The digital marketer’s guide to paid search management services


Investing in paid search management services can lead to a range of benefits for your business, including stronger understanding of your audience and more efficient use of your budget. Read on to find out more about these services and how they can help you.

There are lots of options for digital marketers to boost their brand awareness, generate leads and drive conversions. However, regardless of what your company does, focusing on search is a must-do.

Why a search management strategy matters

The majority of online experiences start with search, so if you’re not visible here, you’re nowhere.

In the long term, a well-planned, data-driven organic strategy that focuses on quality content and search engine optimisation (SEO) can be a hugely powerful yet cost-effective way to raise your profile and attract the most relevant customers.

But sometimes you need a quick, reliable boost to your efforts, and this is where paid search can prove highly useful. But this isn’t as easy as it sounds. While you could opt to manage a paid search campaign yourself, this can be especially difficult for firms that are already time poor or don’t have a lot of experience with these options. 

Therefore, it often pays to invest in paid search management services, where an expert partner can help guide you through the process and make sure you’re ticking all the right boxes to get the best return on investment (ROI) for your campaigns.

What are paid search management services?

First, however, it’s important you have a clear understanding of exactly what a paid search strategy is, what steps are involved, and how it can benefit your business. With this in mind, here are some of the most common questions businesses may have about this area of digital advertising if they are coming to it for the first time.

What is the difference between organic and paid results?

Organic results are what a search engine such as Google or Bing provides in response to a user query based on its own algorithms. They show the webpages the site believes to be most relevant to a user’s search term. The positioning of these results is complex and based on a huge number of factors, including the keywords on the pages, how authoritative and trustworthy the search engine deems the site to be and technical factors such as page load speed.

Climbing organic rankings should be a priority for any business, as the vast majority of searchers don’t click beyond the first page of results. But it’s not the only way to get your brand in front of users.

Paid results always appear on page one, and do so above the organic results. This puts them in a prime position to attract traffic – even more so than the top organic result. Therefore, if you’re prepared to pay for it, you can guarantee eyes on your site. However, this doesn’t necessarily always translate into conversions – you still have work to do to ensure your ads appear in the right searches, to the right people, and to persuade users to click on them.

Are PPC and paid search the same thing?

Paid search is frequently used interchangeably with the term pay-per-click, or PPC. Broadly speaking, they often do refer to the same thing, especially in causal usage. But there are a few differences to be aware of.

Essentially, PPC is a distinct method of paid search, in which the brand is only charged when a user actually clicks on their ad. While it is certainly the most common form of paid search, there are other types of strategy that fall under this banner. 

These include cost per mile (CPM), which charges based on the number of impressions rather than the number of clicks, and display ads. In paid search results, display advertising is often used for directly showcasing products to shoppers.

What platforms can you run paid search ads on?

The most common platform for paid search is Google Ads (which is often still referred to by its former name, Google AdWords). This helps make sure your brand name will appear above the organic results for Google searches on your most important keywords. And as Google accounts for over 93 per cent of the global search market (including both desktop and mobile), it’s the obvious place to start.

However, it’s far from the only option available. For instance, you may want to consider Google’s main competitor Microsoft if you know your target audience uses this platform. Bing ads are often much less competitive than those of Google, so can offer a cheaper way to reach an audience.

Elsewhere, you shouldn’t forget social media. The likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all offer the opportunity to place ads in their own search, and can often offer good results as they allow you to target the most relevant people and engage with them on a deeper level using their preferred platforms.

Is paid search right for your business?

Paid search can offer a great return on investment, but this doesn’t mean it’s right for every scenario. It certainly shouldn’t be used as a replacement for a long-term organic SEO strategy, but when used effectively, it can be a great complement to these efforts.

There are also a few specific scenarios where paid search can be especially beneficial. For example, if you’ve got a new product or service to shout about, paid search can be the best way to get it noticed. This is because people haven’t heard about it yet, so won’t be searching for it directly. By tying your latest offering to relevant keywords, you can quickly build brand awareness.

PPC is also useful when you need a short-term boost to keywords that aren’t currently ranking highly in SERPs. However, it’s important to remember that not every term will be worth the time and effort of a paid search focus – keywords that only have very limited search volumes are unlikely to offer a positive ROI.

Key signs your business needs a paid search partner

There’s nothing to stop you from managing all your paid search activities in-house. But what you might save in money by going it alone can sometimes end up costing you much more in terms of time. Beyond this, are you sure you have the expertise within your business to successfully manage your paid search campaigns? Many firms don’t. Therefore, it’s common for companies to seek partnerships with PPC specialists to make the most of this.

Why you need the help of an experienced paid search management team

Turning to a paid search expert as your business partner to help run your campaigns can give you the boost you need to drive better results. There are a range of reasons why your business could benefit from teaming up with a PPC agency, but there are a few common issues that crop up over and over again.

If any of the below sound familiar to you, it’s time to bring in help for your next paid search campaign.

