What is paid search

Paid search is a confusing subject for many of my clients, not least because of the number of names and sub-disciplines it entails. Paid search is, in my definition, any ad that is triggered in response to someone searching on the internet, if that ad was paid for. The most known example of this is Google AdWords.

What is Paid Search?

In the above example, LinkedIn and Google have chosen to show me these ads in response to my search query “pay per click google”. The small word “Ad” in green tells me that they’ve paid to be there.

Paid Search Marketing Terminology Buster

Let’s look at some of the common names you’ll hear for paid search marketing and see what they mean – because I may well refer to them here and throughout the site.

What is PPC and what does it stand for?

PPC stands for “Pay Per Click”. This is any advert that you show where you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Google lead the way with pay per click in its AdWords platform, but offers many other pricing models.

What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

Search engine marketing is any form of paid ad placement on the search engines. The primary platforms for these are AdWords and Bing here in Europe, but there are many other available if you need a broader reach.

Is Search Engine Marketing different to Search Marketing?

Yes! In the old days SEM used to encompass any form of traffic driving through search engines, but these days SEM is limited to what we refer to as paid search, whereas Search Marketing includes both Paid search and SEO (Find out what SEO is here).

So, what is Search Advertising?

The term Search Advertising is interchangeable with SEM (Search Engine Marketing), and refers to any form of paid ad placement on the search engines.

What is online advertising?

Online Advertising is any paid ad online – it could be on any platform, search engine, format or pricing model.

What is Paid Social?

Paid social is placing advertising on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and more. This is a fast-growing area where ads can be in a range of formats and targeted extremely precisely.


Who is paid search right for?

Everyone! Paid search offers instant exposure on search engines, important website and social media. You are able to tightly control budget – from £5 per day to £50,000 per day and have complete control over the message you present and who you show it to.

If you’d like to get started out in PPC we can help you. Find out more about our PPC methodology and service here. Check out our PPC packages for small and medium businesses or for something tailor made for you business please contact us for a bespoke package.