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Search Engine Marketing (SEM): What It Is & How to Do It Right

Have you invested a lot into your SEO campaign but no seeing the results you wanted? Search engine marketing might be an excellent option for you.

There is nothing more frustrating than investing a lot of time and money in improving your rankings, then realising your page is not on the first three pages of search engine results.

While time, great technical knowledge, and proper keyword research will help you improve your rankings on the search engine results page, good SEO will take time. Search engine marketing will go a long way in helping you skip some of the steps and will end up saving you a lot of time.

Search Engine Marketing vs SEO

What is the difference between the two?

SEO used to fall under “search engine marketing”, but both SEO and SEM become too complex to fall under one category, and now they are two different entities that are still related.

Search engine optimisation will help you improve the site so you can rank higher on organic search engine results. SEO will involve placing keywords throughout the site in a strategic manner, establishing site authority, link building, and using metadata that search engine spiders can easily find.

Search Engine Marketing

SEM is going to place your ad on the search engine results page ad box, but SEO will be organic.

For your ad to appear on the search engine results page, you need to pay. You will be paying the search engine to show your ad on users who are searching keywords you are targeting. There is no need for a high authority website when you decide to pay to appear at the top of the search engine results page.

Do I need both SEO and SEM?

You don’t need to have both of them. But employing both will lead to more leads and sales.

When optimising your site, make sure you do it following SEO best practices. This will provide you with a solid foundation which you can build on to improve your organic rankings. You don’t have to pay a single cent for SEO clicks, why not take full advantage of them?

SEM can be great for speeding up your ability to build your brand and building your client base too. You will be able to appear in front of your target audience, those searching for products or services that you are offering. Try your best to appear at the top because you don’t want someone else getting that sale.

Search Engine Marketing Platforms

Most of the search engines have their own ad platforms. Google AdWords is the most popular of them. Yahoo Search Ads and Bing Ads are also effective SEM platforms you can work with.

You need to keep in mind that SEM platforms are employing a pay-per-click (PPC) model – but not all PPC is SEM.

A good example is Facebook Ads, which is a PPC platform but it is not categorised under the SEM category. SEM will show ads to people who are searching for similar content you are providing, social media sites will introduce the product to people browsing their social media feed. This makes them two different forms of online marketing.

Why is SEM Important

There has been an increase in the number of people searching and shopping for products online. This provides companies with a chance to increase their reach.

Majority of new visitors to websites usually find it through a query on search engines.

In search engine marketing, you will only be paying when a visitor clicks on your link, which makes it efficient for companies looking to get the most value from their dollar. Another bonus of this is the fact that the increase in the number of visitors will improve your rankings on the organic results.

When people go to search engines with queries, their primary goal is finding more information about a given product, and this means they are in a state of mind where it is okay for their minds to take in marketing messages and be converted from prospective customers into paying customers.

With search engine marketing, you are able to reach prospective customers at the right time; when they are open to getting new information. One thing that has made search engine marketing a great form of marketing is their non-intrusive nature, which is the opposite of other digital advertising options.

You are going to see immediate results when you use SEM, and it will prove to be the fastest way of driving traffic to the website.

How SEM Works

Search engines have algorithms that ensure the results provided are the most relevant for each search and will use factors such as location to provide the best possible results.

In paid search, the ads are usually placed either at the top or the side of the results page so as to gain more prominence and visibility than organic results.

Assume you are a customer and you want to find more information about a given product. You go to a search engine like Google then type in the search term (this is referred to as a keyword).

What you will notice on the search engine results page are ads whose keywords match what you typed in the search box.

The ads usually take the more prominent location of the page – along with other organic listing matching the keywords you are searching. The paid ads are relevant to that specific search, and this increases their likelihood of clicking on the ad.

How does SEM work from the perspective of the customer?

SEM networks are self-serve operations. Once you have chosen your network, you can have your campaign running in a very short time.
When you are setting up your campaign, there are some prompts you will be proved with:

  • You need to select a set of keywords related to your products or website
  • You will then move on and select the geographic location that you want the ad displayed within
  • Creation of a text-based ad and this is what will be displayed on the search results page
  • Place a bid on how much you are willing to pay for every click you get from the ad

The process of producing text-only ads is simple. You just need to have a headline, text for the body, a call-to-action, and a URL for the hyperlink.
Many marketers see SEM as one of the most efficient ways of spending your marketing budget online.

Are keywords important when it comes to SEM?

Keywords are as important in SEM as they are in SEO. When running an SEM campaign, you will need to have keywords because they are the ones to determine which terms a user is going to search so that your ad can appear.

This is why it is important to invest time and effort into the process of keyword research. The success of the campaign will be determined by the keywords you choose. You should have keywords that are the right terms so you can reach your target audience.

Let’s say you are running a construction business that is helping people do home repairs after a natural disaster, and you are looking to advertise the services you are providing. The official term for such services is “fire restoration”, but after doing some research, you realise that your target audience is searching for “fire repair” or “repair fire damage to house”. If you fail to optimise for the two keywords, you end up losing the traffic and potential customers, even though the correct term is “fire restoration”.

Which keywords should be used?

The keywords you are going to choose will play a significant role in determining the results you are going to get. When choosing keywords, you should be looking for the ones that have a high volume but low competition. Choosing such keyword will help in improving your ranking, and the cost per click is going to reduce since competition is what drives the price up.

The good thing when it comes to keywords is the fact you don’t have to use trial and error to choose the ones that work. There are many keyword research tools out there that can help you in finding keywords that have a low cost per click and adequate volume. You should invest effort into the process of choosing keywords because a wrong move can cost you a lot.

Most keyword research tools provide you with an estimate of how much you can expect to pay per click but remember this is just an estimate. This becomes important for the smaller businesses that don’t have a lot of money to work with. You will be able to know whether the ad makes financial sense for you or not.

How Much Should I Bid?

Once you have your keywords in place, you will need to have an effective bidding strategy. Search engine marketing platforms have bidding systems in place. This is where you are going place bids for a certain keyword. The highest bid is going to rank the highest. The good part about the bidding system is that you are going to pay just enough to outbid the next highest bid. Let’s say there is a bid of £50 and you decide to bid on it for £100. If you end up winning the bid, you are going to pay just £50.05.

When you bid for £100 for the keyword and being the number one bid, you will start to see the importance of balancing between ranking at the top and spending a lot of money on clicks. If £17.58 is what you need to rank at number one, but what you can afford is £5.00 a click, bidding at £100 will be a sure way to bid yourself out of business.

If you are not able to compete with the big boys, don’t give up because SEM platforms will take into consideration the quality of ads, and this can help in outranking your competition, even if you are not able to outbid them.

Google is known to give each of the ad a quality score, and then they use it to calculate your ranking.

When calculating the quality score, SEM platforms will be looking at things such as how strong a landing page is and whether the ad is relevant to the keywords you have selected. You should find a way of optimising your quality score because it is going to go a long way in helping you see great results from your campaign without having to spend a lot of money.

Final Thoughts

Search engine marketing gives you the chance to appear in front of the target audience when they are in the process of searching for more information about the products you are offering. SEM can turn out to be one of the best investment you make for your business. One advantage of SEM is the fact that you are going to outrank organic results.

If you are interested in getting started with SEM, give me a call, and I will be able to help you out.

Anton Psak


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