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Paid search marketing means you advertise within the sponsored listings of a search engine or a partner site by paying either each time your ad is clicked (pay-per-click - PPC) or less commonly, when your ad is displayed (cost-per-impression - CPM).
Cost-per-click (CPC) means that you as an advertiser appearing on a search engines results page, pay the search engine for each user’s individual click on your ad.
Cost-per-impression (CPM) means that you as an advertiser appearing on a search engines results page, pays the search engine for every 1,000 times your ad appears on the page The user doesn’t have to click-through, it’s just about page impressions. If you’ve learnt nothing new from this, then the knowledge that the M in CPM means 1,000 is still a decent fact.
Most paid search advertising is on a pay-per-click basis. This form of online advertising allows you to sponsor specific keywords and phrases, relevant to your business, its services and geographic location, and display text ads in the search engines' results pages. When visitors search a sponsored keyword/phrase on that search engine, your text ad will appear on the top or right of the search results. So clients are finding you where and when they are looking for your services! You choose your keywords, region and advertising budget and only pay when a visitor actually clicks on your text ad and visits your website.
These ads can be specific to a product, service or location or used to promote an event or special. Each ad is paired with a specific page ensuring that those who click on the ads are taken to the page that you are most wanting to promote.
Paid search ads are almost instantly active making this the fastest method of gaining exposure for related searches. These ads can also be scheduled so can be used to promote show houses over a weekend or a week-long event. This can be automated which will ensure that your ads won't run for longer than they are necessary.
Of the major search engines, only Google has paid search option in South Africa. Google do however syndicate their ads to several other major search engines, including Ask.com as well as other leading websites (through AdSense) offering your website a wide audience reach. These ads are triggered similarly to Google's search results with your ad being returned for related searches or websites that are of similar topic to your ads.