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Is paid search really worth it for small businesses?

Paid search, pay per click (PPC), cost per click (CPC), search engine marketing (SEM), Google AdWords, lions, tigers and bears… oh my. What does it all mean?

Simply put, paid search is when you buy keywords and create ads that will show when someone searches for those keywords. Paid search can be a great tool for small businesses when done right. It will put your business in front of people who are looking for what you are selling at the time when they are ready to buy.

With millions of websites online and thousands more published every day, staying competitive and driving traffic to your website can be a bit of an obstacle course. Paid search can help you target a broader set of Internet searchers who may not know anything about your business. It capitalizes on the low-hanging fruit, sending them straight to your website.

Pay per click illustration
How does it work?
Paid search ads show up when a user types in a keyword or phrase into Google, Bing or Yahoo. The difference between the paid search results and the organic search results is simply that you paid for the spot. It’s like an auction. Each keyword has a price, and businesses bid on keywords to compete for the ad position on the search page.

The process can be as simple as choosing your keywords, setting up a budget and writing your ad.

The art and science of it is getting the right people to come to your site from the right keywords. It’s a dance of continually adding positive and negative keywords to your ads to get those significant buyers on your website.

Advantages of paid search
When someone clicks on your ad, you can see the exact data of who they are, how they got there and if they ended up buying. This helps you put a real business value to your online marketing efforts.

Paid search is one of the fastest and most cost effective way to drive targeted traffic to your website or online store.

Small businesses vs. the man
As a small business or micro-business, paid search is a different ball game. Big businesses have high budgets, look for high volumes and sometimes have armies of people for one set of keywords for one product type. This is pretty intimidating for most of us small fish swimming up stream.

Many articles on paid search will often explain paid search from a larger company’s perspective. However most of us don’t have the budgets or the time required to achieve high volumes of paid traffic.

Instead, small business can focus on the easy wins that paid search can proffer, capturing fewer but more significant clicks on a monthly basis.

Getting started
If you have a Yola Gold, Silver or Bronze subscription, you have $100 credit to Google Adwords that you can redeem by clicking on the link at the bottom of your site’s analytics page in My Yola.

You can set up a Google Adwords account for free and start building your campaigns whenever you like. Another option, for those less savvy on paid search best practices, you can redeem your credits and manage your campaigns through SiteWit, a search marketing platform that makes it easy for small businesses to advertise on search engines.

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