This article is the first one in the series of blog posts answering the top 5 vital search engine marketing aka SEM questions. Which one of them will you get to know right now? What is SEM and how does it work? Is there any difference between SEO and SEM and how do they differ? Why is SEM beneficial for you? What is click-through-rate and why should you take care of it? You will also know what is conversion.
Shall we begin?
Let’s start with the basics.
1. The first one of today’s SEM questions: what is SEM and how does it work?
The main search engine marketing benefit is that it helps you get high Google rankings much faster than other commonly used techniques. So if you value your time, SEM may be a good option.
SEM is a compound notion including multiple aspects. The main factor in SEM has always been paid search that is why it is frequently associated with Google Adwords.
However, SEM embodies everything that improves website visibility in search engines, so SEO is also actually a part of it.
You have surely noticed that Google becomes smarter and marketers relationships with it are getting more and more complicated. I mean, the list of potential factors that could be included in SEM is getting longer.
For instance, local search is an inevitable part of any wise SEO campaign. Nobody can argue the fact that the website takes a good position in the results page when Google Maps is displayed in a search query.
Furthermore, the percentage of mobile searches is getting bigger, which means that mobile optimization also positively affects the visibility of mobile-optimized websites.
The takeaway is that local SEO and mobile-optimization should also be included into SEM.
But that’s not all, Google Shopping is a popular source of product browsing and purchase. So, we can arrive at the conclusion that a well-managed Google Merchant Centre account can be an effective form of SEM suitable both for huge corporations and independent retailers.
Additionally, PR campaigns influence your visibility via search engines. Here is how it may happen. Plenty of users are not super specific with their searches. Google is clever enough to understand what options are searchers looking for. You can give value to the user by returning curated lists of whatever they are looking for and exposure on these types of sites via a PR campaign will make an impact on your visibility on search engines.
Does the above look a bit confusing? Here’s one of the ways to sort it out. Ask your partners, customers, colleagues, whoever you are talking to about SEM what exactly are they talking of? AdWords? SEO? Everything in the compilation? Such clarification will make the things way easier and help to avoid misunderstanding.
2. What is the difference between SEO and SEM?
Why are we going to answer this question? Because the terms are often used interchangeably, which is totally wrong as SEO and SEM are not the same things and I’m going to clarify this matter for you right now.
To put it simply, the main difference between SEO and SEM is that Search Engine Optimization is part of Search engine marketing. Both SEO and SEM processes are targeted at increasing the website’s visibility in search engines.
However, SEO is about optimization of your website in order to climb higher in the search results while SEM goes far beyond SEO. It involves other methods that can bring you more visitors. It includes paid advertising, like PPC, for instance.
3. Benefits of SEM
In this section, I am going to recap the major benefits of SEM.
- It is easy to measure the technique efficiency. Nobody wants to spend money without getting any positive results. Every dollar spent on advertising is essential. That is why it is really great that absolutely everything related to paid search can be measured. The efficiency of campaigns is based on conversions (e.g. lead gen, sale). Ad and keyword levels are also transparent, so you know which techniques are working and which are not performing well.
- The next cool thing about SEM is geotargeting. You can reach potential clients no matter of their location, be it your own city or some point thousands of miles away. You can be really precise and target your searches down to the prospective customers’ city-level location. All you need to is choose to target a radius around a zip code, metro area, state, country, or add in regions you are interested in.
- You get overall control over your paid search. For instance, with platforms like Google AdWords and Bing Ads you take the following aspects under control:
- What keyword searches trigger your ad
- The physical location of the searcher
- Time of the day
- Day of the week/season
- Type of device (e.g. computer vs. phone plus which type of phone)
- Network (e.g. Google only or its Search or Display Networks)
- Ad position
- The list goes on
- You pay per action only. Why does paid search commonly referred to as pay per click (PPC) advertising? This is easy to explain. The most common form of buying ads with paid search is the one when you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. It’s safe to say that traffic coming from paid search is super targeted because to see your ad the person has to type in some query related to your products or services, then look at all the search results, and only then decide whether to click on your ad. In other words, they want to make sure that they will see the information they are searching for.
- You get free exposure with your paid advertising. We have already mentioned that in the case with PPC ads you pay only when someone clicks your ad. But users see the info like the featured snippet, for example, without clicking the ad. In other words, you get additional views of your ad and company name for free. This makes paid search so valuable for branding campaigns.
- And the last benefit of SEM is that it works. I guess this is the most significant benefit of paid search. That is the reason why U.S. advertisers spend more than $12 billion per year on paid search. Top advertisers spend more than $8 million per month on Google AdWords alone.
4. What is the click-through rate (CTR)? Why is CTR important?
I am not going to over complicate the simple things. Click-through rate is showing how often people who see your ad end up clicking it. It is measured in percent. CTR is used to measure the effectiveness of paid search, display and email marketing campaigns. It also indicates the performance of ad copy, subject lines, and metadata, like titles and descriptions.
Here is the CTR formula:
(Total Clicks on Ad) / (Total Impressions) = Click Through Rate
Now we can naturally arrive at the conclusion that click-through rate is important. It highlights the strength or weakness as well as the quality of your ad copy, imagery, positioning, and keywords. Thus, you have a possibility to easily improve the click-through rate, which is the fastest way of increasing conversions and generating more sales.
5. What is the conversion?
The last point in our today’s blog post is conversion definition.
Well, any action valuable to your business taken by the visitor when they interact with your site is considered conversion.
These predefined actions may vary depending on business type.
Here are some examples of common conversions:
- Visits to a key web page
- Views of a marketing video
- White paper downloads>
- Email newsletter sign up
- Web form submission
- Phone calls (i.e. lead, inquiry, appointment request)
- Views of a map/directions page
Over to you
That’s it for now. Hope this blog post on SEM questions was informative and you got to know some new things from it. Have any additions/thoughts/suggestions? Would be happy to read them in the comments section. Come around to read the next articles.