With a growing percentage of online buyers searching for local businesses, you can harness the potential of this trend to your business advantage with…
Grow Your Business with Search Engine Marketing
SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING
Search engine marketing is the practice of marketing a business using paid advertisements that appear on search engine results pages (or SERPs). Advertisers bid on keywords that users of services such as Google and Bing might enter when looking for certain products or services, which gives the advertiser the opportunity for their ads to appear alongside results for those search queries.
These ads, often known by the term pay-per-click ads, come in a variety of formats. Some are small, text-based ads, whereas others, such as product listing ads (PLAs, also known as Shopping ads) are more visual, product-based advertisements that allow consumers to see important information at-a-glance, such as price and reviews.
Search engine marketing’s greatest strength is that it offers advertisers the opportunity to put their ads in front of motivated customers who are ready to buy at the precise moment they’re ready to make a purchase. No other advertising medium can do this, which is why search engine marketing is so effective and such an amazingly powerful way to grow your business.
Search engine marketing is about gaining visibility on search engines when users search for terms that relate to your business. For most companies, ranking highly in search results isn’t luck – it’s a result of solid effort in one or both categories of search marketing:
- Organic search (SEO): When you enter a keyword or phrase into a search engine like Google or Yahoo!, the organic results are displayed in the main body of the page when your prospects search for information about your products and services, you want to rank highly in search engine results. By “optimizing” your site, you can improve your ranking for important search terms and phrases (“keywords”). You can also improve your rank by getting other important sites to link to yours.
- Paid search (SEM): enables you to buy listings in the “sponsored” area of a search engine. There are a variety of paid search programs, but the most common is called pay-per-click (PPC), meaning you only pay for a listing when a prospect clicks your ad.
The following types of paid listings are most common:
- Paid placement
- Paid inclusion
- Shopping search
- Video search ads
- Local search ads
- Product listing ads
CONTRAST WITH SEO
SEM is a broader term than SEO. Where SEO aims to provide better organic search results, SEM helps you successfully target users of search engines via advertising (paid) links in search results in addition to organic search to send targeted traffic to your website.
SEO and SEM are not competing services. SEO is considered a subset of SEM services. Today, if you want to conduct business on the Internet you need to be visible in both organic and advertised links, which means you need both SEO and SEM.
Recommended Article: Quick Guide to Improve Your Video Marketing Strategy
HOW DOES A SEARCH ENGINE WORK?
A search engine copies webpages, stores information about the content on those webpages, and uses that information to respond to a search. When a person enters topical words into an engine, the search engine presents a list of pages with sites ranked according to relevance.
This is where things get fuzzy, because relevance is a tricky notion. Nor is it easy to explain, especially when your CEO glares at you because your most-hated competitor ranks higher than your company during a Google search on your flagship product’s name.
POWERFUL SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING STATS
There is more to search engine marketing than just website traffic, and to illustrate why you should consider it an integral part of your digital strategy here are some statistics:1
- 96% of marketers use search engine marketing to provide content to their prospects
- Organic and paid search engine traffic contribute to more than 60% of total website visitors
- 48% of consumers start mobile research with a search engine
- 18% of local mobile searches lead to a sale within one day
- 81% of B2B purchase cycles start with a web search
- 57% of B2B marketers say SEO has the biggest impact on lead generation
- The highest spenders are most likely to turn to search for purchase information
- Conversion rates are 10 times higher from search than from social media
Of course these are just stats, but they tell a compelling story. Search engine marketing is here to stay, and its importance will only grow as the global adoption of mobile devices continues to accelerate.
SEMs need to be able to both capitalize on the increased traffic and keep the message consistent (using taglines and trademarks in ad copy is a great way to solidify branding across those channels). And more and more people are “showrooming” — visiting a store, looking at products in person, then searching online for the best possible price.
Advertisers can include in-store coupons in SEM ads and/or include online coupon codes in direct-mail campaigns, making it much easier to track user behavior and fine-tune attribution.
As far as SEM encouraging offline action, that’s pretty straightforward as well. Use location extensions to drive foot traffic to local stores and call extensions to drive inbound calls. (You can even use in-store Google Shopping ads to highlight the inventory in a particular local store.)
YOU NEED AN SEM PLAN
If you want to be successful in SEM, then you need to come up with a plan. We’ll start with the first and most important point first:
- Who is your target audience? You need to do your research and find out who will actually want to visit your website before you really delve into your SEM plan.
- Create a business plan or make goals. You want to have something to keep you on track when coming up with your plan, whether it is through PPC, organic search results, or social media marketing.
- Get the proper tools. Keyword analysis tools to find how well certain keywords are performing is obviously of the utmost importance, but other tools like web analytic tools and HTML tools are important, too. Arm yourself with what you will need in order to be successful.
- Once you have a keyword tool, build a list! See which ones will perform best for you and your niche (word of the wise: don’t choose the highest ranking keyword or keyword phrase. If you do, you’ll end up on page 432 of Google search results)
- Continuously test your keywords and see which one’s work best
- Keep on top of your current search engine ranking
- Always add fresh content to your site, and continually improve your web design
- Don’t forget about link building! Begin building partnerships with people on blogs, forums, and other websites and start building up your links. This will give you a great boost in the search engine rankings
- Expand beyond your website. Do some video marketing or vlogs and post them on YouTube. Put pictures up on Flickr. If you don’t have a blog, get one. And submit articles to article submission sites, like eHow and About.com. Add a link to your website along with each of the above.
- Turn on your RSS feed and update your site or blog regularly!
- Get yourself some quality tracking software, and continue to track your site’s performance.
It’s become imperative for organizations to have a strong online presence, which is where search engine marketing (SEM) comes into play. SEM is the process of increasing one’s website visibility in search engine results via both paid and unpaid efforts, such as pay-per-click (PCC) campaigns and search engine optimization (SEO), respectively.
SEM has proven to be an effective marketing strategy in spreading brand awareness and driving website traffic. Just consider the number of companies that are currently or planning to invest in SEM. According to findings from a recent gShift survey, 70% of respondents indicated that their search marketing budgets will increase in 2015, while 25% said budgets will stay the same, and only 5% claimed their search marketing budgets will decrease.
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This post was written by David Moceri