White Paper Wednesday Part I | Best Practices in Search Advertisements

Today we’re excited to launch White Paper Wednesday – a three-part blog series that will feature highlights from one White Paper each Wednesday for the next three weeks.  Beth Lindberg developed these White Papers as part of her semester-long internship at Mudd this past winter. Beth spent countless hours researching and analyzing three types of effective online advertising methods: search advertisements, display advertisements and social advertisements. We are grateful to Beth for all of her insights and analysis on effective advertising methods.

The first White Paper to be featured will highlight best practices associated with search advertisements.

As the Internet continues to grow and technology continues to progress, advertisers have a need to take a captive audience through this medium using the best possible methods. One of these methods is search advertising. Search advertising comes in two different forms: paid and search engine optimization (SEO).  According to a comScore report from 2009, there were 13.5 billion searches in the U.S. in February of 2009, which is only 10 percent of the world’s 135 billion searches a month [1]. With such a large audience present, it would be unwise to not invest in such a method. Here are three best practices to keep in mind with search advertisements.


While paid and SEO both base success off keywords, each method is different and it is best to use a combination of both. Paid results yield a point of diminishing return; once the most successful keywords have been determined, a budget can be set and not much else needs to be done. It may be beneficial to determine a set budget and select keywords for paid and then work to optimize a site more through SEO. While using both methods, it is still important to test and see which method performs better. If it is SEO, then a small budget can be set for paid search and the majority of efforts can be spent on organic results, or vice versa.


Combining search with social can be especially useful since search engines are showing social content with the regular results. For example, Google has a social option when choosing which search tools to use in displaying results. The search engine uses social profiles that are connected to users’ Google accounts to deliver results that come from their friends. Flickr, Twitter and Quora are the three most prominent social networking sites used to produce results on Google. Google recently incorporated the social results in with the rest of the results on the SERPs. Bing has partnered with Facebook and displays if friends have “liked” any links in the results. This could make social even more important for advertisers, because if their content is worth sharing, it will be shared, indexed and it has the possibility to be displayed on search engines as well.


Mobile Internet allows for users to search wherever they are, not just from their homes as desktop computers are limited to. Many cell phone users are discovering this convenience and are converting to Smartphones. According to the Nielsen Company, as of October 2010, 29.7 percent of mobile shares belonged to Smartphones [2]. People are not only purchasing these new products, but using their new capabilities. According to Dr. Siddharth Shah, Sr. Director of Business Analytics for Efficient Frontier, “5.4 percent of all paid search impressions currently come from mobile devices, up 9 to 12 times from a year ago” [3]. Growth in mobile is creating an indispensible media source.


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