Search advertising software allows companies to target keywords that are relevant to their businesses and gain a more prominent positioning in search engine results. This helps them earn visibility with users who are already searching for those keywords. Search advertising products are typically used by marketing teams or marketing and advertising agencies to identify, target, and bid on keywords. They also help create and optimize ads, as well as track conversion and return on ad spend (ROAS).
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Semrush is a leading online visibility management software-as-a-service platform. With over 55 products, tools, and add-ons across online visibility management, including tools for search, content, social media, and market research, data for more than 142 countries, and seamless integration with Google and task management platforms, Semrush is a critical solution for all companies who are serious about online presence.
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What is Search Advertising Software?
Search advertising software allows companies to target keywords that are relevant to their businesses and gain more prominent positioning in search engine results, gaining visibility with users who are already searching for those keywords. Search advertising is also known as paid search, search engine marketing (SEM), sponsored ads, and pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. This type of software is used by companies to identify, target, and bid on keywords. Search advertising includes both first-party and third-party platforms. First-party platforms are platforms offered directly by Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! that offer direct access to ad placement on each of the respective search engines. Third-party platforms may manage ad campaigns across multiple search engines and may also offer functionality to serve ads across display advertising software, video advertising software, mobile advertising software, or social media advertising software as well.
Key Benefits of Search Advertising Software
- Improve brand recognition and exposure on search engines
- Create extremely targeted advertising campaigns while consumers are searching for specific keywords
- Track measurable results like reach, conversions, form completions and return on ad spend (ROAS)
- Bid on keywords across AdWords, Bing Ads, or Yahoo!
Why Use Search Advertising Software?
Search advertising software helps businesses scale their search engine marketing by launching and managing all of their search advertising campaigns. This type of software helps companies report on the outcomes of their campaigns to optimize their ads moving forward.
Organic or native feel — When companies use search advertising software, their ads usually appear at the top of a search engine results page. This not only leads to great brand recognition, but these ads seem more organic to consumers because they are actually searching for those keywords. At first glance, many searchers are unable to tell the difference between paid and organic search results.
Results tracking — Tracking is a lot easier using search advertising software because businesses can track every ad, keyword, and dollar spent, allowing them to track a more accurate return on investment (ROI). This also makes it easier for advertisers to test search advertising campaigns.
Online reputation management — Similar to organic search rankings, search engines also have requirements for paid search ads to ensure all ads consumers view are relevant and trustworthy. Search engines don’t just look at ad bids, but also at a company’s quality score, which consists of how relevant a company’s keywords are in relation to their ad text and what a consumer is searching for. Because of this quality score, having a paid ad on search engines won’t detract from a business’s overall brand reputation.
Who Uses Search Advertising Software?
Businesses, both B2B and B2C, use search advertising because an abundance of new visitors to a website discover it by first performing a query on a search engine. Companies like search ads because they are non-intrusive and they reach consumers while they are already searching for information, unlike other forms of digital advertising, like display and video advertising.
Marketing and advertising teams — Typically, in-house marketing and advertising teams within a business use search advertising software within their marketing technology stack. If a company doesn’t have a dedicated marketing or advertising team, they look to marketing or digital advertising agencies to conduct search advertising campaigns.
Small and local businesses — These types of businesses may not have a large budget for advertising campaigns, but because of features like geotargeting, they can get their search ads in front of the right target market. Geotargets only let ads appear to consumers in a certain location, or locations, that they specify. For example, local search ads can stand out within the local results sections of a Google search, which include location, phone number, hours, and reviews. These ads can also be displayed in Google Maps and are pushed to the top of local results. One example of this type of campaign could be for a local florist and would use keywords like “florist in Chicago” or “florist near me.”
Kinds of Search Advertising Software
There are different kinds of search engine marketing, like local SEO, organic SEO, and search advertising. Local SEO focuses on getting a business listing displayed in Google map results, whereas organic SEO results in website content optimized for increased visibility in unpaid, non-local search results. Additionally, within search advertising, there are different kinds of payment models to deploy search ads. It is important when evaluating payment models to identify considerations like advertising budget, campaign objective, and search engine channel.
Pay per click (PPC) — Under a PPC model, marketers only pay for an ad when someone clicks on it. This model is used by marketers who only want to pay for ads that actually lead to website visits, content downloads, etc. The more popular the keywords, the more expensive the cost per click (or CPC).
Pay per impression (PPI) — PPI, sometimes known as cost per mille (or CPM), is a search ad payment model where marketers pay for every 1,000 impressions of their ad. This type of model helps with objectives around visibility and brand awareness (similar to traditional ads like billboards). PPI campaigns can often be less expensive than PPC campaigns.
