Primer: How to Test Your Paid Search Efforts

Are you sending consumers to the competition? If you’re not doing paid search – or you’re just doing the minimum – there’s a very good chance you are.

The first step in determining if you’re sending consumers to the competition is to take out your catalog, direct mail piece, print ad or DRTV script. Circle words that pop out at you as those that you think consumers might search on. Circle product names as well. Circle at least 10-20 words and phrases.

Go to your favorite search engine and search on each circled word. Carefully look at what comes up on the search results page, and ask yourself these key questions:

Are you present on each search term?
If not, that’s a starting point. Have your search team or agency compile a list of missing keywords based on your offline materials and get them into rotation. This is particularly important prior to your catalog or mail drop, DRTV launch or print ad running.

Is your search copy better than your competitors copy?
The objective is to encourage consumers to click on your ad, but discourage all but those likely to convert.

For example, suppose you own a high-end online store selling $1,000 men’s suits at 50% off, with free shipping and plenty of styles, sizes and colors. A typical ad might read: “Big selection of men’s suits. 50% off. Free shipping. Hundreds of styles, colors and sizes.”

This ad copy would generate a lot of clicks but a very low conversion rate, since most people can’t afford $1,000 suits, even if they are discounted by 50%.

A better alternative would be “Luxurious, designer imported men’s suits. 50% off. Free shipping. Hundreds of styles, colors and sizes.”

Running this copy would result in far fewer clicks, but most of them would be qualified and therefore likely to convert.

Does your search copy include a strong call-to-action?
Strong calls to action include:

  • A deadline (make sure to remove it from your ads after the date has passed)
  • Using wording like “exclusive online offer” is a strong call to action component.
  • Instead of “click here” use “click” as part of the call to action: “click for exclusive online offer” (the word “here” is a wasted word, which is important when writing search copy.

Keep track of the results. Repeat this exercise several times during the day, evening and early morning. Compile the results and determine what percentage of all search opportunities (total searches you did across all keywords and times) you are present on with strong copy.

If it’s not 100%, there’s about a 100% chance you’re spending money to get consumers to search on your product but they are winding up elsewhere.

Irv Brechner ( is executive vice president of Acquirgy and creator of the acquirgy CustomerAcquisition IntelCenter (

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