Search Engine Marketing
In 2017, at least 75% of clicks went to sites that appeared on page one of Google’s search results. Roughly 33% went to the top ranking site for the search query. 41% of clicks go to the top 3 ranked Google Ads.
Before we talk about search engine marketing strategy, let’s walk through some terms.
Understanding the difference between SEM, SEO, and PPC
For better or worse, marketers love their acronyms. In meetings, you’ll hear digital marketing specialists throwing around three letter terms like kids hurling spaghetti in a food fight. There are dozens of terms you’ll learn as you dive into digital marketing, but the big three are SEM, SEO, and PPC.
SEM or Search Engine Marketing
The catch-all for digital marketing, SEM includes both search engine optimization and pay per click. Essentially, SEM references all kinds of digital marketing that can appear on search enginges. Written copy, photos, videos, and digital ads are all part of search engine marketing, and the search engine algorithms that determine who is on page 1 and who will stay invisible are a lot more sophisticated than they used to be. SEM is the umbrella category for digital marketing involving search engines. However, it’s still important to know the two main sub-categories: SEO and PPC.
Marketing to Warm Leads & The Value of SEM
Everyone wants warm leads. Leads who are already curious about or interested in what you have to offer. SEM tactics target that exact audience. Instead of blasting your brand to everyone in the world (which is ok for brand awareness), seo and ppc reach people who are searching for products and services like yours. That means the leads that come in through seo and ppc are more likely to convert into real business down the road.
But the best part about SEM is the data.
There’s no marketing method that’s more trackable. Both SEO and PPC have clear cut results. Either you move up in rankings, or you don’t. Either your Google Ads tracked conversions, or they didn’t. These marketing tactics come with graphs and data that go beyond impressions and clicks. This allows marketers to continuously refine their campaigns and content and check the results.
If you’re looking for data-driven marketing, you’re looking for SEM.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization
Organic traffic, also known as earned traffic, is “free” or non-paid visits to your website. But thinking about search engine optimization as a free way to build marketing traffic is a huge disservice to you and your marketing team. Developing and implementing a good seo strategy takes a lot of worker power. Instead of thinking of SEO as free, think of it as non-paid. When your site ranks organically for a keyword or key phrase, that means you’ve created a lot of compelling content that matches a web visitor’s search intent.
Like the statistics showed, a higher search ranking brings visibility to your website. Optimization (SEO) is more than a Yoast SEO score (though tools like Yoast can be helpful). It’s more than alt-tagging and meta descriptions. More than anything, search engine optimization is about supplying helpful content to people who are looking for it.
Did You Know? Meta descriptions don’t help your SEO. Instead, they can increase your site’s click through rate. This is still good and an important practice! However, if someone is telling you they’ll update your meta descriptions to boost your SEO, be wary. There are far more important site ranking factors.
Three Steps of Search Engine Optimization
In truth, there are a million steps to increase your organic search results. However, we think it’s easiest to think of an SEO strategy in three parts.
Build a site with a healthy foundation that’s technically correct.
If you’re developing a new site, you have a rare, excellent opportunity to prevent problems that might inhibit your site from ranking well. Start with critically thinking about your sitemap and site navigation. What pages and topics are important to your users? How will pages link to each other? The way you organize and categorize your site is one of many big signals to Google about the topic of your site. A site that has a nonsensical flow or no clear topic and purpose is not likely to rank well.
In addition to your site’s navigation structure, make sure you check other technical aspects of your site. Things like slow site speed, broken links, and code that limits your website’s crawlability can hinder your SEO performance. One of the big things web designers tend to forget is the importance of a website’s UX across multiple devices. If your website’s performance suffers on mobile, you’re at risk for loosing a major (50-60%) share of traffic.
Boost Tip: You can get a good metric of your site’s page speed using Google’s free Page Speed Insights tool.
Draft and implement a content strategy.
Once you have a good site in place, you can truly optimize it with great copy. Copywriting for SEO is a mix of techinical skill and creative flair. Copy should always be simple to read, and focused on a specific topic. Subject matter for your copy needs to be motivated by keyword and keyphrase research. By researching keywords, you can learn approximately how much effort you’ll need to put in to rank for certain terms or phrases. Finally, as you’re writing the copy, structure the pages in an SEO-friendly way. Adding the proper headers, spacing, and visuals to your site makes it easier to read and more fun to engage with.
There are dozens of ways to tweak and improve content on your pages. Headers, linking, and optimized videos and images are a few of many. There’s a lot you can do on your own, but having a SEO-knowledgable team on your side can expedite your efforts.
Track Your Performance
Google (and other search engines) updates often, which means you can sit idly with fingers crossed when you’re dealing with SEO. Plus, don’t you want to know if your efforts are working? There are a few ways to track the impact of your organic search optimization.
