What Are Search Ads And How Do They Work?

In this article, we take a closer look at search ads. We will also compare them to display ads, explain why they deliver the fastest marketing results, and offer a few tips on how to maximize your return.

If you want fast marketing results, you want to use search ads. Nothing beats them in either traditional or digital marketing. You can set up search ads in a matter of minutes. After a short Google review – about 15 minutes or so – your ads are running, appearing on search engine results pages (SERPS).

What Are Search Ads?

Search ads appear on search engine results pages in response to a user’s search query. Advertisers (technically called search engine marketers (SEM)) can target their ads to specific search terms and keywords to reach the audience most likely to respond to the offer.

Also called pay-per-click (or PPC) advertising, search advertising allows marketers to bid on keywords. Well-targeted ads can be very profitable for advertisers. They only pay when their ads actually get “clicked.”

Search advertising is one of the most effective forms of advertising. People who search reveal a lot about their intent. And both Google and Bing have gotten very good at matching web content and search ads to user intent. As a result, search ads are often the fastest way to reach someone ready to respond to your offer.

Which Type Of Search Ad Does What? Search Ads vs. Display Ads

Display Ads Are About Catching Eyes The Right Eyes

In some ways, display ads are like search ads. Advertisers pay only when the ad gets “clicked.” They can also bid on keywords to reach their desired audience.

The difference lies in when the ads appear. Display ads do not appear on search engine results pages. They appear on websites that run Google Display Ads, on mobile sites, and in apps. They also do not appear in response to the intent behind a user search.

Think of it this way. If your heat goes out on the coldest day of the year, you are not going to visit websites hoping to see a display ad for an HVAC company. You will do a local search to find the nearest repair company.

Use display ads when you want to build awareness. For immediate results, use search ads.

Search Ads Are All About Intent

When you searched for the HVAC company, you had intent. You wanted your heat fixed. And you are ready to pay someone to do it. That, in a nutshell, is why search ads are so powerful. They connect you with the person who wants what you offer and is actively looking for it. Getting their attention will be easier than if you had chosen display advertising.

For a marketer, intent does not always have to mean an immediate sale. Some people may just be searching for information. 

The Types Of Search Intent

Informational and Transactional

When people searches for answer to questions like “What,” “Who,” and “How,” those are examples of informational intent. This is more top of the sales funnel content.

Searches for “Where,” and “When” are more transactional in nature.

Search ads can target all of these forms of intent.

Fast, cost-effective, easy to set up

Google Ads and Bing Ads make setting up search ads simple. For the best results, you want to make sure you follow these steps first.

  1. Have your website or landing page built and tested
  2. Have your product – be it a freebie or something a consumer will buy – ready to go
  3. Research your target market – you want to know what keywords they use to search
  4. Define your benefit statements – your ads should be benefits-driven

Once you have completed these steps, you are ready to set up and run your ads.

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