the relevance of an ad is absolutely essential to securing a higher position on a search engine. Additionally, a higher quality score leads to a lower Cost Per Click (CPC), meaning that relevant ads can actually make your paid search budget last for longer. But be warned! Companies bidding on low-quality keywords are likely to be penalised by search engines looking for high-quality work, reducing the likelihood of their ads being shown.

Keywords and Targeting

Selecting the right keywords helps advertising platforms show your ads to the right audience, making it the most vital starting point of any paid search campaign.
However, there are other targeting options available to optimise campaigns, most typically focusing on demographic, device, location, and time of search. Deploying the most accurate PPC campaigns typically involves a tailored blend of targets that suit your business and user base accurately, which can often take time to hone.

Paid Search Automation & Bid Strategies

Automation and machine learning are now vital to the success of ad campaigns. A popular example of this is Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) which rotate sections of copy, such as headlines, to find the most effective messages and combinations. Another example is Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) where Google creates copy and keywords based on your landing page, and one of the most important, Automated Bid Strategies.

Automated Bid Strategies relieve the stress and eliminate the guesswork associated with setting bids. There’s no need to manually set or update bids for specific ad groups or keywords – this is all handled automatically. The intelligent Automated Bid Strategies even learn as they go by analysing the performance of a bid to influence future bids.

Each Automated Bid Strategy is designed to help you achieve a desired goal for your ad campaign, whether that’s an eCommerce transaction, calls, leads, or even just traffic. They work off of thousands of signals from Google’s algorithm including, but not limited to, location, age, gender, and behaviour of the user on other websites.

Performance and Conversions

Paid search success is rarely measured by the number of clicks your ads received, the true metric of success is the number of conversions that came from those clicks. Conversions refer to the actions that you want your audience to do after clicking on your ad and being redirected to your landing page.

Conversions can be wide-ranging and are created by the host of the advert themselves, as such, allowing for enormous customisation. Examples of common conversions that you could a business deploying a Paid Search campaign would be:

  • Buying a product

  • Completing a contact form

  • Joining an email list

  • Requesting a Consultation

  • Starting a free trial

It’s crucial to track conversions to understand whether your ad campaign is succeeding and how many conversions can be attributed to your campaign rather than other marketing efforts.


There you have it, our ABCs of paid search – a quick guide to help you understand how advertising on search engines works and the things you need to bear in mind when you get started.

Looking for support on your advertising campaign? We’ve got a talented team of digital marketing specialists ready to answer any queries and offer guidance on your next campaign.

Get in touch to speak to one of our paid search experts today.