What is SEM? Search Engine Marketing is an internet marketing method used to promote websites by enhancing their visibility in search engine results pages or SERPs. SEM was initially used to describe various practices employed to market a website, including SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (Pay per Click). The term has evolved in recent years to refer mainly to paid search.
SEM is otherwise known as paid search advertising and paid search marketing. It is most closely associated with pay per click (PPC), cost per click (CPC), and cost per thousand or milli impressions (CPM).
Pay per click means that an advertiser will pay the search engine for each web user’s click on the ad displayed on a SERP. Cost per click refers to the amount that an advertiser will pay for every click-through.
Cost per Thousand Impressions means that an advertiser will pay the search engine an agreed fee for every 1,000 times that an ad appears on the SERP.
Presently, Google Adwords is the dominant paid search platform handling 2/3 of all queries. The other 1/3 is handled mostly by Yahoo Bing Network (YBN). Because of its superior impressions and high click-through rate (CTR), Google Adwords is the preferred ad network for many paid search advertisers.
What is SEM? Search Engine Marketing and How Does It Work
A paid search ad is displayed on the SERP whenever a web user enters a query that is relevant to the keyword or set of keywords selected by the advertiser for the ad placement. Audience targeting is enhanced with the use of filters such as location, language, and viewing time.
If there are competitors for a keyword, an automated bidding occurs to determine which ad will get priority placement on the results page. Bid amount and quality score are factored in to determine a web page’s ad rank and the final cost per click.
Quality score is the rating given by ad networks on the relevance of the ad content and the landing page generated by the keyword. Here is where SEO practices may be applied.
Why Paid Search is Good for Your Business
The most important role of search engine marketing is getting the company on top of the results page at the fastest possible time. Paid search is easier to set up and run, and with the use of the right keywords and content optimization, your ad can appear on the results page instantly. This is hardly possible if you rely on organic search to raise your visibility and traffic. SEO campaigns take time to work, and this can be a huge disadvantage for new companies introducing products or services to the market.
Ad network systems allow you to track every penny spent on an ad that makes it more convenient to measure the return on your marketing investment and make timely adjustments. A paid search campaign can be conveniently adjusted or revised in response to market sentiment or a shift in advertising focus.
Paid search advertising offers a unique opportunity for a company to dominate a results page when both the organic results and paid ads are displayed on the same page, enhancing the webpage’s click-through rate (CTR).
SEM provides advertisers with audience targeting options that limit the ads appearance to viewers who are most likely to purchase or convert.
In pay per click, advertising fees are charged by ad networks only on actual click-throughs but the advertiser reaps the advantage of increased presence every time an advert is displayed.
Changes in search engine algorithms can hurt or crash the marketing campaign of a website that relies on SEO campaign alone but it has little effect on paid search ads.
SEM allows businesses to tap a wider audience at a fraction of a cost of traditional advertising methods. It can be run on a small scale basis, or based on a set daily budget, allowing cost savings for advertisers.
The Downside of Paid Search Advertising
Paid search marketing requires frequent optimization of ad content to increase site traffic. Keywords require constant review and testing to ensure their effectiveness in bringing more visitors to a web page.
Click frauds may impact the results of a paid search campaign by returning inaccurate and unreliable results. Clicks that have no chance of being converted are money wasters for PPC advertisers.
Competitive keywords bidding can cause PPC budget to go beyond control.
Running a Successful Search Engine Marketing Campaign
The goal of every marketing campaign is to achieve high conversion rates. Conversions are often sales-related but can refer to other targeted actions such as completion of a sales form, phone inquiry, or membership listing.
A paid search campaign is focused on the use of the most effective keywords, creation of good titles and description, drafting of relevant content on the ads and in the landing pages, and the creative use of ad extensions.
Successful search engine marketing campaigns starts with a keyword research to determine the most effective keyword or set of keywords for the ad. Finding the right keyword facilitates excellent targeting that is the main point of launching a paid search campaign. Keywords should be regularly reviewed to ascertain their effectiveness.
Ad copies need optimization, and this means putting in creative and technical work to come up with a strong and relevant content that will be read and clicked by its target viewers. A good ad copy uses compelling titles, highlights the important benefits of a product or a web site, uses a language that appeals to its target viewer, and provides assurance of a beneficial experience once the ad is clicked.
A user-friendly landing page turns a simple search into a pleasant viewing experience for the site visitor. Dead links and slow-loading sites turn viewers away and waste precious click-throughs.
The landing page content should be regularly evaluated for relevance and aligned with search queries. It should end with a strong call to action that will convince the visitor to take the desired action.
If provided by ad networks, ad extensions should be used creatively to provide useful details that add to the value of the ad copy.
To see how the campaign is doing, advertisers need to periodically analyze click-through rates, impression share, quality score, conversion rates, ad optimization, and other analytics and tools provided by the ad network.
Paid search campaign may be undertaken by a firm on its own, but it is most often outsourced to a digital marketing company with technical and marketing capabilities.
The success of search engine marketing lies on the way the whole campaign is set up, run, reviewed, tested, and continuously improved to produce the desired market response.