The Basics of SEM: Search Advertising Best Practices

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a necessity in this digital era. It is the modern-day strategy in establishing brands and expanding their business’ influence, with the ultimate goal of revenue growth.

Businesses know the double-edged truth: The internet changed the marketing landscape forever. These new media, partnered with advanced technology, have changed the way businesses reach customers. The biggest thing has to be data analytics. It is the study of individuals’ digital footprint, and coming up with marketing strategies to influence them.

The giant behind all these forms of digital content is Google, which is the king of all search engines. Other players such as Bing and Yahoo follow behind. There’s no better way to boost your online visibility but to work along with the algorithms set by Google or other search engines. SEM, also known as search advertising, is just one of the many forms of online marketing.

1. Understand SEO and SEM: Their differences and combined power

While both processes want the same result from the search engines, which is to gain more popularity and higher rankings, their functions work differently.

SEO produces content that meets the search engine algorithms and metrics to gain a higher ranking in the search results. The content strictly follows specific structure guidelines, and requires link building for wider reach. The term “organic” in SEO comes from effective keyword placement, thus earning a top spot in the Google search results, with minimal to no cost. Websites know that it is in creating regular quality content that builds a website’s credibility and ultimately, organic reach for their target audience.

SEM serves the opposite. This digital strategy uses paid advertisements for instant placement in the search engine results pages, or SERPs. It can be costly, but it is very efficient to procure a huge quantity of clicks, traffic, and conversions. By targeting the right audience and estimated traffic-dense time, it can give you optimal results.

Moreover, the two can go together. Using a content structured with SEO guidelines makes an effective paid ad.

2. Understand how PPC Advertising works

Attached to SEM is PPC, which means pay-per-click. It’s an online advertising strategy that buys clicks from internet users into the site. Paid content is usually located on top of the SERPs, and it bears a tag saying, “Ad” or “Sponsored.”

Internet users often choose only from the first page of the search result. This is why businesses compete with and invest lots of money in getting to the top spot. Individuals also linger with the first five content on that page for further options. Through PPC advertising, the placement of paid ads is convenient for businesses doing the advertisement, as well as for the consumer. It will immediately catch the internet user’s attention, especially if the content advertised matched the keywords that the user typed in.

When a user visits your website through the paid ad, the advertising business pays the search engine with the corresponding fee. An effective PPC ad brings you more audience, and the accumulated visits are the agenda of this strategy. It translates to an upward graph of clicks and traffic, and eventually, to conversions. Comparing the PPC fees to sales conversions is usually shown with huge profit, and this is why PPC remains a favorite among businesses old and new.

However, the misunderstanding and misuse of PPC ads can be a huge expense. It’s really important to learn the ways on how to do it right, and learn from others’ mistakes.

3. Build the correct Account Structure

Along with keyword research, the account structure holds significance with the internet advertising process. An account with the correct structure must have these five components:

  • Ad campaigns – the set of advertisement messages for a product, service, or company.
  • Ad groups – a group of similar and relevant ad campaigns.
  • Keywords – the words and phrases people usually search for.
  • Ad text – the context used to promote the business.
  • Landing pages – the business website where the link will redirect leads or potential customers to.
  • Ad campaigns – the set of advertisement messages for a product, service, or company.
  • Ad groups – a group of similar and relevant ad campaigns.
  • Keywords – the words and phrases people usually search for.
  • Ad text – the context used to promote the business.
  • Landing pages – the business website where the link will redirect leads or potential customers to.

By following the hierarchy of these components, business will get a higher number of click through rates (CTR), without spending so much on the ads.

4. Perform a smart Keyword Research

Thorough keyword research plays a huge part for SEO and SEM practices. In SEO, content is king, but in SEM, the keyword is the foundation. People type in millions of search queries every day, and these queries hold the magic keywords for businesses to utilize for effective search advertising.

But the question is, “How do you do keyword research?”

First, you must know the keywords and keyword phrases relevant to your business. Then, you should find out the keywords that the target audience use, be it exact, equivalent, or derived. The list of words you gathered should be incorporated into your search engine marketing campaigns. It also requires a deeper understanding of your target market and demographics.

You can already identify the keywords commonly typed by internet users through Google (Suggestions on the search box, People also ask, and Search related). You can also use website like LSI Keywords to look for relevant keywords to use for certain niche or topics.

5. Use tools to create a list of high-performing keywords

If your business has been established and you’re ready to go the extra mile, there are available tools and software to collect a list of specific keywords.

The set of keywords for businesses should be:

  • related to the high-performing traffic drivers
  • comprehensive that it covers all necessary information
  • dynamic as product and services constantly change

By the keyword research, you also get a database of useful details for your campaign ads. You learn the keyword that works best for you and what doesn’t. This includes what other businesses or your competitors effectively use for their brand. You can study all these information and apply it for your own business, too. Depending on the tool you’re using, you also get information like the search volume, rankings, and trends.

6. Utilize Google Ads

As previously mentioned, Google is the largest search engine. So, the biggest platform to employ paid advertising is Google. Google Ads (or formerly, Google AdWords) is the number one and most trusted system for PPC advertising. This system allows the business to make use of the search engine itself and the Google-related properties to boost their online presence.

The process involves the same PPC ad system: Bidding of keywords and paying per click. Google Ads, moreover, rates the advertisers through their cost per click (how much you’re willing to pay), and quality score (performance of your landing page) as to who will get the paid ad slot.

It’s a myth that businesses with a higher bid for CPC get the reward on search engine marketing. It’s all about the quality score, performance of the website, relevance of keywords, and creativity of the ad copy.

This is why every business should learn how to use SEM, PPC, and SEO strategically to maximize their profit, and generate more leads.

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