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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:


We begin with a quick definition of paid search, which is advertising within the search results on Google or Bing or Yahoo! and only paying when the user clicks. This is the cost-per-click (CPC) model.

But ultimately, paid search advertising means advertising within search results and you only pay for that click. So when the user searches, you don’t actually pay for the ad to be shown. It’s only if they decide to click, so you can see that there’s value in that. There’s value in the traffic that it’s driving.

And ultimately, paid search advertising offers a way to deliver online ads based on what the user is looking for. This is a key difference, a key difference with paid search versus any other type of advertising in that it’s what the user is actually looking for, not what you, the brand, are pushing out to them. It’s them coming to you with a need or a want and we’ll talk about that a little bit later. So that is what we call search intent.


Intent is the driver of paid search, and it is effective because it matches what the person is looking for with the relevant ad and then driving them to the landing page, your landing page, or your clients’ landing page to take that valuable action – a purchase, a download, whatever it may be. And therefore, it’s so valuable in that regard.


Pricing is essential because, unlike organic search (which is the free), with paid search, you must pay for it. And the pricing model for it is called pay per click (PPC). You only pay for that click. And now PPC is also a synonym. It’s used quite regularly and interchangeably with paid search. So people just talk about PPC and they’ll mean paid search.

But it is the pricing model, too. In simple terms, paid search advertising is a way of getting your product or service in front of the most relevant people because these are people who are actively looking for your product. They’re looking for those searches with those keywords. And by choosing the types of keywords that relate to what they need and what you can offer, you drive into their search intent and ultimately answer their need with your ad and open to your product.

Three key elements

There are three main elements of any paid search campaign.


The cornerstone of everything to do a paid search is your keywords. This is what someone types into Google or Bing, or whatever. And you have to build a list of keywords that relate to what users might type in based on your product offering. So, if you’re an airline, you’d bid on keywords around flights to New York or something like that. When a user has that need, they’ll go to a search engine. They’ll type a query into Bing, which fires your keyword and then answers it with an ad. So the ad itself is your response to the user asking a question to Google. Your ad isn’t in isolation.


There’ll be a lot of other ads in the mix there, too. Everyone is doing paid search. So when someone asks that question, you will be weighed up against all of the other options in the results page. When you’ve written a good ad with a good offer and on a directional call to action, the user hopefully will click on your ad. And then that drives them to the landing page.

Landing page

The landing page is the last step in that journey.

So just to recap:

  1. The journey itself begins with the keyword. It begins with the search that the user conducts.
  2. The response by you, the advertiser, is the ad that they see. So think of it like a question and then an answer.
  3. The next stage is driving them to your landing page, which is the directional place that you will hopefully funnel them or corral them into buying your product, or downloading a brochure, or filling in a form, or calling your call center, whatever it may be.

But that journey starts with the keyword, moves to ads, and then finishes on landing pages.

As we progress through this module, we’ll talk about advances around how we can build out keywords, different enhancements for ads, and best practices around landing pages, too.

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Cathal Melinn

Cathal Melinn is a well-known digital marketing director, commercial analyst, and ecommerce specialist with over 15 years’ experience.

Cathal is a respected international conference speaker, course lecturer, and digital trainer. He specialises in driving complete understanding from students across a number of digital marketing disciplines including: paid and organic search (PPC and SEO), analytics, strategy and planning, social media, reporting, and optimisition.  Cathal works with digital professionals in over 80 countries and teaches at all levels of experience from beginner to advanced.

Alongside his training and course work, Cathal runs his own digital marketing agency and is considered an analytics and revenue generating guru - at enterprise level. He has extensive local and international experience working with top B2B and B2C brands across multiple industries.

Over his career, Cathal has worked client-Side, in digital marketing agencies and media owners with brands including HSBC, Amazon, Apple, Red Bull, Dell, Vodafone, Compare the Market, Aer Lingus, and Expedia.

He can be reached on LinkedIn here.

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

DMI Short Course: GDPR

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library

You will not be assessed on this content in your final exam.


    Paid Search
    Cathal Melinn
    Skills Expert

    This module begins with the key concepts of paid search and demonstrates how to set up a Google Ads account and create a paid search campaign. It explains how to manage a paid search campaign budget effectively and outlines the different methods that can be used to optimize your paid search campaign. It also covers how to measure and report on the success of a paid search campaign.