14 Best Practices for Paid Search Success in 2024

What Is Paid Search?

Paid search, also known as search engine advertising or search advertising, is a form of online advertising where advertisers bid on keywords that users of search engines such as Google and Bing might enter when looking for certain products or services.

Explore the Ultimate Guide to Paid Search Best Practices in 2024, designed to help you drive targeted traffic to your website and achieve a positive return on investment (ROI).

Paid search, a form of online advertising, enables you to display your ads to individuals actively searching for topics related to your products or services on search engines like Google and Bing.

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Unlike organic search, where you must earn your rankings through high-quality content and site optimization, paid search allows you to bid on keywords and pay only when someone clicks on your ad. This approach enables you to connect with your target audience precisely when they are seeking solutions to their problems.

Why Is Paid Search Important?

Here are three main reasons why paid search is important for your business:

Target Your Audience with Precision

While organic search can be competitive, paid search offers a strategic advantage. By bidding on specific keywords, you ensure that your ads are displayed to individuals actively searching for terms related to your products or services. This targeted approach increases the likelihood of conversion, as these users are more likely to make a purchase or engage with your content.

Additionally, paid search allows for precise targeting. You can specify the location, device type, and other criteria to ensure that your ads are served to the most relevant audience. This level of control enables you to reach potential customers at the right moment, increasing the effectiveness of your advertising efforts.

Exercise Total Budget and Campaign Control With paid search

You have the flexibility to set your budget, select target keywords, and direct visitors to specific landing pages. This level of control extends to campaign monitoring and optimization, allowing you to track and analyze performance metrics such as impressions, clicks, conversions, and sales. By leveraging this data, you can make informed decisions to enhance your return on investment (ROI).

Complement Your Organic Search Strategy

While search engine optimization (SEO) is essential for long-term success, it can be a slow process. Paid search, on the other hand, delivers results quickly and can drive immediate traffic and conversions. By combining both strategies, you can maximize your visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs).

For instance, you can use paid search to promote your SEO-driven content, such as blog posts, ebooks, webinars, and videos. This approach allows you to generate leads and subscribers in the short term while your SEO efforts gain traction.

What Are Paid Search Best Practices?

Paid search best practices are the strategies and methods used to optimize paid search campaigns for improved performance and return on investment (ROI). These practices encompass various aspects of paid search, including keyword research, bidding strategies, ad copy creation, and landing page optimization.

Here are some paid search best practices to enhance your PPC ad performance in 2024:

14 Paid Search Best Practices

Optimize Your Keyword Selection

Selecting the right keywords is crucial for the success of your paid search campaign. Keywords determine the audience that sees your ads, the cost per click, and the likelihood of conversion.

To find the best keywords for your business, consider using Google Keyword Planner. This free tool provides keyword suggestions, estimated search volumes, and cost calculations based on Google Ads data.

To access Google Keyword Planner, log in to your Google Ads account, navigate to the “Tools” section, and select “Keyword Planner.”

From there, choose the “Discover new keywords” option to explore keyword ideas.

Enter up to 10 keywords related to your business in the “Start with keywords” tab and click “Get results.”

You’ll receive a list of related keyword ideas along with information on average monthly searches, bid amounts, and more for each keyword.

While Google Keyword Planner is a valuable tool, it has limitations. It does not provide precise search volume data, search intent, keyword difficulty, or information on SERP features.

For more comprehensive keyword research, consider using tools like the Keyword Magic Tool.

Regularly Re-Evaluate Your Target Keywords

Many people make the mistake of choosing their target keywords once and never revisiting them. However, it’s crucial to regularly re-evaluate your target keywords as they can change based on factors such as consumer behavior, market trends, search intent, and competitor actions. Failing to monitor and update your target keywords can result in missed opportunities for traffic, leads, and sales.

To re-evaluate your keywords, consider using the following tools and reports:

Google Ads performance dashboard: This dashboard provides an overview of your ad performance, including key metrics like click-through rate (CTR), average cost per click (CPC), and more. Use this information to assess the effectiveness of your current keywords.

Google Ads search terms report: This report shows the exact search queries that triggered your ads and how they performed. Analyzing this data can help you identify new keywords or refine your match types to better target your audience.

