Thinking Of Starting An SEM Campaign? Read This First

October 1, 2015

So you want more sweet web traffic? Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a valuable tool to build a digital footprint. If you’re thinking about starting a SEM campaign here are some things you need to consider.

What is SEM?

Hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said “you miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take”. In the world of marketing, you can’t convert a lead you never had. If you’re not on the front page of Google, you’re not being found. SEM is a mix of paid and organic tactics to have your brand seen by more people in Google search results.

How does it work?

In the simplest possible terms:

  • A potential customer searches for something on Google
  • The search engine displays both organic and paid results for the search terms
  • Organic listings are decided by a series of formula aimed to show users the most meaningful search result
  • Paid search ads are decided by the keywords you are targeting
  • Search terms are ‘sold’ in an automated silent auction.
  • Users click your ad
  • Your account is charged
  • The searcher is sent to a landing page of your choice
  • If you’re landing page is what they are looking for they’ll stay, look around and hopefully you’ll get the result you want.

Sounds good, now how do I get them clicks?

Before you jump straight into a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign there are a number of things you need to have considered and planned starting with.

What are your goals?

“Web traffic” shouldn’t be a goal in itself, once you’ve got people on your website what do you want them to do? Join a mailing list? Make a purchase? Call you? Visit your store? Each of these goals are valuable and you need to ensure that your campaign reflects this.

What are keywords?

They’re the search terms that Google is picking up. They’re the milkshakes that bring all the boys to the yard. Put simply they’re the words people are searching for and you’re trying to be seen for.

What keywords should I target?

This requires a little bit of research. First of all you should use Google’s keyword planner to see what the common search terms are and what the average cost is for those terms.

The key is to be specific. For example, if you sell guitars, the keywords ‘music equipment’ might have a high search frequency, but your campaign won’t be relevant to people using that search term to buy a classical piano, drum kit or a humble triangle. Use more specific keywords to target the exact audience you’re looking for.

But wait, isn’t it better to just go for the most searched term?

In most cases no it’s not, long-tail keywords work better for SEM because your ads will be far more targeted, cost less and have a higher rate of conversion. Your quality score will go up and your cost per click will go down.

To reach more people it’s best to create ad groups based on similar keywords with specific differences. This allows you to target the different facets of selling music equipment rather than going for the broad terms. For example you could create separate ads for acoustic guitars, eclectic guitars and vintage guitars

Use negative keywords

To be truly target and get the best possible ROI it’s not just about the best keywords, it’s also about using negative keywords. Negative keywords are used to exclude words that aren’t relevant to your campaign. Sticking with the guitar example, you might want to exclude words like “lessons”, “sheet music” “cases” and “solo”.

Make sure your landing pages are relevant and ready to convert

If marketing were online dating then SEM is your profile picture and landing pages are your ability to hold a conversation. Once you’ve got a click, you’ve got their attention; make sure you’re ready to make the most of it.  Ensure your landing pages:

  • Are relevant and specific to the keywords your chasing
  • Are mobile optimized
  • Have easy to follow navigation
  • Have a clear call-to-action

Monitor results like they owe you money

Once your campaign is live, make sure you’re checking in to gauge the success of your campaigns. Most PPC efforts will require changes to poor performing ads. This is integral to your campaign, whether you are managing it yourself or employing a sweet creative agency!

Remember, SEM should be part of a rich, integrated digital strategy. Compliment your SEM with SEO to reach users who don’t click on paid results, have a strong social media presence to connect with people who do their research on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn and create an email database to encourage repeat purchases and build ongoing relationships.