In the context of a marketing strategy, you can often hear about SEM. What is it actually and how does it work? If you don’t know what this approach is, be sure to check out our article. Using SEM can help you achieve your business goals faster.
What is SEM?
Search Engine Marketing (internet marketing in search engines), known mainly under the acronym SEM, is one of the strategies of internet marketing. Its aim is to increase the visibility of the website in search results (SERP) with the help of ads in the search results and website positioning. Thanks to these activities, the website can be visible for a specific keyword – marketers usually choose the phase, which is entered before the target group of their choice into the search engine.
SEM, as a multi-channel strategy, covers marketing activities on both paid (Google ADS) and organic search results (SEO). Paid ads that are used for this purpose are called pay per click (PPC) ads, which means “pay per click”. They come in a variety of formats, such as text ads or visual product ads. Why is it worth using this type of advertising? The biggest advantage of PPC ads is that they allow you to immediately appear on the first page of the search, thanks to which you can more effectively achieve your business goals , e.g. increase website traffic, increase the level of conversion, increase the level of inquiries. Similar effects can be used thanks to the optimization of the website for SEO.Search engine optimization does not require any financial investment in advertising, but it is necessary to spend time and patience to achieve similar results. Sometimes they come after a year or two of intense activities. In turn, the combination of PPC and SEO ads allows you to achieve better results in both activities.
SEO and SEM – what’s the difference?
People who search the web for answers to what SEM is can often find confusing information. This is because the concepts of SEO and SEM are often juxtaposed in conversations about internet marketing. There is still a misconception that SEM means only paid activities and focuses only on PPC advertising, while SEO is its opposite and means organic ranking in search results. This is a misunderstanding of the term Search Engine Marketing. SEO is not the opposite of SEM, but part of it. Search engine internet marketing covers both organic and non-organic activities in order to achieve the top rankings of Google search results.
SEO and PPC advertising do not have to be mutually exclusive, so when you decide to campaign in Google Ads, you do not have to give up SEO and vice versa. On the contrary – these strategies complement each other perfectly and it is worth using them at the same time in your marketing strategy. A well-executed SEM campaign can improve your website optimization results by attracting quality traffic to it. This is because more traffic tells search engines such as Google that your site is a credible source and should be ranked higher in search results.
SEM campaign – how to prepare for it?
You already know what SEM is, now you need to know how to prepare for your first campaign. One of the first steps you need to take is to choose the keywords you want to display your ads on . Why is it so important? PPC ads can appear at the top of the search results, right above the organic results, which can attract a lot of people to your website. However, for this action to be effective, you need to be sure that you have selected keywords that are willingly entered by your target group in the search results. If you choose phrases that perfectly reflect your offer, but are not entered in Google – your work will not bring results.
How to find keywords for a SEM campaign?
If you want to find search phrases for your SEM campaign, you should use the phrase search tools. If you want free keyword search tools, you can use, for example, Google Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest. Among the paid SEO tools, we recommend Senuto or Ahrefs, for example.
Once you choose a tool that is convenient for you, you should also define the target audience you want to reach. The following stages of the consumer path can be distinguished:
– A user who is looking for a solution – searches the network for a solution to a problem, advice, hints, etc.
– The user who is aware of the solution – already knows what he needs, so he searches the web for specific products. Enters phrases describing selected products, services and brands in the search engine).
– A user who is looking for feedback – wants to check whether what he is interested in is worth buying. Before making a transaction, he checks opinions, reviews and comparisons.
– The user who decides to convert – has decided to buy, so he enters precise phrases with complements such as: price, cheap, store name, location.
Assuming you want to focus on the converting customer, you should use long-tail phrases in your campaign. They consist of 3-5 keywords, and although they have a lower search level than general phrases, they are definitely more effective at increasing your conversion rate score.
SEM campaign – how to run it well?
The very process of preparing a SEM campaign can be described in a few simple steps:
- Conducting a keyword research.
- Selection of keywords that are related to your industry and the chosen intention of the web user.
- Setting up a campaign in Google Ads or preparing an SEO campaign.
- Analysis of the effects and implementation of possible changes and improvements.
However, each of these stages should be based on a well-thought-out strategy. You already know how to choose the right keywords for a SEM campaign, but you should still be able to plan the entire strategy. Even if you know perfectly well what SEM is, but you don’t develop an action plan and you act spontaneously – you probably won’t achieve the expected results.
SEM campaign in Google Ads
Advertising campaigns in Google Ads are always based on a specific target group. However, you must remember that your competition may target exactly the same group of people as their target. What to do for your SEM campaign to bring results? Understanding how Google chooses which ads to show to a specific user can help. According to official guidelines, Google takes three factors into account:
– The maximum amount you can pay per ad click.
