Search engines have become an integral part of the digital landscape. They drive traffic and hence the importance.
There are more than 3.7 billion Google searches daily. The giant from Mountain View, California, handles 85% of all search queries in 135 languages. Bing is gradually gaining momentum, from 4% in 2015 to almost 8% now.
Though search engine optimization is the preferred way for many to raise the profile of their website, it is not the only way.
Search Engine Marketing has to be used together with SEO to achieve the common strategy of positioning a website higher in SERP.
What is Search Engine Marketing?
Search engine marketing refers to PPC or pay-per-click marketing.
Paid advertising makes sure that your website appears at the top of Google searches.
The sponsored result is clearly demarcated from organic results. Previously, the paid results were in a tiny box. Now all they have is the word “Ad” next to them.
Why SEM and not SEO?
The reason for search engine marketing is simple—to increase traffic.
One might argue that it is, after all, paid and not organic.
The answer to that is search results are unpredictable, and it is hardly possible for every business to get thousands of naturally occurring backlinks and high Domain Authority.
In addition, SEO can prove to be quite expensive and time-consuming. Besides, no one quite knows how exactly SEO works (which exact measures would take a site from rank 200-300 to 5-10). Most SEO agencies use a kitchen sink approach and wait until something sticks.
Participating in SEM does not mean SEO goes for a toss.
Rather, SEM can be used to drive traffic until the site’s SERP increases sufficiently (due to SEO) for it to be redundant.
Key factors in SEM
1. Keyword analysis
SEM depends on keyword analysis. You have to identify high-performing keywords and bid on them. Frequently used keywords are more expensive. Therefore keywords that have high volume and low competition are required.
2. Landing page
This is where the visitor from the web arrives. It might be the home page of your business, a product page, a blog page, or a specially designed landing page. It is tricky to design because the intention is to make the user move through the sales funnel.
3. Campaign Tracking
You have to know from the start how effective the search engine marketing strategy is proving to be.
How many impressions and how many CTR (click-through rates) is what matters. Unless you have a CTR of at least 2% the campaign is not working.
Why hire an SEM agency?
If you are doing SEM by yourself, that is commendable indeed. But there is good reason to hire a search engine marketing agency to perform the task.
You might hesitate because it means an added expenditure, but there are several good reasons.
1. Save time
Doing SEM by yourself needs a lot of time. Since you are not in the know, you would have to devote yourself to hours of research.
Search engine marketing is a complex process. You need to have a definite strategy to find keywords and place bids on them.
As mentioned before, high-volume keywords such as “Italian restaurants near me” are also high cost (since everyone wants to bid on them).
For businesses on a limited budget high-volume keywords that have medium to low competition do the trick.
But do you have hours to spend pouring over the results of Google Keyword Planner?
Do you know when to change the strategy and how to change it?
You might need to change the keywords all of a sudden.
Unless you have a search engine marketing expert helping you, it is going to be difficult if not impossible to fine-tune your campaign.
2. Save money
Probably with time, you can become a top-notch search engine marketing expert.
But to gain that experience, you would need to experiment with a lot of keywords.
You do not have a team that can devise a strategy, design a landing page, monitor the analytics, and make a course correction.
If you take on all these roles, there will be months of failed attempts before you see anything that resembles success.
Your learning curve will not be cheap.
It is going to cost a significant chunk of your advertising budget and raise overheads considerably.
Would you want dismal ROI (sales made versus PPC dollars spent)?
3. Draw on expertise
Any project is not a matter of time and money-saving alone. An expert can bring unique insight into every situation.
A search engine marketing agency offers a vast array of professionals—SEM experts, SEO experts, web designers, UX designers, and researchers who have worked with similar sites and campaigns in the past.
Not drawing on this talent pool would be a terrible decision.
Google is always rolling out changes.
You need people who truly understand the search scenario and help you reach the top.
When to hire a search engine marketing agency?
Search engine marketing is one of the best decisions you can make as a business owner. You are assured of new visitors with minimal investment.
When to hire an agency for search engine marketing?
1. Growth for new business
Imagine a brand-new website. In the week of launch, it probably ranks on page thousand of Google search.
There are practically no visitors. Yet you aim to have 10,000 website visits in a month and increase it by 2X every month for the first year.
Without a lot of backlinks, there is no way to raise the website’s profile. You also need a blog section and that takes time. At a moment’s notice, you cannot publish half a million words of content. It would take months of steady content creation to get there.
The way out is through paid ads. Pay-per-click is perfect for a new website that wants traffic. Buyers and users would leave reviews and that pays off.
2. Need for immediate results
Thanksgiving is almost here. You have a warehouse full of stock that you cannot move.
Do you want visitors right now? Then opt for search engine marketing. An experienced agency can set up a marketing campaign in a couple of days.
By the end of the week, you will have a few thousand visitors and if they liked what they saw, your stock would be in transit to them.
3. Explore new markets
If you change your product line, then search engine marketing is the best way to get brand new customers.
It is difficult to set up SEO for a new region or country. SEM is a faster way to reach out to a new market and do some test marketing.
This gives you an idea of product fit and what has to change for it to become successful. Run a week-long campaign, make some sales, and listen to the feedback.
Now stop the PPC campaign and go back to the drawing board to make changes. Only through SEM do you get this flexibility.
Search engine marketing works always. Google has stated that every advertising dollar spent on Google earns $2 in sales.
That is an excellent ROI. You pay only when the user clicks and not for total impressions.
Go ahead and launch your search engine marketing campaign today and reap the rewards.