What Exactly Is Search Engine Marketing?

Search engine marketing, also known as SEM, remains an incredibly powerful way to grow your business in a competitive environment. There is no denying that, in today’s digitally savvy world, there are millions of businesses vying for the same attention. This means that online advertising has never been more important to nearly any type of organisation. Put simply, search engine marketing is ideal to better promote your products or services while growing your business.

For many, SEM ranks above SEO but they are both essential components to your overall online marketing strategy. There is no magic formula to continuously achieve top spot in search rankings and if you think you can artificially boost rankings, think again. Google, Bing and other search engines constantly combat old methods to ensure search results are relevant and fair.



In this article we’ll take a look at some of the basics of search engine marketing along with several handy tips and tricks you can implement today. But first, a quick recap on what SEM is and how it differs from SEO.

What Is The Difference Between Search Engine Marketing and SEO?

SEO involves several processes to optimise your web site for search engines that use a complex algorithm to determine which pages appear where. The aim is to include elements on the website to increase traffic organically while improving user-friendliness and site credibility.

SEM involves the process of marketing a business online using paid advertising that appear on search listings. Search engine results depend on anything SEO-related which the search engine finds relevant to a particular search term or phrase. Remember, search engines use complex algorithms to ensure that the most relevant results appear for each search. This includes location and any additional information available online.

On-page and Off-page SEO

Speaking of SEO elements, we can break it down into two main categories, i.e. on-page and off-page SEO.

On-page SEO refers to certain rules that you need to apply to your website to make it search engine friendly. Some of these includes optimised titles, image descriptions, page load speed, quality content and optimised internal links.

Off-page SEO, on the other hand, refers to activities outside the realm of your actual website to improve how other website (and users) perceive your business online. The most important elements here include link building, social media marketing and social bookmarking. Refer to the article, ‘How To Write An SEO-Friendly Blog Post’ for a more detailed overview.

How Does Search Engine Marketing Work?

Paid search advertising essentially means buying advertising space within the search engine results pages. Instead of only working on SEO for free, organic traffic; search engine marketing means businesses pay Google (and other search engines) to show their ads.

Advertisers bid on certain keywords that web visitors might enter when searching for a specific certain product or service. It offers advertisers the ideal opportunity to display their ads alongside results for those search queries. These ads are also known as pay-per-click (PPC) ads that can appear in different formats.

While some are small and text-based, others are more visual such as product listing ads (PLAs) or Shopping ads. These product-based advertisements show greater detail allowing customers to see clearly see important information like prices and reviews.

Advertisers only pay for impressions that result in visitors, making search engine marketing an extremely efficient and rewarding process. It is one of a few marketing strategies that can justify additional budgeting with the added bonus that each visitor improves the organic search rankings.

Initiating A Search Engine Marketing Campaign

In paid search advertising (PPC), sponsored ads appear at the top and to the side of search engine results pages. The primary objective is to improve visibility and relevance over organic search results. Unlike organic search, SEM results are almost immediate and arguably the fastest way to drive traffic to your website.

Pay per Click ads are only truly effective when every Ad points to a specific landing page. The ads and dedicated landing pages should refer directly to the subject matter. For example, a PPC Ad referring to an open Golf day should click through to an open Golf day landing page. From there the visitor can browse other parts of the website without affecting their online journey.

The steps involved in setting up a campaign include:

  • List a set of keywords relevant to your website or product
  • Choose a geographic location to display the ad
  • Create a text-based ad to display in the search results
  • Bid on a price that you are willing to pay for each click on your ad

For SEM beginners, text-only ads are really simple to create. All you need is to enter a headline, text for the body, a call-to-action and a URL. Just remember to create interesting, informative and convincing copy, especially the call-to-action.

Search Ad Networks

There are two primary search networks in Google AdWords and Bing Ads. Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) actually comprises of two networks – Google Search Network and Google Display Network (GDN).

Google Search Network consists exclusively of search-related websites that Google owns while the Google Display Network includes YouTube, Blogger and Gmail. Bing Ads also allow customers to buy ads on both Yahoo and Bing’s networks of websites.

While Google Ads is about twice the size, the pricing is often lower on Bing but generally a smaller reach. Marketers could achieve a higher ranking at a lower cost using competitive keywords on Bing Ads than on Google. Some reports also suggest a better click-through rate. The best way to find the right solution is to test and see for yourself.

Google Display Network (GDN)

Running ad campaigns on the Search Network is the most common and well-known form of PPC advertising. Here, ads appear on Google search engine results and if you want to extend your audience reach, you simply expand your targeting to include “search partners.” This refers to a group consisting of smaller search engines such as AOL.

Since the Search Network connects advertisers to consumers actively looking for products, search campaigns typically drive more conversions than display campaigns. You should use the Search Network if you are working on a limited budget or selling an ‘emergency’ product or service.

The Google Display Network is ideal when companies:

  • want to familiarise people with their brand
  • sell a luxury product
  • have a long sales process
  • have an extensive collection of video content

Why Search Engine Marketing?

One of the greatest benefits of search engine marketing is that advertisers can place ads in front of customers who are ready to buy and at the right time. As it stands now, no other advertising medium is capable of doing this which makes search engine marketing such a powerful tool for business growth.

Paid advertising is most successful when integrated into an online marketing strategy and while being actively managed. When optimising your on-page SEO around the right keywords, your website is likely to appear high on search engine results.

The best way to get ranked is for others to see you as a valuable and relevant source of information. Creating engaging content that people really want to read and share is still the most effective way for search engines to recognise you. Add a good paid ad campaign to that and your business is well on its way to success.

Looking at the importance of search engine marketing, have you implemented a strategy yet for 2019? If you need help getting your digital marketing campaigns underway, get in touch for a free consultation.We specialise in SEO, SEM, Social Media, Marketing Automation, Online Reputation Management and Video Marketing among others.

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About Rob Thomas

Rob lives and breathes Social Technology, Social Media & Mobile Marketing. He will show you how to use them to improve many areas of your bottom line, not just Marketing! He’ll show you how to enhance and protect your reputation, whilst generating increased sales, reduced costs and improved customer acquisition and retention. Recognised as an expert in reputation management, digital and mobile marketing, Rob is a professional speaker both in the U.S. and across Europe. In addition to consultation services, including the “12 step process to achieve Social Proficiency” programme, Rob also coaches, trains and provides implementation services to help business owners, organisational leaders and their teams. If you want/need Rob to speak at one of your events please email him rob.thomas@wsi-emarketing.com You can follow me on Google+