– Relevance of the advertisement and / or its usefulness to the user.
– Ad extensions in the form of additional information, for example, a telephone number, links to specific pages, etc.
Remember also how important it is to choose the right keywords. If the keywords you choose are better matched than your competitors, you will reach your target audience more effectively than they do – even if they declare that they choose a higher maximum rate per click. Why is this happening? In this way, you prove the relevance of your ad and understanding of the user’s needs, Google appreciates this.
In summary, when you create a SEM campaign in Google Ads, make sure that:
– You use keywords that reflect the user’s intentions,
– You analyze key phrases used by the competition,
– You control the costs of your campaign by checking the structure of the campaigns and ad groups.
SEM campaign in organic results
An effective SEO strategy will help you achieve your dream positions in the search engine results in the form of organic results. However, in order to plan a good action plan, it is worth conducting a detailed analysis of competitors’ activities and performing an SEO audit. The SEM campaign in organic results should be based on both off-site and on-site activities , first of all, you should focus on the following factors:
– Choosing keywords that reflect the recipient’s needs,
– Preparation of an intuitive website structure,
– Technical optimization of the website,
– Creating high-quality, SEO-optimized content,
– Expanding the profile of external and internal links.
If you are a company that operates only in a specific geographic area (for example, in one city or province) then you should focus on local SEO. Then, in addition to the traditional elements of website positioning, it is also worth taking care of creating (and correctly optimizing) the company’s website in Google My Business and obtaining opinions from customers that will be displayed in the search results to other recipients.
Effective practices in Search Engine Marketing
Search engine internet marketing is a great way to make your online activities more effective. However, if you are just getting ready for your first SEM campaign, it is worth getting acquainted with a few proven tips in this area that will definitely make your work easier and help you achieve better results.
Excluding inappropriate phrases from the campaign in the SEM strategy
One way to make your SEM campaign pay off is by focusing specifically on creating relevant ad groups. For this purpose, it is necessary not only to select keywords related to your industry, but also to exclude those phrases which, although theoretically related to your industry, do not reflect your offer . For example, if you run a hairdressing salon, but you specialize only in wedding hairstyles – exclude phrases such as “men’s hairdresser” from the keyword group. For this purpose, you can indicate phrases in the Keyword Planner that you do not want to include in your SEM campaign.
A focused list of keywords in your SEM strategy
In the SEM strategy , it is worth trying to narrow down the selected keywords to make sure that you reach customers who will bring you conversion . Both when choosing keywords for your Google Ads campaigns and SEO campaigns, try to choose specific, long-tail keywords. This way, you will reach the target group that is already determined to take specific actions.
Track the performance of your ads. Carefully monitor and analyze the impact of search engine advertising and pay-per-click ads to ensure an adequate return on your marketing investment.
Using the sense of urgency in the SEM strategy
One of the better ways to motivate your audience to act is to use your sense of urgency. You can place the phrases created in this way in the content of the PPC ad or in the meta title or meta description, if you decide to position the page. You can generate a sense of urgency by paying attention to the time limit of the offer, useful phrases can be “Today only”, “last days of promotion”, “5 hours of promotion left”, etc.
Use of the “Similar Audience” function in the SEM strategy
If you’re preparing ads in Google Ads, try using the “Similar Audiences” feature. It will allow you to target ads to users who have similar interests and behaviors as your current audience . This way, you can broaden your reach to include people who are likely to help you achieve your business goal. The purpose of this feature is to reach those most likely to convert, generate more RFPs, and increase traffic to your website.
Personalization of ads in the SEM strategy
Google Ads offers extensive possibilities when it comes to personalizing ads. In your panel, you can freely segment your audience from various angles, including, for example, you can target your ads to people using mobile phones, people who have already visited your website, but abandoned the basket, or people with specific interests. The better you understand your audience, the better you will be able to use the personalization possibilities of your ads and reach people who will convert you more confidently.
A / B tests in the SEM strategy
Searching for solutions that will bring you the best results should be based on A / B tests. They are probably one of the most popular ways to test different solutions. They consist in the fact that you prepare two versions of the advertisement, they are simultaneously available on the web and are displayed randomly to users. For testing, you should only change one ad element, such as the headline or description. By analyzing the effects of both versions of the ad, you will be able to understand what works better for your audience and what will encourage them to visit your website. Remember, however, that for A / B testing to be meaningful, you need a lot of traffic for both versions of the ad.Therefore, if your site already boasts many converting users, A / B testing will allow you to test new solutions and further improve your online activities.
What is SEM? Prepare an effective internet marketing campaign! Summary
Internet marketing in search engines is a good way to reach a selected target group and achieve business success. However, remember to plan your strategy well – understand the needs of your recipients and define what you have to offer them, and then translate it into a catchy message in your SEM campaign.