What is Search engine marketing (SEM)?
Search engine marketing (SEM Services) is one of the digital marketing strategies that marketers use to elevate the visibility of a website in internet search.
While the term can be used to describe all of the marketing efforts used to increase a website’s visibility, it is generally used specifically to identify ‘paid’ search strategies.
Often this activity is referred to as ‘paid search’ or ‘pay per click’ (PPC) strategies.
What makes SEM important?
With an increasing number of business prospects researching and shopping for products more online than ever, search engine marketing has become a crucial part of a business’ marketing strategy for lead generation.
Included in the overall strategy, there should also be consideration for organic search engine optimization, email marketing, social media engagement, and paid search (SEM Services). Each of these strategies play a part in the effort to raise a brand’s online visibility.
Because 80-90% of buying journeys begin with an online search, you want to try to connect with your prospects when they are looking for your service/product offerings.
Not all of those initial searches are performed for the purpose of buying… sometimes, the initial search is to learn more about a ‘problem’ and how to solve it.
In search engine marketing, advertisers only pay for impressions that result in visitors, making it an efficient way for a company to spend its marketing dollars. And each visitor improves the website’s rankings in organic search results (due to website traffic growth).
Since customers and prospects are searching for services and/or products that they need, they are in the mindset to make a purchase. This is not generally the case when you are engaging on social media with your audience.
Search marketing can reach consumers at exactly the right time: when they are looking to buy.
Results are more immediate with SEM. It can be the fastest way to drive traffic to your website.
How SEM Works on Search Engines
Search engines use complicated algorithms to ensure the most relevant results are returned for each search, including location and other available information. Their driving goal is to make the search experience as favorable as possible for the searcher so that they come back to their search platform.
Paid search advertising appears at the top of and on the side of search engine results pages to gain more visibility and prominence than the organic results that are listed on the page (10 organic listings appear on each Google search result pages).
Let’s say that you are a customer looking for a product or service online. You go to a search engine and type in your search terms (also known as keywords).
In your search results page, you will come across various company ads whose keywords match the keywords in your search.
Reasons for Using SEM Services
The value to the marketer is that your ad listing can appear almost immediately after launching a campaign, as compared to organic search listings which do require time for optimization efforts to rank it on a search page.
The fact that an Ad campaign can start so quickly means that you can use SEM campaigns to market ‘short term’ offers and deadline-related items, such as event marketing or limited supply products.
Ad campaigns are also a good way to test a search keyword phrase to see how much activity it can generate before investing time and effort in a more long term organic search optimization campaign.
Reasons for NOT Using SEM Services
Don’t Buy Clicks for Undecided Prospects
Because you will pay for each ‘click’ in an SEM campaign, you want to make sure that you are getting a return on your investment. If you are primarily getting clicks from people who are just looking for information, you want to make sure that your campaign goal is to ‘educate’ your audience. Otherwise, stop buying these clicks by adjusting your campaign details.
If you are wanting to sell a product/service to a percentage of those ‘clicks’, you want to make sure that your campaign’s ad copy, focused keywords, and landing page all align with a purchase message. (Search engines like Google and Bing prioritize ads based on this alignment). If you don’t, you will waste a portion of your campaign budget on low-performing ppc ads.
Don’t Compete on Costly Keywords
Another reason for not using SEM Services in your marketing is if you can not find affordable keywords to bid on. The last thing you want to do is to run out of your daily ad spend budget by 10am and get left out of the search traffic for the rest of the day.
Most markets are very competitive and can price many a marketer out of the market on highly competitive search terms. Take the time to find the best longtail keyword that you can afford to compete on and make sure your ad dollars get used wisely.
At the end of the day, digital marketing should NOT be based on one marketing channel. A healthy market strategy includes multiple channels, such as fresh, relevant website content, social media engagement, video, email, seo, and sem. And each of these channels should be aligned with the others in order to get the most ‘bang for the buck’.