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SEM Guide to a Successful PPC Strategy 2018

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is an ever-changing element due to the frequent modifications that Google applies to its algorithm. SEO is worth all the effort once you have done it right. SEO can bring a good amount of visibility to your content, but sometimes it takes time before you can see the results.   If you are getting tired of waiting for your SEO efforts to manifest the results, then you may want to consider Search Engine Marketing (SEM).   Running a company and building your brand requires tons of time, effort and money. You would have to create an engaging website with great content that will establish your credibility and reputation online. It is frustrating when you have invested so much yet you are not even ranking well on the search results. If you can relate to this stressing matter, then this SEM Guide for 2018 is for you. A great deal of technical knowledge and a good amount of in-depth keyword research is required for you to be able to eventually climb through the search engine results pages. SEO is definitely still the way to the top, but Search Engine Marketing will help you skip a few steps and save you a lot of time.   This SEM guide for 2018 will help you have a deeper understanding of what Search Engine Marketing is and how it is different from SEO. This guide will also help you get started on your SEM journey.

What is Search Engine Marketing?

SEM or Search Engine Marketing is the process of gaining website traffic and attention by paying for ads on search engines. The term Search Engine Marketing was previously used as an umbrella term involving Search Engine Optimisation and any paid search activities.   As the industry evolved, the meaning of SEM also changed. It is now used to refer to only the paid search.   Some digital marketers generally use Search Engine Marketing or Paid Search to refer to a paid listing, while the term Search Marketing is used to refer to both Search Engine Optimisation and SEM.   There are some other terms that marketers use to refer to SEM activities:
  • Paid search ads
  • Paid search advertising
  • PPC (pay-per-click) – These are advertisements in which you are only charged for every user that clicks on your paid ad.
  • Another PPC (pay-per-call) – There are some advertisements, specifically the ones that served to mobile search users, that may be charged by the number of clicks that resulted in a direct call from a smartphone.
  • CPC (cost-per-click)
  • CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions)- The payment mode of most search ads are based on the number of clicks (CPC or PPC), but some advertising options may also be sold on a CPM basis.

An Introduction of Search Engine Marketing for Newbies

The most popular paid search platform used by search marketers is Google Adwords since Google is the most used search engine in the world, this is followed by Bing Ads which serves a significant portion of advertisement on Yahoo. Apart from that, there are a number of PPC platforms that may not be one of the big leagues but are well used on major social networks as part of some brand’s PPC strategies. Google Adwords, Bing Ads and Yahoo Search Ads are platforms that do not only cover general paid search trends, they also offer helpful tips and advice on how to get started with planning your PPC strategies for your ads. Each one of these platforms offers its own SEM guides for getting started with paid ads. They also have their own helpful tutorials that are worth the read if you want to get ahead. If you are a beginner, another great resource is Google’s Insider’s Guide To AdWords. This guide was last updated ten years ago, but you can still get the basics and principles out of this document. If you are just starting out, this guide may still offer a useful introduction, but of course, keep in mind that there has been a lot of changes in the Google AdWords UI since 2008.

Search Engine Marketing vs SEO

  What is the difference between SEO and SEM? As mentioned earlier, SEM was the term used to refer to Search Engine Optimisation and paid advertising, but now, both have become complex to the point that they are now two separate (yet closely related) entities in the industry.   Search Engine Optimisation focuses on improving your website in a way that increases your organic search engine rankings. SEO is all about using the right keywords in the right places and at the right time. SEO also means doing a bit of link building here and there. The process of establishing site authority and using metadata that is crawlable by Google is called link building.   SEO is all about working hard and being patient while with search engine marketing, on the other hand, you pay to play on the Search Engine Result Pages. This means that you have to pay to show your ads to users who are actively searching for the keywords you are targeting.   This also means that if you are willing to invest some money, you do not need a high site authority in order to be able to show up on the first page of Google.  

Does a Website Need to have Both SEM and SEO?

