Small business owners understandably have reservations about venturing into new areas of marketing, especially given their limited marketing budgets. Most focus their efforts on SEO, website development, print media, social media marketing, or emailing to increase traffic, awareness, and business. In today’s competitive market, most small businesses must seek out new customers while converting existing customers into loyal ones.
No matter your business size, search engine marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to reach a targeted audience. While traditional forms of advertising such as direct mail, billboards, and display ads are becoming less effective, search engine marketing is gaining popularity because it produces real, measurable results.
What is SEM?
Small businesses can use SEM to reach their target audience, generate new customers, increase revenues, and reduce acquisition costs.
But before we get into how SEM marketing can help your business, let’s take a closer look at what SEM stands for.
SEM is an abbreviation for search engine marketing.
SEM refers to increasing website visibility on search engine results pages through paid search advertising.
Google Ads is the most well-known and widely used paid search tool.
However, Bing and Yahoo may also be worth your time and money.
How to Use SEM for Your Business?
Configure Lead or Conversion Tracking
Once you’ve defined your business goals, you’ll need to keep track of them.
If your goals are linked to your website, you must implement tracking on your website to track those goals, whether through Analytics or conversion tracking through Google Ads or Microsoft Advertising.
If your goals include tracking phone calls to your company, you’ll need to implement call tracking through Google Ads or Microsoft Advertising. Many businesses will use a third-party call tracking service like Call Tracking Metrics to determine the origin of the call, the duration of the call, caller phone numbers, call recordings, and more!
If your goals are tied to store visits, you must find a way to connect store visits to your SEM marketing campaign. Some businesses will include special promotional codes in their advertisements for customers to use in-store.
It would help if you used call extensions to generate calls from potential leads so potential customers who see your ad on mobile can call your company directly. You should use a dedicated phone number for your SEM campaigns to determine which calls were generated by an SEM ad. A third-party tracking service can help you set up a dedicated phone number.
Targeting by Location
Setting a target radius in SEM is important to ensure that your ads target the areas of interest to your business. Most platforms allow you to set a target radius of an area ranging from 1km to 10km.
It is also critical to include location negatives in your campaign to ensure that your ads do not appear for geolocations irrelevant to your campaign to avoid spending money on clicks that are unlikely to convert. Google lets you customize your location targeting method to target or exclude people who have visited or expressed interest in your target location, people who live in or regularly visit your target location, and people who search for your target location.
Ads and Keyword Targeting
Keyword targeting and relevant ad copy are critical for your ads to appear in response to relevant search queries and to entice potential leads to click on your ads. What would someone looking for your business services look for? How would you write your ad copy, so it is relevant to your keywords and entices leads to click on it?
Small businesses in the service sector will most likely want their ads to run during business hours so that they can receive leads. If a lead tries to visit or contact your business and discovers that it is closed, it would be a less efficient use of ad spend. Make sure your ads run when your company is available to respond to messages and phone calls.
How to Use Search Engine Marketing Effectively
Make a search strategy.
Consider your short- and long-term objectives when deciding whether to prioritize organic or paid search (or both). Organic search rankings take time to improve, but you can start a paid search campaign right away. Other factors to consider may include the amount of traffic required, your budget, and your marketing objectives. After you’ve weighed the pros and cons, you can choose the best search strategy.
Make a list of keywords.
Before optimizing your site or launching a paid campaign, create a list of keywords – terms your prospects use when looking for information you can provide. You can generate a list and traffic estimates by brainstorming, copying keywords from competitors, or using online tools.
Improve your website’s performance.
- Rewrite your content to include more of the keywords you’ve chosen.
- Make certain that the content is as well-organized as possible.
- Remove any technologies that make it difficult for search engines to read your content (for example, search engines cannot read graphics or Flash content).
- Register your website in important directories that influence search engine results.
Make inbound links
When other sites link to yours, search engines assume your site is valuable, and you will rank higher in search results. The higher the “rank” of the sites that link to you, the more weight they have in your overall ranking. You want links from well-known industry authorities, reputable companies and organizations, and well-known directories.
Implement additional internet marketing campaigns.
These applications can help you improve your search results:
- Using social media
- Creating RSS feeds to distribute your site’s updated content to other websites.
