Paid search refers to the display of advertising banners at the top of search engine results lists. Keywords are used to adapt these advertising banners to the search terms entered by the users and billed through different models. In most search engines, the results of the paid search are highlighted in color in order to distinguish them from the organic search. Search engine operators offer these advertising spaces through Google AdWords.
The paid search is a very important method of search engine marketing. An advertiser can occupy certain keywords in advertising campaigns and have the advertisements, which redirect users to his/her corresponding offer, displayed for these keywords. He/she can hereby set a certain budget that should be paid based on the click rate, number of times the page is visited, or purchases (see payment methods in affiliate marketing).
The objectives of the paid search are to increase traffic and improve the conversion rate, i.e. achieve the highest possible return on investment value per click. One special aspect is that the activities of users can be measured through the paid search. This makes it possible to set a certain advertising budget for a specific keyword in relation to the items sold, i.e. to the sales. In order to monitor this figure, the keywords in Google’s paid search are assigned certain quality factors.
The user behavior in normal search results is very different from the paid search. This is mainly due to the manner in which an Internet page is perceived. Google conducted an eye tracking study to find out how users view SERPs. This revealed that users start with the upper part of the SERPs, then go to the right, and then the lower section. In a second search, users often view the sections that had not been focused on during the first search. Therefore, this explains why advertisements in the paid search are displayed at the top and top-right sections.
The paid search, which is a means of search engine marketing (SEM), is irrelevant for search engine optimization. SEOs focus more on the organic search, whereas SEMs deal with the paid search. However, a detailed look at both fields can provide important clues to both the SEMs and SEOs: Which keywords work well in both areas? Where can ideas from one field be beneficial to the other? This calls for communication between the expert groups.