Search Engine Marketing (SEM): What It Is & How to Do It Right
29692606223000Search 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.
PPC (Paid Search Marketing)
Paid search gives you a much higher level of control when it comes to the searcher’s ability to find your website on the SERPs.
With paid search advertisers tell Google for which search terms they want their ads to show. Google then shows their ads and takes their money when someone clicks on their advertisement and is directed to their website (hence pay per click).
Advertisers do not pay to show ads for keywords, but they do pay when searchers click on them; the amount you pay is called pay per click (CPC).
How does Paid Search work?
31623005588000Advertisers first need to create a Google AdWords account (and/or a Bing account).
Then they’ll need to decide which types of search terms they want their ads to show for by creating keywords.
Each keyword has a max CPC assigned to it, which is decided by the advertiser (NOTE:the max CPC is not the number that the advertiser will necessarily be charged, but rather a threshold that the cost should not exceed).
This allows advertisers to bid higher on keywords that may be worth more to them. A set of keywords needs to grouped (into an ad group) to direct the user to a specific advertisement and landing page.
Google auctions off ad space to advertisers in the Google AdWords auction. During the auction Google ranks advertisers based off of their ad rank, which is determined by their bids and their quality scores.
Each auction is different so for one search an advertiser could be in position one on the SERPS and another search the advertiser could fall to position three or four.
In order to understand how ad position on the SERPS is determined it’s important to gain a thorough understanding of how the Google AdWords auction works.
353695032385000How do I get started with paid search marketing?
Before setting up and running a paid search campaign it’s critical to learn and comprehend the ins and outs of paid search.
Luckily, there is PPC University to guide you through the terrains of PPC.
Your paid search campaigns require continuous care and maintenance which can also be exhaustingly time consuming and confusing.
SEM vs. SEO
SEM versus SEO: What’s the difference?
Generally, “search engine marketing” refers to paid search marketing, a system where businesses pay Google to show their ads in the search results.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is different because businesses don’t pay Google for traffic and clicks; rather, they earn a free spot in in the search results by having the most relevant content for a given keyword search.
Both SEO and SEM should be fundamental parts of your online marketing strategy.
SEO is a powerful way to drive evergreen traffic at the top of the funnel, while search engine advertisements are a highly cost-effective way to drive conversions at the bottom of the funnel.
Search Engine Marketing – An Overview
Search engine marketing is the practice of marketing a business using paid advertisements that appear on search engine results pages (or SERPs).
Advertisers bid on keywords that users of services such as Google and Bing might enter when looking for certain products or services, which gives the advertiser the opportunity for their ads to appear alongside results for those search queries.
These ads, often known by the term pay-per-click ads, come in a variety of formats. Some are small, text-based ads, whereas others, such as product listing ads (PLAs, also known as Shopping ads) are more visual, product-based advertisements that allow consumers to see important information at-a-glance, such as price and reviews.
Search engine marketing’s greatest strength is that it offers advertisers the opportunity to put their ads in front of motivated customers who are ready to buy at the precise moment they’re ready to make a purchase.
No other advertising medium can do this, which is why search engine marketing is so effective and such an amazingly powerful way to grow your business.
Keywords: The Foundation of Search Engine Marketing
313944012001500Keywords are the foundation of search engine marketing. As users enter keywords (as part of search queries) into search engines to find what they’re looking for, it should come as little surprise that keywords form the basis of search engine marketing as an advertising strategy.
SEM Keyword Research
Before you can choose which keywords to use in your search engine marketing campaigns, you need to conduct comprehensive research as part of your keyword management strategy. Following are the steps involved.
First, you need to identify keywords that are relevant to your business and that prospective customers are likely to use when searching for your products and services. One way to accomplish this is by using WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool.
Simply enter a keyword that’s relevant to your business or service, and see related keyword suggestion ideas that can form the basis of various search engine marketing campaigns.
WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool provides you with a range of valuable information, such as search volume for each individual keyword in Google and its general competitiveness.
In addition to helping you find keywords you should be bidding on, thorough keyword research can also help you identify negative keywords – search terms that you should exclude from your campaigns. Negative keywords aren’t terms with negative connotations, but rather irrelevant terms that are highly unlikely to result in conversions.
For example, if you sell ice cream, you might want to exclude the keyword “ice cream recipes”, as users searching for ice cream recipes are unlikely to be in the market for your product.
This concept is known as search intent, or the likelihood that a prospect will complete a purchase or other desired action after searching for a given term. Some keywords are considered to have high commercial intent, or a strong indication that the searcher wants to buy something. Examples of high commercial intent keywords include:
The Search Engine Marketing Ad Auction
One of the most enduring misconceptions about search engine marketing is that whomever has the largest advertising budget wins.
Although a larger advertising budget can certainly be advantageous, especially when targeting highly competitive keywords, but it’s far from a requirement for success with search engine marketing.
This is because all ads go through a process known as the ad auction before appearing alongside search results. For the purposes of this explanation, we’ll be focusing on the ad auction in Google AdWords.
How the Ad Auction Works
The ad auction process takes place every single time someone enters a search query into Google. To be entered into the ad auction, advertisers identify keywords they want to bid on, and state how much they are willing to spend (per click) to have their ads appear alongside results relating to those keywords.
If Google determines that the keywords you have bid on are contained within a user’s search query, your ads are entered into the ad auction.
How Ads ‘Win’ the Ad Auction
Not every single ad will appear on every single search. This is because the ad auction takes a variety of factors into account when determining the placement of ads on the SERP, and because not every keyword has sufficient commercial intent to justify displaying ads next to results.
However, the two main factors that Google evaluates as part of the ad auction process are your maximum bid and the Quality Score of your ads.
Maximum bid is the maximum amount you have specified you are willing to pay for a click. Quality Score is a metric based on the overall quality of your advertisement.
Google calculates these metrics during the ad auction to determine placement of advertisements. The result of this calculation is known as ad rank.
The Importance of Quality Score in SEM
Given that Google AdWords’ Quality Score comprises half of the ad rank formula, it is one of the most crucial metrics search engine marketers can focus on.
High Quality Scores can help you achieve better ad position at lower costs, because Google favors ads that are highly relevant to user queries.Quality Score is arguably the most important metric in search engine marketing. To learn more about Quality Score and the impact it can have on your campaigns, read this resource at PPC University.