Woman handing paid search advertising

Wish you knew a little-known paid search advertising inside tip to make your search campaigns more effective? Instead of simply targeting your search campaigns by keyword as most marketers do, target by audience at the same time. Read on to discover how to leverage keyword targeting and audience targeting in tandem for better-performing paid search advertising campaigns.

Paid Search Keyword Targeting

The majority of search engine marketing (SEM) is designed to target by keyword searched. Based on your budget and goals, determine a healthy mix of keywords, such as brand, non-brand, long-tail, geomodified and their variations to appeal to your customers and prospects.

Unlike other channels, with paid search, you aren’t buying inventory. You’re bidding on keywords in a real-time blind auction. Choose keywords relevant to your brand that with good account health and quality trigger your ad to be served on a searcher’s personalized search engine results page (SERP).

Choosing Keywords

So. Many. Choices. It can be overwhelming when you’re tasked with selecting the right keywords for your search campaigns. How do you know which ones are the right ones? Follow this process to make choosing easier: Put on your consumer hat. What keywords would you search for? Consider targeting behavior beyond the self-indicated search term to align your budget and efforts to your goals. Don’t forget to stay up to date and leverage match typing to adopt the most recent keyword mapping nuances that differ for every search platform.

Structuring Your Account

How you structure your paid search account is crucial; it can make or break your success. Set up your keywords and match typing, your ad groups, bidding technology and the landing page to offer a good experience to searchers.

For each campaign, group common keyword terms together under different themes for ideal messaging. Then when you want to reach different personas or audience segments via keywords, you can easily add these specific campaigns for these segments to supplement your always-on evergreen search activity and enterprise and branding efforts.

Paid Search Audience Targeting

A few years ago, paid search was only keyword-based and focused on keywords and geographic locations. Now there’s a variety of audience targeting strategies you can use and layer on top of keyword targeting to help you reach the right people with your message at the right time.

To determine what audiences to target, think through and answer these questions: Who is your core audience? What are people searching for? How does your target audience’s behavior differ from other key audiences you want to reach? What do your audiences look like across other media channels such as programmatic and social? What is your target audience’s persona and behaviors? Do you have first-party data? Are you using retargeting?  Do you have a different messaging strategy for retargeted searchers?

Understanding the Current Targeting Strategies

  • Customer match targeting is when you use the first-party data you own with all the online and offline info you know, to reach existing customers.
  • Remarketing is when you reach people who have shown interest in what you have to offer, who have visited your website or interacted with you in the past.
  • Affinity targeting is when you reach people based on their lifestyle, their passions, hobbies and interests.
  • Look-alike targeting is when you reach people who have similar characteristics to your existing customers or prospects.
  • In-market targeting is when you reach people who have researched and are actively considering purchasing from you.
  • Demographic targeting is when you reach people based on common traits such as gender, age, income or marital status.
  • Keyword targeting is when you show ads based on what people search for within search engines or when they visit webpages that contain your keywords.

Attracting the Right Audience

Paid search audience targeting methods should vary based on the type of searcher you’re trying to reach. For people who have interacted with your brand before, mine your first-party data and try customer match targeting. For those who have interacted with your website or other media before, try remarketing. If you want to reach people who haven’t interacted with your brand yet, try affinity, look-alike, in-market and demographic audience targeting. Or for those people simply searching that you don’t know anything about yet, choose keyword targeting.

For quick reference, here’s a handy audience targeting visual that explains what targeting options you should try with your campaigns based on the people you want to reach:

paid search advertising infographic

Once you discover and focus on your high-performing keywords and layer the most effective paid search audience strategies that work with your campaign type, you can open up endless possibilities, such as ad, device and geotargeting variations, to reach your customers and prospects right when they’re eager to act or buy.

But remember there’s no one cookie-cutter approach for paid search success. The important thing is to experiment with all these audience targeting methods, as your budget allows, to discover what works for you. Test and let the data and results tell you how to continually adjust your keyword and audience targeting strategies, your account settings and your budget to achieve better-performing paid search campaigns.

Want more paid search insights? Check out this post to discover how to escape the vanity metric trap and focus on the search metrics that matter. Or see why search should be a major pillar of a successful holistic digital advertising campaign. Or if setting up, monitoring and optimizing your own search marketing campaigns seem daunting, reach out to us at Goodway Group. We can give you award-winning up-to-the-minute expert search advice and the support you’re looking for every step of the way to help make your paid search advertising campaigns perform at their best.

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Lisa Little has been a search marketer for over 13 years for big brands like RadioShack, Coach and Dell, but she’s loved technology her whole life. This passion for innovation and self-education flows through in the expert advice she provides ad tech readers and our marketing partners. If you want to enhance your paid search performance or drive more holistic media planning at your organization, Lisa, a Search Engine Land Search Marketer of the Year, is your next SEM influencer to follow.