Search engine marketing attempts to increase visibility and relevant traffic to a brand’s website primarily through paid advertising (PPC). It goes hand-in-hand with organic SEO and can be extremely effective for increasing website traffic. With more consumers researching and shopping for products online, search engine marketing has become even more crucial.
You may recall that we looked at SEO in Part 1 and Part 2 of the blog series. Today, we hope to shed some light on search engine marketing and how to best implement these strategies.
Search Engine Marketing: How Does It Work?
While SEO is about earning traffic through unpaid or free listings, SEM involves buying traffic through paid search listings. Search results are dependent on anything related to SEO that the search engine found relevant to a search based on popular queries for that term. Search engines use complex algorithms to ensure that the most relevant results are returned for each search. This includes location and any additional information available online.
There are no magic formulas or ‘SEO systems’ that guarantee achieving a sustainable top search ranking. Search engines like Google and Bing constantly combat the old methods of artificially boosting search engine rankings to ensure relevant and fair results.
Advertisers bid on keywords that web visitors might enter in Google or Bing when looking for certain products or services. 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 appear in several formats. While some are small and text-based, others are more visual including product listing ads (PLAs) which are also known as 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 exercise. It is one of a few marketing strategies that can justify additional budgeting. An added bonus is that each visitor improves the website rankings in organic search results.
In paid search advertising (PPC), sponsored ads appear at the top and to the side of search engine results pages. The primary objective is improved visibility and prominence over organic search results. Unlike organic search, results are almost immediate with SEM and is arguably the fastest way to drive traffic to your website.
Search Engine Marketing Examples
Let’s take a look at a simple example from a web visitor’s perspective. If you search for a product or service online, you will use a search term (keywords or long-tail keywords). On the search results pages, you will notice several company ads displayed whose keywords would have matched the ones in your search.
These ads will appear in prominent positions across the page along with the other ‘recommended’ search listings that match your keywords. Because the paid ads are listed at the top and highly relevant to your specific search, you will likely click on them first.
Now let’s look at how search engine marketing works from a business perspective. SEM networks are seen as self-serve operations. Once a digital marketer chooses a network, they can initiate a campaign in no time at all. These are the steps involved in setting up a SEM campaign:
- List a set of keywords relevant to your website or product. More on keyword research in this article.
- 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 all the beginners out there; text-only ads are really simple to create. All you need to do is enter a headline, text for the body, a call-to-action and a URL for the hyperlink. Just remember to create interesting, informative and convincing copy, especially the call-to-action.
Many people believe that search engine marketing is one of the most effective ways to spend a marketing budget. Even more reason to learn more about SEM and, when in doubt, consult with an experienced digital marketing agency.
Search Ad Networks
Compared to search engine optimisation alone, PPC has a particular advantage in placement guarantee. This means that rankings are controlled by the amount you are willing to pay. The two primary search networks are Google AdWords and Bing Ads.
Google Ads (Google AdWords) actually comprises of two networks – Google Search Network and Google Display Network. The first consists exclusively of search-related websites that Google owns while the second includes YouTube, Blogger and Gmail. Bing Ads allow customers to buy ads on both Yahoo and Bing’s networks of websites.
Running ads on the Search Network is the most common, well-known form of PPC advertising. Here, your ads will appear on Google SERPs and if you want to expand your reach, you can extend your targeting to include “search partners.” This refers to a group consisting of smaller search engines like AOL.
Since the Search Network connects advertisers to people who are 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.
Google also gives advertisers the opportunity to place their ads across various sites on the internet. This collection of websites, which includes blogs, news sites and even YouTube, is referred to as the Google Display Network (GDN). Use the GDN when you want to familiarise people with your brand, sell a luxury product, and have a long sales process or an extensive collection of video content.
While Google AdWords is about twice the size, the pricing is often lower on Bing Ads but perhaps a smaller reach. Marketers could achieve a better rank for a competitive keyword for less than they would on Google. There are also some reports that suggest a higher click-through rate.
Implementation And Benefits Of Search Engine Marketing
For Pay per Click to be really effective, each Ad should have a specific page instead of the Home page. Each landing page should refer directly to the subject matter of the corresponding Ad. For example, an Ad referring to a special event like an Open Day should click through to an Open Day landing page. From there the visitor can go to other parts of the site without impacting their online journey.
- PPC has a fast implementation time which means your text-ads can promote your business within 24 hours. Compared to organic search engine optimisation where it may take several months to show true results.
- The cost is directly controllable – you pay only for the number of clicks or visitors that click on your text ad and come to your website.
- The implementation is relatively easy – there is no need to worry about the complexities of website coding, content and link building which are required for organic Search Engine Optimisation.
PPC is also most successful as part of an integrated internet marketing strategy and needs to be actively managed. When you optimise your on-page SEO around the right keywords, your site will likely appear at the top of SERP’s. With the right keywords, your content marketing team can also create relevant content to maximise your online presence. The right keywords will reward your organisation with more traffic and you also get to know your customers better.
Don’t waste money on PPC Ads that may attract visitors to a website with poor conversion rates. At WSI eMarketing, we actively manage PPC campaigns to ensure that you get the best possible returns. Get in touch to schedule a free consultation with experts in everything digital marketing. Next week we’ll take a closer look at Content Marketing.