What is Search Engine Marketing?

Many people start with a good Web site and invest in SEO, but don’t necessarily follow through with another very important component; and that is search engine marketing.

SEM is a broader term than SEO, and is used to encompass different options available to use a search engine’s technology, including paid ads. SEM is often used to describe acts associated with researching, submitting and positioning a website within search engines.  It includes things such as search engine optimization, paid listings and other search-engine related services and functions that will increase exposure and traffic to your Web site.

SEM offers you the opportunity to pay based on clicks (you pay only for each click through from the advertisement to your Web site). Ads in a successful SEM campaign will be shown to those consumers specifically looking for your products or services, resulting in a higher conversion rate.

Search Engine Marketing

SEM activities:

  • Paid search ads
  • Paid search advertising
  • PPC (pay-per-click) *
    • PPC (pay-per-call) – some ads, particularly those served to mobile search users, may be charged by the number of clicks that resulted in a direct call from a smartphone.
  • CPC (cost-per-click) *
  • CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) *
    • Most search ads are sold on a CPC / PPC basis, but some advertising options may also be sold on a CPM basis.

SEM For Beginners

Google AdWords is by many measures the most popular paid search platform used by search marketers, followed by Bing Ads, which also serves a significant portion of ads on Yahoo.

Beyond that, there are a number of “2nd tier PPC platforms” as well as PPC advertising options on the major social networks.

In addition to covering general paid search trends, you can find the most recent news about SEM and helpful tips to get started with PPC ads on the major search marketing platforms below:

  • Google: AdWords
  • Bing Ads
  • Yahoo: Search Ads

Each platform offers its own getting started guides and helpful tutorials.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Checklist

Search engine marketing covers all the activities you do to drive search engine traffic to your Web site. It isn’t difficult, but it requires a great deal of attention to detail. We’ve created a checklist to help you plan or manage all the pieces of your SEM strategy.

  • Install analytics to track your efforts.
    Before you commit your time and energy to search engine marketing, be sure you have the tools in place to track your success.
  • Identify your keywords.
    Your Web site copy and ad copy will be tailored to fit certain keywords. Google offers a free keyword tool to help you figure out which keywords are right for you. The tool will show you how many searches a keyword gets and how much advertiser competition the word has.
  • Submit your Web site to the search engines.
    Make sure the three most popular search engines are indexing every page of your Web site. You can submit your URL to Google, Yahoo and Bing.
  • Create a linking strategy.
    Inbound links to your Web site are key to getting to the top results pages for your keywords. Devise a strategy for attracting links. Start by finding out who already links to your Web site. Then, look for other, similar sites that might also want to link to your Web site. You can contact them directly and request a link or create content that will tempt them to link to you on their own.
  • Place search engine ads.
    Paid placements in the ad section of the search engine results can help get your Web site noticed faster than your SEO efforts. SEO takes time to move you up in the rankings, but search engine ads can give you an immediate boost.
  • Fully optimize your Web site.
    Take a look at our SEO Checklist for tips on optimizing your site.
  • Start a blog.
    Blogs are the darlings of the search engines with their regularly updated content, numerous keyword opportunities and information that’s likely to attract inbound links.
  • Build profiles on social media Web sites like Facebook and Twitter.
    Facebook and Twitter profiles give you the chance to create your own inbound links to your Web site, and if you use them well, they can drive direct traffic, too.
  • Develop press releases with strategic links and distribute them over the wire.
    Press releases are another way to enhance your linking strategy. Whenever you have news to report a press release can get a link to your Web site on news wires’ Web sites, and there’s a possibility that media outlets will pick them up as well.


Google Best Practices

Google’s Best Practices Series provides strategic advice on core search engine marketing tactics. It’s intended to help you get the most out of AdWords. Based on Google’s internal data and vetted by the people that built AdWords, this series helps form the foundation of your paid search strategies.

Keywords & Targeting

Keywords to the Wise
Keywords connect your ads with users and their searches. Effective keyword management helps you reach the right customers and grow your business.
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Winning the Second Chance
RLSA helps put your ads in front of highly qualified customers who have already shown interest in your business or products. This guide covers how to tag your site, set up remarketing lists, and bid effectively.
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Beyond Keywords
Dynamic Search Ads reach customers as they search without you needing to stay on top of a detailed keyword list. Learn how to get the best possible performance from your DSA campaigns.
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Creative That Clicks
One of the most important things to get right in your search ad is the creative, or messaging, you put into it. Better creatives improve ad relevance and drive more qualified clicks.
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Settling the (Quality) Score
To provide a great experience for both users and advertisers, Google measures the quality of your ads. Ad quality is a part of Ad Rank, so the better your ads are, the more competitive you’ll be in the AdWords auction.
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Fully Extended
Ad extensions appear alongside your ads and deliver additional information to users. Extensions are also part of Ad Rank, so the better your extensions are, the more competitive you’ll be in the AdWords auction.
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Bidding & Conversions