Your budgets are out of control

A common issue with PPC campaigns is failing to keep track of how much you’re spending. In principle, this should be straightforward, as usually, you’ll commit a certain figure to a campaign so you’ll never spend more than you authorise. But in practice, it’s easy to find you’re spending your budget on the wrong things, or blow it all running test campaigns. You may even find yourself habitually increasing your spend if you’re being outbid, which is a surefire way to quickly lose money.

However, it’s not just overspending that you need to worry about. If you’re consistently failing to hit your ad spend target, this is a sign your paid search strategy is ineffective. Unused budget means no-one’s clicking on your ads, and a PPC agency can help tell you why.

You don’t know how to expand the reach of your ads

If you’re not getting the results you expect, this may be because you’re targeting your PPC ad too narrowly, or aren’t using the most relevant keywords. In many cases, the terms customers search for in the real world may not align with your own image of your brand. 

A PPC management service can help with this by conducting thorough keyword research to identify not only what users are searching for, but what the volumes are for each term. This can then be used to target the best opportunities. A partner can also recommend alternative platforms that may offer a better chance to connect with a specific audience, such as through local SEO techniques.

You’re being harmed by a poor Quality Score

Every Google ad has a Quality Score, determined by an algorithm built by the search engine to rate PPC advertising on its results pages. This shows you how well your paid ads stack up against your competitors, with factors taken into account including relevance, expected clickthrough rate and the experience once users reach your landing page. This means it’s not just the quality and relevance of the ad copy itself that counts, but also what you’re backing it up with on your own site.

While this score is intended to offer information to advertisers and is not used to directly rank ads, poorly-scored campaigns will generally struggle to compete against competitors and will result in a higher cost per click when they do appear in results. Google has a huge wealth of data from past ad auctions to turn to, so it offers a very good indication of what a below-average ad looks like.

Your competitors are winning for your key terms

The biggest challenge facing many firms is when their direct competitors are already running paid search advertising on your most important terms. This can be especially tricky if you’re a small business with a limited budget. Even worse, what happens if your competitors are bidding on your own branded terms and still winning? There’s nothing to stop them doing this, so the only real option you have is to make sure you’re beating them. But this isn’t easy, especially if you have limited budget and expertise available.

A PPC agency will use tools such as Google Analytics to analyse your overall strategy, identify the most relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) and recommend a strategy to counter these issues, such as making adjustments to the terms you bid for and finding relevant longtail keywords with less competition.

The benefits of working with a paid search management partner

Teaming up with a digital marketing agency that can offer experience and expertise in paid search can offer a wide range of benefits. Unlike a dedicated PPC agency, a full-service agency will look at paid search as just one aspect of a comprehensive marketing strategy, advise on how you can integrate it into all your campaigns and make recommendations on other areas where you stand to benefit, from content marketing to technical SEO.

How quickly can you see results from your marketing efforts?

Among the major benefits of paid search is that it offers a very quick boost to your performance. While organic SEO strategies may take months to come to fruition, an effective PPC or other paid ad campaign can start delivering results in days after being set live. 

Of course, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done behind the scenes in order to get to this point, from audience and competitor analysis to creating high quality content on the landing pages that your ads will link back to.

Still, with careful planning and a coherent strategy, this short time to ROI makes paid search an ideal option for boosting new product launches or when you need a quick win.

How to choose the best PPC management company for your business?

It’s clear that turning to an expert partner can offer huge opportunities to boost your paid search performance. But with so many agencies to choose from, how can you be sure you’re getting the right one?

A good start is to ask what they’re done in the past, and especially to enquire whether they’ve worked with similar sized businesses in your industry. A good provider should be able to happily provide case studies, testimonials and stats that can show the work they’ve done and the real-world results.

While you could opt for a partner that focuses solely on paid search services such as running a PPC campaign, you should also consider what other areas of expertise they may have – digital marketing is a holistic discipline, so it’s important to understand how your PPC fits into other aspects of your strategy. Therefore, asking what other services they provide, or how they will work together with other agencies with different specialisms is always a sensible idea.

What is included in good paid search marketing services?

A good paid search specialist will include elements such as keyword and competitor research to make sure you’re bidding on the most relevant search terms for your ad campaign, as well as identify any areas you can exploit that other brands may be missing. It should also help you develop customer personas for your key target audiences to make sure what you think your customers are searching for and what they’re actually typing into Google match. 

However, a full service agency partner will go far behind this. They’ll provide expert content marketing services ranging from SEO-focused copy for your landing pages to graphics and videography services for use in display ads and social media advertising, among many other offerings. 

At Axonn, for example, we know that while paid search can deliver great results, it works best as part of a wider strategy. Get in touch to learn more about our approach to digital marketing.

10 Minute Read

By Iain Pemberton | Updated

Iain is a senior member of Axonn’s editorial team and is an expert in tech. He should be; he’s been writing about the topic for more than 14 years.

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