Beginners Guide To SEM: Answering The What, Why, and How

Marketing Strategy
Shaikh Nahian
6 mins read

Going online to research and shop for products has become increasingly popular among consumers these days- about 81% of retail shoppers start their journey with online research. And among a million others, you want the customers' eyes to land on your website first when they go online and search. To make that happen, SEM or Search Engine Marketing is the most effective strategy for you.

What is SEM?

Search engine marketing (SEM) is an online marketing strategy targeted towards getting your or your client's website to the top of SERPs(Search Engine Result Pages). Now, there are two ways you can rank higher among other search results- organic search activities and paid search advertising.

Organic search activities focus on strategies that make your website get a better ranking through the search engine's algorithmic assessment. Search engines use complicated algorithms to assess the relevance(location, content quality, and how well it responds to specific search queries) and the authority of websites(links from other pages).

Whereas in Paid search advertising, sponsored ads appear at the top of or to the side of SERPs to gain more visibility and prominence than the organic search results.

While the term SEM once meant both organic search activities like search engine optimization (SEO) and paid, it now refers exclusively to paid search advertising. We'll be using SEM to mean only Paid search activities or PPC(Pay-Per-Click) in this article to avoid confusion with SEO.

Why Utilize SEM?

Employing organic strategies is highly necessary to attract traffic in the long run. But relying only on organic strategies-you won't survive today's intense competition. Simply put, you are gonna have to put your money in play.

Today, having a well-planned paid search advertising strategy is standard to rank high in the searches relevant to your business. Let's go over the values SEM adds to your business, and see if the expense is justified-

See faster increase in quality traffic generation

Generating traffic organically is a tedious job, and you will only see results in the long term. Whereas Search engine marketing fastens it up by a lot, and users start coming in from the beginning. And rest assured, these users will be interested in what you're selling since they have searched for it themselves.

Improve Conversions

The ultimate goal of SEM is to improve business results, get more visitors to become buyers. You can use Google Ads and other SEM tools to create optimized landing pages that will put visitors on the path to conversion.

Make the most of what you spend

One of the things that make SEM is that companies of all sizes can opt for it since the minimum investment needed is pretty affordable. And for growing brands, gradually increasing investments and improving and building more complex campaigns will help keep your momentum. Also, you only need to pay when you see results (Pay-Per-Click or PPC), so rest assured your budget will be spent effectively.

Measure results to quantify progress

SEM solutions such as Google Ads, Bing Ads come with features that present you with performance metrics on campaigns so you're always informed. This makes it is very easy to correct your plan of action if needed and get better results.

How Does SEM Work?

Let us first look at it from a customer's point of view. In order to look up a product or service online, we head over to a search engine and type in your search terms or queries(known as keywords).

On the search results page, we see ads from different companies. Keywords from these ads match the keywords in your search.

These ads are placed in prominent locations on the page– alongside the other search results that matched your keywords. The paid listings are very much relevant to your search keywords, so you will likely end up clicking on them.

Now let's look at it as a marketer. How do my paid ads end up in top locations in SERPs?

Search engine marketing networks are self-serve operations. After you have selected a network, setting your campaign up can be done within a short period of time.

For your campaign to succeed, you need to come up with an effective SEM strategy. You need to-

1. Conduct thorough keyword research

2. Select some keywords that are related to your website or your product.

3. Open Google Ads, or Bing Ads, or both and set up campaigns.

4. Select the keywords that are most relevant. Refine your keywords to be laser-focused.

5. Organize keywords and form ad groups.

6. Make a text-based ad to display in the SERPs. Text ads are the standards ads we see in SERPs, although nowadays we have other options, like shopping ads. To make a text ad, you put a headline, text for the body of the ad containing a short description, a call-for-action, and a visible URL.

7. Choose a geographic location for the ad where you want it to be shown.

8. Carefully select a bidding strategy and pay for each click your URL gets.

Don't forget to keep track of how your ads are doing and the traffic they bring. Keep optimizing based on the performance metrics provided by the SEM solution you are using (Google Ads, Bing Ads, etc.)

Given that you follow these steps properly, your campaign will start bringing in high-quality traffic in no time.

Search engine marketing or SEM is one of the most effective ways for fast business growth with increased traffic and conversions. Hopefully, this article helps get you started in your SEM journey. Or you can let Markopolo, your marketing automation solution, save you the trouble and automate not only SEM but your entire marketing operation.

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