Search engine marketing (or SEM) is a practical marketing strategy that can help you grow your customer base and revenues. This guide will explain what SEM is and how to do it right.
As the internet becomes increasingly crowded, it is more challenging to get potential customers to notice your website, as your competitors are vying for the same eyeballs.
Although investing your time into organic marketing strategies will undoubtedly pay off in the long term, you might want to consider putting money behind it through SEM to jumpstart your visibility online.
What is Search Engine Marketing?
At its most basic, SEM is an online marketing strategy that helps to improve the visibility of your products/ services on search engine results pages (SERPs) by paying for advertising space.
The goal of SEM is to drive more traffic to your website and generate more leads and sales for your business.
When a user types a specific key phrase into a search engine, like Google, your ad has the chance to appear next to the search results. You are then charged a certain amount, known as a “pay-per-click” (PPC), every time a user clicks on your ad. What you pay for each click is determined by how competitive the key phrase you are bidding on is.
Some benefits of this strategy include:
- SEM is a short-term technique that brings you fast visibility and results.
- You can target specific demographics, keywords, and locations.
- You can measure your success and ROI through analytics.
- SEM is a great way to complement your organic marketing efforts.
- You are only charged when someone clicks on your ad, so it is a cost-effective way to use your marketing budget.
- Cut through the noise and boost brand awareness.
- Increase traffic to your website.
Search Engine Marketing vs Search Engine Optimisation
You might be wondering how SEM differs from SEO. Although they are both digital marketing strategies with the same ultimate goal – improving your visibility online – there are some key differences between them.
SEO is a long-term marketing strategy that helps to improve your organic (unpaid) rankings on SERPs by optimising your website content and performance, among other things.
On the other hand, SEM is a short-term strategy that helps to improve your visibility on SERPs through paid advertising. PPC ads are purchased from an auction system where you bid on keyphrases relevant to your business. The higher your bid, the more likely your ad will be shown to searchers.
Although there are a few key dissimilarities between them, both are important for an effective digital marketing strategy. SEM goes hand-in-hand with SEO (search engine optimisation), as the two work to improve your visibility and traffic.
Search Engine Marketing- How to Get Started
Now that we’ve covered what search engine marketing is, let’s look at how you can get started with this effective marketing strategy.
Whenever a user carries out a search on Google, it runs an auction to determine which ads will be shown on the SERP and in what order.
You might immediately assume that Google would just show the ads with the highest bids to earn more, but that’s not always the case. Ad quality is also considered when determining which ads will be shown.
This is so because Google also wants to provide searchers with the best possible experience, and showing low-quality ads would only frustrate users and push them to use a different search engine. And, if fewer people are using Google, it provides fewer incentives to advertisers, which would also impact Google’s bottom line. In a nutshell, Google plays a balancing act to keep both advertisers and users happy.
Google Ads Auction
As we have mentioned above, Google does not only focus on the amount you are willing to pay per click when determining which ads to show. It also considers your quality score, reported on a 1-10 scale.
Google’s quality score is made up of several factors, including:
- The relevance of your ad content to the key phrase being searched
- Your landing page’s relevance and quality.
- Your click-through rate (CTR) – that is, the number of times your ad is clicked on, divided by the number of times it is shown.
Essentially, your quality score measures how relevant and valuable Google believes your ad is to searchers. The closer you are to 10 on your quality score scale, the lower you will need to bid per click for your ad to be shown.
So, if you want to be successful with SEM, you need to focus on more than just your bid price. A good search engine marketing strategy also optimises variables like keywords, ad copy, and landing pages to improve your quality score.
That said, here are some factors you should focus on to do it right.
How to Use Search Engine Marketing Effectively
Choosing the right keywords is essential for a successful SEM campaign. Not only do you need to pick keywords that are relevant to your business, but you also need to make sure that they are popular enough to generate a decent amount of traffic.
There are several tools you can use for keyword research, including Google Keyword Planner. This tool will help you find the right keywords for your business and estimate how much traffic they are likely to generate.
In the end, you still need to earn your clicks after coming up with your keywords.
You can achieve this by creating ad copy relevant to your target keywords and likely to appeal to your target audience.
Your ad copy should be clear, concise, eye-catching, and persuasive while including your selected keywords. Remember, you only have a limited space to work with, so make sure you use it wisely.
Your ad will typically contain the following elements:
- The headline.
- A display URL.
- Your ad text.
Lastly, consider that this is an ongoing process that allows you to improve your ad copy over time. So, don’t hesitate to experiment and fine-tune your ads until you find what works best.
Once you have written your ad and selected your keywords, you will need to send searchers to a landing page on your website.
This is the page where they will “land” after clicking on your ad, and it should be relevant to your target key phrase and the ad copy you have written.
If you are selling multiple products or services, you will need to create a different landing page for each one.
You should design your landing page to persuade searchers to take a specific action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter. It should be easy to navigate and contain all the information a searcher might need to make a decision.
Tracking and Testing
The only way to know if your SEM campaign is working is to track your results and test different elements.
There are many factors you will want to track, such as your CTR, conversion rate, and cost per acquisition.
You can track your results using Google Analytics or another web analytics tool. Google Analytics will also allow you to set up goals to track how well your website is achieving the objectives of your SEM campaign.
When it comes to testing, there are some elements you can experiment with, including your ad copy, keywords, and landing pages. Consider changing one element at a time to see how it affects your results.
You might also want to compliment your SEM campaign with SEO to get the most out of your marketing efforts. This means optimising your website for organic search as well.
Last but not least, you will need to set a budget for your SEM campaign.
How much you spend will depend on many factors, such as your industry, the keywords you are targeting, and your desired CTR. For instance, high competition keywords can be quite expensive, so you may need to bid higher if you want your ad to appear in the top spot. If you bid too low, your ad may not appear at all.
Keep in mind that this is just a starting point, and you may need to adjust your budget as you track your results and test different elements.
Search engine marketing can be a great way to market your business online, but it is essential to understand how it works before getting started. The tips we have mentioned above will help you create a successful SEM campaign.
However, if you need further assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our digital marketing experts will be more than happy to help you create a campaign that meets your objectives.