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The Great Divide in Paid Search

Written on
Jul 21, 2010 
Author
Dan Darnell  |

bridge_smallADOTAS – A big picture-perspective is critical to search marketing success. However, too many advertisers are focusing on only one half of the search process.

The result is a “Great Divide” — a chasm of efficiency that separates search marketers who focus on ad-side elements from those who focus on site-side fundamentals:

1. Ads. Many search marketers focus on managing keywords and click-through rates because they can’t control the landing page content. Unfortunately, if the landing page is poorly designed or stagnant, then the conversion rate and the campaign ROI will suffer.

2. Site. Other marketers believe their search campaigns are already optimized. These experts now turn their focus to perfecting the site-side experience. Unfortunately, most landing page optimization techniques will yield a “one size fits all” result. While conversion rates might improve a bit, the marginal improvement usually results from a basic “tune up” rather than ensuring the landing page is relevant to each consumer.

Recognizing the “Great Divide” is the first step to uniting the two camps. By taking a step back and looking at the contributions of the entire advertising experience — from keyword selection to bids to ad copy to landing pages — it is possible to see how eliminating the great divide can lead to true search marketing success.

To focus equally on both sides of the search process, marketers must measure and optimize three parts of the of the conversion funnel:

1. Position and Volume. Paying for better placement can yield dramatic increases in the number of high-value impressions delivered. Moving an ad from page two to page one can yield as much as a twenty-fold increase in click-through rates. Understanding the contextual value of keywords will help advertisers decide if this jump is worth the investment.

2. Ad Relevance and Click-through Rate. The number of people who click on an ad is not only tied directly to placement, but also to how well a business competes for consumer attention against other ads and the organic content on the page.

Ads have to resonate with the consumer. A well-crafted ad in the fourth position can get more clicks than a generic ad in the second position. Highly relevant content that generates a higher click-through rate will also cost less to place because of its higher quality scores.

3. Landing Pages and Conversion Rates. This is the final step for most search experiences. The number of people who engage with or buy from this page is the ultimate gauge of the success of a campaign.

Maximizing conversions from the landing page requires that consumers are able to find what they are looking for and can complete the desired process quickly and easily. More than anything else, this requires matching search keywords, ads and landing pages to the intent behind search queries and creating a tailored landing page for each consumer.

By considering the entire search advertising experience, the mission of paid search marketing comes back into perspective: Maximize the number of people who make it through the entire process while minimizing cost.

Achieving this goal requires not only careful monitoring and fine-tuning of each part of the conversion funnel – that means, better keywords, higher click-through rates, and improved conversion rates on landing pages but also coordination across all parts of the conversion funnel to ensure a consistent and relevant consumer experience.

The sum of the parts is greater than the whole. Eliminating the “great divide” between search marketers is critical. Taking a big-picture approach to managing the entire advertising experience will ultimately deliver dramatic improvements in search marketing results.





Dan Darnell is director of product marketing at Adchemy.

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