Last Updated on March 14, 2023 by Marvellous Aham-adi
Search engine marketing, or SEM, is one of the most effective ways to promote your brand, product, or service to your target audience – especially in this increasingly competitive business landscape where millions of brands are trying to get the attention of the same customers.
Not only that, your target audience is definitely using search engines. Google processes over 8.5 billion searches each day and research from Datareportal shows that 43.2 percent of internet users aged between 16 and 64 use the internet to primarily research brands and products. If you are not using SEM, you are missing out on tons of opportunities for growth.
So in this article, we will also look at 7 other benefits of search engine marketing along with some tips to help you start building your strategy.
Let’s get started.
1. Helps businesses boost brand awareness
Search engine marketing and brand awareness go hand in hand. Although most people use ads to increase traffic and drive sales to their business, SEM can also be used to improve branding and create more awareness amongst your target audience.
By using targeted paid advertisements that show up on the first page of search engine result pages (SERPs), brands can quickly increase the number of people that learn about their business. And unlike organic search engine optimization where it takes some effort to get to the top of the SERPs, SEM allows you to jump all these hurdles. The main thing is to ensure that you are targeting the right keywords so the right audience gets to see the ad.
It is also possible to get a lot of impressions on your ads and not get any clicks. This is the reason why keyword optimization is important when using SEM. When you use the right keywords and target the right audience, you can be sure that people will click on your ads.
You may even wonder, do people click the ads that appear on the SERPs?
Yes, they do. According to Hubspot’s Annual State of Marketing Report, 63% of search users have clicked on a Google ad.
2. Ideal for creating quick search visibility
Search engine marketing provides you with an instantaneous increase in search visibility. As soon as you’ve set up your ads, it is shown to your potential customers immediately. This makes SEM the perfect short-term strategy for boosting visibility for your business, products, and services.
Tip: Most businesses that spend money on paid advertisement usually have conversion goals along with increasing brand awareness and visibility. But the reality is that only 29.9 percent of clicks translate into purchases. An effective way you can increase the number of clicks and conversions you get as your visibility increases is search retargeting.
Search retargeting allows you to display ads to audiences based on their previous searches. This way you are sure that the audience that views the ads is already interested in what you are offering.
3. It’s quick and easy to implement
Setting up an SEM campaign is quick and easy. Within a few hours of setting up a project, you can start to see some results immediately. And since SEM campaigns are easily configurable, you can make changes to improve the campaigns when needed. You wouldn’t have to wait weeks or even months like in SEO campaigns before you know if your strategy is effective. And depending on your business goals, you can know within a few hours if you choose the right keywords, used the right targeting parameters, and if your ad copy/visuals are capturing the attention of your audience.
4. Brands can reach their ideal audience with targeted ads
A huge benefit of search engine marketing is that it allows brands to create highly specific ads. This is one area where SEM shines over other marketing strategies like social media marketing. With SEM, you can be sure that your ads will be viewed by an audience that will be interested in your products and services.
For instance, most of the ads that social media users see when scrolling through their feeds are not relevant to them so they just scroll past them. But with search ads, the users are shown promotions based on the keywords they are already searching for.
Search ads are perfect for reaching audiences with clear intent and that are further along the buying cycle. These audiences are ready to make purchases and are doing further research before they make a decision. This is the reason why ads on search networks usually have a higher CTR than ads shown on display networks and social media platforms.
5. Increases traffic to websites and landing pages
On most searches with commercial keywords, the first three to four results on the SERPs are sponsored posts. So when you create search ads with the right keywords, you can be sure that people will see your post. If you are finding it difficult to generate initial traffic with SEO, you can get the ball rolling with SEM. When utilized properly, SEM can help you quickly increase the traffic to your website and landing pages.
Tip: One way to ensure that you enjoy the full benefits of search engine marketing is by keeping your ads simple and skimmable. Most searchers will not read an ad in full. So if your ad copy is too long or complicated, they are most likely to ignore it. Your ad needs to communicate your marketing message effectively. Here are some ways to do it:
- Don’t use the full character count unless it is necessary. Your ads should be short and straightforward. The searcher should be able to decipher your value proposition at a glance.
- Include the keyword that searchers are looking for in your headline.
- Don’t use abbreviations in the ad copy. Unless the abbreviation is commonly used in your niche or industry, you might end up confusing your audience. Instead just used plain language that anybody can understand.
It is also best practice to include a call-to-action in your ads. Tell your audience exactly what you want them to do after viewing the ad. So use CTAs like buy now or download now to drive action. And if you want to further drive clicks, include a benefit or feature in the CTA. For example, “Talk to a professional today” or “Visit page now for 15% off”.
6. Helps beats competitors with higher authority
When starting out SEO, it can be difficult to beat competitors with higher authority on the SERPs. Since they have a higher domain authority, they are more likely to show up in higher positions on the result pages. With SEM, you can beat your competitors by targeting the keywords that they rank for with ads and showing up at the top of the search queries. This will make it easy for you to capture leads before they go to a competitor’s page.
So what you need to do is research your competitors. Do in-depth research to find out the keywords your competitors are targeting and ranking for. And with the right budget, you will be able to beat them.
