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Well, what is Search Engine Marketing?
Search engine marketing (SEM) is a digital marketing campaign strategy used to increase the visibility and brand recognition of a website in search results.
Search engine marketing refers to either search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search advertising (PPC). However, this now refers mostly to the paid search side of things.
How can SEM help me?
Search Engine Marketing is one of the most effective ways to grow your business and reach new customers.
While it’s critical you employ organic strategies to attract traffic over the long-term, sometimes, you can’t properly compete on the search result pages without putting money behind it, and that’s where SEM is king.
For instance, consider when I type trainers into the Google search tool:
What in marketing terms “above the fold” is all paid media items, from SEM (also known as PPC / paid search) and Google Shopping results.
There is only one SEO listing above the fold, meaning that it’s important, but mainly the SEM items are going to be clicked first, and be the ones that get most of the sales.
When using search engines, users are further in their buying cycle. Meaning they are more likely to purchase your product/service then and there. Over 65% of searchers click on SEM listings, meaning if you’re not running search engine marketing campaigns, you’re already losing out on over 2/3 of the traffic.
However, you can see the power of SEO combined with paid media in this image, with JD Sports being the top SEO result listing and within Google Shopping results in the bottom right-hand corner.
This is great for brand recognition and why it’s so important to run 360 cohesive marketing strategies.
How does bidding in SEM work?
Once you’re ready to invest in SEM, you’ll need to enter into an ad auction as the best example we will continue to focus on Google Ads.
In simple terms, every Google ad you see goes through an ad auction before appearing in the search engine results. To enter into an ad auction, you’ll first need to identify the keywords you want to bid on, based on what you think your target market will be searching for online.
Once selected, you will then need to input a bid, this bid can be based on how much you’re willing to pay to show within the first four results in SEM, your profit margin and how much competitors are currently paying to show above the fold for SEM results.
Once Google determines the keywords you bid on are contained within a user’s search query, you’re then entered into the ad auction.
Not every ad will appear on every search related to that keyword. Some keywords don’t have enough commercial intent to justify incorporating ads into the page; for example, when you type “What are apples?” into Google, no ads appear.
Additionally, even if your keyword is a good fit for an ad, it doesn’t mean you’ll “win” the bidding. The ad auction considers two main factors when determining which ads to place on the search engine listings:
- The maximum bid you have entered for that individual keyword search
- A quality score of your advert to your keyword (are you relevant for the search?)
- Ad Rank (includes website relevancy, keywords, ad scores, and history)
A Quality Score is what Google defines the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages. You can find your Quality Score, which is reported on a 1-10 scale, in your keywords’ “Status” column in your Google Ads account.
The more relevant your ad is to a user, as well as how likely a user is to click through and have an enjoyable landing page experience, all play into your overall Quality Score.
How do I best take advantage of SEM?
SEM not only helps to generate qualified, relevant traffic to your websites but can increase brand awareness and return on investment.
The higher your product or service ranks in search engines; the more likely consumers will visit your website and buy your product/service.
For the highest results, using a digital marketing agency will help by increasing your search rankings (ad rank & quality score) and maximize return on investment.