December 02, 2020
Search Engine Marketing: The Ultimate Guide to SEM 2021
“93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.” Search Engine Marketing, or SEM is the method of using paid strategies in order to increase the search visibility of a brand online. It can be considered a very effective way to grow a business in a competitive marketplace. With SEM, businesses have to pay for ads that appear on SERPs. Certain keywords are targeted and when an online user makes a search using those keywords, an ad from the respective business is shown to them. Moreover, the business will be charged only if the user clicks on that ad. These ads are also known as pay-per-click ads and come in various formats like text based, image based, product based, etc. The most distinctive feature of SEM is that it provides advertisers an opportunity to display ads in front of selected audiences who are actually ready to make a purchase - the reason why it’s considered so powerful and effective.
The Difference between SEM and SEOBoth SEM and SEO are integral parts of digital marketing, but there are not the same. SEO is the process of earning a higher rank on the search engine results page with good quality content for a given set of keywords. SEO results cannot be achieved in a day, it requires time and effort. SEM, on the other hand is paid marketing where businesses have to pay for showcasing their ads on the search results page. Source: ahrefs.com In other words, SEO is a way to drive quality traffic, while SEM is a way to drive conversions.
Benefits of SEM for businessesSEM offers great flexibility in advertising campaigns and you can implement it on a temporary or long-term basis. Moreover the budgets can be easily controlled and monitored, which makes SEM a good choice even for small businesses and startups. Here are the top benefits of SEM for businesses -
1. Develops instant awarenessUnlike SEO which is a little time consuming, SEM can help gain instant attention for a business even if it is not well recognized or has low online visibility. By using keywords that are related to your industry, people who are searching for products/services with the same keywords can find your business in the search results. Apart from that, every action that takes place onsite like a user completing a lead generation form, downloading a brochure or making a purchase can be tracked and measured. This helps in giving a thorough understanding of what works and what doesn’t to optimize campaigns accordingly. Source: Google
2. Scalable, at par with the businessA major advantage of SEM is its easy scalability while taking your business growth into consideration. Initially, you can start small, do A/B testing to see what works best and keep the cost low in case of a limited budget. Once there is an increase in the revenues, you can increase ads and ad spends, refine campaigns and set high budgets for SEM.
3. Reaches the right people at the right place & time90% of the online audience use the search engine to gather information and get the best deals before making a purchase. SEM campaigns can target potential customers exactly at the time when they’re looking for a particular product or service. With the help of the keywords that customers are using in their search, demographic criteria, location and even the time when they are online, SEM is ideal to target only interested audiences and convert them into customers. For startups and small businesses, SEM is a great advantage as showing ads to only relevant audiences minimizes the ad spend. Geographical segmentation in SEM also works great for small companies that want to connect with local clients. Source: wordstream.com
4. Market analysisA well conceptualized SEM campaign is an effective way to analyse and determine the popularity of your product or service among the target audience. The platform works like a mini market to understand what works and what needs to be modified. Apart from that, Google Ads report provides a lot of relevant information that can help you decide the changes or improvements you need to make for improving your results.
5. Reconnect with existing customersSEM campaigns also make way for reconnecting with previous customers. Retargeting is important because, at times, a lot of potential customers need to be shown an ad several times before they make the final purchase decision. It works as a reminder when the ads are shown to them several times and increase the chances of these customers to visit your website or make a purchase.
Popular SEM PlatformsSEM platforms are basically search engines where search ads can be placed by brands, for display to relevant users. Google and Bing are the most extensively used SEM platforms. Google Ads is the most popular SEM platform, with billions of searches occurring on a daily basis. Bing claims that brands can connect to 3M online users on the platform who can’t be reached by Google. Bing Ads serve advertisements on partner sites like MSN and Yahoo, helping brands connect to those users who don’t use Google for their online search. Source: gs.statcounter.com
SEM Keywords TypesKeywords are an integral part of the SEM campaign, and so you should be well aware of the type of keywords that are being used in the ads. There are 4 types of keywords that are used in SEM campaigns -
1. Broad match keywordsBroad match keywords will target variations of the same term. It includes synonyms, spelling errors, singular and plural terms. For example, if your SEM campaign has a broad match keyword as digital marketer, it will also target keywords like digital marketers, online marketer, etc.
2. Phrase match keywordsPhrase match keywords or long-tail keywords contain words or phrases that come before or after the main target keyword. For example, the digital marketer broad keyword can have phrase match keywords like best digital marketer, popular digital marketer in Bangalore, etc.
3. Exact match keywordsExact match target keywords will be closely related to the main target keyword. It can include singular and plural forms, abbreviations, paraphrases, etc that have the same search intent as the main keyword term. For example, when you search with the keyword digital marketer, results with keywords like digital marketers, digital marketing, online marketers can also show up.
4. Negative keywordsNegative keywords are the variations of the above-mentioned keyword types that you don’t want to target in your campaign. These terms may semantically relate to your keywords but are not related to the search intent, campaign or ad copies. For example, negative keywords for digital marketer can be digital marketer career, digital marketer jobs, etc.
SEM TargetingThe parameters that can be used for SEM targeting include -
- Location targeting: It will show the ads to people only in a certain pin code or geographical area.
- Ad schedule targeting: It shows ads only on certain days of the week or at a specific time in a day.
- Demographic targeting: It shows ads only to a specific target audience that fits a demographic category based on age, gender, etc.
- Device targeting: It will show ads to the audience based on the device they are using - mobile, laptops, tablets, etc.
Common Terms to Know for SEMIn order to understand SEM better, it is important to have a clear understanding of a few terms that are associated with it. The most common ones include -
- Impressions: The number of times an ad is visible on search results; it does not necessarily mean that a customer has seen it.
- CPC - Cost Per Click, the amount you need to pay every time a customer clicks on your ad
- CPM - Cost Per Mile, where you have to pay an amount for every 1000 impressions of your ad
- CTR - Click Through Rate, the number of clicks you received to your landing page/website from customers who saw your ad