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Paid Search Ads 101: What You Need to Know

Paid Search Advertising: How It Works and Its Benefits

Paid search advertising, also known as pay per click (PPC) advertising, is a popular digital marketing strategy used by brands to drive traffic to their landing pages. This involves paying search engines to place ads higher on relevant search engine results pages (SERPs).

What is Paid Search Advertising?

Paid search advertising is an auction-based PPC model that displays digital ads on search engine results pages such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Your ad's appearance, ranking, and cost per click depend on your bid and Quality Score.

To start, you bid for ad placement on SERPs by setting the maximum amount you are willing to spend per click (your bid) and the maximum amount you want to spend on the entire campaign (your budget). Once you create an ad and connect it to a landing page, the respective search engine ad platform calculates a Quality Score to determine its positioning. This metric indicates the relevance of your specified keywords, ads, and the destination page.

What is a Paid Search Ad?

Paid ads on major search platforms like Google, Bing, and Yahoo are typically shown above and below organic search results. They include three main components: a headline, display URL, and description text, which aim to convince users to click.


The ad headline is the first copy viewers will notice because it has the largest text. It's crucial to incorporate relevant keywords to draw more attention from high-intent searchers. On Google, Bing, and Yahoo, two headlines are allowed, each up to 30 characters (on Yahoo, if you choose only one headline, the character limit is 50).

Notice how the second ad's headline is more optimized than the first? This version is more relevant to the search query, with the entire search phrase in the title, and it contains two calls to action ("learn" and "get started").

Display URL

The display URL shows your website address in green directly underneath the headline. It comprises the domain from your final URL, plus optional subdomain and path fields to provide searchers more clarity on where they'll arrive once they click. Display URLs each contain up to 35 characters. One primary difference, though, is that Bing display URLs are bold:

Description Text

Description text helps highlight the most important details about your product or service and why search users should click through. Google Ads and Bing Ads allow up to 80 characters of description text, while Yahoo allows up to 150 characters.

Grin's Yahoo ad takes full advantage of the 150-character limit, with the ad copy highlighting their product features.

Ad Extensions

Ad extensions allow your message to take up more space in the results list, increasing your ad's visibility. They enable digital advertisers to provide more information about their product or service, such as location, phone number, or additional deep links. Formats include location information and maps, click-to-call buttons, reviews, sitelink extensions, and more. Google reports that ads' click-through-rate increases several percentage points when using ad extensions.

Benefits of Paid Search Advertising

Paid search advertising offers several benefits for brands:

  1. More Visibility: While optimizing your site organically can eventually get your brand to the top of search results, paid search advertising can get you there immediately. Whether you're a small startup business trying to build your online presence or a large organization with an already existing reputation, paid ads are key to quickly getting in front of high-intent search prospects.

  2. More Traffic: Your page traffic may eventually increase from organic optimizations. Yet, when paid ads are in effect, there is hardly any waiting involved to see a bump in traffic. This is especially true for newer companies attempting to get their name out in the market and companies targeting specific organic terms that they aren't currently ranking for.

  3. Highly Interested Prospects: Paid search ads target specific search queries, so people who see your ads were already searching for a solution like yours. They're not just arbitrarily surfing the web; rather, they're likely interested in evaluating your product or service, either now or in the near future.

  4. Detailed Analytics: Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo provide marketers with free real-time data and analytics, enabling you to learn about your campaigns and prospects and see exactly what you're getting from paid search dollars. Some of the most useful analytics include where a prospect is geographically located, what type of device they're using to search, what pages they visited on your site, and how much time they spent on your site. These details can help you optimize your campaigns regularly to ensure your ad dollars are being put to their best use.

Increase Your Conversion Rates with Paid Search Ads

Paid search advertising can be a valuable strategy to generate brand awareness, leads, and sales. Well-crafted, targeted ads increase the effectiveness of your advertising efforts, and when paired with an optimized landing page, they reach their full potential.


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