Google Search Console is the most accurate data out there about your site’s search performance. It doesn’t record your data until you set up an account, though. Make sure you create an account right away so you can see the impact of your results.
Position Tracking Tools can show how your rankings for specific keywords have moved up or down over time. Moz, Ahrefs, and SEMrush are all popular position tracking tools.
Google Analytics is another way to see how people are getting to your site. Here, you can view the influence of SEO and PPC work. Like search console, it can’t backfill data, so set up your account as soon as possible.
A Certified SEO Agency
Momentum team members hold certifications in keyword research, auditing, and more. We take our craft seriously, and we’re always looking for more ways to learn and keep up with what’s happening on the web. Ask about our certifications when you meet with us about your SEO strategy!
PPC or Pay Per Click
If SEO is organic or “free” traffic, PPC is the opposite. Like the name implies, pay per click involves running paid ads that bring people to your site. Typically, these ads run on a cost-per-click basis, meaning you pay a determined amount each time someone clicks your ad.
Google Ads are the heart and soul of PPC. What some people don’t realize is just how many types of Google Ads there are. Not only can Google Ads appear in website search results, they also appear as banners or videos ads on youtube if created properly. These variations of advertisements on Google are known as search, display, and video ads.
Organizing your Google Ad Account
When creating new Google Ads, it’s a good idea to categorize them by campaigns, ad groups, and ads. This pyramid type structure keeps your ad account organized and optimized. To demonstrate the difference between a campaign, ad group, and ad, let’s pretend you own a furniture business – Fabulous Furnishings. If you were going to launch new ad campaigns on Google, you might structure your account like this.
- First, create your ad account.
- Next, create a couple campaigns. These are broad categories like a branded ad campaign (ads for Fabulous Furnishings) and a products campaign (ads for specific tables, couches, etc.).
- Then, create ad groups within each campaign. The branded ad campaign may not need more than one ad group “Fabulous Furnishings Ads” unless you have sub brands or partnering brands you’d like to promote. Create product ad groups for different product categories: dressers, tables, desks, etc. Each category should have its own ad group.
- Finally, create ads for specific products within those ad groups. For example, you might have an ad for “folding tables,” an ad for “eight-person tables,” and an ad for “rough-edge tables” within the “tables” ad group.
Google Ad Strategy and Targeting
Strangely enough, Google Ad strategy is similar to that of SEO. Both include keyword research, content writing, and tracking. With Google Ads, there are a few things that really determine your ads placement and success: your bids (how much you’re willing to pay per click), your ad relevance, and your landing page score. Google wants to make sure everything from the headline of your ad to the call to action on your landing page fits with your campaign, creating a better user experience. Make sure to monitor your ad relevance, landing page scores, and bids to improve your ads’ performance.
Targeting on Google Ads is done with keywords, audience behavior, and affinity categories. Once someone has visited your site from a Google Ad, they can be retargetted. No doubt you’ve visited a website, only to leave the website and start seeing ads for that website everywhere. That’s retargetting. It’s used by many PPC platforms like Facebook, Google, or LinkedIn. This powerful tool keeps your businesses at the top of people’s minds even after they leave your site.
Besides retargetting, Google offers a number of ad extensions and tweaking options that allow the ad creators to maximize their ads. We’ve had great success with Google Ads for businesses as well as for marketing trade show events.
Momentum Marketing is a Google Partner
Members of our team hold certifications in search, display, and video advertising on Google. We’re trusted to create and optimize Google Ad campaigns for businesses in Indiana and beyond.
How long does it take to get results from SEM?
First, it depends what you mean by results.
Search engine optimization is generally a long game, and a continous one. Google Ads can get results in days. Both are important parts of your overall marketing strategy.
Depending on how quickly we can learn about your business and get content approved for your website, you could see significant improvements in SEO and PPC within a month – especially if your audience is local. If you’re competing nationally, the effort will need to be more significant, but it’s still possible to see position jumps for specific keywords quickly if you start by targeting quick-win keywords.
Overall, we like to tell people that SEM is an ongoing effort that will keep your graphs moving up-and-to-the-right. Significant increases in traffic may take months, and even years, but ranking and engagement on a couple of keywords could make a big difference early on.
The important thing to remember is that creating good content will never hurt you. It provides more assets to your sales team and gives your web visitors more answers to their questions.
Get Started with SEM
Really, creating a SEO and PPC strategy isn’t a cut-and-paste thing. It’s more like being a doctor who needs to diagnose and treat a site for errors, while also creating a healthy lifestyle plan that will improve the patient’s health over time.
To get an idea of what it might take to improve your search engine marketing, set up an appointment with our team. We’ll take a look at your site and your needs together and let you know what kind of potential might be waiting on the other side of an SEM strategy.