Search Engine Marketing Promotes Your Business Via Paid Ads
Using paid ads that appear on search engine results is an excellent way to get new customers for your business. You have the ability to control the amount that you will pay based upon which keywords you use, how you want results measured and when the ads display.
Every business person knows that if you want to succeed, you have to reach your customers. Back in the day, this might mean taking full advantage of print ads and directory listings. While those are still important, ads placed on the major search engines (Google, Yahoo!, and Bing) are becoming increasingly important. The strategies and techniques of using paid internet text ads is known as search engine marketing (SEM).
To determine when your paid text ads appears in search engine results, you must select desirable keywords and keyphrases, and bid against competitors to determine which ads will appear. The order ads appear is influenced by bidding, relevance and other factors. As a result, launching an effective SEM campaign is a three-step process:
- researching the best keywords for your business
- establishing your search engine campaigns
- managing your SEM efforts on a consistent basis
Research in Critical to Uncover Effective Keywords
Developing an effective SEM campaign is a lot like managing any investment portfolio: You want to save as much money as possible while simultaneously investing as much money as possible in areas likely to achieve results. The first step in achieving this goal is to determine the most effective keywords for your business. The goal of keyword research is to identify as many keywords and keyphrases as possible and organize them into logical groups. The end result of keyword research is a "keyword portfolio" that can be used as the basis for all search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns.
To create your own keyword portfolio, you can follow a simple three-step process.
- Create a "seed list" of 30-50 keywords that describe your business
- Divide the keywords into mutually exclusive categories
- Expand the number of keywords in each category
Begin by creating your keyword portfolio by coming up with a keyword seed list of 30-50 keywords and keyphrases that describe the full range of your company's core products and services. For help in compiling your list, you can test keywords using the major search engines, or use free search engine optimization tools, such as those offered at bruceclay.com or other SEO sites. If the keywords you chose take you to your competitors' sites, you're on the right track.
Then, separate your seed list into categories. Categories should be specific enough (mutually exclusive) so that keywords don't overlap. They should also be general enough to allow for an many groups within the category.
Once groups are established, you need to expand the keywords in each group to increase the size of your keyword portfolio. Although our coffee shop may begin with a seed list of 20-30 words, the number of keywords and phrases will grow based on iterations and combinations of different words. A typical coffee shop can easily end up with 500 to 1500 keywords.
Annie's Coffee Cafe is a cozy coffee shop that offers a full line of coffee and tea drinks, as well as light meals. Annie's also sells coffee and tea, supplies and equipment. The shop also offer free wi-fi and a room that can be reserved for meetings. Annie begins with a basic list of keywords (her seed list) that includes the following terms:
coffeeshop, coffee shop, free wifi, free wireless Internet, café, lunch, dinner, breakfast, bakery, organic coffee, barista, latte, espresso, keurig, coffee roaster, coffee supplies, cappuccino, coffee supplies, coffee grinder, coffee press, espresso beans, coffee pods, Kuerig cups, coffee cups, bistro
Annie then organized her the seed list into the following mutually exclusive categories:
Next, each category is divided further into groups. Keywords within the same group must be related closely enough to share the same text ad. In the example above, "coffee pods" and "coffee grinder" are different groups within the "supplies" category. Each keyword group required a unique text ad. People who seek coffee pods aren't seeking the same thing as individuals seeking a coffee grinder.
Mapping Out Your Search Engine Campaign
To advertise on search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing,
business owners specify the keywords that trigger their ads and the
maximum amount they are willing to pay per click. This determines how
their ad will be displayed within search engine results as "sponsored
The display order of paid ads is influenced by advertisers' bids and
other less tangible factors such as the "quality score" of ads and the
quality of destination landing pages on your site.
With 65.5 percent of market share as of June 2011, Google is the most
popular search advertising program, followed closely by Yahoo! with
roughly 16 percent of the market and Bing with 14.4 percent. (Source: comScore)
As a result, most business owners will want to begin by creating and
optimizing search engine marketing campaigns for Google. Thereafter,
successful campaigns can be adapted for other search engines.
With Google, you can spend $10 and send your advertisement to 50
million people instantly. Marketeers who jump into Google Adwords for
the first time often get a crash course in street-smart direct response
marketing. Too often, the result is overspending. To prevent
overspending, take these issues into careful consideration when planning
an Adwords campaign:
- Relevant ads are rewarded. Your position on the page is
determined by the cost of your bid. However, the higher the percentage
of prospects that click on your ad, the less you have to bid to keep
- Ads must be clicked on 0.5 percent of the time. This
means out of 200 exposures, your Google Ad must be clicked at least one
time. If it does not get clicked the minimum amount, Google will flag
the keyword for removal and raise the minimum bid price. This means you
suffer financially if you cannot write decent ads.
- Take full advantage of features that control ad placement.
If you are using Google's AdSense to serve your ads to other websites
(and vice versa) you should take time to ensure that competitor ads are
blocked from appearing on your homepage. You should also limit your
placements to those types of websites that are likely to be frequented
by potential customers.
- Use keywords in your ad headline If the keyword is in the
heading, the search engine will highlight it. This increases the
likelihood that potential customers will spot your ad, which in turn
- Write action-oriented ad copy. Use action-oriented verbs
in your ad copy. "Buy," "act", "reserve" are all action verbs. Convey
your brand value proposition clearly.
