What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

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Learning digital marketing

In today’s day and age, digital marketing is generally not a simple enough process.

With the cutthroat competition that’s taking over, both big brands and small businesses have the ability to compete vigorously for visibility, uniqueness and of course, leads.

No matter which location businesses are based in or which industry they belong to, if they’re not present on the internet, they’re simply out of the game.

What is SEM?

Answer: Search engine marketing

Search engine marketing (SEM) entails the all-around processes of paid promotions, search engine optimisation (SEO) and other digital marketing practices.

SEM is a strategically planned and often-analytical driven process, which helps businesses in reaching their customers at the right time, place and even at the right moment.

SEM ensures that a business’s image on the web is not just being portrayed with a priority on leading search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. However, it’s also garnering the right kind of traffic which ultimately can result in leads.

If you were reading this post ten years back, creating a website and simply marking a presence on the internet would have been enough to gather customers.

However, today, the competition is much higher and it’s due to the fact that almost every business is already present on the web.

Even though it might sound very broad, SEM is a targeted process, which aims to increase a brand’s visibility on the leading search engines of the internet.

With that said, what really matters how they make themselves visible in front of their potential customers (hint, it’s through SEM).

As per the competitive environment of current times, it is not possible to hope for just one marketing strategy for the success of online promotion campaigning.

Along with organic traffic, businesses may also need various PPC campaigns in order to stay ahead of the competition.

Reasons for SEM for businesses

1. Expect the fastest possible results (through PPC)

Using Google Ads

All paid marketing strategies are (usually) fast result oriented.

It is an undeniable truth that marketing competition on digital platforms has surpassed the traditional print media modes of promotion.

Therefore, it’s challenging for new players to mark their footprints in an already existing competitive market.

SEO is usually more feasible when it comes to the promotion of a newly launched business. However, PPC (pay-per-click) ads can deliver faster results from the get-go but usually require a larger budget.

Which PPC provider should businesses use?

Depending on the business and its customers, it can vary, in terms of which PPC provider businesses should use for their marketing.

For B2B businesses

If a business deals with other businesses (a B2B business); promotion through search engines via Google Ads‘ search network (not display network) could ensure more promising results, as people are actively searching for the business’s keywords within the search engine.

For SMEs and larger businesses, LinkedIn’s PPC campaigns may also be an option if the business’s customers are known to be active LinkedIn members.

For B2C businesses

If a business mainly deals with customers and not other businesses (a B2C business); social media PPC campaigns may be a good option to consider, depending on if the business’s customer base uses social media. As through social media, rather than targeting keywords (like a search engine would), businesses are able to target people’s interests and also their demographics too.

With that said, there’s pros and cons in social media targeting.

The biggest downside for businesses is that they’d simply be showing their ads to people which mightn’t be actively looking to buy/convert at that given time, as the customers are not actively searching for their service at that moment.

Therefore, to counteract this, B2C businesses could also consider search engine PPC providers (as well as social media ads), such as Google Ads, in order to get more accurate chances of conversions.

2. Organic focused marketing (through SEO)

Google's Search Console tool for website owners

Rather than just exhausting money on PPC campaigns, the main focus of SEO is for organic conversions.

In the case of PPC marketing campaigns, people may visit your website whilst searching for information about something else (if you’ve not set-up negative keywords correctly) and waste your advertisement budgets. Therefore, the chances of conversions could potentially be lower in that case.

On the other hand, SEO works much more effectively in this case. However, it’s generally a longer process, as it can take a lot of time and effort.

Tip: measuring organic SEO success

If businesses rely on metrics, similar to PPC results, businesses are able to measure organic SEO results too.

Tracking conversions

Businesses can do this by setting up Google Analytics and implementing goal tracking solutions within their websites.

Tracking rankings

In order to track where a website appears within Google, consider using tools such as SERP Robot, which offers un-cached and therefore, unbiased results on where you appear within country-specific search engines.

3. Improve brand awareness

Nowadays, most of the online businesses struggle with strategies to improve their brand value.

For enhancing brand awareness through online platforms, you need a robust strategy capable of influencing potential customers in a natural way. It means, influencing the potential customer towards a product or service that they’re already looking for.

Being at the top-most ranking of search engine results means, letting maximum possible people know about your brand name.

Every time when they search for a particular product or service through the search engine, the brand name of your online business could potentially influence them. As according to Search Engine Land, 70% of consumers look for “known retailers” when clicking search engine results.

4. An upsurge in traffic rate

Search Console data

Generating adequate traffic is the core objective of every marketing strategy whether it is organic or paid.

As we’ve already mentioned above, the results of paid promotion through PPC are much faster than expected from organic results. Therefore, new businesses could perhaps consider starting with some PPC campaigns, whilst they build-up their SEO in the meantime.

However, there’s no need to depend on PPC campaigns forever for consistent results. As once the business’s SEO strategies start working in the right direction, it’s safe to reduce the dependence on PPC campaigns.

With that said, both SEO and PPC campaigns could work together, reducing the cost by increasing ads’ quality scores too.

5. Ideal for targeting the regional market

If you are planning to target a particular locality for selling products or services, SEM can be extremely effective.

Local results with PPC

PPC publishers such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads, for example, can allow you to define your ads’ locality.

Within these tools, you can usually drill down to contents, countries, counties, cities, areas and even postcodes. Furthermore, all of these options usually include further radius-targeting options too, i.e. Newcastle upon Tyne + 10-miles.

This can be extremely useful if you’re trying to drill down a very particular service area.

Local results with SEO

When people try multiple sets of keywords for finding a service or product near their area, search engines such as Google automatically refine the non-ad choices to the user’s local area.

For instance, users who search Google for the term ‘marketing agency‘ in Newcastle will get results shown for Newcastle marketing agencies.

Therefore, the owners of such local businesses can get the maximum possible advantage of local search, simply through local SEO strategies.

6. Competitor analysis

Along with the progress of one’s own business, information about competitors is also necessary.

Always keep one thing in mind, that there will be one or multiple competitors already existing in this competitive market and everyone implements different strategies according to their convenience for search engine marketing.

It is possible that competitors offering the same products or services are targeting different keywords than another business’s preference and getting better results.

There is no need for a separate tool to evaluate the success of search engine marketing with a business’s competitors. Simply see the results within a search engine and it’ll become apparent of which keyword is being targeted.

Business owners are also able to simply Google their keywords to see if a competitor’s ad is shown.

Is online presence enough?

Sorry to break it for you, but it just isn’t!

By internet presence, it doesn’t just mean having a website to represent your brand is enough. However, businesses need to ensure that they’re getting an actual level of the right type of visibility on the web, depending on their business.

From social media marketing to search engine optimisation, from content campaigns to branding exercises, the main intent behind all these strategies is the same — it’s visibility.

Businesses owners and marketers have to ask themselves:

  • Are these practices enough to fulfil long-term digital marketing goals (consider competition, Google algorithms changes, etc.)
  • Are they really making you noticeable in front of your customers?
  • Is there a way through which you can carve a distinct niche for yourself on the web?

The answer to all these questions is one, SEM.

Posted on 12th Jan 2020