Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of online marketing that is a combination of paid search marketing and search engine optimization (SEO), marketing directly to search engine users. Paid search marketing involves buying traffic with paid search listings and ad campaigns, while SEO involves optimizing your website and content strategy to earn the trust of search engines which will in turn rank your page higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

The goal of search engine marketing as a whole is to increase your search engine visibility to users and prospective customers. An increase in visibility should garner more visits to your website and a boost in conversion rates if your website is designed for an optimal user experience. Today, search is among the primary forms of lead generation, which means that businesses need to maintain a competitive presence in search results if they want to find success in any industry. If you fail to perform in search marketing, it’s likely that your online business will begin to falter and fall behind the competition.

Google currently processes more than 40,000 search queries every single second, which means that there are over 3.5 billion searches every day and 1.2 trillion searches each year across the world. Your business simply can’t afford to ignore the fact that search marketing is an incredibly valuable (and profitable) form of marketing in the digital era. While SEM is mainly comprised of paid search advertising, it’s oftentimes complemented by SEO efforts in order to maintain a complete SEM strategy. When you utilize both paid search marketing and SEO, you greatly increase your chances of success over your search competitors.

Google Ads vs Organic Search Results shown in a graphic

SEM & Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising

Among the most common and effective forms of search engine marketing is pay per click advertising. This form of marketing has grown in popularity with each passing year and has become the primary form of online advertising for many businesses. There are an array of benefits associated with pay-per-click marketing, the primary of which is the fact that you only pay when your ad is clicked, which often means that only interested parties will be clicking on your ad and your marketing budget will be well spent.

A primary benefit of PPC is that your results are instant — from the second you begin your campaign. However, it’s essential that you optimize your conversion and lead capture strategy if you want to effectively generate value out of your advertising campaigns. If your website is poorly designed or the ad copy that you use in your campaign isn’t well thought out, the benefits of PPC marketing may be mitigated as your funds will be depleted on poorly performing campaigns.

Two of the most popular platforms for paid advertising are those of Google Adwords and Facebook Business Ads, both of which provide you with the tools necessary to create and manage a paid advertising marketing campaign. There are also a variety of additional social and search platforms that offer their own version of paid advertising. Since each of these platforms offers its own distinct benefits, you should take the time to research your options before making a decision on which platform will be most fruitful for your business.

Google Adwords is one of those most popular PPC advertising tools on the web

When it comes to PPC advertising, you will be required to bid for the keywords you wish your advertisement to be displayed for. It’s important to understand that the bid price varies based on how competitive the keyword is. For instance, “Homes for Sale” is going to be a highly competitive keyword that will have an equally high bid price if you are aiming to bid for it — on the flip side, a long-tail keyword such as “Palisades Los Angeles Homes for Sale” will typically be a much less competitive keyword as you are targeting a smaller customer segment, therefore you will be paying a lower bid price while also targeting users with more buyer-intent. The good news is that funds are only deducted from your marketing budget whenever a user clicks on your ad, which ensures that you only spend a sizable portion of your marketing budget if the ad is successful.

As these platforms are evolving, it also becomes increasingly difficult for users to manipulate the platform and waste your budget on unwanted clicks. For instance, Google records unique visitors that click on your ad and will only deduct fees when the clicks are validated or your conversion goals are met, which helps to minimize the potential risk of losing your marketing budget on ineffective PPC ads. These platforms also offer in-depth and comprehensive analytics, which will provide you with the information that you need to optimize your search marketing campaign and ensure that your dollars are well spent. Understanding customer behavior in relation to the ads that you’ve put out in your latest marketing campaign will help you create more effective ads and remove any aspects of your marketing campaign that aren’t working for your business.

SEO board game tiles

Search Engine Marketing & SEO

While PPC can and will likely be highly beneficial at bolstering your customer conversion rates and increasing brand visibility, PPC is oftentimes complemented by an effective SEO strategy. Even if your PPC ads have been very successful, there’s no reason that you should be fully satisfied if you have yet to explore search engine optimization. By using SEO, you’ll further increase your chances of bringing in new visitors to your site through evergreen content, providing results for years to come.

