Search Engine Marketing, otherwise known as SEM, is the process of advertising your business under carefully selected search terms to help attract the right people to your website. SEM works hand in hand with your SEO strategy and overall content marketing plan. So while it is a valuable part of your marketing mix, it should not be thought of in isolation.
Why invest in SEM?
Google processes over 70,000 search queries per second and a user is more likely to change their search term than click on page two of Google. So despite the enormous competition, it's vital to rank on page one, preferably at the top, for the best chance of success.
How do you rank at the top of Google?
While Google ranks content based on its relevance and credibility, the benefit of SEM is that you can give your website a boost to the top of the page for the duration of your campaign. Google reserves the top spaces for paid ads.
The average click-through rate for the top spot on Google is approximately 19.30% with the second position being almost half at 10.57%. So it pays to be at the top.
The pros and cons of SEM
The great thing about paid search, or Google Ads, is that it works when it’s turned on. The bad thing is that it only works when it’s turned on, which makes it costly. Some businesses get highly addicted to paid search and find they need more and more to grow their business. So beware, it can be a trap.
The ideal scenario is to supplement content-driven SEO with a degree of paid search to maximise the efficiency of the program.
By measuring the rich data that comes out of an SEM campaign, you will also receive invaluable information that will help validate your marketing and keyword strategy or highlight a new set of keywords to target. We talk more about this later.
Your keyword strategy
The success of your SEM campaign is reliant on the relevance and robustness of your keyword strategy.
So when thinking about your keyword strategy, you'll likely think about your brand, what you stand for, who your ideal customer is, the types of things they might search for and the content you will serve them.
When choosing your topics and keywords, we recommend keeping in mind the concepts of search volume and competitiveness and selecting a mixture of broad and niche keywords. By this, we mean keywords with a monthly search volume of more than 100 (niche) and more than 1000 (broad).
The theory behind this is that it will be easier to rank for niche terms, but they won't attract many visitors. Conversely, high volume keywords attract lots of people but are more challenging to achieve a ranking due to their competitiveness.
Once you have picked your keywords and created your ads, it's time to make sure you're doing everything you can to give your campaign the best chance of success.
Tips from Google
Keyword match types help control which searches trigger your ad. Broad-match is the default match type and will show your ad to a broad audience or exact match will hone in on specific groups of customers.
Google recommends using a broad-to-narrow strategy to begin with because restricting your keywords too much may limit traffic. Begin with broad match keywords, then monitor your keywords' performance over time. If you find that your ad shows up for too many irrelevant variations, you can add these as negative keywords to stop irrelevant matches. You can also make your keyword match types more specific over time to narrow down your audience.
Analysing the data
Once your keywords have gathered impressions and clicks, you'll be able to see what users actually searched for with the "search terms" report.
Here are a few tips for using the information in your Google Ads report:
- See how closely search terms are to your keywords. In the "Match type" column.
- See keyword ideas and add new terms with high clicks to your campaign.
- Add negative keywords for the search terms that aren't relevant but triggered your ads.
- Review your Quality Score. This is a good indicator as to the relevance of your landing page and ad to the chosen keyword.
Once you have set your campaign live, we recommend monitoring and optimising your ads and keywords throughout the duration of your campaign to generate the best return on investment.
You can then use this invaluable data to and adjust and optimise your marketing program. For example, you may choose to create new content based on newly uncovered search terms that resonated with your audience, or you may want to optimise your existing content for high performing keywords.
One thing's for sure you will have a wealth of valuable insights and a boost of traffic to your website.
Poignand Consulting is a strategic marketing and sales enablement consultancy that exists to unlock customer value for your business. We do this by helping enrich the customer experience at every point of contact – from the first seed of awareness to enquiry to opportunity, purchase, the post-sale relationship and repeat purchases. If you would like help with your marketing and sales, please contact us.