On the face of it, Search Theory is simple:
- Someone visits a search engine e.g. Google
- They enter a search query
- They receive a search result
So what’s going on in the background?
It gets very interesting when you look at the psychology of search and try to understand the searcher’s intent and expectations.
If you bring this insight into your Google AdWords ad copy, keyword selection, creative and landing page content, your ads will perform well and convert visitors into buyers.
Google shows ads to people based on that they are actively seeking – based on relevance. The specific keywords they type into the search engine trigger the display of an ad that is relevant in meaning to their search.
This is pay per click advertising: the advertiser is only charged when the searcher clicks on their ad.
PPC (pay per click) makes sense for advertisers because you only pay when someone clicks on your ad – and you can still get brand exposure for people just seeing it. Some advertisers work on a CPM (cost per mille) impression basis. This means you pay a set amount for every 1,000 impressions your ad gets. Google AdWords shifted to a performance-based model (PPC) and attracted way more advertisers who didn’t have to invest too much to advertise.
What a PPC pricing model results in then is relevance: Google has to show relevant ads that people will want to click so that it can make money.
Google also makes it super easy for advertisers to join the program and provides free training and even vouchers for new advertisers.
This self-service platform lets you set up an ad campaign within MINUTES.
The Google AdWords PPC model works on a bidding process. There are a limited number of advertising spots on the Google search results page. The advertiser who bids the most in the ad auction gets a better position. The more you are willing to bid, the better your position – this would give you more traffic than your competitors for the specific keyword.
Google also ads other quality factors (such as click through rate and landing page copy) to ensure that searchers land on the best search result after clicking on an ad – and this quality score also affects advertiser rankings. Simply having the most money doesn’t guarantee you top spot.
This helps explain the auction:
It is in Google’s financial interest for ads that get clicks to show on the page, so if an ad doesn’t get clicked on it won’t have a high position, even if the advertiser bids more.
Here’s a point to ponder:
How much money does Google make per search? How many billions of searches happen worldwide everyday? Currently 3.5 BILLION searches per day
It’s important to Google then that it remains on the forefront of search – and that’s why it’s invested so heavily in Android and mobile.
Why is Google AdWords so attractive to businesses large and small?
It’s never been easier to attract customers who are actively looking for your product or service. Google AdWords has revolutionized how advertising works and has helped hundreds of thousands of businesses gain new customers for a relatively cheap cost per acquisition.
The psychology behind search
Now that we’ve covered some of the background of PPC search engine marketing through Google AdWords, let’s explore the psychology of search.
How do people use Google? You might remember the days before Google when you literally browsed the web. You would go from link to link and discover the most amazing (and sometimes horrifying) websites just by clicking around.
Today there is too much information online and too many websites to browse. It needs to be indexed and organized for it to be helpful to anyone. People don’t browse anymore, they actively search for something very, very specific. The faster they can solve their problems, the better.
We Google something – we don’t browse for it.
What makes search interesting though is that each individual is different. We all perform search in a different way and we think differently to each other. This makes it important for advertisers to choose keywords (the words typed into the search engine) that will make sure their ad appears in front of searchers.
When we tap out a search query into Google, we all do so differently – we all communicate differently with Google. Google has become very intelligent at recognising your intent. You can even do voice searches that converts the words from your mouth into a search query on your smartphone. Typing might very soon become obsolete.
Let’s take a look at an example.
Let’s say you’re sitting at home in your Craighall apartment and your teenage son bursts through the door in distress. He has broken the key in the lock of the front door and you need a locksmith. How do you solve this problem using Google?
Here are some typical searches:
locksmith in craighall
find a craighall locksmith
i need a locksmith
craighall locksmith cheap
emergency locksmith craighall
Do you see how you can just keep on coming up with different ways of solving the same problem?
As an advertiser you need to consider all the possible ways people could search for your product or service. This is the keyword research part of Google AdWords (and SEO).
What happens next?
You type your search query into your phone, right? Actually, something minuscule but important happens first: you set expectation.
Before you even begin searching, you have a visual image of what your search results will look like – your expectations are high that your question will be answered.
This is why ad copy is so important!
Your ad copy must meet the expectation of the searcher. It’s not enough that your ad appears: it also needs to solve your searcher’s problem and give them comfort that YOUR product or service will be the best choice.
This is the very first time your brand has a chance to interact with your customer, so make it count! Make sure that ad copy knocks their socks off and grabs their attention:
Pick me! Pick me! I can solve your problem!
Remember that you only have 130 characters to wow your searcher, grab their attention and SELL TO THEM.
And then the searcher does something magical.
They CLICK on your ad and come to your website.
The Landing Page
Now you have them. Your searcher has committed to your brand as being the saviour that will help them out. So make sure your landing page delivers the goods. It’s your chance to shine, show off and showcase your stuff.
Sometimes the landing page is your website’s home page – but often it’s a stand-alone page specific to the search query.
Put yourself in your searcher’s shoes. They know nothing about your company but they took a leap of faith that you can help them. Now they’re here and you really, really have to prove to them that they made the right choice.
That ad copy you hooked them in with made some big promises. Now it’s time to fulfill on those promises. Your landing page copy must logically follow from your ad copy and have a consistent message. Keep the conversation going. You don’t want them to leave your page without clicking through to the next step. This will be a waste of money for you AND lower your overall quality score which will mean the price of your ads will go up and you’ll end up hating it all.
Your landing page needs clear instructions on what to do next and an easy to see call to action. Don’t shout a million conflicting messages at your poor visitor. Gently guide them down the right path to conversion so that they buy from you.
This path might be a shopping cart or it could be a request for an email address or contact number.
In the words of Steve Krug, don’t make them think.
Remember, your ads should take your searcher to where their problems are solved.
This is the central ethos behind good content marketing: BE HELPFUL. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and shoulder their burden.
Putting it all together: Google, You and the Searcher
Now that you have a clearer picture of the search advertising process, let’s look at how the goals of all parties fit together.
Google, a search engine, wants to make money. You, the advertiser, wants to get more customers. The searcher, your potential customer, wants to solve a problem.
Do you see the power of all these elements in alignment? Incredible business growth for the advertiser, with happy customers. And Google keeps making search better for us all as it continues to grows into a giant advertising company/search engine.
Got any thoughts on this? Tweet them to @tonylopeswrites.