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  • Filippo Milano

Paid Search Strategy: Planning Phase

Updated: Feb 15, 2021

1. Define Goals and Budget

Paid search strategies can have a range of goals, such as boosting growth, generating profit, or even driving conversions for channels other than search. How do you know which goals make sense?


First, ensure that PPC goals align with the overall digital marketing strategy. For example, if your overall marketing aim for this quarter is to increase website traffic, the goal of the PPC strategy should be to achieve a high click-through rate to the site.

Once that goal is set in stone, the activities that will help you achieve that goal will become apparent.

Second, ensure your paid marketing goals are not actively working against existing organic marketing activities. Check your organic share of voice for keywords you want to include in your paid search budget. Determine how much share of voice you already capture from SEO efforts, and who is capturing the paid traffic here.

Analyse carefully before adding keywords that already bring a large amount of organic traffic to your site to PPC campaigns.

Next, define key performance indicators (KPIs). For example, if the main goal of the PPC strategy is to generate leads, your KPIs should be the number of sales and marketing qualified conversions you aim to generate through paid search, plus how much those individual leads should cost.

You’ll need to activate conversion tracking in Google Ads for this to work.

Now it’s time to start thinking about budget. Identify how many search terms you plan to bid on and how many clicks you can realistically expect from those per month. The number of clicks depends on multiple factors, including the quality of your ad copy, the strength of your landing page as it relates to the search query, the aggressiveness of competitor bidding, and the percentage of people who click paid ads. One study suggests that 33% of people will click on paid ads if it answers their search query.

Finally, identify a breakeven point between where your paid marketing efforts start producing a positive return on investment (ROI). This means calculating at what point you expect to sell enough to cover your initial investment in paid search. If your campaign fails to break even in the time expected, you may need to reassess.

2. Research keywords

All searches, whether paid or organic, start with words typed into a search box. That makes user-centric keyword research the basis of any successful PPC strategy.

Start off analogy, brainstorming broad keyword terms around product features or verticals. A fashion ecommerce site might start off with the broad term “women’s shoes,” for example.

If your site has a search function, export all the searches from the last 90 days, and then categorize them by type. This is a verbatim list of what people search for once they are on your site; it’s worth considering these terms in paid ad campaigns if you have content or can create content that fills the search intent.

Lastly, access your site’s Google Search Console, and identify existing organic keywords with a high click-through rate (CTR). These may well have an equally high CTR when used in paid search campaigns, which will improve your Google Ads Quality Score.


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