SEM Guide: What is Search Marketing?
23 Oct 2018

SEM Guide: What is Search Marketing?

23 Oct 2018

Being visible online is important to every business, whether you sell business services or sweatpants.

To launch your brand to online success, you likely need some form of search marketing.

When people think about search engine marketing, often times they focus on optimization techniques known as SEO. But SEM is distinct from SEO and is an important part of any internet marketing plan.

Here’s the skinny on SEM.

The Language of Search Marketing

Search engine marketing, or SEM, is a practice where marketers essentially purchase authority within search engines through advertising, keywords, and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns.

It differs from SEO in that search engine optimization focuses on your organic ability to earn a ranking on a search engine.

A winning search marketing strategy has both SEO and SEM.

SEM vs SEO, Yo!

As mentioned above, SEM and SEO are different because one is a service you pay for, and the other is an accomplishment you earn. Both are important to your marketing strategy.

Here are some key terms and strategies in the SEM vs SEO world that will help you differentiate between the two.

Did Someone Say, “SEM Strategies?”

Below are several popular strategies for building an online reputation with SEM.

  • Paid Search/PPC: the process of buying keywords that will put you in front of your target market
  • Landing pages: purchasing succinct landing pages that offer a great user experience (UX) for customers
  • Local SEM: purchasing 360-degree videos and ads on Google maps, things that will help you appear in more local searches

Well, What About SEO?

Here are the most common terms and strategies used in the SEO world today.

  • Keywords: selecting and using the keywords you want to rank for in your content
  • Organic rankings: use on-site SEO strategies like content marketing and seamless navigation to boost your page organically to top rankings
  • Local SEO: using free and organic strategies to get on local ranking sites, like adding your business to Google maps
  • Site indexing strategies: having a well-functioning site that creates a great UX is a good way to ensure it is indexed by Google
  • Link-building: link-building is an organic SEO strategy by which links from other sites drive traffic to your site and increase its authority with Google

As evidenced above, there are a number of similarities between SEM and SEO strategies. The differences, however, are distinct enough that both should play into a search marketing strategy.

SEM: Some Translation Required

So, that’s SEM in a nutshell. But what does that mean for you? How do these terms translate into something useable for your business?

He Gets an Avatar! She Gets an Avatar! Everybody Gets an Avatar!

At the foundation of any marketing campaign is the customer, and SEM is no different.

To start your SEM journey, you need to first understand who is buying your products and services and create a customer avatar.

This can be done from scratch or from a template.

If you haven’t taken inventory of who is buying a product or service in a long time, a good way to do that is to utilize free tools within the Facebook Business platform.

Start with an existing list of customers and emails. Put that into a new campaign in Facebook’s ad manager, and watch Facebook develop a profile of demographics from your list.

If you don’t have a list, run a Facebook ad campaign and use the analytics built-in to Facebook to determine who is likely to interact with your campaign.

Or pick a look-a-like audience. For instance, our sweatpants manufacturer might choose “people who like Fabletics.”

Once you’ve used Facebook to capture an audience you can pull the analytics to begin filling in your target customer avatar.

Cough Up the Dough

Once you know who’s most interested in your products and services, the rest becomes much easier.

The key to a good paid search campaign is selecting the right keywords to purchase. In order to do that, you need to do keyword research that is heavily based on what you’ve learned about your customer.

For one, you can use social platforms like Twitter to see what your target audience is talking about online. That should give you an idea of what they are interested in.

Then you can jot down a list of hashtags and work backward from there, using any number of free resources to drill down the best keywords from the hashtags.

You can also turn to other blogs and see what they are writing about. What keywords are your competitors using? If your direct competition wants to own a keyword, then consider if you should compete on that keyword too.

After you’ve narrowed down your list of most valuable keywords, you can start making purchases based on search volume and competitiveness.

When you select the keywords you want to focus on in your Google AdWords or Bing account, your ad will appear on search results for those keywords.

It will look like organic search results, only there will be a notation showing that it is an ad. And when people click through you will be charged, hence why this is a form of PPC.

Your Best PPC Campaign

When it comes to SEM, PPC is a big purchase category. However, in most industries, the click-thru-rate (CTR) is less than 1%.

It’s no surprise people prefer being in the top of organic search results and that’s why it’s so important to utilize both principles of SEM and SEO in tandem.

They said, when structuring a PPC campaign, make the following considerations:

  • Ad Campaigns: This is the largest group of like-ads, perhaps you want to run a campaign of seasonal sweatpants and fall patterned leggings because these categories have similarities they would fall under one campaign
  • Ad Groups: The ad groups are a division which campaigns can be broken down into, perhaps one ad group focuses on seasonal sweatpants and the other group is for fall coloured leggings
  • Keywords: For each ad group, you should have a subset of keywords that make up the campaign

By breaking down your campaign into Ad Campaigns > Ad Groups > Keywords, you can target the right market segment and make the most of your ads.

Holla at Your Search Marketing!

When it comes to search marketing, you have to have both SEO and SEM. But the difference between a successful campaign and one that falls flat is in the details.

Pay attention to what your customers are looking for, and appeal to that. Whether you are optimizing or purchasing pay-per-click understanding your customer base is key.

For more information like this for your Calgary, Alberta business, click here.

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