The following post is an adapted excerpt from our new ebook, An Introductory Guide to Paid Search.   To learn more about paid search, download the free ebook here!

Once you have a fundamental understanding of how paid search works , there are at least a few different ways you can use it that are not quite as obvious as the main purpose, which is to enhance your company's online presence and drive more traffic to your site.  Let’s take a look at 3 other useful things you can do with paid search that you may not have thought of yet.

1. Landing Page Testing

One great way to use paid search is for testing and optimizing your landing pages . So, for instance, here's the search engine results page for 'blogging software for business', and you see on the right hand side an ad for .

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We can take that one ad and actually set it to go to two different destination URLs, and therefore, to two different landing pages.  We could have one ad going to a page with one offer, and the other to a page for another offer.  We could also have the ad go to two different landing pages that are for the same offer.  For example, if we wanted to test a feature of our forms, we could have two versions of the same landing page, each with a different form layout, and send the ad to each of those. This is called A/B testing , a very important and highly recommended practice for optimizing your landing pages.

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Paid search is a great way to do landing page A/B testing because it allows you to direct traffic to your choice of pages, split this traffic to different pages, and ultimately find the pages that convert at the highest rate .

2. Finding New Keywords

In addition to landing page testing, you can also use paid search to find new keywords for your campaign.  Google AdWords generates a Search Terms report that displays all of the keywords for which your ad has been displayed.  In other words, if you are bidding on the keyword ‘red shoes’, Google may serve your ad when someone searches ‘red tennis shoes.’ Even though you did not bid on the exact word, the keyword ‘red tennis shoes’ will be included in this report because that’s what the user searched.  The report also contains information about the performance of each of the keywords, so you can determine if it’s worth adding that keyword to your campaign.

Below is a sample Search Terms report.  On the left hand side is the list of keywords. The ones that show the green 'Added' box next to them are the ones that are already in this paid search account.

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The keywords that don't say 'Added' next to them are not currently included in the account.  Again, this is a list of the keywords that people are actually typing in to the Google search, so it is extremely valuable information. Take, for instance, the keyword 'search engine optimization tutorial' from the list above.  That is an excellent keyword for my campaign and I'm not buying it yet.  Not only that, but I wouldn't have known about that keyword unless I had generated this report!  And to top it all off, I'm able to see that when somebody searches for this keyword and clicks through to my ad, they convert on one of my offers at a rate of 21%.

Now, this high conversion rate tells me not only that I should be buying this keyword, but also that maybe I should consider using this keyword for search engine optimization as well.  Maybe I should make a landing page geared toward this keyword, or an offer built around this keyword.  You should use the information in these Search Terms reports to discover new keywords that will help you further optimize all of your SEM campaigns.

3. Getting in the Game

Another great way to use paid search is to, as we say, ‘get in the game’ and rank higher than your competitors.  Let’s look at, which holds the number one ranking in the organic search results for the phrase ‘car wax’.  For the phrase 'car cleaning supplies', they don't rank number one, but they're still above the fold, meaning that you don't have to scroll down to see the result when the page comes up.  This is great, of course, but their high rank for these keywords does not mean they shouldn’t bother running any paid search ads.

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If you do a little research, you’ll find that 'car restoration products' is also a big keyword in this space, and Meguiar's does not rank on the natural search listing for it.  On top of that, they're not running a paid search campaign with Google AdWords either.  But their competitor, Mothers, does have a paid search campaign, and so their ad appears on the results page, while Meguiars’ does not.  So this is a sample instance where running a paid search campaign makes a lot of sense.

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So there you have it - three more great ways to use your paid search campaign!

To learn more about paid search, including how to set up an account for your business, the best strategies for structuring and optimizing your account, and how to measure your results, download the free ebook now!

Originally published Sep 28, 2011 8:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016