Search engine marketing (SEM) is one of the most effective ways to grow your business online and reach your target audience. SEM is the process of using paid advertising to increase the visibility and traffic of your website on search engines like Google and Bing. SEM can help you achieve various goals, such as increasing brand awareness, generating leads, driving sales, or boosting conversions.
But how do you create a successful SEM campaign that delivers the best results for your business? What are the key factors that you need to consider before launching your ads? In this article, we will cover the most important SEM fundamentals for digital marketing that you should know. These are:
- Keyword research
- Ad copywriting
- Landing page optimization
- Bid management
- Campaign tracking and analysis
Keyword research is the first and most crucial step in any SEM campaign. Keyword research is the process of finding and selecting the most relevant and profitable keywords for your ads. Keywords are the words or phrases that users type into search engines to find what they are looking for. By choosing the right keywords, you can match your ads with the user’s intent and show them at the right time and place.
Keyword research involves:
- Identifying your target audience and their needs, pain points, goals, and interests.
- Brainstorming a list of potential keywords that relate to your products, services, or niche.
- Using keyword tools like Google Keyword Planner, Bing Keyword Research Tool, or SEMrush to find more keyword ideas, analyze their search volume, competition, cost-per-click (CPC), and relevance.
- Grouping your keywords into different categories based on their themes, topics, or user intent. For example, you can group your keywords into informational, navigational, transactional, or commercial categories.
- Choosing the best keywords for your ads based on their performance potential, budget, and goals. You can use different types of keywords, such as broad match, phrase match, exact match, or negative match, to control how closely your ads match with the user’s query.
Ad copywriting is the art and science of creating compelling and persuasive text for your ads that attracts and convinces your target audience to click on them and take action. Ad copywriting is essential for improving your click-through rate (CTR), quality score, and conversion rate.
Ad copywriting involves:
- Understanding your unique selling proposition (USP) and value proposition. What makes your offer different from your competitors? What benefits do you provide to your customers? How do you solve their problems or fulfill their desires?
- Writing clear and concise headlines that capture the attention and interest of your audience. Your headlines should include your main keyword, highlight your USP or value proposition, and create a sense of urgency or curiosity.
- Writing engaging and informative descriptions that provide more details about your offer and persuade your audience to click on your ads. Your descriptions should include relevant keywords, call to action (CTA), and emotional triggers.
- Using ad extensions to enhance your ads with additional information or features that make them more appealing and useful. Ad extensions can include site links, callouts, structured snippets, call buttons, location information, ratings, reviews, etc.
- Testing different variations of your ad copy to see which one performs better. You can use tools like Google Ads or Bing Ads to run split tests or experiments on your ads and compare their results.
Landing page optimization
Landing page optimization is the process of improving the design, content, and functionality of your landing page to increase its relevance, usability, and conversion rate. A landing page is the web page that users land on after clicking on your ads. It is where you deliver your offer and persuade users to take the desired action.
Landing page optimization involves:
- Aligning your landing page with your ad copy. Your landing page should match the message, tone, style, and keywords of your ad copy. This will create a consistent user experience and increase trust and credibility.
- Creating a clear and compelling headline that summarizes your offer and value proposition. Your headline should be visible above the fold (the part of the web page that is visible without scrolling) and capture the attention of your visitors.
- Writing concise and persuasive subheadings and body copy that provide more information about your offer and benefits. Your subheadings and body copy should use bullet points, lists, images, videos, infographics, etc., to make them easy to read and understand.
- Adding social proof elements that demonstrate the popularity, authority, or credibility of your offer. Social proof elements can include testimonials, reviews, ratings, case studies, awards, logos of trusted partners or clients, etc.
- Adding a clear and strong CTA that tells your visitors what action you want them to take and why. Your CTA should be visible, prominent, and actionable. It should use words that convey urgency, value, or emotion, such as “Buy Now”, “Sign Up”, “Get Started”, etc.
- Optimizing your landing page for mobile devices. Your landing page should be responsive, meaning that it adapts to the screen size and resolution of different devices. It should also be fast, easy to navigate, and user-friendly.
Bid management is the process of setting and adjusting the amount of money that you are willing to pay for each click on your ads. Bid management is important for controlling your ad spend, maximizing your return on investment (ROI), and achieving your campaign goals.
Bid management involves:
- Choosing a bidding strategy that suits your campaign objectives and budget. You can choose between manual bidding, where you set your bids yourself, or automated bidding, where you let Google Ads or Bing Ads set your bids for you based on your goals. Some of the common bidding strategies are cost-per-click (CPC), cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM), cost-per-acquisition (CPA), or target return on ad spend (ROAS).
- Setting a daily budget that limits the amount of money that you can spend on your ads per day. Your daily budget should be based on your overall marketing budget, campaign duration, and expected results.
- Adjusting your bids based on various factors that affect your ad performance, such as keywords, ad groups, campaigns, locations, devices, time of day, day of week, etc. You can use bid modifiers to increase or decrease your bids for certain segments of your audience or situations.
- Monitoring your key performance indicators (KPIs), such as impressions, clicks, CTR, CPC, conversions, conversion rate, CPA, ROAS, etc., to measure the effectiveness of your bids and optimize them accordingly.
Campaign tracking and analysis
Campaign tracking and analysis is the process of measuring and evaluating the results of your SEM campaign and using the insights to improve your future performance. Campaign tracking and analysis is essential for understanding what works and what doesn’t in your SEM strategy and making data-driven decisions.
Campaign tracking and analysis involves:
- Setting up conversion tracking tools that allow you to track the actions that users take after clicking on your ads. Conversion tracking tools can include Google Analytics, Google Ads Conversion Tracking, Bing Ads Conversion Tracking, etc.
- Setting up goals and KPIs that align with your campaign objectives and reflect the success of your SEM efforts. Goals and KPIs can include traffic, leads, sales, revenue, ROI, etc.
- Analyzing your campaign data and reports to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your SEM strategy. You can use various metrics and dimensions to segment and filter your data and compare different aspects of your campaign performance.
- Testing and experimenting with different elements of your SEM campaign to find out what works best for your business. You can use tools like Google Optimize, Bing Ads Experiments, or Unbounce to run A/B tests or multivariate tests on your ads, keywords, landing pages, etc.
- Implementing the best practices and recommendations that you learn from your campaign tracking and analysis to optimize your SEM campaign and achieve better results.
SEM is a powerful digital marketing technique that can help you grow your online presence and reach your target audience. However, SEM requires a lot of planning, research, creativity, optimization, and analysis to be successful. By following the SEM fundamentals that we have discussed in this article, you can create a solid SEM foundation for your business and improve your chances of achieving your online goals.
If you want to learn more about SEM or need help with creating and managing your SEM campaigns, feel free to contact us today. We are a team of experienced and certified SEM experts who can help you with all aspects of SEM strategy and execution. We can help you with keyword research, ad copywriting, landing page optimization, bid management, campaign tracking and analysis, and more. We can also help you with other digital marketing services like SEO (search engine optimization), SMM (social media marketing), email marketing, content marketing.