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  • Marc Primo Warren

Heading Towards A More Robust Future With SEM

This is an article “Heading Towards A More Robust Future With SEM” by Marc Primo Warren

The world is changing – fast! Just three years ago, there were still many brick-and-mortar stores that got by without the help of digital marketing. Since the pandemic hit, digital acceleration has grown nearly three times globally since 2018, with a 32.4% consumer growth year on year in 2020 for eCommerce. However, many private companies are still struggling in the Byzantine world of digital marketing. To many, the fastest way to make a mark online is via search engine marketing (SEM) rather than simply resorting to optimization.

In terms of testing what works for your ad campaigns, SEM is the better alternative as strategies gain more mileage for targeted keyword searches. The thing is, you'll also need search engine optimization (SEO) to jumpstart your SEM campaigns and steer them towards conversion and higher traffic.

To better understand how SEM works in today's evolving digital marketing landscape, let's discuss SEM in detail.

What sets SEM apart from SEO?

Not knowing the difference between these two strategies can turn your campaign into a jumble of futile efforts. Both only work if one campaign supports the other when optimizing online visibility on the search results pages (SERPs). The reason why most small businesses opt to implement SEO strategies over SEM is that the former relies on organic assets that do not entail higher costs. But there are specific wins that SEM can achieve which SEO can't.

To make things more straightforward, SEM entails posting paid ads on various channels to gain results. You get a boost in visibility whenever a user enters targeted keywords on the search bar, but you do have to pay for every click (PPC) your link gets. Of course, the important thing here is to properly manage your SEM budget and optimize your campaigns so that your business isn’t flushing money down the drain.

The first step is understanding how both campaigns work. SEO strategies aim to increase traffic to your websites via organic search results, while SEM does the same via both organic and paid ads. In terms of ensuring your online visibility, SEM performs better, but the tricky thing is you'll have to determine if you are posting the suitable ads for Google's paid search results.

Here are four tips that can help you optimize your SEM strategies fast:

Reach more with ad extensions

Imagine buying a lot to build a theme park. To earn more from tickets, you'd naturally want to use all available spaces for rides that your visitors will find interesting. The same thing applies to SEM campaigns, and ad extensions are what you need to focus on to achieve it.

Ad extensions are support features that expand reach by providing more information your target audiences will find interesting. This added information may include your business address, contact information, and links to related landing pages.

These coded extensions will significantly improve your SEM efforts as they offer personalized content to target audiences while increasing your website's visibility. With a higher click-through rate, you lower your PPC costs and get faster results than simply relying on SEO strategies.

Set up ad extensions via Google Ads wherein you can customize each information type you want to customize. Now, you may opt to set manual or automated ad extensions for your ad campaigns. However, setting these up manually is recommended despite the process being a bit cumbersome.

Optimize your landing pages

Landing pages should work as TV remotes do when you click a button and switch the channels on the screen. Optimizing your landing pages, avoiding circumventing systems on social media, and leading users to a completely unrelated page is a massive no-no in SEM.

You can promote your landing pages by adding 'call to action' buttons on your paid ads and exclusively allotting the page space to brand messages. Ensure that what you put on your landing page helps establish your SEM campaigns, such as product shots and information, tutorial articles, or community threads.

With the help of some on-page SEO tactics, landing pages can also improve your visitor's experience and limit bounce rates. Improve your landing pages' site speeds, monitor your website performance, and put in the effort to make its design elements appealing to visitors. Even if your SEM landing pages won't have to worry about search rankings, user experience is crucial to keep your visitors coming back for more.

Figure out what ads work

As mentioned earlier, SEM does a lot when testing your ad assets and materials. Doing A/B testing or determining which versions of your landing pages, ads, targeted keywords, or even SEM strategies get more traction online is essential if you want to improve your click-through rate and metrics.

Approach your split tests like a controlled experiment solved via the scientific method. You first have to identify what aspect of your SEM campaign needs improvement, set goals to solve those problems, and draft two versions of your ad sets, landing pages, content, or strategies.

Once you gather valuable data for both tests, review their respective performance metrics and start improving your campaigns. Remember, the standard for A/B test runs should not exceed two weeks in real-world environments such as social media or the Google Display Network.

Set your automated bidding

Though SEM strategies have higher chances of appearing on the first pages of SERPs than SEO, you'll still have to outbid competitors for the top spot. This aspect is why SEM campaigns usually turn off most small businesses. However, if you are willing to spend for your clicks, the faster you will increase your brand's exposure and establish an online presence.

Things can be easier if you set the automated bidding features on Google Ads as it puts your bids according to your campaign goals. These smart features work through algorithms that factor in necessary consumer signals such as preferred devices, time, location, and remarketing lists. Set the auction-time bidding on your ad campaigns and your bid targets for your cost per acquisition (CPA) and return of ad spend (ROAS) to maximize your conversions and conversion value.

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