Search engine marketing (SEM) uses paid search ads to get more web traffic through desktop or mobile web search. (The term which once referred to both the paid ads and SEO, but has since shifted to focus only on the paid options.)
SEM isn’t a substitute for other promotional activities, especially considering people ignore search ads most of the time. However, a competitive cost per acquisition makes paid search a valuable way to attract new customers, boost search engine presence, and support other marketing campaigns.
While advertising typically lets you pay for placement—you decide where people see it—SEM is a more fluid process. It generally uses pay-per-click (PPC)—also called cost-per-click (CPC)—which is a process that uses an auction and ranking system to determine which ads appear in which order.
With PPC advertising, ad placement is determined by two things: the maximum an advertiser bids for search queries, and their Quality Score (i.e., the relevance of the ad, keywords, and landing page content).
Search engines aim to deliver exactly what a searcher is looking for. Creating such a well-targeted SEM campaign depends on:
- Understanding the specific target audience
- Setting specific goals for the campaign
- Choosing the right keywords to target
- Organizing those keywords into focused campaigns and ad groups
- Writing compelling advertisements
- Driving traffic to a landing page that delivers the right information and is optimized to convert
Managing an SEM campaign requires constant monitoring, testing, tweaking, optimization, and learning. The process is similar whether you choose to advertise with Google or Bing—which also drives search advertising for Yahoo. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
As it applies to online marketing, your keywords are the words or phrases people use when they search for information that’s related to your brand, product, service, or industry.
Keyword research identifies the terms that are currently the most relevant to your business and the most profitable for your marketing campaigns. They have a direct impact on promotional campaigns, including:
- Search engine marketing (SEM): keywords guide where you spend your search advertising budget.
- Search engine optimization (SEO): keywords influence your on-page optimization, from URLs, titles, and tags to the content you publish.
- Content marketing: keywords help shape the content and resources you create, from directing your social media efforts to creating eBooks and blog content.
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