Pay per sale or action (PPS/PPA) — A PPS or PPA payment model occurs when a publisher or website owner is only paid when a search advertisement leads to a direct sale. With this payment model, a publisher is paid on a previously agreed upon commission rate and is often more favorable for advertisers, as opposed to publishers. Advertisers only pay for ads that actually generate sales from that site. Therefore, publishers must concern themselves with the quality and quantity of their website audience and also the quality of the advertiser’s creative ad.
Search Advertising Software Features
Paid keyword optimization — This type of software helps companies find the right keywords to drive relevant traffic to their website. Keyword optimization, or keyword research, helps analyze and select keywords to drive qualified leads to a company’s website.
Bid rules — Marketers are able to set bid rules to minimize pay-per-click costs or maximize conversions from the keywords they select.
Bid optimization — This feature assists in automating bid changes based on marginal ROI so marketers know their next dollar will get them the most return. Some search advertising software options have a bid simulator that helps estimate the click, cost, and impression data their ads have received over a specified time period to optimize for different bids moving forward.
A/B testing — A/B testing tools also help optimize search ads by deploying different versions of ads, such as calls to action or images, and tracking which ones encourage visitors to convert at higher rates./p>
Budget execution and monitoring — It’s important when executing search advertising campaigns to set a budget plan and automate its execution with monitoring capabilities to ensure businesses are getting the best value for their advertising dollars.
Advanced targeting options — Companies can implement advanced ad targeting options beyond just keywords, such as location, time of day or week, devices, or other demographic data.
Attribution — This feature enables marketers to track the click path of consumers that come to their site via paid search and if they convert to customers.
Trends Related to Search Advertising Software
Artificial intelligence and machine learning — Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can assist companies with automating ad bids and budgets. Automated bidding can help advertisers bid without having to guess which keywords perform better. For example, Google Ads can automatically make alterations to ad bids using machine learning insights to maximize advertisers’ conversions to meet their targeted cost-per-acquisition goal.
Audience targeting — Companies looking to implement search advertising campaigns have typically focused on targeting specific keywords. There has, however, been a shift in thinking in that more marketers are starting to target their search ads based on audience profiles, or personas, instead of keywords. Companies like Google and Bing can assist advertisers in segmenting and targeting the audience.
Voice search — Voice search is becoming more prominent and is starting to dominate search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. As a result, voice search is going to impact search advertising, meaning marketers need to start preparing to optimize their content to rank for organic voice searches. One way marketers can accomplish this is by launching dedicated question ad campaigns that play into the more conversational feel of voice search queries.
Potential Issues with Search Advertising Software
Ad structure updates and changes — The ad structure for search engines can impact how marketers optimize their search ads. For example, Google Ads has previously incorporated updates like new discovery ad formats, images in gallery ads, and updated smart bidding controls. It’s up to marketers to stay on top of these updates to ad structures and features that search engines roll out.
Click fraud — Click fraud is a concern for marketers wanting to explore paid search advertising. Click fraud is an attempt to misleadingly inflate the number of clicks on a pay-per-click ad. Click fraud is often driven by advertisers that want to sabotage their competitors by driving up their ad costs and by ad publishers clicking on ads displayed on their own websites to generate additional revenue. One way search engines combat this issue is by creating algorithms to detect and filter for invalid clicks before advertisers are charged.
Software and Services Related to Search Advertising Software
Creative management platforms — Creative management platforms (CPMs) include ad design builders capable of making dynamic ads in bulk and employ dynamic creative optimization (DCO) to automate the optimization of ad content by differentiating users. This makes for a more personalized and powerful ad experience while increasing an ad campaign’s overall performance.
Demand side platforms (DSPs) — DSPs are advertiser campaign management products that provide advertisers features for buying ad placements online and in real-time. Buying ad placements in real-time through DSPs gives advertisers the ability to target their desired audiences as they are browsing websites. To purchase ads in real-time, DSPs integrate with ad exchanges, which serve as a marketplace for ad inventory.
Cross-channel advertising software — Companies can use this type of software to advertise across multiple digital advertising channels such as search, display, mobile, social, and video. Leveraging cross-channel advertising software provides companies access to a wide variety of audiences and allows advertisers to take advantage of each channel’s unique benefits.
Digital marketing services — Digital marketing firms understand how each aspect of digital marketing can contribute to an organization’s goals and design their services with this in mind. Firms offering digital marketing services specialize in marketing tools such as search advertising, display advertising, in-game advertising, and various forms of content creation. They also often provide additional solutions focused on creating a stronger web presence such as responsive website design, search engine optimization (SEO) services, and overall online marketing strategy.