Say the term “SEM” and many are still intimidated, if not outright confused when contemplating it. Also known as a search engine marketing campaign, a simple ad on a search engine can go a long way in giving your brand an edge over your competitors.
SEM, like its cousin, search engine optimization (SEO), has become an essential element in digital marketing. Using SEM not only gives you a business advantage, it can also attract potential customers while gaining instant exposure.
It’s worth noting, though, that while it can be challenging to mount a good SEM campaign, it becomes easier to do so after being continuously exposed to SEM.
What Is the Difference Between SEM and SEO?
Before anything else, it would be best to delineate the differences between SEM and SEO. One might think that they are one and the same, but that would be a mistake. While there was a time when search engine optimization was part of search engine marketing, that is no longer the case since online advertising has expanded and increased in popularity.
The digital marketing industry currently sees SEO and SEM as separate strategies, although they work well in tandem. In fact, several businesses implement coordinated SEO and SEM campaigns.
Currently, the use of paid advertising to market your business in search results is called SEM. The term is practically interchangeable with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, which means brands are able to advertise in search engine results to increase website traffic, drive leads, or generate sales.
When talking about SEO as a strategy, it refers to search engines using an algorithm that tells it which sites can best respond to a given query. The positioning is organic and SEO refers to the set of techniques and tools used to position organically in the listings.
On the other hand, with SEM, you pay for the keywords you require to achieve the top position of related searches. Brands and companies who plan on advertising pay a fee for each click they get, a marked distinction from SEO. They will also have to turn to search engine advertising (such as Google Ads) to get traffic by buying ads on search engines.
SEM Campaign and Google Ads
Because Google gets the most substantial search traffic, it should come as no surprise that it is the most popular search engine option to choose as default. Meanwhile, SEM campaigns are conducted on one of the top most popular search engines or other digital platforms.
Using Google to SEM campaigns presents the best opportunities for your ads to be seen. Several educational resources are also available to enable businesses to get started relatively quickly on the platform.
Like most things, it can be a bit intimidating and difficult to understand SEM campaign management at the start. Despite the simple basics, actually implementing the campaign success can be challenging.
The good news is that a tool like Google Ads exists to help in the creation and management of your campaign on Google while positioning your brand in the top search results. Searching on Google allows you to separate the paid results by the word “ad” that appears below the title. Meanwhile, buying keywords makes Google and other search engines put your sponsored link in those top positions.
It is still advisable, however, to analyze what keywords people use or that you want people to use to eventually discover you online. This is where Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, or Ubersuggest can help.
Purchasing specific keywords enters you into a bidding system where each company decides how much it will pay for each user that clicks on its link. Google decides which links to sponsor based on two things, namely:
- Cost per click (CPC) or the payment that the advertising company made for the keyword. This is the value defined within Google Ads that delineates how much you are paying for each click.
- Relevance to the user. Because Google always takes users into account, it isn’t enough that brands pay to appear at the top of searches. Content is adjusted based on the Google searches of users (the noted Google algorithm) and Google will choose the content it deems most relevant to the user. Google will help you get more traffic and more customers if you are deemed relevant.
How To Create An Effective SEM Campaign?
- Keywords must be very specific
Yes, broad terms might generate more traffic. However, specific keywords mean the best kind of traffic is generated. The more unique the keywords, the more you optimize the value of each click.
- Be careful when targeting your ads
It would be best not to overpromise when targeting ads. For example, don’t target international searches if your service is only available locally. For advertising in more than one country, create specific budgets and keywords for each country instead of one all-encompassing plan.
- Do an AB Split Test for your ads
Before diving in completely, do a test run of two ads to determine what text generates more clicks and conversions. This way, you’re not wasting time and money. Some search engines might let you do free testing or at a discounted rate.
- Match your ads with your website landing pages
For the sake of continuity, provide the same offers, use the same tone, and implement the same keywords for both.
- Keep things simple but don’t stray from your brand
The colors, language, and images people associate with brands create a powerful, universal message so it’s ideal that, while going for simplicity, you also always stay on-brand.
- Negative keywords are powerful and shouldn’t be ignored
You can use negative keywords when paying for search traffic in PPC advertising to make sure that your ad does not end up somewhere inappropriate. It’s best to remember that negative keywords filter so that your ad does not pop up when certain words are searched online.
- Remember to track your ad results
You’ll want to keep this in mind especially when you’re concerned about your return on investment (ROI). Monitoring and analyzing whether your ads on search engines or PPC campaigns allow you to justify whether to continue using these platforms or not.
Hire Experts To Set And Manage Your SEM Campaigns
In the highly competitive space that SEM has become, you would be best advised to enter into it with your eyes wide open on the benefits it can reap. That being said, experts in search engine marketing have also emerged to hold your hand and guide you while ensuring the best ROI on your brand’s behalf.
Differentiating between search engine optimization and search engine marketing is critical, and certain entities and agencies now devote entire teams to make sure that your budget is maximized on the right platforms, for specific audiences, and whose interests match what you have to offer.
Take your time in discussing your marketing goals, budget, and definition of a successful SEM campaign with the experts you’re thinking of hiring, and get ready for another way of reaching your audience.