If you’re looking for a powerful strategy to optimize your online marketing spends to reach out to high quality customers for your business then look no further. Search Engine Marketing (SEM), also known as Pay Per Click (PPC), is what you need. SEM is a proven and effective strategy for both long-term and short-term marketing campaigns, and millions of businesses worldwide are using it to promote their products and services today. So, read on to decide whether it is right for your business too.
What is Search Engine Marketing?
Search Engine Marketing is a strategy which is effective in getting quick visibility for a business in the Search Engine Result Pages. When a user searches for a word or phrase (keyword) in a search engine like Google or Bing, he sees two types of listings (results):
- Organic: these are the results that appear on the search engines due to their relevance to the keyword entered by the user. Organic listings are free, and cannot be purchased from the search engines.
- Inorganic: these are the sponsored (paid) advertisements that show up along with the organic results. The interested companies can bid for these positions. These results are distinctly demarcated as ads, sponsored results, etc.
Through SEM, businesses can compete for getting featured in these inorganic results.
How do these ads work?
These advertisements can be placed on the SEM platforms like Google Ad Words, Bing Ads and Yahoo Gemini to reach out to people who are the right audience for your business. The Search Engines auction these premium ad spaces, and businesses interested in featuring their ads can bid for these spaces.
The SEM process is as follows:
- Ad creation: The first step is to create the ad. An SEM ad contains a Headline, Ad Text and a link to a webpage containing details about what is being advertised. While creating the ads, the advertisers have to choose relevant keywords to which these ads are linked.
- Auction: When people search for any of the keywords chosen by the advertiser, the auction is run. The quality of the ads, bid amounts, relevance to the search term are a few of the parameters that are considered by the Search engines to determine which ads will be shown before the others.
- User Action: Once the ads gets shown, and an interested user clicks on the link, they will reach the web page containing details of your offering. The user can then buy or sign up, or do any other action that gets you closer to your goals.
(What needs to be noted here is that they may also leave the page without doing anything. It is important to understand that SEM does not guarantee positive business results).
Who can use SEM?
SEM can be used by any business, at any time. Worldwide, millions of Internet savvy businesses, whether new or old are using SEM effectively to reach out to their customers.
The following are just a few of the situations when Search Engine Marketing can prove to be very handy to engage with your customers:
- For brand building and building brand recall.
- Promoting a new product or service
- Popularizing promotional offers like discounts, loyalty programs, etc.
- Re-marketing or up selling products to your existing customers.
- Marketing B2B products
- E-commerce companies looking at driving users to visit their sites
- Getting students to enrol for educational courses.
- Real estate companies selling residential or commercial properties.
- Travel agencies selling holiday packages for the upcoming festival season.
A great competitive tool for new companies
SEM is a great tool for start-ups or new businesses which have to compete with established companies in the market. These established companies would have already garnered good positions in the organic (free) search results, and hence it will be difficult and time-consuming for these new businesses to get visibility there. However SEM can get them this visibility if they have a few dollars to spend. They can bid for ad spots on the Search Engine Result Pages and get noticed quickly by customers.
Greater control over ad spends
Another compelling reason for using search engine marketing is due to its flexible payment models. The most popular payment model is called Cost per Click (CPC) or Pay per Click (PPC). Using this you pay the search engine only if a user clicks on your ad to know more, and not whenever the ad is displayed to someone. This means that you get better and qualified leads, which go a long way in furthering your business interests.
Benefits of SEM
- Visibility: SEM can get your business noticed by people quickly, and get steady traffic flowing to your website.
- Wide choice of ad formats: You may run text ads on the Google Search results pages, or display (graphic) ads on websites related to finance and similar themes. A variety of display ad formats can be chosen to fit different types of computers and mobile devices.
- Bidding Options: You can choose from the following:
- CPC (Cost per Click): You pay the search engine only if someone clicks on the ad, and not whenever the ad is displayed. This method can be effective for getting the user to perform an action that you desire, such as make a purchase, register for an offer, etc.
- CPA (Cost per Acquisition): You pay the search engine when people take a specific action after clicking your ads.
- CPM (Cost per Mille): Pay for impressions, i.e. whenever your ad is seen by the user. This is more suitable for brand building, and increasing awareness about your company. In Google, CPM method is available for display ads only.
- Targeting: You can choose your audience as per their age, gender, location, interests, etc. Ads will not show to people who do not fall within your defined target group.
- Scheduling: The ads can be scheduled to run continuously or only on specific days. The timings can be chosen as well. You can schedule the ads to show up uniformly throughout the day or on specific hours of the day only.
- Analytics: once your ads start running, the ad platforms provide a variety of reports to the user. This data can be further analyzed to understand which ads are running well and which aren’t. Thereafter, the better running ads can be repeated more often, and the non-performing ads can be either rebuilt, or dropped completely.
Considering the plethora of options provided by these platforms for construction and optimization of SEM ads, it will be better if you get qualified and specialist professionals to manage your campaigns. They can implement, monitor, analyse, and optimise these ads. Their deep understanding of the practical aspects of SEM can come in very handy for you to be successful in your search engine marketing efforts and get a great mileage for your business.