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Paid Search Basics 101

July 6, 2020 8:00 AM

The whole purpose of search is to meet the user in their search query. Meeting the users demand is the ultimate end goal for Google.

There are algorithms that ultimately determine what gets put in front of users. In Paid Search it’s broken down to 3 main fact

  1. Budget - Usually the advertiser with the highest bid ads gets served first. You can still get your ad served if you don’t have a high budget, but the amount of people who see it will be limited.
  2. Ad Relevance - How relevant to the search is your ad copy? This is why the general rule-of-thumb is to have 3 ads for any given ad group.
  3. Landing Page Experience - What is the user experience like on the landing page? Are they finding what they’re searching for quickly?

Social Vs Search

The main difference of Search and Social is how the ad is served. In search, the ad is served only to people that are looking for a particular keyword. (Matching a searcher’s intent is key). On social, the ad is served on the timeline or to a broader audience.

Search meets users at the demand.

Social creates the demand.


Our Process

Elysian Digital works hand-in hand with clients. Each process is different depending on the client, but ultimately the main process is Campaign strategy recommendation, approval, keyword generation, flight(campaign going live)


What we look for pre-campaign

Usually our internal team (who is in contact with the client) will ask for a search campaign to be created.

Some things to know before we create any campaign:

  • What is the intent of a search campaign? Awareness? Clicks? Conversions?
  • Where are we driving traffic to? Website? Is the website optimized for mobile? For Desktop? For Both?
  • Landing Page? What is the framework for the landing page? What does the copy on the Landing Page Look like? Is the landing page a part of a website,sub-site, or a stand-alone landing page?

Once we have the general overview of the campaign, the next step would be to go over the main factors of building a paid search campaign.

Ad Copy Components


Headlines are normally restrictive to 30 characters. In a sense, you have to think of a catchy headline that is short, but effective.Google gives 3 headlines max when creating ad copy.

General rule of thumb here is to have the brand name in the first headline in some way. This lets users know which brand they’re looking at.


Descriptions usually describe what the page is about.Normally the cap is 90 characters per line, so feel free to explain what your landing page is about concisely.

General best practices

Ideally, the end-goal is to make sure the Ad Copy matches what’s on the landing pages and match the search query. Best practice is to seethe website or landing page to see the type of copy that is being used and ultimately summarize it in a headline or a short description. We can also build ad copy around a group of keywords.


Keyword Strategy

Keywords can normally be found by going onto the website and seeing what’s being marketed. Simply go on to the website and landing page and ask yourself “If I was searching for (Client/Brand/product), what key words would I use in my search?”


Optimization Strategies

Optimization normally varies depending on the goals established before the campaign is launched. One simplistic idea is this:

  • If you are generating a lot of clicks, but not enough conversions, then you know the issue lies on the landing page
  • If you generate a small number of clicks, but the little traffic that goes onto the website is converting at a high rate,then you know the issue lies in the ad copy, budget or audience targeting.

Usually, split testing will be your best friend in finding out what works best for your campaign.

Budget Optimizations

Google offers two options in terms of budget optimizations.

Manual bidding:
  • This can be a great way to observe trends in search
  • Because it is manual it opens up the campaign to further human input error and the monitoring process can get tedious
  • Not scalable
Automated bidding/ Smart Bidding:
  • You can program the AdWords algorithm to optimize campaigns for target CPA, clicks, impressions, etc.
  • This is a great way of getting the most bang for your buck and allows the algorithm and AI to make the most educated decision using real-time bids and data-collection.
  • More scalable
  • The downside to this is that it is more difficult to observe trends.

Both bidding strategies offer some pros and cons. It is sometimes best if you set up the campaign as manual in the beginning and then switch to automated later in the campaign. It is also helpful to utilize Google’s algorithm by setting your campaign settings to smart bidding.

You can find out more about Smart bidding here.

Audience Optimizations

The marketing audience to AdWords naturally defaults to the Entire US.

If you have a client that focuses on specific geographic areas, then AdWords allows you to target based off location.

The options for targeting include:

  • Affinity Audiences- Targeting based off interests
  • Geo-location- based off location
  • Custom audiences- based off retargeting audiences or uploading consumer lists
  • Demographics- based off age, sex, etc.

At the end of the day, the main goal of audience selection is to create a wide net so there is enough data to optimize campaigns and enough people to place in the entire online sales funnel.

In short, pick an audience that is big enough, but targeted enough so it’s relevant to the ad.


Paid search is definitely fun once you have the fundamental knowledge behind it. Our recommendation is to test out different paid search campaigns for yourself or have a paid search expert do it for you and teach you.


Would you like to audit your Paid Search campaign? Click here.

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