What Is Search Engine Marketing (SEM) And Why Is It So Powerful?
In less than a decade, search engine marketing, or SEM for short, has grown to become the most popular digital advertising medium in the world.
Like any business out there, if you’re looking for ways to promote your products and services, then search engine marketing should be the first choice on your list.
Not only does search engine marketing get your products and services in front of the right customers, but it’s also surprisingly affordable. With some businesses spending as little as $10 a day, it doesn’t take a massive advertising budget to benefit from search engines.
If you’re not taking advantage of search engine marketing, then you’re missing out and giving your competitors a strong lead over you. To show you what you’re missing out on and just how powerful SEM is, we’re taking a look at how it all works and how you can benefit from it.
Let’s get started by taking a look at what search engine marketing consists of and how it can help your business grow.
What Is Search Engine Marketing?
For many business owners, search engine marketing can sound very confusing at first. Especially if they have no previous digital marketing experience and are used to traditional marketing methods such as banners and leaflets.
To simplify the strategy, search engine marketing works by taking advantage of highly popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. With millions (if not billions) of people visiting these search engines daily, getting your products and services in front of the right audience has never been easier.
Maybe you’ve been on Google recently and noticed the sponsored ads at the top. That’s a form of search engine marketing that you could be taking advantage of!
Just think about it, thousands of people seeing your ad at the top of the results. Imagine how many more leads and sales your business would get. With search engine marketing, you can attract an almost unlimited number of targeted niche users straight to your website.
Over the years, the popularity of search engines has grown considerably with people searching for a whole range of things. If you have something to sell, then there’s a good chance someone is using a search engine to try and find it.
How Search Engine Marketing Works
Search engine marketing works in two different ways. These can be divided into paid forms of marketing such as pay per click ads, and organic marketing, also known as search engine optimisation.
Before search engines introduced pay per click models, the only way to get lots of visitors was to rank number 1 organically on the results. Although this was a lot easier to do back in the day, it still required a lot of effort to hit that number 1 spot. As you can imagine, if you rank number 1 for a specific keyword, then you will get most of the traffic.
Recent studies have shown that the top 3 results on the search engine usually get around 53% of the monthly searches. So, investing the time in reaching that number 1 position can often pay off substantially.
Nowadays, search engines can give you a boost to the top result, all for the right price. Known as paid search, the price per click can vary dramatically depending on the keyword. The more competitive a keyword is (e.g. insurance, mortgages, loans) the higher the cost per click. Luckily, there are millions of different keywords out there, so almost any business can take advantage of this type of marketing.
SEO or PPC?
Now you understand the two primary forms of search engine marketing, how much do they differ from one another? And more importantly, which one should you be using? Well here’s what you need to know.
As mentioned previously, SEO or search engine optimisation is the art of getting your website to rank number 1 on the first page of the search engine results. The process of doing this involves a range of factors including how many people link to your website, the quality of your content, and the user experience.
Unless you have months (possibly years) of free time to learn the workings of search engines, many businesses often choose to outsource their SEO. The prices can vary considerably depending on the difficulty of the keyword, but if you want to increase your leads and sales, then it’s a small price to pay.
One of the biggest benefits of SEO is that if it’s done correctly, your website will remain in the same spot for years to come. Although it’s not recommended to stop ongoing SEO, as it gives your competitors a chance to catch up, some websites have been glued to the number 1 position for years.
With SEO you can dominate the organic rankings and get just as many (if not more) clicks than paid search without paying for every click. It might cost more money in the short run, but over time your average cost per click will decrease significantly.
PPC, also known as pay per click, is a relatively new digital advertising strategy that has transformed search engines over the last decade. Not only did PPC ads allow search engines to make lots of money, but it also allowed businesses to take advantage of their millions of daily visitors.
Why spend a small fortune on SEO which takes months to see results when you can invest your money in paid search and see results instantly? When a business needs instant results to boost their revenue or take advantage of a specific holiday, they will often turn to PPC ads.
PPC campaigns can be set up reasonably quickly, and the results are often instantaneous. The only delay is the approval process by Google itself.
Once your ads are live, they will be positioned depending on the current bids for the specific keyword.
If you bid enough, then you’ll claim that important number 1 spot (usually at a high cost). If you can’t afford to bid that much then don’t worry, there are plenty of other positions up for grabs that can still bring in a nice amount of traffic.
With pay per click ads, you can instantly reach that number one spot and bring in more sales, all without even having a website! The average cost per click might be considerably higher than SEO and organic results, but if you’re promoting high ticket items or specific holiday events, then it can be a great idea.
Which SEM Strategy Is Better?
By now you’re probably wondering, which search engine marketing strategy is better? Pay per click ads or search engine optimisation?
Well, both strategies have their advantages and disadvantages, but it comes down to 2 main factors: time and money.
If you want instant results and have a reasonably large budget, then PPC is probably the better option. Not only can you set up a PPC campaign in a day, but you can also tweak it on the fly which can help with your overall results.
SEO, on the other hand, takes a lot longer to see results. Many SEO campaigns involve building trustworthy links to websites which can often take a lot of time and effort. The constant Google updates can also cause a lot of crazy changes which can have knock-on effects on your traffic.
The best search engine strategy depends on your overall goals. If you want to validate your business idea or get some quick sales, then PPC is the best option by far. But if you have low margins and can’t afford to pay several dollars per click, then SEO is your best bet.
Ideally, you should be aiming to use a combination of both PPC and SEO if you want to dominate the search engines. PPC should be used on competitive or highly relevant keywords, whereas SEO should be used to scoop up all the “long-tail” and easy to rank keywords. This way you get the best of both worlds by blowing your budget on just one strategy.
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