Doing this research isn’t difficult. With a search engine optimization tool like SEMrush, you can research your competitors with ease. You will also be able to find opportunities you can use to beat your competitors on search results. Start SEMrush for free.
You can also check out my complete review and comparison test of the top search engine marketing tools available in the market – Best SEO tools comparison.
7. You have control of your spending
You don’t need a huge marketing budget before you can start search engine marketing. Depending on how much you are willing to spend, you can start running ads immediately. The best part is that you can review and adjust your ad budget as you deem necessary. This will ensure that you don’t waste money on a campaign that isn’t effective.
Here are some tips to help you optimize your return on ad spend (ROAS):
Use negative keywords
A negative keyword is a type of keyword that prevents your ad from being triggered by certain words or phrases. Using negative keywords will help you reduce costs because when people search for them, your ad won’t show up in the search results.
Run branded campaigns
Branded campaigns almost always have a better ROAS than regular campaigns. This is because people searching for branded keywords already know about the brand and are more likely to click through and make purchases. It’s easier to convince people that know about you and your value proposition to purchase from you.
Promote time-sensitive and seasonal offers
Customer spending is higher during the holiday seasons so you will get more clicks when you run ads during this period. Also, promoting time-sensitive offers can create a fear of missing out among your target customers and this can encourage them to check out your offer. The main thing is to ensure that you give offers that your audience will find relevant and captivating.
Target your ads by location
Make sure you run ads to only people that can purchase from you. Many times, I have seen an ad I was interested in, clicked on the ad and realized that the brand doesn’t ship to my location. This is a wasted click and revenue opportunity. If you don’t ship to a specific location, don’t run ads for that audience. The same strategies that work for local search engine optimization will also work for SEM localization.
Your landing pages should match your ads
If you are promoting an offer, make sure that the landing page that the visitor is directed to is the same as the offer. Don’t make your audience have to manually go through your website to find the offer. The reality is that most visitors will exit the page when they see that the details on the landing page are different from what they saw on the ad. You will only end up losing potential customers and have low conversion rates.
Use product listing ads (PLAs)
PLAs show up in the search results when a user searches for a keyword related to a product. These ads usually provide specific information about a product along with photos of the product and links to the store. PLAs usually have a higher click-through rate, especially on mobile devices.
Use conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategies
CRO strategies can help you improve click-through rates while reducing shopping cart abandonment. Here are some tips to help when using CRO:
- This is a no-brainer, but don’t sell a bad product. No matter your budget or how optimized your strategies are, it will be difficult to convince customers to purchase a bad product.
- Ensure that your site is secure. In fact, 85% of customers will not make a purchase if the website is unsecured.
- Offer a deal to the customer before they exit the site. You can also use triggered offers to increase the chances of the customer hitting the purchase button.
- Use retargeting.
Improve your Google quality scores
A quality score is assigned to your ads, keywords, and landing pages by Google. When you have a high score, Google offers you better ad positioning and even reduced ad prices. Some of the factors that Google uses to assign this score is your ad relevance, click-through rate, and landing page experience.
These 3 factors are also connected to each other. If you show relevant ads to your audience, you are bound to have a significant click-through rate. And if the visitors have a good experience on your landing page and go on further to make a purchase, it signifies to Google that you are a solid brand. Which means that you will be more likely to get higher Quality scores.
Search engine marketing offers a lot of benefits to businesses and can lead to long-term growth. Businesses that invest in SEM can reach out to their target audience, and promote their products and services, making it a key part of their overall digital marketing strategy.
Search Engine Marketing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Now that we have seen the benefits of search engine marketing, let’s look at some frequently asked questions. These answers will give you a better understanding of SEM and its strategies.
What is Search Engine Marketing?
Search engine marketing is the practice of using advertising and promotions that appear on search engine result pages to promote your business and its offers. These ads are also called pay-per-click ads. They come in a variety of formats – text-based ads or visual ads. Examples of visual ads are PLAs or Shopping ads.
What is the difference between SEM and SEO?
Search engine marketing is also called paid advertising. With SEM, businesses have to pay Google for their ads to be shown in search results. On the other hand, businesses do not have to pay Google to show up on search results or for clicks when using SEO.
Can SEM be used by brick and mortar stores?
Yes! Small businesses and brick and mortar stores can use geo-targeted ads to direct customers to their businesses. They can set their ads to be only shown to searchers close to their location.
Is paid search the same as search engine marketing?
The main difference between paid search and SEM is the tactics involved. If you set up a pay-per-click ad and do not optimize it for search or optimize the website or landing page it is linked to, it is a standard ad. But if you take the time to pair the ads with relevant keywords from your SEO strategy and then optimize the landing pages connected to the ads, you are using SEM. In summary, SEM is a combination of both paid search and SEO strategies.
How do I measure the success of your SEM strategies?
Depending on your brand objectives, they are several metrics you can use to measure the success of your SEM efforts. If your brand objective is to increase awareness, you can track the impressions and clicks on your ads. If your objective is to generate leads, you can track metrics like online registrations, email inquiries, or downloads, If your objective is to drive sales, you measure metrics like click-through rate and conversions.