Paid Search Traffic: Why its Usually Best to Use a Spear Instead of a Trawler Net

If you are considering like many businesses out there to start paid search marketing on platforms like Google AdWords it’s a good idea to get an understanding of the core elements of running an AdWords account. This understanding does not have to be technical as you may decide to have your account managed on your behalf but it’s good to have even a basic level of understanding, so you know where your money is going and if it could be better spent.

I’ve put together this article to help explain what paid search is, how paid search works, why you should target specific traffic and provide a real-world example to show the benefits of becoming more targeted.

Many of the problems that arise from running an AdWords campaign come from poor account management and a lack of understanding regarding the traffic you are targeting. The consequences of not correctly targeting can be costly, both financially and in time.

What is Paid Search Traffic?

Paid search traffic is when someone types in for example “health insurance” into Google and then at the top and bottom (correct as of May 2018) there are paid for ad’s above and below the organic search results. If you put a bid on the keyword “Health Insurance” then as long as the bid was high enough, your ad copy is good enough and landing page too then your ad should appear alongside your competitors.

Why Should You Target Your Search Traffic?

Here I think it is best to use an analogy to explain the reasons why. If you think of your AdWords account as a big trawler ship going out to sea and you have all the gear and staff on board that is costing you money. Morning, noon and night you are casting your huge trawler nets out to capture as much traffic as possible which is great you’ve got a high number of clicks and your click through rate is massive – amazing! But is it?

If you were to audit your AdWords account and see how much of that traffic was “quality traffic” and by quality traffic I mean visitors staying on your site and completing your intended website goals, is this a high number? Often it isn’t. The usual situation is that within those metaphorical nets are tons of old boots (irrelevant keywords), random old ship parts (clicks from countries you do not serve) and much more…

On the reverse, if we look at a spear fisherperson, they have a lean boat with just themselves or a few key people with spears! Although they may not be inundated with fish (web traffic) they know that when they get them it’s what they want and need! How often do you think those fisherpersons pick up old boots and old ship parts? Pretty rarely I would say! So, by looking to run the account like this you can be sure to reduce wasted spend on the visitors that found you by mistake and clicked straight away.

Real World Example

I recently took on a company selling a popular type of clothing to the mass market. After an audit was performed it was clear that the account was being run like a trawler ship with mass nets capturing everything possible and needed the spear approach to turn it around.

The stats below are taken from Jan 2017 compared to Jan 2018 showing the progress and huge savings I have made for the company. You will also see that although I have got more targeted with the traffic I had more clicks for less money and more conversions took place.

Paid Search Comparison

And there you have it some compelling reasons to think about how you target your paid traffic and if your picking up too many old boots!

Stacey Pledge

About Stacey Pledge

I'm a PPC Specialist helping clients across the UK, Europe and the US get the best from their pay-per-click campaigns and reach their business goals.

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