Search Engine Marketing or SEM includes various activities like Search Engine Optimisation, Paid listings on Search Engine Results Page (SERPs), submitting sites to directories, and developing digital marketing strategies for individuals, businesses, and organizations. The concept of SEM has been around for over two decades. Nowadays, it refers almost exclusively to paid advertising on Search Engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, etc.
Where to start?
The most important thing to consider when optimizing a search engine marketing campaign is what you would like to achieve by the end of the campaign. For example, if your goal is to increase brand awareness, you will have a different strategy than if your goal is to increase sales.
The steps you take depend on your budget and the results you are looking to reach. In this case, you should consider if you want to optimize your SEM campaign by increasing your budget or by changing your keywords.
For any business to be successful with SEM, they need to understand their audience and how they can best reach them. This means that companies need to understand their target market for them to be able to create a well-optimized campaign for SEM.
Keywords are the words used in your ads and on your website. By choosing the right keywords, businesses can ensure that they are able to reach their target audience more effectively and efficiently.
With the advent of the Internet in the early nineties, individuals and organizations gradually started to host their websites on the Internet. The number of websites and blogs on the Internet was growing rapidly. It was very convenient to search for information on the Internet and people increasingly started using it for any information they required. Soon there was a need for pleasing search engines that could showcase relevant results to those searching for information. Although Microsoft and Yahoo had an early starter advantage in the Search Engine industry, it was Google and its founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin who revolutionized the Search Engine Industry with their highly efficient and effective algorithm. Google soon established a significant lead, capturing a large market share of the Search Engine Industry. The algorithms used by Search Engines keep changing with time to provide the best User Experience.
SEM and SEO
Danny Sullivan popularized the term SEM in 2001. SEO was considered an integral part of SEM at the time. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Search Engine Optimisation is the process of making a website Search Engine friendly so that it ranks higher on the Search Engine Results Page. SEO of websites is highly desirable for businesses and organizations because people and businesses search for suppliers and vendors through the use of Search Engines. Search Engine Optimisation helps businesses to gain more attention from potential customers. SEO is more cost-effective as compared to SEM.
Although SEO is very effective and requires marketers to spend less, SEO takes a long time to provide results. Also sometimes it is simply easier to pay to rank higher in Search Engines by paying the Search Engine company. In the modern context, Search Engine Marketing involves the use of paid listings on the Search Engine Results Page. Search Engine Marketing makes use of certain keywords or phrases ( called search queries), related to the business, its products, or services which trigger the listing of the company’s website or webpage on a search engine results page when searched for in a specific geographic location. The ranking of the advertiser’s website on SERPs is determined by the cost the advertiser is willing to pay per click (PPC). Advertisers willing to pay more are ranked higher than those willing to pay less. Using Paid listings or Pay Per Click requires a large budget; otherwise, the advertiser won’t be able to maintain a sustained campaign in the targeted locations.
How is SEM done?
The advertiser can manage his digital marketing strategy with the help of an in-house team, or he can hire a digital marketing agency.
- The first step is to identify the keywords or search queries that the advertiser would like to target. This can be done using keyword research tools available online. Every keyword has a specific search volume associated with it. The keyword research tools can help the advertiser to identify the most relevant keywords and their search volumes.
- The next step is to select the geographic area where the campaign is to be run. Search Engines allow advertisers to choose locations based on zip codes, city, regions, country etc. The advertiser has to select the desired locations for his campaign.
- The third step is to develop a text-based message to be displayed in search results. The message should carry a Headline, a message body, a call to action and a hyperlink to the website or webpage.
- Finally, the advertiser has to select how much money he is willing to pay per click for his ad. Depending upon the amount he chooses, his listing ranks higher or lower than other advertisers.
Search Engine Marketing is an effective tool to market products and services on the Internet. The marketer must have theoretical knowledge about digital marketing and how it can be used efficiently and effectively to attract customers and increase sales; otherwise, he may end up spending a lot of money and not getting the desired outcome.
Important aspects to consider for SEM
Careful research must be done while choosing keywords to target for the campaign. Many tools are available on the Internet to help the advertiser plan his keywords. The advertiser has to specify the name of his product, service, or brand, and the keyword planning tool will show all related keywords and their search volumes. The advertiser can select the keywords which seem most relevant to him. Keywords must be chosen wisely otherwise, they will attract the wrong audience and won’t lead to a favorable outcome for the campaign. The geographic locations must also be selected very carefully as advertising in unrelated locations will increase costs and lead to wastages. The landing pages of the website must be optimized to reduce and minimize the bounce rate. Visitors to the website must find it meaningful and exciting to browse around the site, collect information from the website and contact the advertiser for purchase inquiries or order the product from the website if possible.
Which Search Engines to choose?
The most popular search engine globally is Google which has a market share of 70 percent in the global search engine search volume. Other relevant search engines are Bing (13℅) from Microsoft and Baidu (12.5℅), which are popular in China. Although Google has a broader reach, it is more expensive to advertise on Google than Bing and Yahoo. Advertisers can experiment with Bing to find out if Bing can help them reach the target audience. Also, Bing and Yahoo have a mutual agreement, making it possible to advertise on both platforms simultaneously.
Search Engine Marketing is a very effective means to achieve business goals. It can be used with Search Engine Optimisation and Social Media Marketing to develop a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. Individuals, businesses, and organizations can use SEM, SEO, and SMM to promote their products and services. The three can also be used to create a solid corporate brand and develop a strong following. SEM can be used individually to generate leads from targeted locations to promote products and services.