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New to Paid Search? Here Are Terms You Need to Know

March 25, 2016 // By: Dan Gaughan

While some searchers prefer to stick with organic listings, many do click on paid listings. So with a smart strategy, paid search can lead to quality traffic to your site—quality traffic that can lead to a good return.

But what is paid search? And how do you get started with it? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Allow us to explain the basics of paid search to you.

While there are other paid search platforms, like Bing Ads, we’re going to focus on the most popular platform used by both marketers and searchers: Google AdWords.

A plethora of help is available to get you started in AdWords, including Google’s own Help Center and Insider’s Guide, but let’s start with the basics and some important terms and definitions.

  • Pay per click: Model in which the advertiser pays a sum of money to AdWords when a searcher clicks on an advertisement.
  • Keywords: Relevant words or phrases describing your product or service that help to determine when and where your ads can appear. The keywordsyou choose are used to show your ads to searchers. It’s important to optimize keywords often to ensure that your ads show up for relevant searches.
  • Ad group: Contains one or more ads that target a shared set of keywords. Ad groups are used to organize keywords by a common theme. Ad groups should be tightly organized and focus on a specific product or service. Each ad in an ad group should have focused, specific, and engaging ad copy to entice searchers to click.
  • Click-through rate: The number of clicks that an ad receives divided by the number of times the ad is shown conveyed as a percentage. This rate is a good way to determine an ad’s relevance and effectiveness and optimize accordingly.
  • Cost per click: The price paid for each click in a pay-per-click campaign. AdWords determines the cost per click based on an auction.
  • Quality Score: An estimate of the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages. Higher quality ads can lead to lower prices and better ad positions. Learn more about Quality Score here.
  • Landing page: The webpage where people end up after they click your ad. Landing pages should be relevant and informative for the searcher. Learn more about landing page optimization here.

With this basic knowledge set, you can lay out a smart paid search strategy to drive relevant, highly engaged searchers to your website. You can learn more about paid search, best practices, and industry trends by reading Stream’s blog here.

Stream’s Kick-Start Step

Use Google’s Keyword Planner to research relevant keywords to use in your campaign. Using the same tool, you can estimate search volume data and industry trends and get forecasts to estimate click and cost performance.


Ready to discuss ways to improve your marketing? Let’s talk.

—Dan Gaughan is a Paid Search Strategist at Stream Companies, a full-service Philadelphia-area advertising agency.


Topics: Digital Marketing, Inbound Marketing, paid search, ppc