Keyword Overview tool: This tool provides information on a keyword’s search volume, intent, trend, CPC, SERP snapshot, and more. Use it to evaluate changes in individual keyword metrics and make informed decisions about your keyword strategy.

Utilize Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are a valuable tool in paid search campaigns. They are keywords that you can add to your campaign to prevent your ads from showing up when people search for those terms.

For instance, if you sell high-end sunglasses, you might want to exclude terms like “free,” “cheap,” or “Amazon” from triggering your ads. This helps you avoid wasting money on clicks and impressions that are unlikely to lead to conversions.

You can discover negative keywords through keyword research, noting any terms that are irrelevant to your campaign.

Additionally, the search terms report in Google Ads provides insights into the exact queries that triggered your ads. Look for terms that are irrelevant or off-topic and add them as negative keywords to your campaign.

You can add negative keywords directly from the search terms report

or manually in the Google Ads dashboard. By effectively leveraging negative keywords, you can improve the relevancy of your ads and reduce wasted ad spend.

Craft Engaging Ad Copy

Compelling ad copy is essential for attracting potential customers and encouraging them to click on your ads. Here are some best practices to help you write compelling ad copy:

Incorporate your target keyword in your headline and display URL to demonstrate relevance to the user’s search query.

Include a clear and specific call to action (CTA) that tells the user what action to take next, such as “Buy Now,” “Sign Up,” or “Get a Free Quote.”

Utilize ad extensions to provide additional information and add value to your ad, such as seller ratings or special offers like “Free 3-day delivery” and “Free lifetime returns.”

You can also use tools like the AI Ad Copy Generator to quickly create persuasive ad copy based on your keywords. Simply enter the URL of the page you want to promote

Provide a description of your product or service, and specify your target keywords.

The tool will generate multiple headlines, descriptions, and call-to-action options for you to use in your campaign.

Additionally, consider using Advertising Research tools to analyze your competitors’ live ads. Pay attention to their headlines, CTAs, and emotional triggers, and use this information to enhance your ad copy and stand out from the competition.

Refine Your Audience Targeting

Refining your audience targeting is crucial for optimizing your paid search campaigns. By showing your ads to the right people at the right time, you can improve your results significantly. Here are some steps to refine your audience targeting effectively:

Understand Your Buyer Persona: Before targeting your audience, you need to know who they are, what they want, and how they search. Use tools like One2Target to gather information about your audience’s demographics, socioeconomics, and behavior based on your competitors’ domains.

Use a Variety of Targeting Options: Google Ads offers various targeting options, including demographics, interests, search intent, and more. Use a mix of these options to create specific and relevant audience segments.

Monitor Performance and Analyze Data: Keep a close eye on your campaign performance and analyze the data regularly. Look for patterns and trends to identify which audience segments are performing well and which ones need improvement.

Test Different Audience Variations: Experiment with different audience variations to see what works best for your business. Test different targeting options, ad creatives, and messaging to refine your paid search strategy.

Optimize for Conversions

Conversions are the ultimate goal of your paid search campaigns. They represent the actions you want visitors to take on your site, such as making a purchase, subscribing to your newsletter, or downloading an ebook. To optimize your campaigns for conversions, follow these tips:

  • Set Up Conversion Tracking: Use Google Ads’ conversion tracking feature to identify which keywords, ads, or campaigns are driving the most conversions. This data will help you make informed decisions about where to allocate your budget for maximum impact.
  • Use Conversion Tracking Codes: Implement conversion tracking codes, tags, or pixels on your website to measure the effectiveness of your ads and landing pages. This information will help you understand what is working well and what needs improvement.
  • A/B Test Your Ads and Landing Pages: Test different versions of your ads, keywords, bids, and landing page elements to determine which combinations drive the most conversions. Use this data to refine your campaigns for better performance.
  • Implement Remarketing: Reach out to people who have already visited your site or shown interest in your products or services through remarketing campaigns. This can help increase brand awareness and encourage repeat visits, leading to more conversions.
  • Analyze Conversion Data: Regularly review your conversion data to identify areas for improvement or growth. Use this information to optimize your campaigns and maximize your return on investment (ROI).

