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How Search Retargeting Can Solve Keyword Competition Woes

PPC search advertising is a crowded space. One of the biggest challenges facing search marketers is the rising costs of staying featured for highly competitive keywords.

Historically, search marketers often relied on long tail keywords to make up for the costs of the more competitive, broad keywords. Long tail keywords refer to highly specific, low-volume keywords that would be incredibly relevant to a particular company, but unlikely to be relevant for most others). For example, while ‘insurance’ is an incredibly high volume, competitive keyword, ‘renter’s insurance for recent college grad in San Antonio’ is a lower volume, less competitive, but for some search marketers highly relevant alternative.

In the last couple of years, Google has taken measures that have essentially obliterated the long tail. Among others, Google Instant Search, which fills in a user’s search query as the user types, has helped bring unique searches from 25% of total searches to 16%.

(For more information on the death of the long tail, check here, and here.)

In the best of times, search engine marketing is a highly effective technique. It allows marketers to reach people at a point where they’ve demonstrated a high level of intent. Searchers are looking for more information on your product or service, and search engine marketing lets you reach them right then and there. What other marketing tactics allow for the same precision?

Search Retargeting

Search retargeting is a form of targeting display advertising that allows marketers to serve display ads to users based on their search behavior. Not to be confused with site retargeting, which brings previous site visitors BACK to your website, search retargeting is an outreach tool, which drives qualified initial traffic to your site.

Let’s say you’re a marketer at an insurance company and you want to target people who are searching for insurance.  With search retargeting, you can bypass bidding on the most expensive keyword out there, and still get in front of people who are researching insurance online.

Because search retargeting ads are served on display inventory rather than search engine inventory, pricing is not dependent on keyword competition, making it an extraordinarily profitable solution for marketers whose choice keywords are highly competitive.

But this isn’t the only benefit. While search retargeting is a highly cost-effective way to get in front of the right people in a competitive keyword market, it is also allows you to stay in front of those users while they browse the web. Even the most successful search marketing campaign only allows you to get in front of searchers during the brief period spent within the search engine. Search retargeting, on the other hand, allows you to stay in front of the right audience all over the web.

Getting Started

Success with search retargeting depends largely on two factors: your keyword list and your creative.

For the veteran search marketer, the first part of the equation is simple. You can get started right away with the keywords you’ve used for traditional PPC.

Though often overlooked, banner ad creative is an integral part of a successful search retargeting campaign. Make sure you adhere to industry best practices, such as including strong branding, bright colors and bold calls-to-action, and rotating your banners regularly.

Once you’ve got your keyword list and your ad creative, you’re ready to get started search retargeting and avoiding those costly keywords.

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