SEM, otherwise known as Search Engine Marketing is the overarching term used to describe Paid Search Activities. The term SEM can also be used to describe and or describe:
- Paid search ads
- Paid search advertising
- PPC (pay-per-click)
- CPC (cost-per-click)
- CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions)
Search Engine Marketing can play a pivotal role in expanding businesses, especially small businesses including, instant brand awareness in Search Engine. If you intend on using SEO and Social Media to try and get Google seeing your business, prepare to wait a while. By using Paid Per Click ads, Google and other search engines automatically sees your business, putting you at the top of the page, taking a year when using SEO and Social Media. Now this is not to say that SEO and Social Media are useless, however, they are an organic way of boosting your business’ online presence and are definitely components of your marketing strategy that need a little more tender loving care and attention than search engine marketing.
Money Money Money, It’s so funny
Being at the top of the search engine results page, allows more people to see your business, leading to more people clicking on your page and potentially spending more money.
SEM is really flexible and fluid in a sense that it grows with your business. It is important to increase the number of ads you create when your revenue increases (thanks to SEM). You also have the ability (and I’d recommend) you articulate and refine them, removing the ones that aren’t as effective, keeping the ones that are. The whole process is quite easy when you get the hang of it.
Right place, right time
Close to half the world is on the internet with 93% of these people starting their online experience with a search engine. This is a great thing for small businesses who use SEM as, if you target your services and or products to the correct audience, it is possible to create a lucrative cash flow.
It’s very easy to consider your SEM campaign a loss if you do not make a sale. However, it is important to understand that converting a customer is the end result of weeks, months or even years of brand recognition. By placing your business at the top of the page, your target audience recognises your brand, keeping it in their subconscious for an extended period of time. The more your audience sees your brand, the more likely they are to visit your website and make a purchase. Business specialists say that it takes 7-13 touch points for customers to be converted. What do we mean by this? Touch points can be defined as the interactions that take place between a customer (or potential) and a business. For example, the customer visiting their social media page or clicking on an online advertisement.
As you could probably guess throughout this article, one of the great points about SEM is that it allows you to be extremely specific about who you want to target and who you want to see your advertisements. Infact, it’s so specific that Google Ads does not charge you until someone clicks on your advertisement. This is great as the more money it costs you the more people are clicking on your advertisement.
Although your competition may use Search Engine Optimization as a tool to increase their search engine ranking (you should eventually do the same as well), with SEM you’re overtaken their ranking and rank first, getting their usual clicks. It is important to be strategic with SEM, using it to its full potential. It’s also important to monitor your competition, rising where they are lacking.
Cheap as chips
Unlike traditional forms of advertising, SEM is extremely affordable. Instead of paying thousands, even hundreds of thousands on radio and television commercials to target a particular audience, you are now in control of how much money you’d like to spend.
Prior to starting and implementing a SEM plan, it is important to develop a SEM strategy. In this SEM strategy it is important to include the following:
Empathise why and how your customers are using search engines
Understanding customer behaviour and how customers use their resources around them to reach their wants, is a key factor when creating an effective SEM strategy. Examining the marketing space through this lens can enable you to achieve the right return on investment on your SEM. Experts have broken down search engine usage into three categories:
This encompasses and refers to any type of research conducted by a customer including but not limited to restaurant reviews, learning about a particular brand or even just wanting a solution to a problem like how to change a light bulb. If you reach people with SEM, providing an answer to their question or questions, it could prove lucrative for your business.
Like research, every customer entertains themselves through different ways. Some people watch videos, others play online video games others may even want to learn something new. It is important to relate this entertainment back to your business.
To purchase something
People use Google as a method of purchasing products or services. These may range anywhere from clothing to household items.
Set a budget
It is important to set a budget as people who don’t often overspend. Sit down with your team and discuss how much they are willing to put aside for SEM. There isn’t really a recommended amount as every SEM plan looks different, but it is important to factor in costs of:
- Writing copy
- Creating landing pages
- Doing research
- Managing the campaigns
- Analytics (free and paid tools as well as time set aside to do it)
- CPC (cost for clicks)
It is important to also consider the usability of your website on all devices as if this requires changing, it may be another expense added to the list above.
Drive your car without a set location and see how far you’ll get. That is why it’s important to set goals and objectives when creating your SEM strategy.
Find your target audience
It is important to understand and investigate what your target customers are looking for on the internet. You are able to conduct this research by using methods such as reviewing forums, sending out surveys and analysing social media. This may seem a little superficial, however the bulk of your information will come from Google Ads when you start your SEM. This initial research is just to get you started.
It is important to keep tabs on different demographics and use ad groups. I would recommend methods such as:
- Speaking to different challenges and goals within the same audience
- Test different types of messaging in the same audience
- Consult different audiences and demographics
Create great landing pages
A landing page should be coherent with the message communicated in the ad. It is important to create a new landing page as only 48% of businesses create a new one, putting you ahead of the curve.
What’s a car without wheels? Just a heap of metal. Similarly, an SEM requires keyword research as it is this research that informs you on what type of questions and words your customers are using to find your competition and other websites like yours.
Use negative keywords
This may seem counterintuitive but it is important to find keywords that you don’t want associated with your brand. People might use negative keywords and find you appear in the search results. This is a waste of time and money. Rather, it is a great idea to tell the search engine what these negative keywords are, to avoid appearing in them. For example, you probably don’t want “free” to pull up your ad when someone uses it with your keyword.“Bookkeeping software” and “free bookkeeping software” are two very different things.
When implementing your SEM strategy it is important to keep your quality score high and keep costs low. Your quality score will take into account the:
- CTR (click through rate) — What percentage of impressions result in a click?
- Keyword relevance — How relevant is your ad for that keyword. I.e. they are searching something but not clicking your ad.
- Landing page quality — If the person leaves your website quickly or doesn’t click on your call to action, you might have created a bad website experience for your customer or your ad might be misleading.
- Ad text relevance — How relevant is the ad text within the search
- Historical performance — If you do start running ads but ignore the quality score, it will take a while to recover because Ads looks at how you perform over time.
The lower your quality score is, the more money you pay per click. Some businesses have even had to pay over 400% for their ads due to their extremely poor score.
What do I do after my strategy?
Great stuff! You’ve put together a SEM strategy. Remember, theory is one thing but learning is a practical experience. After composing a SEM strategy it is then important to spend a little more time on your keywords. Use platforms like ahrefs or word tracker to find how relevant wanted keywords are. Be sure to compile a list of these keywords.
Optimize your website
Use these keywords to optimize your website, rewriting keyword-rich content, organizing this content, eliminating flash or graphics content and register your site in directories over the web.
Generate Inbound Links
It is important to backlink your website to other website. The more authority these website have (usually shown by the ending of the url e.g. .gov, .org), the better it is for your website.
Using other internet campaigns
It would be beneficial for you to use programs such as social media, creating rss feeds and distributing content from your website to other websites, distributing search optimised press releases on the web and creating blog and copyright content.
And we have lift off
After going through these motions it’s now finally time to start your SEM. Develop targeted landing pages for each campaign (not just one for all), write your ads, create a google account (if you’re using google as your main search engine, set up your campaign with the network and start tracking your results.
And there we have it folks! That is how to start an SEM campaign. It is important to watch and measure your SEM as the last thing you need is for you to be wasting your money on ineffective ads. SEM is a powerful tool when used correctly and hey, if you don’t manage to perfect, feel free to give us a call on 1300 088 544 or send us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.