Optimize Landing Pages

Optimizing landing pages is crucial for converting paid search visitors into leads or customers. Your landing page should align with the intent of your ad and meet visitors’ expectations. Here are some key elements to consider when optimizing your landing pages:

  1. Relevance: Ensure your landing page content matches the ad copy and keywords that drove visitors to the page. This helps maintain continuity and reinforces the message.
  2. User-Friendliness: Make sure your landing page is easy to navigate and understand. Use clear headings, bullet points, and visuals to guide visitors through the content.
  3. Loading Speed: Optimize your landing page for fast loading times to prevent visitors from bouncing. Compress images, minify CSS and JavaScript, and use a reliable hosting provider to improve speed.
  4. Mobile Responsiveness: With an increasing number of users accessing the internet on mobile devices, it’s crucial to ensure your landing page is mobile-responsive. This means it adapts to different screen sizes and maintains usability on smartphones and tablets.
  5. Clear Call to Action (CTA): Your landing page should have a prominent and compelling CTA that tells visitors what action to take next. Use persuasive language and make the CTA button stand out.
  6. Use of Tools: Leverage tools like Landing Page Builder to create customized landing pages quickly and efficiently. These tools offer templates and features tailored to specific campaign needs, helping you create high-converting landing pages at scale.

A/B Test

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a method used to compare two versions of a web page, ad, or other marketing elements to determine which one performs better. It’s a valuable tool in optimizing your paid search ads for better performance. Here’s how to run a successful A/B test:

  1. Define Your Success Metric: Identify the key performance indicator (KPI) you want to improve, such as click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, or return on ad spend (ROAS).
  2. Choose Your Variable: Select one element to test, such as a headline, ad copy, call-to-action (CTA), or landing page. Keep all other elements constant to isolate the impact of the variable you’re testing.
  3. Create Your Test Variations: Develop two versions of the element you’re testing. For example, you could create two different headlines or two different versions of ad copy.
  4. Set Up Your Test: Divide your audience randomly into two groups, with each group seeing one of the test variations. Ensure that the groups are similar in size and composition.
  5. Run Your Test: Allow the test to run for a predetermined period, during which you collect data on the performance of each variation.
  6. Analyze the Results: Compare the performance of each variation based on your chosen success metric. Determine which variation performed better and whether the difference is statistically significant.
  7. Implement the Winning Variation: Once you’ve identified the winning variation, implement it in your campaign to improve performance.
  8. Continue Testing: A/B testing is an ongoing process. Continue to test different elements of your ads to optimize performance over time.

Research Competitors

Looking to boost your PPC campaigns to the next level? Here’s a game-changer: Keep an eye on your competitors.

By analyzing their strategies, you can uncover:

  1. New, high-performing keywords
  2. Compelling ad copy that drives clicks and conversions
  3. Effective landing pages that convert visitors into customers

Start by entering a competitor’s domain into the Advertising Research tool and hit “Search.”

The dashboard reveals:

  1. The total number of keywords your competitor is targeting
  2. The average monthly traffic these keywords generate
  3. The estimated monthly cost to rank for these keywords in Google Ads

Scroll down to view a table of keywords driving paid search traffic. Each keyword includes the ad position, URL, monthly search volume, and CPC.

This data can help you identify missed keyword opportunities for your campaigns. Click on the icon next to each URL to see the destination landing page.

These landing pages can inspire your own designs and content strategies.

Navigate to the “Competitors” tab to discover other sites competing for similar keywords via paid search.

The “Ads Copies” tab showcases your competitor’s live ads, complete with headlines, descriptions, and CTAs.

Use these insights to enhance your own PPC campaigns and stay ahead of the competition.

Improving your page loading speed

Improving your page loading speed is crucial not only for SEO but also for enhancing your paid search performance. Slow-loading pages can lead to decreased conversions, higher bounce rates, and lower rankings. To boost your loading speed, follow these three simple tips:

  1. Reduce the number of on-page elements, such as images, videos, scripts, and stylesheets, to minimize server requests and speed up loading times.
  2. Compress images and media files using tools like TinyPNG or Kraken.io to maintain quality while reducing file sizes.
  3. Utilize a content delivery network (CDN) to deliver static files from multiple servers worldwide, reducing latency and improving site speed.

To benchmark your page’s loading speed, use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Simply enter your URL and click “Analyze”

Then, scroll to receive a performance score and recommendations for improvement.

