Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a digital marketing strategy aimed at increasing a website’s visibility in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) through paid advertising techniques.
I like Wordstream’s thoughts below (JSM says this same thing to clients all the time!)
“Search engine marketing, or SEM, is one of the most effective ways to grow your business in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
With millions of businesses out there all vying for the same eyeballs, it’s never been more important to advertise online and search engine marketing is the most effective way to promote your products and grow your business.”
“What’s the first thing most consumers do when they’re looking to find a new business, get an answer to a question, or solve a problem?
They go to a search engine for answers and advice.
You want your business to have a presence on these search engines so that they turn to you for the perfect solution to their issue.”
SEM is a powerful and effective tool for driving traffic, increasing visibility, conversions and achieving your online marketing goals and sales!
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What is covered under SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
SEM primarily covers the following components:
Paid Search Advertising or PPC (Pay Per Click)
This involves creating and running paid advertisements within search engine platforms, like a Google Ads Campaign.
Advertisers bid on specific keywords relevant to their products or services.
When users search for those keywords, the ads appear at the top of the search results.
The advertiser pays the search engine each time their ad is clicked, hence the term “Pay-Per-Click” (PPC).
Choosing the right keywords is crucial in SEM. Most businesses need expert help with Keyword Research!
Advertisers research and select keywords that are relevant to their business – and have a reasonable ‘search volume’
These keywords are then used in both paid and organic efforts to attract relevant traffic.
Creating compelling and relevant ad copy is essential for attracting people to click on your Ads.
Advertising agencies need to write concise and engaging text that appears in the search ads, including headlines and descriptions, to entice people searching online to click on their ads and go to their clients website.
Landing Page Optimisation
The ‘Landing Page’ is where users are directed after clicking on an ad.
Optimising the Landing Page ensures that it’s aligned with the ad’s message or copy and provides a ‘seamless’ UX (User Experience)
If the Page does not correspond to the ad copy, there is an annoying ‘disconnect’ for the user.
The goal is to encourage visitors to take a desired your action, such as making a purchase or filling out a form on page designed for just that purpose!
Quality Score Management
In platforms like Google Ads, the Quality Score measures the relevance and quality of the relationship of the ads, keywords, and landing pages.
Higher-quality ads can then lead to lower costs per click and better ad placements.
Ad Campaign Management
SEM involves ongoing management and optimisation of ad campaigns.
This includes monitoring performance metrics, adjusting keyword bids, refining targeting parameters and testing different ad variations to improve results.
There is no ‘set and forget’!
Ad Assets ( formerly Extensions)
These are additional pieces of information that can be added to search ads to provide more context or encourage user interactions.
Examples include site links, callouts, and structured snippet amongst others.
When a user enters a search query, a real-time ‘auction’ takes place to determine which ads appear in the top positions on the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages)
Factors like bid amount, ad quality and ad assets (extensions) influence your ad’s position in the auction.
This technique involves targeting ads at users who have previously interacted with a website or its content
It aims to re-engage users who might not have converted during their initial visit and, although people claim to be annoyed at “seeing that damn ad again”, it is a proven technique for conversions!
Ad Tracking and Analytics
Proper tracking and analytics are crucial to measuring the effectiveness of SEM campaigns.
Advertisers use tools like Google Analytics to monitor various metrics, such as Click Through Rate (CTR), Conversion Rate and Return On Investment (ROI).
These are keywords that advertisers exclude from their campaigns to ensure their ads don’t appear for irrelevant searches, thereby improving the campaign’s targeting.
SEM is a comprehensive strategy to maximize a website’s visibility and drive relevant traffic from search engines.
It’s a dynamic field that requires continuous optimisation and adaptation to changing search engine algorithms and user behaviours.
“While it’s critical you employ organic strategies to attract traffic over the long-term, sometimes, you can’t properly compete on the SERPs without putting money behind it — and that’s where SEM comes into play….
“In simple terms, every Google Ad you see goes through an ad auction before appearing in the SERPs.
To enter into an ad auction, you’ll first need to identify the keywords you want to bid on, and clarify how much you’re willing to spend per click on each of those keywords.
Once Google determines the keywords you bid on are contained within a user’s search query, you’re entered into the ad auction.
Not every ad will appear on every search related to that keyword.