- Adding a blog to your website
- Web distribution of search-engine-optimized press releases
- Begin experimenting with paid search.
- To get started with paid search, you’ll need to
- Create specific landing pages for each campaign.
- Create your advertisement (s)
- Create an account with a popular search network for business users (i.e., Google)
- Create your campaign on the network.
- Begin keeping track of your progress.
Advantages of Search Engine Marketing
Here are some of the advantages of Search Engine Marketing:
- Google Ads, for example, provides highly detailed reports on the evolution of your campaign, so you always know what is going on with your ads. Furthermore, you can use the Analytics integration to ensure everything is perfectly controlled.
- The analytics interface allows you to see what is happening at each moment and corrects the course to the moment if you are still waiting for the results you are looking for.
- You can set the maximum daily budget you’re willing to invest and the maximum cost per click you’re willing to pay. This ensures that the campaign is profitable and reaps the benefits of search engine marketing SEM.
- Compared to other SEO or content marketing techniques, search engine advertising allows for relatively quick and large-scale results.
- Because budgetary investment is scalable, this solution works for both large corporations and small and medium-sized businesses. They all compete for the top keywords positions under the same conditions.
- The positive aspect of this tool is its extensive segmentation capabilities. You will reach the public that is actively interested in you if you focus on keywords, and you can also filter it based on location, language, or behavior.
Disadvantages of Search Engine Marketing
Here are some drawbacks of Search Engine Marketing:
- The SEM is only active while you are paying. Although you can optimize your campaigns and reduce costs per click over time, you will still have to pay for each visit.
- Search Engine Marketing has grown in popularity, and many businesses compete for the same keywords. Costs rise due to the competition, and it cannot be easy to obtain a good ROI at times.
- Unlike other solutions, such as native advertising, SEM entails “invading” the user’s space with content they did not seek. Indeed, if the user you’re trying to reach has an ad blocker, they might not see your ads.
Benefits of SEM
It is both inexpensive and quick.
The most important aspect of SEM is that EVERY onsite action associated with your campaign can be measured (such as users filling out a form, downloading a PDF, making a purchase on your site, etc.). This means you can investigate what works and doesn’t and optimize budgets and campaigns in response to real-world business objectives.
Furthermore, there is no minimum investment. As a result, every company can plan its campaign strategy based on the amount of money they have available.
Connect with your target audience and potential clients directly.
We can directly address potential clients through SEM campaigns by using keywords (terms that users use to search for a specific product or service in Google), geographic location, demographic criteria, and even the exact time or days of the week when they are active online.
The ability to only show ads to those who are likely to be most interested in your products or services is a huge benefit for a small business because it reduces your spending on irrelevant audiences.
For many small businesses, the ability to segment campaigns geographically is extremely useful, especially if our primary goal is to connect with local clients.
Increase your company’s brand awareness.
When a small business uses keywords related to its industry, people searching for those terms are exposed to that business’s ads. This can be extremely beneficial if, for example, your company still needs to have a strong online presence. SEM campaigns help with brand visibility and awareness much faster than an SEO strategy focusing on increasing your page rank results in search engines, which will only yield results after months of work.
Is your product or service relevant in the market?
A well-executed PPC (SEM) campaign is the most efficient and effective way to determine whether your products and services are what consumers want. They serve as mini-market research studies and can assist you in determining what changes should be made to products and services.
Furthermore, Google Ads reporting can provide a wealth of information to determine whether your website requires changes or improvements.
Reestablish contact with your clients.
SEM campaigns also allow you to reconnect with users who have previously visited or purchased from your website. This is known as retargeting or remarketing, and in many cases, potential customers must see an ad several times before taking action and making a purchase decision. Retargeting audiences have previously expressed interest in your products and services (i.e., they have visited your site). Retargeting them with another ad increases the likelihood of them visiting your site again and potentially making a purchase.
Search engine marketing is one of the most effective types of performance marketing— there are reasons advertisers spend nearly $150 billion with Google each year. But the innovative pay-per-click model, high search intent, and auction-based bidding make it so effective. Understanding these principles allows marketers and business owners to reach out to potential customers when they are ready to buy.