Bid Like a Pro
Bid adjustments are an integral part of AdWords that can help you save time and improve performance. This guide provides an outline for how you can align your bids with your business goals to make smarter bid adjustments.
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A Bid for Every Auction
Automating your bids with AdWords can deliver better, more informed bids while saving you time. This guide covers the benefits of auction-time bidding, then goes deeper into testing and optimization.
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Making a Bid For Profit
Maximizing profit should be the performance goal of every AdWords account. Use bid testing to learn how you can maximize profits for your account.
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It’s imperative to understand, and act on, how your marketing drives actions across phones, tablets and desktops. This checklist covers what you can be doing to take full advantage of cross-device conversions in AdWords.
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Remarketing Right on Cue
Turn window shoppers into buyers. Programmatic Remarketing on AdWords Display helps you engage site visitors with personalized ads even after they’ve left your site. Learn how to set up effective tags, remarketing lists, bids and ad formats.
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Put Your Best Image Ad Forward
Three of the most important elements of a display ad are the message, image and design. This checklist outlines how to create effective display ads so that advertisers can improve conversions, brand recall and engagement.
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Mobile & Local

Smart Phone Tips
People love their smart phones; they’ve become an integral part of how people search and browse the web. There are a host of ways to effectively speak to mobile users within AdWords, and getting mobile advertising right can grow your business.
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Tapping into Mobile App Installs
Getting your mobile app discovered can be challenging. Learn how to drive downloads of your app and grow a valuable user base.
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Tapping into Mobile App Engagement
Once you’ve built a user base for your mobile app, getting people to continue using it is important. Learn how to market to your user base to drive re-engagement with your app.
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Good Call
A customer’s interaction with you can be carried out across different channels: online, in your store or over the phone. This guide will cover all of the ways to drive phone calls to your business and optimize them for success.
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What’s In Store
A customer’s interaction with you can start online and then finish in store. This guide will show you how to enhance and target your online ads to drive offline sales and how to optimize them for success.
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Shape Up Your Shopping Campaigns
Shopping campaigns give you the chance to feature product images and information directly in your ads. This guide covers how to create high-quality data feeds, structure effective campaigns, set your best bids and simplify the mobile shopping experience.
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Holiday Planning Guide
Setup your Search and Shopping campaigns for success during the holidays. Planning for the season’s increased shopping demand can help you win more customers over this critical time period.
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The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Assess how your search campaigns did over the holidays. Analysis of your past performance will help you prepare your campaigns for the next holiday season.
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Reporting & Analytics

Better Together
Both AdWords and Google Analytics offer insights into the performance of your campaigns, and those insights get better when you use GA + AdWords together. Improve your bidding, messaging and performance through these analyses.
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Special Reports
Smart analysis and reporting in AdWords highlights what matters to you and your bottom line. That information can directly improve the performance of your account. This guide covers how to surface the right insights and turn those insights into action.
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Looking for something more basic? Check out How to be successful with AdWords.


SEM Best Practices on Facebook

Using Facebook Ads will help you to reach your local audience, every day and everywhere, driving more people to your business. We listed 8 best practice tips to help you optimise your ads.

1. Include a call to action

Include a call to action within the first 90 characters and tell your customers what you want them to do. For example, tell them to get a service quote or come check out your new sale.

2. Use high quality photos

Use attractive lifestyle photos, bright product imagery or videos to grab the attention of potential customers. Create a visual representation of the words in your ad or Post.

3. Combat ad fatigue

Always refresh your ad creative every 1 to 2 weeks for the best performance. When everyone in your target audience has already seen your ad many times, it becomes more expensive to achieve desirable results.

4. Important content first

Include the most important content in your Post in the first 90 characters. If you want visitors to your website, link to it upfront.

5. Identify your target audience

Think about your best current customers and use Facebook’s targeting options to reach a similar audience. For example, if you do not have a website or ship products nationwide, only target in your local area.

6. Promote an Event

Organising an in-store event gives you an opportunity to attract new customers and bring loyal customers back. Use Page Post ads to increase reservations or attendance to an event.

7. Boost Important Posts

Boosting posts ensures your most important messages are seen by your fans and their friends in your local area. Boost posts about sales during the holidays to get in the news feeds of current customers and use targeting to expand your reach to new ones.

8. Use Facebook Offers

Facebook Offers allow you to promote special discounts to Facebook fans and non-fans in your local area. Drive in-store sales by giving your audience a special reason to come see you.