Search engine marketing is more than just bidding on keywords or calculating the cost of every click on your ads. It is surely not some magic you turn to when you want to give your business a major boost overnight.
While some online marketers achieve immediate success through this type of marketing, SEM could actually make or break your business. If you don’t know how to handle it properly, you could lose lots and lots of money from it.
What is search engine marketing?
Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of online marketing that aims to promote websites, increase their visibility, and generate traffic from search engines and content partners through the combination of search engine optimisation, contextual advertising, paid placement, and paid inclusions.
While both online marketing strategies aim to expose websites on search engines results pages (SERP) SEM differs from search engine optimisation (SEO) because it is paid. SEO ranks websites on search engines organically, requiring time and effort to do so. On the other hand, SEM gives websites instant visibility on search engines and other placements on the web, provided that you pay for the ad space where the link to your website is placed, or at least the actions it generates, such as impressions, clicks, or particular actions.
Setting up your SEM campaigns
Many search engines, including Google and Yahoo, allow webmasters to place advertisements about their website on particular sponsored spaces on the search engine results page – usually located at the topmost position or right side, beside the organic listings. This provides better visibility to web users or browsers of search results, since these placements are paid.
If you have enough budget, setting up an SEM campaign for your website or business should not scare you. Here is how you can set up your SEM campaigns.
- To start off, set up an account with the search engine’s paid advertisement platform. Often, you would need an active email address, a website to advertise, and a payment method to be used.
- Create and set up your first campaign. This is where you would identify whether your ads are to be placed on search engines or content partners (website placements). You would have to decide about your daily budget here, as well, and the geo-targeting of location of your ads, if necessary.
- Under your first campaign, identify and create your ad groups. If you want to categorise your ads according to specific specifications, this is where you would do it. Sample ad groups for a fashion SEM campaign include Men’s Apparel, Women’s Apparel, Shoes, Bags, Accessories, and the likes.
- Under each ad group, list down the keywords that you want to bid on. These are the keywords that when web users type in on the search field of search engines will trigger the display of your paid ads.
- Make an appropriate bid for each keyword. Generally, the higher the bid, the higher its position on the sponsored ads list. However, other than the bid, the position of the ads also depends on the quality of your ads and relevance of your landing page.
- It’s time to create your advertisement or ad creative! Include title, description, and URL for textual ads or upload a photo for image ads.
That’s it! As soon as you’ve completed all these steps, you can now view and see your ads on the placement that you chose – either within the search network or the content network.
Various types of paid online ads
As mentioned earlier, with SEM, you don’t technically pay for the ad space that you’re getting. Instead, you pay for the events generated by your ads being displayed. The three common online ad methods in terms of payment are CPC, CPM, and CPA.
- CPC or cost-per-click method is where advertisers pay for every click their ads get from web users. Clicks would mean visit to the website or page that the web owner advertises.
- CPM or cost-per-thousand impressions method is where advertisers would only pay every time their ads get displayed a thousand times, whether it has been clicked on or not. The M on CPM stands for one thousand in the Roman number system.
- CPA or cost-per-action method is where advertisers pay when an action they set (such as sign up or download) has been accomplished by a web user who came across their ads.
It is always up to you which online ad method shall you use for your online marketing campaigns. Each method has its own benefits and specialisation that you may want to take advantage of.