Some keywords don’t have enough commercial intent to justify incorporating ads into the page — for instance, when I type “What is Marketing?” into Google, I don’t see any ads appear.
“Additionally, even if your keyword is a good fit for an ad, it doesn’t mean you’ll “win” the bidding.”
What are the Benefits of SEM?
The benefits of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) include:
SEM allows your website to appear at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) through both paid ads and organic listings.
This increased visibility ensures that your website is prominently displayed to users searching for relevant keywords.
With paid search advertising (PPC), your ads can start appearing as soon as the campaign is set up.
This provides a quick way to generate traffic and leads, especially compared to the (very) gradual process of organic SEO.
SEM enables precise targeting based on keywords, demographics, location and other parameters.
This means your ads if done well, reach a highly specific audience interested in your products or services, increasing the likelihood of conversions.
SEM allows you to set a budget for your campaigns- and you only pay when users click on your ads (PPC).not when the ads are shown.
This control over your spending ensures that your marketing efforts align with your financial resources.
SEM provides detailed metrics and analytics that help you track the performance of your campaigns.
You can measure metrics such as click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate and return on investment (ROI), allowing you to assess the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
Flexibility and Optimisation
SEM campaigns can be adjusted in real-time.
This flexibility allows you to refine your ads, keywords and targeting to achieve better results
A/B or split testing different ad variations and strategies can help you optimise for the best outcomes ( if you have the right Ad Campaign managers)
Even if users don’t click on your ads, the visibility of your brand name and offerings showing up on the SERPs can lead to increased brand recognition and trust over time.
As mentioned above, SEM enables you to re-engage users who have interacted with your website, but didn’t convert at that time.
Remarketing allows you to target these users with specific ads, potentially leading to higher conversion rates.
SEM allows you to bid for top positions in the SERPs!
Being at the top of the page can lead to more clicks and visibility, giving your business a competitive edge
We all know that most people do not go past Page One of the Search Pages.
Precise Geographic Targeting
For businesses with a local focus, SEM allows you to target users based on their location.
This is particularly valuable for brick-and-mortar stores and service providers
Most people stay in a close radius to their homes for these types of businesses.
The data collected from SEM campaigns provides valuable insights into consumer behavior, search trends and the effectiveness of various strategies.
This information can inform not only your SEM efforts, but also other marketing initiatives. JumpStart are passionate about DDDM!
Synergy with SEO
SEM and SEO can complement each other.
While SEO focuses on long-term organic growth, SEM can provide immediate visibility and traffic.
A balanced approach leveraging both strategies can lead to comprehensive online marketing success.
Search Engine Marketing offers businesses a range of benefits, from targeted audience reach and measurable results to immediate visibility and the ability to optimize campaigns for better performance.
It’s a powerful tool for driving traffic, increasing conversions, and achieving your online marketing goals.
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What are the top Paid (PPC) Advertising Platforms?
Search Engine People breaks it down this way:
Different types of ad networks are available within Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
Each platform/ format focuses on distinct advertising objectives, allowing you to choose the most suitable format based on your target audience, budget and campaign objectives.Here are some of the effective paid advertising channels to consider:
Paid Search ads:
Google Ads is the most popular and widely used ad network for SEM. It allows advertisers to display their ads on Google search results pages and partner websites, YouTube, and other Google-owned properties.
Though less popular, Bing/Microsoft Ads and Yahoo Gemini are other options that enable advertisers to use other channels for search engine advertising.
Promote your products directly on Amazon’s e-commerce platform. Amazon Ads offers various ad formats, such as Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, and Display Ads, to reach customers while they shop on Amazon.
SMM (Social Media Marketing) advertising:
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest offer their own advertising networks that provide targeted ad placement options based on user demographics, interests and behaviours.
These ads use visual elements, such as images, graphics, videos, or interactive media, to appeal to your target audience.
Unlike Search ads, which appear on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), display ads are shown on websites within the Google Display Network (GDN) or other display ad networks. These ads can appear as banners, sidebar ads, interstitial ads, or in other designated ad spaces on websites that are part of the Display Ads Network.
Also known as retargeting ads, Re-marketing Ads target users who have previously interacted with your website or shown interest in your products or services.
Re-marketing allows you to re-engage these users by displaying relevant ads as they browse other websites or use social media platforms.