The Blueprint Introduction to Paid Search Advertising for Startups


Scaling a startup in today’s digital landscape requires a strategic approach to marketing to your (potential) audiences and customers. One efficient way to optimise your online visibility and drive targeted intent-driven traffic to your website is through paid search advertising, also known as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising. Leveraging platforms such as Google Ads or Bing Ads can significantly enhance your brand’s online presence and boost your startup’s conversion volume and growth.

Let’s delve into the world of paid search advertising, exploring its benefits, how it works, and how to maximise its opportunity to scale your startup.


Understanding PPC

In simple terms, PPC is a model of online advertising where advertisers pay each time their ad is clicked by a user, measured in what we call Cost-Per-Click model (CPC). The concept is pretty straightforward – it’s a way of buying visits to your website, rather than attempting to earn visits organically (the opposite of organic traffic).

The most common form of PPC is search engine advertising. Platforms like Google Ads and Microsoft Ads allow businesses to bid for ad placements in a search engine’s sponsored links. Here, when someone searches for a keyword related to their business offering, their ad might show up in the top spot on the search engine results page, in essence, Google or Microsoft providing the end-user the most relevant landing page for the intent of the user.

Paid Search Advertising: Key Definitions

To fully comprehend the world of paid search advertising, it’s crucial to understand the following key terms:

  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM): SEM refers to both paid and organic marketing efforts on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
  • Cost-Per-Click (CPC): CPC is the amount an advertiser pays each time a user clicks on their ad.
  • Ad Rank: This is a value used by search engines to determine the position of an ad on the search engine results page (SERP). It’s calculated by multiplying the Maximum Bid by the Quality Score.
  • Quality Score: This is a rating given by search engines based on the relevance and quality of your keywords and PPC ads.
  • Maximum Bid: This is the maximum amount an advertiser is willing to pay for a click on their ad.
  • Impression Share: How often your ads receive impressions as a percentage in comparison to your competitors (businesses that target the same keywords or niche you’re in)
  • Conversion: An event triggered that confirms a transaction or desired action has happened in your website or App

Why Choose Paid Search Advertising?

Investing in PPC advertising can offer numerous benefits for startups, including:

  • Cost-Effectiveness: With PPC, you only pay when users interact with your ad through impressions or clicks, ensuring you get the best value for your money.
  • Quick Results: Unlike organic ranking strategies, which can take months or even years to yield results, PPC can guarantee immediate visibility of your Web or App.
  • Control and Testing: PPC campaigns are easy to control and test. You can adjust the keywords you’re targeting, ad placement, audience segments or budget at any time, without lag.
  • Targeted Advertising: PPC allows you to reach your ideal customers based on keywords, past online activity, or demographics.
  • Data-Driven SEO Strategy: Data collected from PPC campaigns can be used to enhance your SEO strategy (& vice versa).

The History of Paid Search

The concept of PPC advertising dates back to 1996 when Planet Oasis launched the first PPC model. Advertisers paid a fee for each user who clicked on their ads. Over time, other players like Open Text and Google entered the PPC scene, refining the model and introducing new features.

Types of Paid Search Platforms

There’s a variety of PPC platforms available, each with its unique benefits. Here are a few:

  • Google Ads: As the most popular search engine worldwide, Google Ads offers immense reach and advanced targeting options.
  • Bing Ads: Bing Ads, now known as Microsoft Ads, provides a slightly lower CPC at the expense of a larger audience.
  • Facebook Ads: Popular for its specific targeting options, Facebook Ads blend into users’ social feeds, offering native advertising (can also be deemed as a Paid Social channel).
  • AdRoll: A platform for retargeting campaigns, AdRoll displays ads on other websites that visitors have previously engaged with.
  • RevContent: Ideal for promoting content, RevContent’s PPC model displays your content alongside relevant keywords on other websites.

How Paid Search Works

In PPC advertising, advertisers bid on keywords relevant to their business, essentially focusing on terms that their ideal customer might search for in Search Engines. When users search for these keywords, the search engine’s algorithms evaluate all bids and display the winning ads at an auction-level. The position of an ad on the the Ad Rank, which is a product of the Maximum Bid and Quality Score, but there’s a lot more variables to this.

Paid Search vs SEO

PPC is often compared to other digital advertising models like SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). While SEO aims to improve a website’s organic ranking on SERPs, PPC is a paid strategy ensuring immediate visibility on the SERP. We always recommend that both channels are running initially as tests, using the data you acquire as a way to evaluate which channel you should focus more efforts in. We’d like to think that Paid Search can get you faster data insights, while SEO is more of a slow burn (long-term) approach, but cheaper.

Building a Successful Paid Search Campaign

Building an effective PPC campaign involves several steps:

  • Set Parameters: Define who you want to target (keywords), the theme of your campaign, how you will measure success, and the type of campaign you will run.
  • Create Goals and Goal Metrics: Define what you aim to achieve with your PPC ads and how you will measure these goals.
  • Choose Your Campaign Type: Decide on the most suitable type of PPC campaign for your business, which could be Search Ads, Display Ads, YouTube, Performance Max or Google Shopping.
  • Perform Keyword Research: Identify the most relevant keywords to target in your campaigns.
  • Craft Ad Text: Develop compelling ad copy that matches the keyword terms you’re targeting.
  • Design a Landing Page: Create an optimised landing page where users will land once they click your PPC ad.

The Role of Keywords in PPC

Keywords play a significant role in PPC campaigns. Each ad group in your campaign should target a set of closely related keywords. These keywords dictate when and where your ad will be displayed on SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). Regularly monitor your keyword list, eliminating those that don’t bring in the desired traffic and increasing bids on those that actually provide conversions and a better ROI.

Scaling Your Startup with PPC

For startups, a well-executed Paid Search campaign can provide a significant boost in fast insights and user acquisition. By strategically bidding on relevant keywords and crafting compelling ad copy, and having a strong landing page, startups can drive targeted traffic to their websites, generating quality leads, and boosting sales. With the ability to measure campaign performance in real-time and adjust strategies accordingly, PPC provides a cost-effective and scalable solution for startups looking to grow their online presence and achieve their business goals.