Paid search: Getting your money's worth

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Paid and organic search are both crucial parts of any complete search engine marketing strategy. I'll focus here on some of the more important recent developments in paid search and how these factor into b-to-b direct marketing.
  • Perhaps the most important development in the past couple of years is Google's Modified Broad Match type, a mastery of which is very important in managing an effective paid search campaign. You can identify the best Modified Broad Match type by selecting the top performing keywords in your AdWords account and running them in a new campaign, following Google's instructions on how to apply Modified Broad Match to these new keywords.
  • It is also very important to incorporate ad extensions into Google Ads. Google provides an extensive toolkit to manage paid search campaigns, and using these tools can considerably reduce your costs by increasing the efficiency of your paid search campaigns.
  • An extensive negative keyword list also can significantly improve not only your click-through rate but also your campaign's conversion rate, targeting your dollars more effectively. For example, my company focuses on helping businesses build and manage their business credit, not an individual's personal credit. Therefore, to ensure that our advertising spend is efficiently used only for people seeking information about managing their business credit, we use thousands of negative keywords to exclude searches for other forms of credit.
  • Another important concept to understand is what Google calls Quality Score. Each keyword in a Google AdWords account has a quality score. Per Google's own website, Google "looks at a variety of factors to measure how relevant your keyword is to your ad text and to a user's search query. A keyword's Quality Score updates frequently and is closely related to its performance. In general, a high Quality Score means that your keyword will trigger ads in a higher position and at a lower cost-per-click (CPC)." In other words, relevance is the key, and although Google does not disclose all the factors and in what proportion relevance is measured, the single largest determinant of relevance is probably click-through rate. A relevant ad that closely matches a user's query or search terms will likely produce a high click-through rate, which in turn translates to a high Quality Score. Keywords that have a high Quality Score will make it possible to achieve a higher ranking at a lower CPC, generating more relevant leads and therefore better ROI.
  • One of the main benefits offered by both paid and organic search over other forms of direct marketing in the b-to-b space is the extensive analytics within Google AdWords and other paid search marketing platforms. We're constantly using these analytics to measure the results of our search campaigns.
Like all forms of technology, paid search provides an extensive toolkit that allows for highly targeted direct marketing campaigns. This toolkit is effective and efficient for both paid and organic search if used wisely.
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