The term ‘search engine marketing‘ is now used to describe campaigns focusing on growing traffic via search engines, but not many people realize that this hasn’t always been the case. In the early days of online advertising, this was an umbrella term referring to both SEO and premium marketing options. As the sector grew, SEM (search engine marketing) evolved in definition to include just the ads sold by established search engines.
What’s the Goal of Search Engine Marketing?
For the most part, SEM focuses on attracting visitors towards a particular website, after which they’re persuaded to take further action. Unlike SEO where a handful of techniques are employed to improve one’s ranking, SEM achieves this using different ads that are usually displayed on top of the standard results. This technique can be of great help if your website is set to rise to a favorable spot in ordinary rankings, and it’s for this reason that marketers have no problem parting with the premium.
As such, search engine marketing is synonymous with PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, a process where results are measured by the number of clicks registered. More specifically, running a PPC campaign means your website’s traffic grows whenever someone clicks on your ad. Payment will also be calculated based upon the number of visitors who find their way to your site via these ads. Still, pay-per-click advertising can be quite the powerful enabler for traffic growth.
How Can SEM Be of Help to Your Brand?
One of the most challenging battles you’ll ever face as a small business owner is making your brand ascend to the top of search engine results. And things only get more difficult when you happen to be operating from a major city. Due to the concentration of so many brands in such a small geographical space, rising to the cream is virtually impossible. This is one of the main factors behind SEM’s popularity; it provides a shortcut for individuals seeking to rank first for any keyword, as long as they can afford to pay for the premium space.
Having your ads displayed at the top of search results means your site is ideally positioned to draw visitors, the majority of whom wouldn’t usually land there otherwise. And as you well know, more visitors translates to increased sales, more revenue, and a healthier bottom line. Where SEM stands out from other advertising options is in results — while the latter always involves a bit of guesswork, the availability of statistics means you can more accurately track effectiveness when using the former.
A typical PPC campaign will inform you of the number of clicks registered for your ads, while others go further to track the number of conversions that come as a result. You may then compare these figures to the amount you initially spent to see how much you got regarding ROI. With other forms of marketing, it’s virtually impossible to calculate returns with such precision. In other words, it’s the online equivalent of getting a qualified lead, albeit much cheaper.
Just like any other form of advertising, SEM has its fair share of disadvantages, the most significant of which is the budget in comparison to regular SEO. With the latter, the difficulty comes in getting the top spot, but this usually changes for the better once you find your way there. More crucially, your website will attract visitors without you having to pay for it, which isn’t the case for search engine marketing.
With SEM, it takes a lot of resources to run a campaign continuously. What this means is that an individual without much to spend on advertising will have their ads pulled down once their allocation runs. This obviously interferes with results and, depending on the number of times ads are switched on/off; it could affect their campaign in other ways.
It goes without saying that these are issues you will need to take into account before deciding whether to invest in SEM. But there’s no doubt that it’s one of the most effective tools you could have in your digital strategy. Not only can it grow your online traffic, but it also works quite well when used alongside other advertising techniques.
Ultimately, search engine marketing is just but one of the ways through which you can enhance your online presence. SEO will always attract more interest from marketers, at least shortly. But don’t let this dissuade you from exploiting SEM’s potential as you work towards overtaking your competitors.
Understanding how search engine marketing can be difficult. At Comet, our Edmonton search engine marketing agency can help you with search engine marketing, internet marketing and SEO. Talk to us today for a free, no-obligation, consultation.