In today’s digitally driven marketing world, it is essential to create an integrated marketing approach that utilizes all relevant marketing channels. Thinking of getting started with SEM? Here are few simple SEM tips to help you with your navigation.

Search Engine (SEM) Tips

Search Engine Marketing (SEM), when used effectively can increase sales and promote brand awareness. However, the intricacies of Search Engine Marketing can be so complicated that many businesses without a dedicated search engine marketer, stay away from using platform all together.

1. Choose a Relevant Search Engine Marketing Platform

Google Adwords and Bing Ads are two of the most popular search engine marketing platforms. In choosing your platform, you have to ask yourself qualifying questions such as:

  • What is the age bracket of my target audience?
  • How does this age bracket usually like to receive information?
  • Where do they usually shop or research before buying?
  • Are my competitors running SEM campaigns?
  • What results am I Expecting?

Going through these questions can help you determine if a particular platform might be beneficial and/or if you should be using Search Engine marketing at all. For instance, if you sell products to people in a certain age bracket who like to receive their news in hardcopy newspaper or magazine format, it might be better to spend your marketing dollars on display ads in those magazines or you could invest in old-fashioned snail mail campaign.

2. Start Small With Your SEM Strategy

Starting with a few campaigns might be crucial to your success at the beginning of your Search Engine Marketing journey. Sometimes when you try to run too many campaigns at the same time, you get lost in the mechanics of it all, leaving little to no time for careful review and optimization. Start with about three different campaigns, analyze results, and work your way from there.

3. Start With Your Keyword Gems

In my post on tools from Google that can improve your digital marketing strategy, I demonstrated how to find Keyword Gems. Keyword Gems are essentially keywords that you are already getting found for with low traffic, clicks, or page rank. Keyword Gems can be discovered in the Google Analytics queries section or through a SEO tool such as moz. Your keyword Gems can serve as the starting point for your keyword research process. Expand the keyword ideas by thinking about varying ways of saying the same phrase or keyword. For example, if my Keyword Gem for MarketingWorld is “marketing blog” I could come up with variations such as:

  • Best marketing blog
  • Marketing news
  • Marketing news website
  • Find marketing blog
  • Marketing tips website

…and so on.

4. Create a Consistent Journey With Your Ads:

There is nothing more frustrating for end users than, to click on ad that says one thing but takes them to landing page on something else. You really want to make sure your ad message correlates with your landing page message. If you are trying to save time by having multiple ads that have different messages go the same landing page, you might only end up hurting your ad conversion rate in the process, or even end up paying for unwanted clicks.

Let’s illustrate the good and bad examples of this with my search for “find CRM software with social media integration” with Google. I got several ads that did not say anything about a social media CRM as shown in the screenshot below:

google search find crm software

As illustrated above, even though the Jive Ad is not as prominently displayed as iContact and Netsuite’s ad, it seems like it’s the most relevant ad to my search query at first glance. Upon clicking the ad, I was brought to a landing page asking me to download The Forrester Wave Social Platforms report naming Jive as a leader. Since the landing page is relevant to my search for a Social CRM, I would be more likely to fill out the form.

jive social platform

In this example although Netsuite CRM, which was displayed above the Jive ad, and has social media integration features, I wasn’t drawn to click the ad because the ad message didn’t say anything about social CRM. Upon clicking the ad it takes me to a landing page that doesn’t have a message relating to social media integration.

netsuite crm

I could be investigative and decide to click the button for the product tour to find out, or I could act just like most webpage visitors and apply the 3 sec bounce rule—where visitors bounce if they don’t find what they are looking for on your website within 3 seconds. (Side note: I’m not really sure about the spinning head on the landing page. I get the 360o illustration but it seems a bit creepy.)

5. Landing Copy and Page Design Is all That matters

As mentioned earlier, your landing page plays a big factor on your conversion rates. Pay close attention to the landing page design and copy. Don’t just turn on your ads and send people to a generic landing page that is not related to your ad. Here are a few landing page design and copy tips:

  • Tell visitors what you want them to do quickly: Don’t wait till towards the end of the page to give people the good stuff. Tell them why you will like them to convert at the top of the page (always answer the question what’s in it for me?).
  • Use bullets and lists to break up your content: Although we would like to believe that our website visitors are as excited to hear about us as we are, they usually are not. Most website visitors quickly skim content so using bullets and lists can help you get your point across quickly as they read.
  • Avoid any unnecessary distractions: Anything in your copy or footer links that is not needed to be able to tell your story shouldn’t be on your landing page. It can take the focus away from what you want people to do.
  • Prominently display your call to action or form: This is one of the most important attributes of a good landing page. Within seconds of visiting your page the landing page visitor should be able to determine where to take the next step. The visitor should not have to scroll to see this information. Remember you only get about 1-3 seconds before the visitor decides to exit your page.
  • Display your logo and a number to call: It is always important to let your visitors know about your brand or company. You also want to provide them with other conversion options such as, bypassing the form to call you.
  • Build trust by adding a testimonial: Testimonials build trust among visitors. Testimonials give visitors full proof that your product or service is tried, tested and it works. It adds genuine validity that goes beyond your “selling voice”.
  • Simple clean design is key: The layout and design of your landing page makes a big difference in your conversion rates. Use a clean, simple design that makes your copy easy to digest.

6. Use automated Rules to Prevent Manual Work

Even if your full time job is managing search engine marketing ads, you really want to optimize your time and your ad performance by automating manual tasks. Examples of tasks that can be automated include, pausing ads when your reach a certain spending threshold, raising bids to the first page or outranking a domain, maximizing ads for CTR (Click through rates) or conversions, among others.

automate google ads

Most advanced Search Engine Marketers use scripts to automate campaigns as well. If you are a beginner not conversant with writing scripts, you can still get a lot done with the automation rules provided by most search engines such as Google and Bing.

7. Review on a Daily Basis

One of the biggest mistakes to make with search engine marketing is to not review your ad performance on a consistent basis to make improvements. Once you turn on your ads to ensure that you are getting the biggest bang for your buck you have to keep reviewing performance to make tweaks such as, adding new keywords discovered from the actual search queries, adding negative keywords, raising or lowering bids.

Venturing into the world of search engine marketing can be intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it, you might be amazed by how much you can accomplish even on a small budget.

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