For a more detailed report, consider using Site Audit, which can identify specific issues affecting your site’s speed and provide guidance on resolving them.

head to the “Issues” tab and then use the “Category” drop-down to select “Site Performance.” 

These are all issues preventing your site from loading faster. 

click “# issues” to know more about the issue and how to fix it. 

Avoid Cannibalization

To avoid keyword cannibalization, where your paid and organic listings compete for the same keywords, follow these steps:

  1. Identify the keywords you’re bidding on in your paid search campaign using tools like Google Ads, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console.
  1. Cross-check these keywords against your organic keyword rankings. Use tools like Organic Research to identify any overlap.
  1. If there is overlap, consider adjusting your bids or pausing ads for keywords you rank well for organically. This can save your budget for keywords where you need to improve visibility.
  2. Alternatively, create separate landing pages for your paid and organic traffic. This allows you to tailor content and offers to each audience, avoiding confusion for both Google and visitors.

Stay Up to Date on Changes and Features

To stay current with PPC changes and features, consider these strategies:

  1. Subscribe to reliable blogs and newsletters covering paid search news and best practices.
  2. Follow official announcements and blogs from the platforms you use, like Google Ads or Microsoft Ads.
  3. Engage with online communities and forums where PPC experts share insights and experiences.
  4. Experiment with new features and platforms as they’re released to learn and optimize your campaigns.

Set Goals

To maximize the effectiveness of your paid search campaigns, it’s crucial to establish clear and measurable goals that align with your overarching business objectives. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). SMART goals help you focus your efforts, select the most appropriate keywords, ad formats, bidding strategies, and targeting options, and evaluate the ROI of your paid search investment. By setting SMART goals, you can identify and address issues, discover new growth opportunities, and optimize your campaigns effectively.

Setting SMART goals for your paid search campaigns is essential for achieving success. Here’s a breakdown of how to apply SMART criteria to your goals:

Specific: Clearly define what you want to achieve. For example, instead of “increase sales,” a specific goal would be “increase online sales by 20% in the next quarter.”

Measurable: Establish metrics to track your progress. For instance, if your goal is to boost brand awareness, you could measure it by tracking brand mentions or social media engagement.

Achievable: Set goals that are realistic and attainable based on your resources and budget. Setting an overly ambitious goal can lead to frustration and demotivation.

Relevant: Ensure your goals align with your overall business objectives and values. For instance, if your business values sustainability, a goal to reduce paper waste in your marketing materials would be relevant.

Time-bound: Set a specific timeline and deadline for achieving your goals. This helps create a sense of urgency and keeps you focused on reaching your target.

By setting SMART goals for your paid search campaigns, you can effectively plan, execute, and optimize your strategies to drive better results.

Monitor & Record Results

Monitoring and recording your paid search results is crucial for optimizing your campaigns. Here’s a step-by-step guide to effectively monitoring and recording your results:

Use a dashboard tool to connect to your paid search platforms and display key performance indicators (KPIs) at a glance. Tools like Google Looker Studio and Microsoft Power BI can help you create custom reports.

Focus on metrics that align with your goals, such as impressions, clicks, conversions, cost per click (CPC), cost per acquisition (CPA), return on ad spend (ROAS), and Quality Score.

Segment your data by different dimensions, such as campaign, ad group, keyword, device, location, time, and audience. This will help you identify areas for optimization.

Compare your results over time and against your competitors using tools like Google Trends and Advertising Research. Look for trends, patterns, and opportunities to improve your strategy.

Take action based on your findings. Analyze your results, draw insights, and implement changes to optimize your campaigns and improve performance.

By consistently monitoring and recording your paid search results, you can make data-driven decisions to optimize your campaigns and achieve your goals.

Ensure Your Ads Stay Ahead of (and Above) Competitors

Keeping an eye on your competitors is crucial for PPC success. Here’s why:

  1. Competitors are bidding on the same keywords, targeting the same audience, and aiming for the same clicks. If you’re not aware of their strategies, you’re at a disadvantage.
  2. By using tools like Advertising Research, you can spy on your competitors’ paid search campaigns and uncover valuable insights.
  3. This information allows you to discover new keyword opportunities, optimize your ad copy and landing pages, adjust your bids and budgets for better ROI, and track your performance against competitors.