  Having both Search Engine Marketing and SEO is not really a requirement, but if you want to get more leads and sales, in the long run, you may want to consider utilising the combined forces of these two. Optimising your website according to the SEO best practices is always a good idea. You would want to lay out a firm and solid foundation if you want to go up the SERPS organically. In addition to that, you do not have to pay for SEO clicks, so there is no downside in mastering SEO strategies that can get you free views from your target audience. Using Search Engine Marketing can make a significant boost in the speed which you build your brand and your client base. SEM will put your brand right in front of your target audiences who are actively searching for products, services, and brands just like yours. You would want to appear at the very top of the search result page, or someone else will get the sale.

Search Engine Marketing Platforms

SEM platforms were mentioned earlier, and as stated above, most search engines have their own Search Engine Marketing platform. Since Google is the top search engine at the moment, the most well-known and most effective platform to use is Google Adwords. You can also use Bing Ads and Yahoo Search Ads.   Keep in mind that while all SEM platforms use a pay-per-click advertising model, this does not necessarily mean that all PPC is SEM.   Some examples of PPC platforms that are not categorised as Search Engine Marketing are Facebook Ads and other social media platforms. This is because social media sites show your product and/or services to people who happen to be just browsing through their feeds instead of showing your ads to people who are searching for similar content like search ads do.  

Do You Still Need Keywords for SEM?

  Keywords are vital for Search Engine Marketing as they are important to Search Engine Optimisation. When you are running an SEM campaign, you have to choose keywords that determine which ads will show up on which searches.   The key to a successful search engine marketing campaign is an in-depth keyword research. You would want to make sure that you are running your campaigns with the exact right keywords, or you will risk missing your target audience.   For instance, imagine that you are running a laptop repair business and one of the services you offer is laptop restoration after severe liquid damage. You want to advertise this service. For example, the official term for your service is “laptop liquid damage repair” but your target audience searches the term “liquid damage restoration” or “liquid damage to laptop”. If you are not optimising for these keywords, then you are already missing out on a lot of traffic and potential customers.  

How to Choose your Keywords for Search Engine Marketing?

  Your keywords can make or break your Search Engine Marketing campaign strategy. This is why choosing the right keywords is very important in this process. Extensive research is needed to be able to come up with the keywords that have high volume and low competition. This will increase the likelihood that your ad will rank well and bring your cost-per-click (CPC) down.   Lucky for you, you no longer have to blindly go through the trial and error phase then wait for the results before you can figure out which keywords have adequate volume and an acceptable CPC.   There are many keyword research tools you can use to do SEM keyword research. Aside from giving you insight into the search volume and competition level of keywords, most keyword research tools will also give you detailed information about the average or current estimated CPC for particular keywords are.   This information is particularly important for businesses with a smaller budget for ads and this feature allows you to predict whether certain keywords will be truly beneficial to your ad campaigns or if they’ll cost too much.  

The Search Engine Marketing Ad Auction

  One of the most common misconceptions about search engine marketing is that you need to have a big budget for advertisement to be able to be on top. A larger amount of advertising budget can certainly make an advantageous difference for you, especially when you are targeting highly competitive keywords, but money is far from a requirement for success with search engine marketing.   No matter how big or small your budget is for advertising, your ad will go through a process known as the ad auction before showing up beside the search results.  

How the Ad Auction Works

  Whenever someone enters a search query into Google, an ad auction takes place. For an advertiser to be entered into the ad auction, they would need to identify keywords they want to bid on, and state how much they are willing to pay for each click to have their ads appear beside the results relating to those keywords. If Google determines that the keywords you have bid on are contained within a user’s search query, your ads are entered into the ad auction.  

How Do Ads Win the Ad Auction

  Not all the ads will appear on every single search. Since the ad auction takes different factors into account when determining the placement of ads on the Search Engine Result Page. Keep in mind that not every keyword has sufficient commercial intent to justify displaying ads next to results.   Nevertheless, the two main factors that Google evaluates as part of the ad auction process are your maximum bid and the Quality Score of your ads.   The maximum bid is the maximum amount you have specified that you are willing to spend for each user click. Quality Score is a metric that is based on the overall quality of your advertisement. Google calculates these metrics during the ad auction to determine the placement of advertisements. The result of this calculation is known as ad rank.   For you to be able to have a successful PPC Strategy, you would need to do well on the Ad Auction. Whether it is SEO or SEM, your keywords play an important part in making your marketing plan towards generating good traffic and engagement.

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