- Provide a relevant landing page. Have many variations of your primary keyword under one campaign. Let them sort out automatically.
Developing a search engine campaign is just the beginning. If you
truly want to be successful, you must constantly refine your SEM
Monitor the Success of Your SEM Campaigns
Now that you have implemented your SEM campaign, you need to monitor
your results and continually refine your campaign based on what you
learn. The areas you should monitor and refine include:
- Refining your keywords
- Scheduling your ads for maximum impact
- Improving your landing pages
Refining Your Keywords to Improve SEM Effectiveness
When evaluating your keywords, you should focus on determining which
words provide the biggest "bang for the buck." More words are not better
if it means that your ad will turn up in out of context results. It is very important to realize that "keywords" also include two- and three-word phrases. Use phrases to better target your keywords.
RGS Fishing Guide Service wants to increase
the number of bookings for its fly-fishing trips. One of the keywords
that the owner had in his original keywords portfolio was fish. However, this meant that his ad displayed on searches for
None of these searchers were interested in guided fly fishing trips. He decided to drop fish and insert fishing guide service and fly-fishing guide.
Use Keyword tools to Find New Keywords
If you are using Google's AdWords, then you should spend time working with their Keyword Tool.
By entering one of your keywords into the tool, you can surface related
words and phrases. Continue to add specific terms and filter them out,
both through Google and your own market testing.
Leverage Available "Fine-Tuning" Features and Filters
Think like your customers and then fine-tune your keywords (and phrases) to display your ad only on the most promising searches.
While his new phrases fishing guide service and fly-fishing guide proved more successful, the owner of RGS Fishing Guide Service knows there is room for more improvement.
As it appears now, his phrase fishing guide service
could allow his ad to show if any of the words were matched: fishing or
guide or service. To get better results, he sets the phrase to be
searched only as a phrase. He also realizes that fly-fishing guide could mean a book about fly-fishing. To solve this problem, he adds a negative keyword" he adds -book to his list.
When refining search engine marketing plans, there are always more
keywords and untapped markets to add to your Google AdWords campaigns.
It will require continual research and experimentation to add keywords
drawn from new markets and keyword categories.
The key to the entire operation is having well written ads tested for
actual sales conversion. You may test these conversions by adding
third-party tools in order to track actual shopping cart sales.
Tweak Your Ad Placements and Your Landing Pages to Increase Conversions
When refining your search engine campaigns, you should consider
scheduling your ads to run at the specific days and times that will
produce the best results. Ad scheduling lets you tell Google (and the
other search engines) exactly when you want your ads to run. It also
allows you to modify keyword bids based on time of day and day of week.
It also allows you to specify when your ad should not appear.
Ad scheduling gives you control over when
your ad may appear, but it does not guarantee that it will appear. The
usual rules for determining what ads display to the viewer apply—your
ads compete with all the other ads that want that page space.
In order to use scheduling effectively you must have a good grasp on two types of information:
- the demographics of your target customers and
- when those target customers are more likely to be on the internet.
Each time slot on the internet varies based on usage levels,
demographics and the type of content sought. As a simple example, if you
are targeting the "tween" market, it would make little sense for you to
be running ads during the school day when most tweens have limited
access to the web. The major search engines have a variety of tools to
help with this process—make full use of them.
Improve Your Landing Pages to Ensure Users Stay
If your ads result in a high number of clicks, but only a small
number of people actually do something on your site (conversions), you
should examine your landing pages carefully to make sure they are of the
highest quality. A landing page is the destination page on your website
where individuals go after clicking on your ad. For an SEM campaign, a
good landing page is just as important as a good ad, good keywords and
Google states that a high-quality landing page measures up on three factors:
- content that informs the user regarding products and services
- transparency regarding you and how your business interacts with its customers
- navigability which enables the user to find his/her way about the page and the site with the least amount of aggravation
The page should contain original content that is highly relevant
to the keyword that triggered the ad placement. Effectively implementing
this could mean that you will have separate landing pages for your most
valuable keywords. Of course, you should follow web content best
practices when creating the content for each of these pages. Remember,
site visitors are impatient: They will abandon your page (bounce) if
they don't find answers immediately.
Annie's Coffee Shop decides to have an ad for
coffee-making supplies and one for her line of teas. She creates two
separate landing pages: one that features her coffee-making supplies and
one that describes the wide selection of loose and bagged teas that she
has available. Annie takes care to include complete descriptions and
images of the products. She also makes sure that the same text does not
appear in multiple pages within her website.
Google stresses that your landing page should let the readers know the following information.
- Who you are. The reader should be able to tell what your business is and what it does.
- What are the terms and conditions of doing business with you.
The landing page should clearly set out the prices, shipping/handling
charges, refund policies, and delivery methods/dates for the products
and services advertised.
- What (if anything) your site will require in terms of personal information from them.
For example, if you request an email address, you must explain why you
need the information and what you will do with it. (Needless to say, you
must be accurate and honest in these statements, or you will run into
trouble down the road.)
- What (if anything) your site will do to their computer.
Most small businesses are not in the business of creating downloadable
applications, but as technology becomes more user-friendly, this could
change. If you are delivering your product be installing it or
downloading it onto your customer's computer, then you need to fully
disclose what changes will be made and what will be installed. Google's
provided some software download principles to provide some guidance in this area.