Search engine marketing (SEM) or search engine advertising is the fast track way to grow your business in today’s saturated market. With millions of sites vying for top spot on search engine results pages, there’s never been a better time to get ahead of your competition.
So how can you make search engine marketing work for your business? This article will explain the ins and outs of SEM and how you can make it work for you.
What is search engine marketing?
The simplest explanation for search engine marketing is that it is paid advertisement that increases the visibility of a site in the search engine results page. Often known as paid search or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, the elevation in rankings results in more clicks and higher levels of engagement for a site.
It is a commonly used form of advertisement, especially in e-commerce and services industries, and allows your site to appear in front of motivated customers. There are several different formats for paid advertisement – text, image, video, product listings, reviews – so it can be tailored to suit your business and target audience.
How does search engine marketing work?
This is where pay per click (PPC) comes in. If you’re wanting to rank on Google’s search pages (which is where you’ll find the majority of potential customers), then you need to sign up to their ad services. To find out exactly how to install and manage Google Ads for your business check out our article on Google Ads here.
With Google’s PPC service your ad won’t be shown to just anyone and everyone. Through keywords and specific information about who you are and what you do, your ads are shown to customers already interested in what you have to sell. It is a very targeted marketing approach and means that you aren’t paying for clicks from people who are never going to buy your product – which saves you some advertising costs in the long run.
Search engine marketing is a really interactive marketing strategy. Once you have set up your ad you can monitor how it’s going and amend any parts that aren’t performing as well as you would like. A successful ad will improve your search engine ranking and increase your high-quality traffic flow.
Search engine marketing VS search engine optimization
Search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimisation (SEO) work together to increase a website’s ranking in search engine results pages. SEM is a paid method of boosting search engine rankings and increasing site traffic. SEO is a long-term growth strategy that uses several free techniques to grow traffic organically. Both are important and when used in conjunction with each other can provide a solid marketing plan for your company.
These two techniques have a few overlapping strategies including the rewriting of website content to boost its performance and activity levels, keyword research and a focus on site architecture to achieve higher rankings.
Both these techniques should be a fundamental part of your digital marketing strategy as they both interact with the search engine algorithms and increase site traffic.
What are the benefits of search engine marketing?
If you are the owner of an online company then the benefits of SEM are big. But you shouldn’t just take our word for it, so here is a list of the five main benefits you can expect from SEM:
- Increased Visibility and Brand Awareness: The number of businesses competing for attention in the search engine is endless and it continues to increase by the day. In order for your business to succeed, it needs to stand out from the crowd. A paid ad on the search engine results page takes the hard work out of organically growing your audience and literally puts your business in front of the right customers. Increased visibility – for the right customers for you – means an increase in your traffic numbers and – if the products you are selling have been advertised correctly – an increase in sales.
- Search Intent: If you understand the reasons why users are searching for you, then you can target your ad towards that. Search engine marketing allows you to identify the intent of your customers and increase your traffic numbers. The four common types of search intent are informational, navigational, transactional and commercial.
- Search Targeting: This is where your keyword research comes in. There are billions of searches made in Google every day, and you want to make sure your business is showing up in every search that is relevant to you. Search targeting enables you to attract customers based on their search queries.
- Specific Targeting: This refers to your target audience or the specific group of users who are most likely to purchase your product or service. This audience is determined by factors such as age, gender, income, location, career and personal interests. SEM allows you to identify and target these customers.
- Direct Response Marketing: This is the most traditional sales approach of them all. It is a type of marketing that is designed to inspire an instant response from a user by encouraging them to take a specific action. The goal of direct response marketing is to generate leads quickly and includes things like:
- Asking for a referral for a service provided
- Upselling products
- A social media ad
- Signing up for a giveaway contest
The ultimate aim of search engine marketing is to increase the high-quality traffic to your site which converts to an increase in sales.
Keywords & search engine marketing
We’ve already mentioned it a few times here, but keywords are one of the best tools in search engine marketing. Keywords can be the difference between finding your perfect customer and finding a customer that is only vaguely interested in what you have to offer.
Before you begin with paid advertisement, make sure you have conducted thorough keyword research based on your services or products, your industry, your location, and your target audience. Keywords are your best communication tool that tells the search engine who you are and who should be looking for you. It is so important to get this right because you don’t want to be matching with the wrong people in the search results.
When writing your ad, try to use as many keywords as you can whilst keeping it natural. However, copy with so many keywords that it becomes illegible turns the search engine off as they assume you are spam. The different types of keywords to focus on are:
Getting the right copy for your ad is the best way to attract the right customers so make sure every word you use counts.
Search engine marketing is not a silver bullet. It is crucial that your advertised site both matches the advertisement (for content, service, customer needs) and is high quality and useful. Customers get very cranky when they click through an ad that is a waste of their time and they don’t tend to forget about it either. You want to make sure your site is worth their while.
Search engine marketing is relatively easy to install on your own but plugins like Wordstream and SEMRush are great tools to manage them.
For help working out if SEM is right for your company or for getting set up, visit our Google Ads service page to see how we can help you.
At AMS Digital we are passionate about helping you with all your digital marketing needs. For more information about our services or how we can help your business, contact us here.