Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – A Quick Guide An A-to-Z Guide to SEM Marketing

Search engine marketing, or SEM marketing for short, is an easy and effective way to take your brand’s reach on search engines to the next level. Organic traffic – the kind where users naturally find your website – is very powerful, of course. However, it takes time to establish your presence on the internet. These days, it’s all but impossible to compete on search engine results pages without SEM marketing.

With 99.68% of Indian mobile users making use of Google on their mobile phones to search the internet, being at the top of the page can mean the difference between a steady stream of traffic to your website and utter obscurity on the internet. 

Are you thinking about dipping your toes into the waters of SEM? Then, keep reading to learn more. 

The Basics: Search Engine Marketing

SEM is a form of paid advertising that works on a similar principle as rented billboards. When users do a search that pertains to your business or website with specific keywords, SEM marketing puts your website in a special little highlighted box at the top of its results page. This makes users much more likely to click on your site over others. 

The caveat: there is no magic formula in the world of content marketing to make your website or content great. SEM marketing cannot replace SEO best practices and other strategies for organically growing your website over time with quality content for your users. 

SEM marketing is, however, excellent for when you have an excellent product and website at hand and want to boost its reach and visibility.

Introducing the Star: Ad Auctions

Ad auctions are the central mechanism of getting your billboards up on the highway of the internet. You can think of these special highlighted results as real estate on search engine result pages. Each keyword has only a handful of slots for SEM marketing results.

Before you participate in an auction of your own, you’ll need to shortlist the list of keywords that pertain to your website and also outline a budget – calculated per click – for each of those keywords. Some keywords are more popular than others and, therefore, also more expensive. 

You win the auction based on two criteria: what’s your bid for the keyword in question, and how good are your ads? This is determined by your Ads Quality score: how relevant your ads are to users, how their experiences are on your page, the quality of your website, etc., all feed into your score. 

Getting Started: First Steps

SEM marketing works by ensuring that your ads are built with users’ goals clearly in mind, i.e., giving them what they are looking for. To create an SEM marketing strategy that works well for your business, you must understand how SEM platforms work and also the factors that go into influencing the reach of your SEM marketing ads – keywords, the structure of your ad, the money you’re willing to spend, and so on. 

As you can imagine, this can be a pretty daunting task to figure out yourself. Hence, many brands that successfully employ SEM end up partnering with experienced SEM marketing firms to get the most out of their time and investment. 

Some of the factors you will consider as you create your SEM marketing strategy include the following:

  • Keywords

Once you have a shortlist of relevant keywords – the first step – the hard work of making choices begins. It will be impractical for you to place bids on all the keywords that are relevant to your business. Some will inevitably be outside of your budget, while others might not be that popular. You’ll need to make choices based on your target users’ intent, the keywords’ popularity, as well as your own budget. 

  • Ad Structure

When you’re creating ads for your SEM marketing campaign, you don’t just make one for all your keywords. This is a surefire way to use up all your money while also dinging up your quality scores. SEM marketing is ultimately a marketing strategy built on the foundation of advertisements. To ensure an effective campaign, you have to ensure yours are compelling enough to entice users to take the leap and click on your website. 

Ads in SEM marketing usually consist of three parts: a title, a URL, and a little description. Yes, they look a lot like regular search results on search engines. 

Take the time to create compelling copy geared toward your users’ search intent. After all, shoppers gravitate toward warm, well-decorated shopfronts, not dilapidated and shoddy ones.

  • Tools of the Trade

As you have likely gathered by now, a lot of research and planning goes into SEM marketing. Similarly, your work doesn’t end once your campaign is live. Good SEM marketing campaigns are constantly tweaked to match incoming data. In order to be able to determine what’s working and what isn’t, you need to reach into your trusty SEM toolbox. 

These can be complex to navigate; however, they are a treasure trove of information when it comes to making SEM marketing strategies work. Some of these tools include HubSpot’s Ad Tracking, Google Trends, SEMrush, and Google Ads Keyword Planner. 

The Upshot

Everything you need to create a killer SEM marketing strategy is readily available on the internet. However, the trickiest – and most important – part of SEM marketing is tailoring it to fit your business’s needs. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all solution in the world of digital marketing, and SEM marketing is no different.

This is where well-established agencies like AdLift come in – to make your life easier! Armed with experience and expertise, they take care of all your SEM needs so you can focus on what you do best. 

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