What is Search Engine Marketing?

search engine marketing

Search Engine Marketing is defined as the form of internet marketing using paid ads on search engines to promote, increase the visibility and traffic of a website. It is once considered one of the most effective ways to grow a business online. Before the advent of Social Media Marketing, SEM was used as an umbrella term to encompass both the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid search activities. Over time, SEO, SEM, and SMM had their own identities and strategies.

SEM is commonly known and referred to as “paid search listings.” They are also known in other terms as paid search ads, paid search advertising, Pay-per-click advertising, cost-per-click advertising, and cost-per-thousand impressions. The most common search engine marketing is the pay-per-click advertising via Google Adwords, followed by Bing Ads and Yahoo Ads. They are, in essence, a pay-per-click auction for specific keywords. Advertisers bid on keywords that users enter when searching for a particular product or services.

Search Engine Marketing Strategies

Paid search ads come in a variety of formats. They can be small text-based ads; it could be a product listing ads or PLAs or shopping ads, or a visual product-based ad. SEM offers advertisers the opportunity to put their ads in front of motivated customers who are ready to buy at the precise moment they’re willing to make a purchase. This “targeted audience” is what makes SEM or pay-per-click advertising so effective.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising Strategies

ppc advertising

  • Keyword Research

The foundation of every effective campaign, whether it’s SEO or SEM, starts with keyword research. Before any keyword is used in any PPC campaign, the marketer must conduct a comprehensive keyword research as an integral strategy.

First, the marketer has to identify the keywords that are relevant to the business and what prospective customers are likely to use when searching for such products and services. There are several keyword research tools available starting with Google’s keyword planner.

In addition to finding keywords that a marketer should bid on and prospective customers search for, they should also identify negative keywords that should be excluded from the campaign. Negative keywords are not terms with negative connotations; they are keywords that are irrelevant to the campaign and are most unlikely to result in any conversion.

  • Campaign Structure

The account structure is a crucial aspect of a successful PPC campaign. A logical keyword grouping and account structure can help achieve a higher click-through-rate, a lower cost-per-click, and generally a stronger overall performance.

Ad campaigns should focus on products and services, whereas Adgroups allow for each campaign to be further subcategorized for relevance. This level of organization might take longer to set up initially, but the rewards make this effort effective as a long-term strategy.

  • Ad Auction Bid

Although picking the right keywords is critical for an effective campaign, you also need an effective bidding strategy for your ads to rank well and produce profitable results. All search engine marketing platforms work on a bidding system. Advertisers place bids on certain keywords for specific audiences.

One of the most common misconceptions about PPC advertising is that whoever has the largest advertising budget and the highest bid wins. Having a bigger advertising budget may help especially when targeting highly competitive keywords but it’s not a requirement for success with SEM. Why not? All ads go through a process known as the “ad auction” before appearing in a search result.

Advertisers decide on which keywords they want to bid on, how much they are willing to spend per click to have their ads appear alongside the results relating to those keywords, and Google determines which has the highest relevance to the search query. The most relevant ad for such keyword is ranked accordingly as to who appears first, second, third, etc.

  • Ad Auction Strategy

The ad auction takes place every time someone enters a search query, but not every ad will appear on every single search. The ad auction takes into account a variety of factors when determining the placement of ads. The search engines know that not every keyword has sufficient commercial intent to justify displaying the ads next to the results. There are, however, two main factors that search engines, particularly Googe, use to evaluate as part of the ad auction process. They are the maximum bid and quality score of the ads, respectively.

The maximum bid is the maximum amount you are willing to pay for a click. The quality score, on the other hand, is a metric based on the overall quality of your ad copy. The quality score and maximum bid are calculated by the search engine to determine the placement of ads. The result is called the “ad rank.” Since the quality score comprises half of the ad rank formula, it is one of the most crucial metrics that you should focus on. A high-quality score helps achieve a better ad position at a lower cost.

  • A/B Testing

A/B testing the ad copy and landing page is an effective way to maximize ad spend. It can increase the ad’s quality score with search engine networks, reducing your average cost-per-click.

The success of a search engine marketing campaign can be attributed to three things: (1) A/B testing, (2) measuring the results, and (3) tweaking the ad copy. These three things must be consistently followed and practiced for every SEM campaign.

Search engine marketing covers a vast field and is continuously growing. It is one of the most targeted methods of getting the right visitors to your site at the exact peak of their interest, whether they are looking to buy a product or use your service.

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