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A Comprehensive Guide to Using Search Engine and Social Media Ads for Your Business

June 26, 20247 min read

In digital marketing, you can drive traffic to your website in two main ways: organically or inorganically.

Organic search traffic refers to visitors who find your website naturally, without you having to pay for advertisements. This is achieved through methods that focus on quality content and engaging your audience, rather than spending money to promote your site.

Inorganic search traffic, on the other hand, involves paid advertising. These strategies can bring results faster than organic methods but require a financial investment.

In this article, we'll dive into inorganic methods—specifically search engine and social media ads. We'll explain what they are, when to use them, and whether they’re worth spending your marketing budget on.

Search Engine Ads and Social Media Ads

Search engine ads

Search engine advertising allows you to roll out text or image advertisements on search engine platforms like Google or Bing.

How does search engine advertising work?

Search engine advertising typically uses an auction-based system. Here’s a simple breakdown:

  1. Keyword Bidding

Imagine you have an accounting firm in Toronto and you want your business to be the first thing people see when they search for "accounting firm in Toronto" on Google.

To do this, you bid on keywords relevant to your business. In this case, you’d bid on the keyword "accounting firm in Toronto."

If you are bidding on Google, you can do it on AdWords, while Bing uses Bing Ads.

  1. Competition

The more competitive the keyword (meaning more businesses are also bidding for it), the higher the cost will be.

  1. Quality Score

But winning the bid isn't just about who pays the most. If Google only showed ads from the highest bidder, search results could become filled with irrelevant ads.

To ensure relevance, Google looks at your website’s Quality Score, which includes factors like:

  • Expected Click-through Rate (CTR): Google’s estimation on how often people will click on your ad.

  • Keyword Relevancy: How relevant your keywords are to your ad content.

  • Landing Page Experience: How relevant and user-friendly your landing page is for the keyword.

  • Ad Relevance: How closely your ad matches the user's search query.

If you win the bid and have a good Quality Score, your ad will appear at the top of the search results when someone searches for "accounting firm in Toronto."

Types of paid search engine ads

  1. Pay-per-click ads

An example of pay-per-click ad

These top two firms bid for pay-per-click ads to get the top positions on Google’s results page. The ads are indicated by the “sponsored” tag.

Text-based ads that appear on top of search engines. Can be used by e-commerce, retail businesses, and professional service providers like accounting firms.

  1. Shopping ads

Product listings at the side of the search engine results page. You can also see the “sponsored” tag.

It displays listings on search engines, perfect for small businesses that sell products.

  1. Local service ads

Google service ads are usually verified with Google Guarantee badge and Google Screened badge. Screengrab from Google Local Services Ad

This type of ad is solely for service businesses.

Social media ads

Social media advertising allows you to roll out text, image, and video advertisements on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

How does social media advertising work?

Similar to search engine advertising, social media ads use auction-based systems. You bid based on how much you're willing to spend on a desired action, such as a click or an impression. Here's how it works:

  1. Budgeting and Bidding

First, decide how much you're willing to spend on your campaign. For example, you might bid $1 for each click on your product ad and set a daily budget of $10.

This means your ad will appear throughout the day until it receives 10 clicks. Once it gets 10 clicks, it will stop displaying for the rest of the day.

  1. Quality Score

Like search engine advertising, social media platforms rank bidders based on quality scores. Each platform may have its own criteria, but commonly considered factors include:

  • Bid: How much you're willing to spend per bid per day.

  • Estimated Click-Through Rate: The platform's estimation of how often people will click on your ad.

  • User Experience: The perceived quality of your ad compared to ads targeting the same audience.

Keep in mind that bids can be more competitive during peak seasons, such as Black Friday.

  1. Targeting the Audience

You can target your audience based on various factors like location, demographics, interests, industry, and income.

Targeting the right audience ensures your ads are shown to people who are more likely to be interested, saving you from wasting money on the wrong audience.

Types of social media ads

Image Ads

An example of LinkedIn image ad

Image ads use eye-catching visuals to convey a message to the audience.

Video Ads

An GIF example of a video ad on LinkedIn

An example of a video ad on LinkedIn

Different platforms offer various types of video ads. Some are only five seconds long, while others are unskippable and appear before, during, or after other video content.

Carousel Ads

An example of a carousel ad on Facebook

Carousel ads display multiple images or videos that users can slide to left and right.

Are paid ads sustainable and worth investing in?

Paid ads, including search engine and social media ads, can be effective and sustainable if used wisely. They allow you to target specific audiences based on demographics, interests, and behaviors, increasing your chances of reaching potential customers. These ads offer measurable results and flexible budget options, enabling you to start small and scale up as you see positive outcomes. Additionally, paid ads can quickly drive traffic and generate leads, offering faster results than organic strategies.

However, running ads can be expensive, so it's crucial to evaluate your return on investment (ROI) to ensure you're generating more revenue than you're spending. Ad fatigue can also occur, making it important to regularly update your content to keep your audience engaged. Costs can rise during popular seasons or in competitive markets.

When to use paid ads?

Using paid ads at the right times can help you get the most out of your investment. Here are some good times and situations to consider:

  1. New Product Launches

When you're launching a new product or service, paid ads can help you quickly spread the word and attract interest.

  1. Seasonal Sales and Holidays

Busy shopping times like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holiday season are perfect for using paid ads. People are actively looking for deals, making them more likely to buy.

  1. Special Promotions

If you're running limited-time offers or discounts, paid ads can drive immediate traffic and boost sales.

  1. Slow Business Periods

If your business slows down during certain times of the year, paid ads can help bring in more customers.

  1. Beating the Competition

When entering a competitive market, paid ads can help you stand out and attract customers from established brands.

  1. Clearing Inventory

If you need to sell old or excess products quickly, paid ads can help move your inventory.

  1. Reaching New Markets

When expanding to a new area or targeting a new group of people, paid ads can introduce your brand to a fresh audience.

  1. Re-engaging Past Customers

Paid ads can bring back previous customers who have shown interest in your products or services.

  1. Building Brand Awareness

If you're a new business or want more people to know about your brand, paid ads can increase your visibility.

  1. Promoting Content

Boosting content like blog posts, videos, or webinars with paid ads can attract more viewers and engagement.

Paid ads are a great way to get a quick boost in traffic, especially if your organic reach is still growing and the market competition is tough. While it does require a financial investment, using both organic and paid strategies can ultimately benefit your business.

Are paid ads on your radar? The Digital Firm can make paid ads work for your business. Book a 10-minute consultation with us to develop a strategy for your next ad campaign.

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