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15 May 2013

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

All about search engine marketing
Everything you need to know about marketing on the web.

What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

Search engine marketing, or SEM, is a form of internet marketing that seeks to promote websites by increasing their visibility in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) through the use of paid placement, contextual advertising, and paid inclusion.

Although SEM is a broad term and includes both paid search results such as Google’s AdWords and organic search results (SEO). In this post, I am going to be focusing on the paid components - Google’s AdWords specifically.

What is AdWords?

Google AdWords is Google's main advertising product and main source of revenue. AdWords offers Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising and site-targeted advertising for text, banner, and rich-media ads. The AdWords program includes local, national, and international distribution.

Google's text advertisements are short, consisting of a headline and two additional description lines. You can view these on Google’s SERPs where the top three bidders for specific keywords and phrases are at the top of the page. These are on the yellow background with the remaining eight down the right hand of the results page.

Visitors query Google for a list of websites relating to their specific enquiry. The mechanics of AdWords is such that it displays specific advertising content that relates directly to the visitors’ enquiry. The advertiser targets specific keywords with the amount the advertiser is prepared to pay for the impression determining the placement or position of the ad.

Why use AdWords?

It’s very simple. If you want to appear at the top of Google’s search engine results pages; and your website’s listings aren’t on the first few pages of Google’s organic search results, then paid placement is the most effective method. 

Why would you not Feature in Organic Search Results? 

Generally, if your website is not listing in the organic search engine result pages, then your website is not search engine friendly or optimised correctly for search engine indexing. Another factor may be if your products and services fall into a very competitive industry, your organic listing may feature too far back in the search results for users to notice.

The Benefits of AdWords

  • You have the option to set who sees your ads. You can narrow it down to a specific area on a website or exact search terms of your target market. You can bid aggressively on the best locations and reduce your spending on those that are less targeted. You don't have to pay for off-target ad space in order to get the profitable ad space.
  • It may take Google weeks to index and process any additions or amendments to your website, with no guarantees of getting any significant ranking or recognition on the SERPs. AdWords will generate quality traffic to your website instantly.
  • By tracking conversions, you know precisely the return on investment you're getting. You can know to the cent how much you can afford to pay for every click you spend.
  • It's a “pay as you go” service.

The Big Question

Targeted AdWords campaigns can certainly help you get noticed on Google. However, is your money not better spent on optimising the SEO of your website so that your website features more favourably organically?

Experience has taught us that there are long term benefits for organic SEO and achieving top ranking without using paid means, but quality AdWords campaigns assist even the best organically listed websites in generating significant additional traffic.

I recommend structuring a balanced search engine marketing strategy that fulfils both your organic and pay-per-click needs on the search engines.

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