WHAT IS SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING?
When it comes to search engine marketing, you’ll hear both SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) mentioned. SEO is considered a subset of SEM. For example, when you google a topic like “how to make fresh pasta”, Google returns pages full of links to articles or videos on making pasta. If you were in the pasta or food business, you would ideally want your blog to be seen first, because clicks on your blog content may lead to customer engagement across your site. Search engine optimization is generating content and strategies to promote your site to the top of your site when customers search for relevant keywords or phrases.
Typically, consumers will not go further than the search results from the first page. As you probably know, many of the top search results returned will be paid ads, followed by organic results. If a consumer isn’t finding what they’re looking for, they’ll usually adjust their search query and check out the first few relevant links displayed. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Search engine marketing is the glue holding all this relevant information together. The term itself has evolved to focus on the paid aspects of search queries. SEM works to position advertisements or articles promoting your site to the top of search results, so they get noticed.
Benefits of Search Engine Marketing
In this new digitally-driven world, search engine marketing is the key to getting in front of current and future customers. Imagine how great it would be if you owned a pasta-making business and every time someone searched online for pasta sales or pasta topics, your website came up on the first page of results. SEM is the key to gaining that kind of brand visibility and awareness. SEM helps connect businesses directly with consumers who are theoretically interested in its products or services. Businesses using the power of SEM gain greater ROI and a great advantage over competitors.
How Do I Start Search Engine Marketing?
You have two different options when it comes to SEO and SEM:
- Hire a marketing professional or marketing agency to run your Search Engine Marketing needs for you.
- Learn the ins and outs of SEM and set up a campaign yourself.
If you want to start creating ad campaigns, you must consider which search engine(s) you want to use. Google is the gold standard. They’ll help guide you with free Google Ads (formerly known as Google Adwords) training and a learning session before you become active on the platform.
To be certified, you must go through a Google-taught course where you’ll get a pretty good grounding in how to use Google Ads, Google Keyword Planner, and other tools related to SEM.
While Google will provide you with great general insight into SEM, the Internet is a big world that’s constantly changing, so a learning curve and mistakes can be costly. There are a lot of tips and tricks that marketing professionals know to help your business get to the next level, and their expertise can save a lot of time and money while improving your ROI.
Setting a Budget
One thing you will definitely need to consider is your Google Ads budget. Google lets you set your own budget. Let’s say you don’t want to spend more than $50/month. You would then set a daily budget by dividing your monthly amount by 30.4, the average number of days in a month. You will then set up cost-per-click (or CPC) bids, which tells Google how much you’re willing to pay for a click on a given keyword. If your CPC is $1, your ad could theoretically be seen and clicked 50 times each month. But it’s a bit more in-depth than that. Pending the auction results (the competition and more), the CPC varies in pricing. As such, you may pay less than $1 per CPC. All the $1 cap tells Google is that you’re not willing to spend more than that amount per click on the keyword level.
So set it low, right? Yes, if you want to get beat out by your competitors. Actual CPC can vary a lot depending on the time of day, keywords chosen, and other factors. It’s a highly competitive environment, so the more knowledge you have behind your account, the better.
Should I Set a High CPC to Beat My Competitors?
Not necessarily. Google is really good at ensuring that the big companies don’t simply outbuy their competitors. Google utilizes algorithms and other standards to determine your ad placement. From the landing page experience, content relevancy, the language and grammar used in your actual ad, and more, Google takes great care to ensure that users have an optimized experience that returns relevant results for their search queries. As such, in finding your ad rank, Google considers your bid (max pricing) and the quality score (which depends on the ad content, landing page, and more ranging from 0-10) to determine where your overall ad ranks. As such, ensuring your customers have a higher quality experience on your site can actually rank your site higher at a cheaper cost! Take equal care, and make certain every aspect of your customer experience is the best it can be.
The Bottom Line
Good SEM is critical to ensuring your business holds a strong stake in the digital landscape. While it’s possible for business professionals to create and run effective Google Ads campaigns on their own, there may be a large learning curve, and the time it takes to monitor all the elements effectively can quickly become an issue. Meeting and working with a marketing agency that has a good understanding of the nuances of Google Ads and SEM is your best course of action to achieve the real ROI your business deserves.