SEO alphabet
SEM

Search Engine Marketing explained

search engine marketing

The technique of using paid ads to get your website to appear on the first page of search engine results pages (SERP) is search engine marketing, or SEM. Often, your website won’t show up as users search, no matter how much time and money you invest into search engine optimization ( SEO) and keyword analysis. To make your mark, you can simply have too much competition, at least at first. SEM can be the key to achieving exposure faster than SEO alone and cinching sales.

SEO vs. SEM

search engine marketing
search engine optimization vs search engine marketing

People sometimes confuse SEO and SEM in the land of digital marketing. There are two somewhat different terms, but closely related and all under the umbrella of “search marketing.” SEO revolves around organically increasing clicks, while SEM relies on paid advertisements on the first pages of the SERP to view ads. Both are central to the marketing plan of a organization today.

SEO uses a set of rules and best practices (according to the ever-changing algorithms of Google) to help the website of a company organically make it to the first page of search results without having to pay for the role. SEM helps enterprises to skip steps and make it easier to the top, helping firms without the wait to produce good results. SEO is, in essence, unpaid while SEM is paid.

Basics of SEM

So, what does SEM mean? With paying search ads, a breakdown of all SEM entails begins. Paid search ads is just that: commercials that the business owner pays for, appearing when a customer searches for a certain keyword at the top of the first page of SERPs. The pay systems vary according to the form of paid advertisement in which a business wants to invest. When it comes to paid SEM advertising, there are a few key words you should know:

  • PPC (pay-per-click). PPC advertising is the most popular form of search engine marketing. With PPC, the marketer only pays for the ad when a user clicks on the link. All the other times when the searcher sees the page but doesn’t click are free to the advertiser. Search engine PPC advertising charges a small fee for each click, but the potential returns on investment (ROI) are much greater than the fee. For example, if you pay $3 for the click but the user purchases $100 in goods, you’ve made a considerable profit.
  • CPA (cost-per-acquisition). Your CPA is the total cost of your PPC campaign divided by the conversions you secured. Calculating your CPA will help you determine whether your paid SEM strategy is resulting in a profit or costing more than you’re making. CPA can help you understand the financial impact of your marketing campaign. You can determine an acceptable CPA by calculating the average order value (AOV) and customer lifetime value (CLV) of your business.
  • CPC (cost-per-click). CPC refers to the actual cost of each click in a PPC marketing campaign. It is an average of bids against your competitors over a certain amount of time. Your CPC will be equal to or less than your maximum keyword bid. Calculating CPC is the Competitor Ad Rank divided by your Quality Score, plus $.01. Understanding your CPC can help you know how much to bid. The average CPC across all industries is $2. Use a CPC calculator to see where you stand in your industry.
  • CPM (cost-per-thousand-impressions). CPM refers to how much 1,000 advertisement impressions on a webpage cost the marketer. For example, if the site charges $2 CPM, that means you’ll pay $2 for every 1,000 impressions of your ad. (The M is the Roman numeral for 1,000.) CPM is the most common price scheme for web ads. You can measure the ROI of your CPM campaign by analyzing your click-through rates, or how often users click your ad compared to the number of impressions.

According to your budget and promotional priorities, your search engine marketing approach will change. However, all types of paying search engine marketing depend on research on keywords. For your ads to appear as users search for certain terms, you must bid on those keywords. For example, you will need to win a bid on those keywords in order to appear on the SERP for “digital marketing firm.” You have to learn keyword analysis and bidding first in order to succeed with paid search ads.

How to perform Search Engine Marketing keyword research

You must first understand which keywords are right for your business to bid on before you can begin with Search Engine Marketing. Keyword research may seem overwhelming if you’re young, but thanks to the resources available, it’s relatively easy. Next, brainstorm the brand with keywords that make sense. Build a list of your brand-related words, generic words, generic terms-related terms, and terms of competitors. Put yourself in the shoes of your target client and think about what words he or she will use to come up with your brand.

First, to delve more deeply into keyword analysis, use a research tool like Google Keyword Planner. In order to find other similar keywords, enter the keywords on your list. For each word, you can also see the search volume, as well as how competitive the PPC bidding is for that word. The more competitiveness the term has, the more you would have to pay to win. Finding a keyword with high search volume but low competition is the perfect situation.

Which paid search platform is right for you?

Maximize the success of your search engine marketing campaign by using the right platform for your specific needs, or a combination of different platforms. The best-known is Google Ads, where you can create an account for free and start bidding right away. With Google Ads, you’ll only pay when someone clicks on or engages with your ad. You can start bidding at any budget! Two other SEM platform options are as follows:

  1. Bing Ads. Bing’s SEM solution shows ads on the Bing Network – currently catering to around six billion searches per month. There’s no minimum fee, you only pay for clicks, and you can test keywords and bids to maximize ROI. Note that Yahoo: Search Ads and Bing are on the same network.
  2. Social network PPC ad options. Social networks also offer SEM ad campaigns. Facebook Ads, for example, allow you to run advertisements on Facebook, Instagram, and other apps/sites in the Audience Network. Just set your budget, choose your ad format, and place a bid at auction. When users sign into your chosen social network, they’ll see your ad campaign.

Knowing the best outlet to place your paid ads depends on your goals, company, and budget. You might want to advertise through all outlets for maximum coverage and visibility, or pick and choose the best locations for your ads depending on your desired customer demographic or marketing goals.

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