What Is Search Engine Marketing And How Does It Impact Your Business?
Did you know that, for 85% of retail businesses, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the most successful strategy for acquiring new customers?
Or that 63% of users will likely click on a paid search ad on Google?
Search engine marketing is a very powerful tool for nurturing leads online, generating higher conversion rates, and improving your business’s overall digital efficiency.
In this article, we will explain what search engine marketing is, what types and platforms exist, what benefits SEM brings for your business, and what best practices to follow when coming up with your own SEM campaign.
What Is SEM?
Search Engine Marketing is the systematic use of search engine advertising platforms to increase brand visibility and attract qualified traffic to the website.
Your business’s SEM strategy has to consider all the search engines that your prospects and target audience use. It also needs to take into account platforms and websites that rank high in search results for your target keywords.
It also encompasses owned media platforms such as social media, review sites, Google My Business pages, and others that appear in search results and affect your authority.
Some of the most common search engines and their respective ad platforms include:
Google (Google Ads)
Yahoo (Yahoo Gemini)
Bingo (Microsoft Advertising)
The search engine marketing objective is to reach the highest ranking position on a specific search engine.
SEM is quite often – and quite erroneously – mistook for search engine optimization. They are both related to search engines and target audiences who search online using keywords. However, SEM has quite a different approach in that it focuses on delivering ads to prospective customers.
SEM is a business model for monetization of search engines: a great part of Google’s $162 billion in 2019 revenue came from SEM.
What Types Of Search Engine Marketing Exist?
There are several main types of Search Engine Marketing:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search ads (PPC and PPM)
Owned Media Platforms
Third party authority websites (Wikipedia, TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc.)
All of these platforms are covered by digital agency services provided by the best online marketing companies out there.
Your SEM strategy should consider how to maximize your business’s reputation on all of these platforms for the purpose of boosting visibility and increasing clicks to your website.
Why Does SEM Matter For Your Business?
Being present on the first page of search results for your target keywords is of critical importance to your sales and online marketing efforts.
For businesses in general, being present online is fundamental to revenue, brand image, and online business reputation. And this is what SEM can deliver.
SEM is very useful when aligning your business with search intent, which users are signaling with their search queries. Knowing their search intent regarding your business puts you in the driving seat to serve them content and messaging that they will respond to.
Other benefits of SEM include:
Results-based cost: Your business pays only according to SEM campaign results such as clicks and conversions. You don’t pay for displaying the ads on the search page, which is a very cost-effective model.
Measurable results: Web analytics systems such as Google Analytics keep SEM results thoroughly tracked and measured, increasing the profitability of the campaign. This allows for real-time optimization and adjustment of SEM campaigns, ad copy, targeting, keywords, or landing pages, which lowers the advertising cost and gets scores of higher quality.
High ROI: According to Google’s Economic Impact report, every paid search click makes five organic clicks on SEPRs and every $1 spent on Google Ads produces $8. Depending on the level of SEM optimization and your industry, the ROI can be higher or lower, but the point is, it is always favorable.
Accurate targeting: SEM uses targeted keywords that are relevant to your services and products and the terms your target audience is searching for. Researching the right, profitable keywords to use in SEM campaigns will result in more accurate targeting of highly qualified prospects that are likely to convert. SEM also allows you to narrow down your targeting to specific locations, age groups, genders, and other demographic metrics.
SEO opportunities: Successful SEM campaigns come with another unexpected benefit: they provide useful data for improving your SEO. This can be, for instance, a trend in search patterns that you discover early and implement into your SEO strategy. Also, seeing how your competitors advertise on search engines will lend insight into their keywords.
SEM Strategy Best Practices
To reap the greatest possible benefits for your business online, you need to rank high for your keywords but also convey authority and trustworthiness with your target audience for the keywords they are using.
The first thing to do when coming up with an SEM strategy is to track which keywords you want to rank for. When creating your SEM strategy, keep these tips in mind:
Know your objectives: The above measuring framework is the basis for a larger search engine marketing strategy that should always be tied to your business’s goals such as generating leads, boosting brand awareness, or increasing sales.
Maximize your budget: For SEM, maximizing your budget is essential. This can be done by removing negative keywords from ad groups to performing conversion rate optimization to improve return on ad spend.
Get better results with split testing: To compare ads and landing pages with different designs and messaging, use split testing to acquire conclusive data to support future spending. This can help you establish which ads and combination of ads and landing pages are the most effective. Scaling your marketing by sending funds to the more successful option will benefit your SEM campaign.
Align your landing pages with your ads: While it is important to create the most enticing and convincing ads possible, it’s also important that you do not neglect the landing pages they will lead to. It is critical that your landing page delivers on the ad’s promise. Align the two by creating a clear correlation between them with copy, messaging, and visuals.
The messaging on the landing page must reflect the one from the ad
Images and visual cues from the ad should also appear on the landing page
Build credibility with social proof
Use SSL seals and other trust symbols to boost trustworthiness
Use return on ad spend (ROAS) as your metric: Even though you can track SEM’s efficiency with several different metrics, using the return on ad spend is generally advised by most marketers. ROAS determines the average advertising spend return with this formula: revenue/ad spend = ROAS.
Search engine marketing is a highly effective strategy for boosting your business’s online success. Its basis is careful targeting of your target audience with relevant ads, resulting in greater revenue and brand visibility.
Tomas is a digital marketing specialist and a freelance blogger. He is focused on new web tech trends and digital voice distribution across different channels.
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