Steps to Developing a Successful, and Universal, Paid Search Strategy

Paid search is a science. Every client has different needs, is often in different industries, and works with vastly different paid media budgets and objectives. With that being said, paid search structure can be viewed as somewhat uniform. Whether your industry is automotive, manufacturing, healthcare, real estate, etc, the purpose of this blog is to teach you the most effective general structure for building out your paid search accounts. No matter what industry you’re in, the methods below apply to all.

Research and Sketch

No matter if you work for an agency, handle clients on a freelance basis, or manage your own efforts in-house, one of the most common issues is defining a uniform approach that can be applied generally to help you streamline your paid search builds. However, before you can jump into creating campaigns and separating out ad groups, you need to conduct initial research on search volume and general interest, as well as the general cost you’re going to be charged every time your ad is clicked. Before you begin your research, you need a general sense of how you are going to create your account. This is where having a uniform approach is beneficial. So you aren’t scrambling to create a unique buildout, follow these instructions.

1. Take a look at your line of products or services. 

Think about where you would ideally want to spend your money, and how much of your budget you’re willing to put each. If you don’t know where to start, utilize our paid search budget calculator, to calculate the estimated cost for effective paid search advertising. This will be validated by your research, but for now, just create a ballpark estimate that you are comfortable with. 

Generally speaking, paid search campaigns are an elite tool for B2C transactions. Focus on your highest margin, or best selling product / service. This will be the anchor for your paid advertising efforts – your bread and butter. Ideally, within your prospecting campaign or campaigns, you should rely on your bread and butter ad groups and keywords for your best products to drive consistent return on ad spend for your business.

2. Sketch out an initial campaign build on paper. 

For example, your sketch could resemble the following:

Campaign 1 – Product / service group

Ad group 1 – Specific product or service

Ad group 2 – Specific product or service

Ad group 3 – Specific product or service

These represent your prospecting efforts. All searches bucketed into prospecting campaigns should be non-branded, as you want to compete for the attention and capture the traffic of consumers who are unaware of your brand. 

3. Take the above structure, and hop online. 

Google provides a free keyword planner within the Google Ads platform, but I find it to be less accurate than other subscription based tools you can find. I personally recommend an account with SEMRush, as it is a great tool to accurately check keyword search interest, volume and general cost-per-click for your keyword portfolio at scale. It’s what we use at Pinckney whenever we build out our campaigns. 

Once you’re in the media planning platform of your choosing, start implementing variations of your chosen products and/or services into the keyword tool. You should begin to get a sense of the most popular searches for each of your keywords, as well as the general cost-per-click of these keywords. One caveat to consider is that cost-per-click is determined by the market. For example, if you are in the real estate business, and are advertising to generate home buyers in an area that is booming, you can bet that the cost-per-click for real estate based keywords is going to be higher than if you operated in an up-and-coming area with less competition. 

Use the average search volume and the cost-per-click as a barometer to validate your initial prospecting buildout. Does the volume justify creating separate ad groups for each of your products and/or services, or can you combine similar services in order to be more efficient? Oftentimes keyword planning tools will give you insight into this, but ultimately, testing within the market you are operating in is your best bet for gathering data. Remember, you aren’t just placing paid search advertisements, you are generating data in order to inform your efforts and shape your future marketing strategies.

Add In Layers

As of right now, you should have a serviceable prospecting campaign built out on paper based on your initial ideas and validation through research. You can further separate your prospecting campaign by similar product and service types. For example, you could have prospecting campaigns A, B, C, and D, each representing a similar product or service vertical. Remember to exclude all branded traffic from these campaigns. You want these to be purely for prospecting purposes. However, prospecting is only one piece of the puzzle in terms of winning paid search performance. The majority of companies, depending on size and objective, benefit from a robust brand and remarketing effort as well.

Disclaimer before we dive into the nuances of building out a brand campaign, it’s important to note that branded campaigns represent the protection of real estate. You do not want to cannibalize from your organic efforts, so if competitors aren’t bidding on your branded terms, there is nothing to protect. Only implement a robust branded strategy if your branded search results are littered with competition. With that being said, let’s dive into it.

The Purpose of a Branded Campaign

The purpose of your branded campaign is to filter all branded traffic into one place. This includes general branded searches, such as your brand name by itself, and branded searches that include your product and/or service, such as [your brand name] [your product name]. This ensures that you aren’t spending money on any searches that don’t directly reference your brand. You can efficiently budget your branded campaign to spend less due to the fact that your cost-per-click will be inherently lower since it involves your business. The ad relevance and landing page experience of your ads should help you attain top position for anything brand-related unless your competitor significantly overpays on their bids with decently optimized ad copy and landing pages. 

Now that you’ve learned the importance of separating your branded traffic from your prospect traffic, you can focus on creating an effective RLSA (remarketing list for search audiences) campaign. The purpose of an RLSA campaign is to serve remarketing ads on the search network to users who have previously visited your website. One of the most common strategies with this is to bid on more broad keywords, ones that you otherwise wouldn’t, because they will be only serving ads in front of qualified traffic. For example, if you sell luxury handbags, you wouldn’t want to bid on the term handbags in your prospecting campaign. You will burn through your budget and generate a lot of unqualified traffic if you do so. However, by creating a remarketing list of users who have previously been to your website, you are able to better control the quality of your traffic when bidding on broad keywords. Additionally, you are able to upload your own first party data lists in order to create your remarketing campaigns. You can find Google’s requirements for upload here. By doing this, you are able to craft ads specifically for the audience you upload. This creates a ton of room for differentiation in ad copy and strategy.

Bring It All Together

If you follow the above instructions, you will be well on your way to building a winning paid search build. Between your branded build, your prospective build, and your remarketing build, you have all the necessary elements to capture prospective buyers and convert them into customers. At Pinckney Marketing, we specialize in creating paid search campaigns that perform exceptionally well. We will take your individual goals into consideration, provide you with a sample build, and if you’re interested, we will start a partnership. Read more about our services using the following link.