What is Search Engine Marketing?
Search engine marketing, also known as pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, is a form of paid search advertising with the goal of placing your company’s ad on the first page of Google search results. Search engine marketing is a popular digital marketing tactic because it is designed for direct lead generation, it provides numerous opportunities for testing and optimization, and because companies of any size can utilize it to run an effective campaign. As consumers turn online more and more to both research and purchase products and services, search engine marketing can demonstrably improve your company’s bottom line.
Ranking organically on Google and the other search engines is a difficult, time-intensive process. Creating the quality and quantity of content needed to rank highly takes a great deal of time and resources. And because all of your competitors are also attempting to rank, success is never guaranteed nor permanent. Search engine marketing can be a great option to place your business on the front page of Google in the short-term, while you continue to invest in a quality organic search marketing program. PPC ads can be created and pushed live very quickly, and with the right strategy and implementation, your firm has a chance to rank almost immediately.
Google Adwords offers a robust online dashboard for managing your search engine marketing program. It provides the ability to create your ad copy, set a daily budget, and define your audience. Google also allows you to choose your target keyword phrases and to select which page of your website users will be directed to once they click on your ad. These tools and options allow your company to develop a PPC campaign that is highly targeted toward your ideal customers, and to collect multiple data points on the results of your campaign to inform future efforts. Despite Google’s robust dashboard, however, a successful search marketing program still requires outside expertise and experience be brought to bear.
The best way to develop a successful PPC ad campaign that generates results for your business is to build your program around the concept of searcher intent. Searcher intent refers to providing the answer that best addresses the issues and problems that your customers are encountering. No matter how well-targeted your PPC ads are, if each component of the ad copy does not specifically speak to the searcher’s intent, it is far less likely that they will click on your ad. Not only that, but Google’s algorithms have become much more sophisticated and are now preferring ads that speak to searcher intent over those that do not.
This means that the ad title, description, and URL should specifically speak to the user’s problem. Your ad copy needs to be engaging and compelling–and you have limited space in which to do so. Because of Google’s character-count limitations, each word of copy must be carefully chosen for optimal performance. In addition to the copywriting, you need to be sure to select the best keyword phrases so that your ad shows up at the right times to the right audiences. It’s important to think about what your customers would type into Google, not necessarily how you would speak about your products and services. As the old adage says, ‘no one ever bought a drill because they wanted a drill. They bought a drill because they needed a hole’. This concept applies to your PPC campaigns as well. Think about what problem your customers are trying to solve, and therefore what they might enter into the search bar.
You also want to select the page of your website that best addresses the user’s search query. You shouldn’t automatically send all of your search engine marketing traffic to your home page. In some cases, this might be the best option. But if your PPC ad promotes a specific product or service, select that product or service’s specific page on your site as the landing page, since it will best address the searcher’s intent and make it easier for them to find the information that they are looking for.
Why is Search Engine Marketing Important?
Limited Barriers to Entry
One advantage of search engine marketing is that it is relatively easy to get a campaign up and running. As discussed earlier, some initial strategic planning will help set your campaign up for success by determining who your audience is, what they are searching for, how you can help solve their problem, and making sure that your ads click through to the best possible page to do so. Another great thing about PPC marketing is that your company can set a budget that you are comfortable with. It is important to keep in mind that search engine marketing is a bidding process, so your budget does need to be large enough to allow you to compete with other companies that are targeting the same keyword phrases. That said, there are creative ways that your business can stretch your budget to generate qualified leads including focusing on tight geographies, specific dayparts, long-tail keywords, and others. The point is, you don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to run an impactful search engine marketing campaign. Though many Fortune 500 companies do exactly that. Also, PPC campaigns can be turned on or off very quickly, providing even further control of your campaign budget.
Fast Turnaround Time
Often when a business decides to initiate a new marketing program, it is because they are in need of more and better-qualified leads. For this reason, these businesses typically want these leads to arrive sooner rather than later. But many types of marketing programs require a certain degree of ramp-up time, whether due to ad production schedules, vendor lead times, or internal budget allocation processes. Search engine marketing, on the other hand, can be up and running almost immediately. This exceptionally quick turn-around time allows your company to begin receiving leads for your sales team very quickly. Assuming your campaign has been properly set up, these leads should also be good quality. This offers the benefit of faster closing times and more immediate revenue and return on investment for your business. And remember, because you can control the amount of money you invest in your PPC program, your lead volume is dependent only on what you are prepared to budget to the campaign.
Testing & Optimization
A further advantage of search engine marketing is the ability to test different ad campaigns and ads within a campaign to see how each performs in relation to the others and to then optimize those ads and campaigns going forward. The options for testing are virtually endless: ad title copy, ad description copy, geographical targeting, demographic targeting, landing pages, etc. But this sort of testing is only useful if you are able to first understand the results of this testing, and then analyze how to leverage this information to make better-informed decisions for future ads. Timmermann Group specializes in not just implementing and managing PPC campaigns but also testing and optimizing them for maximum performance. Continual testing and optimization also help your PPC performance from another perspective. Remember that we discussed how Google works to present not just the highest-bid ads but the most relevant ads to users? By optimizing your ads to best meet the needs of the searcher’s intent and providing a great user experience, over time Google recognizes this and factors the high quality of your ads into its results. The ultimate result of these efforts is an ever-improving quality and quantity of leads for your business.