It’s also important to understand that the effectiveness of PPC ads is typically short lived in nature. Once the funds of your current PPC campaign run out, traffic will immediately stop as the campaign ends — SEO results maintain their effectiveness as long as your content stays relevant for users and search engines continue to rank your content, regardless of a marketing budget.

Google Analytics Dashboard

SEO is a valuable tool when taking long-term benefits into account since the goal of this tool is to generate organic traffic over a long period of time through search engines like Google and Bing. The website optimization that you perform now can benefit your business for days, weeks, and months to come, which is something that isn’t seen with a standard PPC campaign. While you will certainly need to update your SEO efforts on a consistent basis, these updates usually pale in comparison to the initial work that’s required to implement SEO. Complete search engine optimization is an extensive process that involves optimizing the content and code of your website while also optimizing your content strategy in order to increase search engine visibility and outrank your competitors.

To understand how valuable SEO can be for your business, you will need to first know more about how SEO works. When a user types in a certain keyword or phrase into a search engine, they will immediately be taken to pages of results. While there are times when these users may scroll down and look at some of the lower sites on the page, the vast majority of users will only care to look at the first three results that show up after they enter their query.

The key towards being successful with search engine optimization is to identify popular keywords and phrases pertaining to your business or service and then optimize your website with these keywords and phrases in mind. If you move towards the top of search engine results for a popular keyword, it’s likely that you’ll bring in a substantial amount of new visitors to your website who may become customers.

You should also know that content is king when it comes to the page ranking that you receive by Google. The Google ranking for a page on your website will improve based on a variety of factors.

If you want to rank on search engines, your website content and user experience will need to be fantastic in quality and provide value to your users. If the site content is relevant to the needs and interests of the customers, Google will invariably rank your page higher. It’s not enough for the content on your website to be well written or properly formatted — it’s also essential that this content is exactly what your target audience is looking for when they enter your website from a search engine.

Keep in mind that Google has a complex algorithm that’s always changing. While the initial aspects of your search engine optimization are the most important towards getting your foot in the door when it comes to this approach, you must also make sure that you maintain a consistent SEO effort in order to stay competitive with websites and companies that are similar to yours. Being at the top of search results today doesn’t mean that you will be tomorrow.

SEO can help your business grow

How Does This Help Your Business and Why Do You Need a SEM strategy?

If you want more information about how this can help your business and why you need such a strategy, the market as a whole can provide you with these answers. As shoppers preferring online shopping to the more traditional brick and mortar stores, more consumers are looking to search engines for all of their needs. The increase in popularity of online shopping when compared to brick and mortar shopping is a trend that doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. When taking a look at the younger generations, nearly 67 percent of all millennials have a preference for shopping online.

If you’re not maintaining a strong and effective SEM effort for your website, you may be falling behind your competitors and losing business that may never return, which is particularly true if you’re operating in a crowded industry.

If you’ve primarily managed a brick and mortar shop in the past, you likely understand how it’s important to optimize the layout and sales strategy of this store. A general layout for the holidays won’t be as effective once the holidays are over. When it comes to your online store, it’s important to understand that the needs of your core audience will invariably change over time, which is something that your marketing will need to take into account.

You will need to optimize the layout of your website, the delivery of your content, and your lead capture efforts if you want to effectively convert visitors into loyal customers. Even the most successful companies make regular updates to the look and feel of their website. What is new and exciting can quickly become old and stale. Being able to adapt quickly can pay dividends in the long run!

If you’re looking to begin your SEM efforts or if you simply have questions about the process, feel free to contact us!

Author
Bryan Miller

Bryan Miller is an entrepreneur and web enthusiast specializing in web design, development and digital marketing. He is a recent graduate of the MBA program at the University of California, Irvine. Feel free to send Bryan a message here.

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