When you first dive into the wonderful world of internet marketing, you’re going to hear lots of things.
Some people will tell you that search engine optimisation or SEO, is dead. (It’s not, but it has changed.) Some people will tell you that organic SEO is the cornerstone of any good marketing plan. (They’re sort of right.)
Others will tell you that the key to organic search engine traffic is your blog and some killer videos on YouTube, and that content is king. (That’s mostly true.) Many will tell you that social media holds the key to customer engagement. (That’s also true.)
What most people won’t tell you though is that while all of these things can dramatically improve your online presence, and they are important to your long-term digital marketing strategy, they are a marathon, not a sprint. In other words, they take time to do right, and it takes time to see results.
Which isn’t great if you need results now. But there is some good news.
There is a way to beat the digital marketing teething problem slump and get results immediately, and it’s called search engine marketing, or SEM.
What Is Search Engine Marketing?
Search engine marketing or SEM is quite simply paid ads that companies place on search engines. It’s the “sponsored links” you see at the top of search results, and the banner ads you see on some websites that have opted to host these types of display ads.
Search engine marketing, unlike SEO and content marketing, doesn’t rely on as much skill or hard work to get started. You simply allocate a budget, purchase your ads, and get results. However, to optimise campaigns and utilise cunning remarketing campaigns to get a great return on investment requires integration with other marketing channels and a content marketing strategy.
Some of the biggest names in the world of SEM are Google AdWords and Bing ads, but there are others as well, and you can choose one network to focus on, or try more than one to see what works.
How Does Search Engine Marketing Work?
While it’s true that SEM requires less skill than SEO, content marketing and even social media engagement, saying that it’s “easy” would be a lie, and because there’s money on the line, the learning curve can be expensive. Here’s how the basics of SEM work.
Set a Budget
The first thing you need to do when developing SEM marketing strategies is to set a budget. You will need to know how much money you have available per day or per month so that you can set a budget and make informed choices.
Of course, the larger the budget is, the easier it will be to get started, but you should know that it can take some time to figure out what works and what doesn’t, so you might need a little more money when you get started.
Keywords and key phrases are pivotal to your SEM campaigns. These are search terms that your ideal customers would type into their search engine when looking for products and services like yours.
Since you know your customers, this does mean that you can sit down and brainstorm an initial list of keywords, but once that’s done, it gets a little trickier. That’s because all of your competitors are probably doing the same thing, and since you bid for keywords, you might find that the popular, obvious ones are out of your budget completely.
This is where in-depth keyword research comes in. Use tools like the free ones provided by search engines, or paid options like WordStream, to find keywords that have relatively high search traffic, but relatively low competition. The lower the competition, the cheaper the bid per click will be.
In some cases, using local keywords, including your city or town can improve targeting and lower cost, and you might find that common misspellings or slight variations of terms can offer the results you need.
While it might not be completely ethical, many companies also bid on their competitors’ names. This is legal, and it ensures that when someone searches for their company, they’ll find you in the results too!
Creating a Campaign
Once you’ve figured out which keywords are best for your marketing goals, the next step is to create a campaign.
Campaigns are typically a group of ads with a particular focus, that drive traffic to a specific landing page on your website. So, for instance, you might have a campaign for each of your products and services, or for each different branch that you operate.
Each campaign would have a different goal, and send visitors to a specific page, which offers significantly better results than just driving them to your home page!
Different campaigns might have different keywords and phrases, based on the goal of the ads, and each ad would have to be written to entice people with different goals to visit those specific pages on your website.
After you’ve decided on keywords, set up campaigns and created ads to drive traffic to specific landing pages, the next step in a successful SEM campaign is tracking results. Which ads are doing better? Which ones are converting more traffic into leads or customers?
Tracking results is critical to all sorts of online marketing, but particularly to search engine marketing or PPC (Pay Per Click), since you want to whittle your ad campaigns and keywords down to the ones that deliver the best results at the lowest cost.
You will also want to pay attention to the search engine results pages (serps), which is where your ads show up on the search results. The goal is to get to the top of page one of the search results because most searchers never get more than a couple of pages into the results before they search again.
Why Your Business Needs Search Engine Marketing
Many businesses wonder whether they need SEM if they’re already building a great site, paying attention to SEO and developing great content. The answer is yes. Probably.
If you have the time to wait for your longer-term online marketing strategies to pay off, then you might not, but since most businesses need advertising methods that work fast and deliver results, chances are that’s not you.
Search engine marketing delivers immediate results. While they may not be optimal from day one, and you will need to tweak your plans to get maximum ROI, you can start getting traffic as soon as you turn on your first ad. The same will never be true of other types of digital marketing.
So, it’s a good idea to set aside some of your digital marketing budget for search engine marketing, and if you really have no idea where to start, consider using an expert team like Polkadot Communications to start and manage your campaigns for you.
The savings on trial and error can help cover the cost to outsource this type of digital marketing, and there’s zero learning curve to navigate before you can get started.
Get in touch if you’d like to talk!
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