What is Search Engine Marketing & Why Should I Care?
What is SEM?
In very simple terms, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the science of connecting your website to search engines so that it can be easily found by users. SEM is an overarching umbrella of online marketing mediums including Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Advertising, and more recently, Paid Social Media marketing.
Let’s Get Back to the Basics
When you are searching for a product or service, where do you start? Let me guess, Google or other search engines like Bing/Yahoo, right? You type in your search term, then wait for the magic to happen.
Now you find yourself in a dilemma with so many relevant results. If you are like me, you click on seven different links and start your research feeling like you are going to find the best deal ever! In a nutshell, whether your customers are clicking on an ad or organic listing they are using the search engines to find you. We marketers perform SEO tactics (to rank organically), write eye catching ads (to drive paid traffic), and create engaging content (to promote social) in order to complete the cycle of demand and supply between customers and businesses. In doing so, we use the search engines to market your product and services.
Why Should You Care?
Why did you invest in a website? “Because it’s 2015” is not the answer here… You invested in a website so that current and potential customers can find you, buy from you, and hopefully become advocates for your brand and products. I am going to highlight how SEM can help you accomplish all of this.
1. SEO – Search Engine Optimization is the practice of enhancing a website in order to persuade Google to rank you higher ‘organically/naturally’ compared to your competition. From consistent content updates to specialized tactics, SEO involves many strategies to assist both with search engines and with overall website success. The main advantages of SEO are:
- Long Term Results – The longevity of SEO means that you will typically draw a great ROI from it over time.
- Capture Demand – Organic listings in the top three positions get the majority of clickthroughs from search results.
- Complete Website Enhancement – SEO doesn’t just get you better search engine results, it enhances the overall quality of your website.
Google updates its search algorithm 500-600 times each year, which means that SEO strategies and tactics that were popular 6 months ago can become obsolete very quickly. Like building a brand, it takes time and is always adapting to external and internal forces. It’s not a “set it and forget it” business activity, but a living, breathing part of your website. Without a properly optimized site, you could be missing out on new prospects.
2. PPC – Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing has been around since the birth of search engines and is a sure-fire way to attract customers who are actively searching for your products and services. While SEO often takes months to deliver results, PPC performance is apparent within a matter of days. It provides you with full control over your messaging and can be used to land users exactly where you want them on your site. Here are some benefits of PPC:
- Relevant Audience Reach – Because you control who sees your ad (with keywords/phrases) and to some extent who clicks on your ad (with ad copy), reaching extremely relevant audiences is easily achieved with PPC.
- Immediate Results – The day you go live with your campaign, you can start to see results and optimize your campaigns for performance. PPC campaigns provide you with the flexibility to offer deals and change your messaging as often as you want. You can respond to market changes very quickly and focus your advertising budget to fulfill your customer’s real-time needs.
- ROI – Return on investment is very easily measured if you have well defined goals on your website. You can measure your campaign performance with quantifiable measures (revenue, leads, etc.) or quality measures (engagements, referrals, etc.) based on the kind of business. The moral of this story is you have complete insight into every marketing dollar spent in this medium. This is powerful.
3. Social Advertising – Like it or not, social media is continually becoming a “pay to play” marketing channel. I would attest that you get what you pay for. Want 3-5% of your fans to see a deal or promotion? Post organically. Want a large percentage of your fans, their friends, and users with similar characteristics to see your deal or promotion? Put some social ad dollars behind it! Social Ads are effective because of:
- Interest targeting – You can target a set of users based on their specific, expressed interests with social. Running a camera promotion? Target people who are interested in photography.
- Cost Effectiveness – If set up properly, you can expect very inexpensive website clicks and social engagements.
What Is Best For My Business?
There is no hard or fast rule on doing SEO or PPC, or both. They are very different, but complement each other with both brand building and customer acquisition if done right. If you are looking for immediate results or are a new company and want to drive quick attention, PPC is the way to go. If you are interested in a building a brand and long term presence in the online market, investing in a sound SEO strategy can provide long term benefits. When SEO and PPC work hand in hand, they can provide your business great results and really make a difference to your bottom line.
Why Use a Specialist?
Would you let your regular dentist fit you for braces? There is a reason that specialists exist in this world and all things considered, using a smart team of SEO and PPC specialists is an absolute necessity for your online presence. Both of these disciplines are extremely complex and ever changing, which makes it nearly impossible for one person to know it all. Poor execution can negatively impact your business, period.
So why risk your investment to a ‘generalist’? We at Vovia understand SEM inside and out and never shy away from the every changing landscape of Digital Adverting. If you want to chat more about SEM or the industry at large, drop me a line below!