Search engine marketing (SEM)is a tactic brands use to improve their company’s presence on search engine results pages (SERPs) by paying the search engines for higher rankings or visibility.The reality is a company will invest in either optimizing their content to rank higher organically (SEO) or they will pay the search engines to rank higher (SEM/PPC) Like SEO, SEM involves the strategic usage of keywords. However, while SEO and SEM are similar, they are far from the same: SEO involves developing and cultivating rich content and backlinks in hopes the search engine will rank their content higher for free also known as organic web traffic, whereas SEM involves promoting a site by bidding on certain keywords which are linked to text ads or display ads. These ads are then linked to your company’s landing pages with more information about your product or service related to that keyword.
SEM is also referred to as Pay Per Click or (PPC) You pay the search engines each time a person clicks on your ad. The payment happens via a bidding process. The more money you are willing to invest in a keyword, the more likely you are to rank higher. However, your competitors can also bid for those very same keywords driving up the cost almost like a bidding war. The good news is you have complete control over how much you are willing to spend on a keyword as well as how much you are willing to spend on a daily or monthly basis. We should also point out that paying more than your competition for a particular keyword doesn’t necessarily mean you will rank higher than your competitor. In addition to your bid on a keyword, search engines also look at your conversion rates and whether your ad is reflected accurately or is relevant to the landing page you are driving traffic to. The higher the conversion rate or assumed relevancy the higher your ad will rank regardless of the amount you bid.
SEM is commonly ranked as one of the most effective marketing tactics for both B2B and B2C companies. Why? Most searches today don’t mention a specific business. Rather, they include keywords that deal more with context and intent.Brands that capitalize on these searches are those that have employed SEM tactics like conducting targeted keyword research and participating in PPC placements via platforms such as Google AdWords or AdSense.In short, SEM is a great way to reach people actively searching for your product or service immediately while SEO tactics can take months with no guarantees you will ever rank well.
Another important SEM tactic is creating targeted landing pages for each product or service your company offers. Instead of using your home page as the primary landing page for ads and campaigns, well-designed landing pages that include clear calls to action (CTAs), render correctly across a variety of devices (Responsive design), use relevant graphics and content for a targeted audience —are more apt to achieveSEM success. As mentioned, conversion rates play a big role in how much you pay for an ad and how well the search engines will rank your ads.
SEM strategies have several benefits. For example, PPC platforms often include a variety of metrics companies can use to track performance and determine the ROI of their SEM investments. In addition, SEM advertisements can be highly targeted and require little to no lead-time to set up so you can see nearly immediate results. Lastly, you can stop your SEM campaigns at any time giving you more control on your overall budget.
IMA has assembled a list of search engine marketing tools on Martec Showcase designed to help you be more effective with your SEM campaigns.
You can also reach out to the IMA thought leader about your specific challenges or needs.