Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Marketing in 2021

Search engine marketing can be great for businesses of any size. Keep reading for a better understanding of search engine marketing in 2021…

In this beginner’s guide to search engine marketing (SEM), you will find everything from how to advertise your business on search engines to types of search engine marketing ads and more.

SEM, is a great way to increase your website’s visibility on search engines. However, Google Ads, Microsoft Ads and other SEM platforms are notorious for being hard to use and to get effective results when running campaigns yourself. Keep reading to better understand SEM and how it can benefit your business.

Photo by Myriam Jessier on Unsplash.

What is search engine marketing?

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of paid internet marketing, which increases your website’s visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs) and other ads or search networks. This is primarily done on major search engines like Google and Bing, using Google Ads or Microsoft Ads to advertise on their search engines. 

Businesses can pay to post their ads on search engines for relevant keywords, in addition to their ads appearing on apps and YouTube, targeting relevant audiences.

Online tools to find popular ad search terms:

  • Google Search Console
  • Google Keyword Planner
  • SEMrush
  • Google Trends

Search Engine Marketing vs. Search Engine Optimisation

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is used to better your website’s positioning in organic search results, while SEM is used to better your website’s positioning in the paid results section.

For example, if you’re looking for florists in Rockhampton, you’ll see the top few results say ‘Ad’ next to them. These mean businesses have paid to have their website rank above organic search results for that keyword. The results below ads on search engines are organic search results. These are displayed as they have ranked well for that search term, meeting more than 300 ranking factors.

What is a keyword?

A keyword is used to describe a topic or body of content. It can be a single word or phrase, such as ‘cake’, or ‘cakes in Rockhampton’. Understanding keywords relative to your website and business is essential for both SEO and SEM. 

Once you know your keywords, you can use them in your blogs and other content to try to get search engines to recognise your business for that keyword. Keywords are important for SEM as the ones you pick will be one of the considerations for where you’re displayed, how much you pay, conversion rates, etc.

How does search engine marketing work?

Search engine marketing works by creating a campaign in a search engine ad platform — like Google Ads — and bidding for keywords, which when won, will place your ad within search results for that term. For example, if you own a pet store located in Townsville, you may bid on the keyword ‘dog toys Townsville’ to try to rank best for that search result. 

Another way to think about keywords is to think of the possible words and phrases your customers would search to try to find your store. If you’re the answer to their search queries, you just need to find out what they’re searching for and try to rank highest for this search.

Pay-per-click advertising.

Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is a paid search engine marketing method where you pay for your ad only when someone clicks on the action of your ad, such as a link to your website. By only paying for the ad when it’s clicked on, it makes it easier for businesses to know their ads are worthwhile and receiving clicks. PPC advertising comes in two primary formats: Search Network Campaign and Display Network Campaign. 

These two ad formats can be a great duo when setup correctly, getting you better outcomes than they can individually. If you’re planning to use both search and display network ads, it’s best to understand how each works and how they work together to reach your target audience.

Search Network Campaign.

Search Network Campaign ads are displayed on Google search results (and sometimes Google search partners) using these formats:

  • Text
  • Dynamic Search
  • Call only
  • Shopping
  • Images
  • Video

When using Search Network ads, it’s best to target more specific keywords over broad or highly competitive ones. This is because:

  1. It helps target only people who are interested in your business.
  2. There’s less competition fighting to rank the highest for that keyword.
  3. You won’t be wasting money trying to rank for a broad keyword.

Another reason to bid on specific keywords is it will lower your cost-per-click. To bid on specific keywords, you can target geo targets, longer keywords and negative keywords with less bids. 

A negative keyword is a keyword or list of keywords you do not want your ads to target. For example, if you were targeting the key phrase ‘plumbers’ but do not want to show in results for ’emergency plumbers’ you would add ’emergency plumbers’ to your negative keywords.

However, it’s important to understand that it can be hard to rank in the top results for competitive keywords — especially if you’re competing with established businesses, such as Lorna Jane or Adidas.

For example, if you own an activewear brand, it would be hard to rank highly for competitive keywords like “activewear” or “womens activewear.” Larger brands will dominate these keywords since they have the budget and likely tick a lot of the 300+ boxes for search engine optimisation. However, by targeting other less competitive keywords like “Australian made womens activewear” your business can still target your audience. 

Optimising your website and ads for search engines can also help your website rank higher in paid search results, especially if your competitors don’t have an optimised website. 

Display Network Campaign.

Display Network Campaign ads are used to promote your business on websites your target audience uses. Although this type of advertising doesn’t involve search engine results pages, it does operate in Google Ads, which is why it’s still an important ad type to understand. Ad formats include:

  • Responsive display ads
  • Image ads
  • Engagement ads
  • Gmail ads 

A great advantage to display ads is they are put directly in front of your target audience, rather than waiting for your target audience to search for your keyword/s. They primarily help increase brand awareness, by showing your ad on multiple sites to try to get users to recognise your business.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Knowing your ROI is important to ensure your ads are worthwhile. To calculate your ROI, simply subtract the cost of the investment from the benefit of the investment, then divide the result by the cost of the investment and multiply it by 100 to get a percentage figure. 

For a simple example, if it costs you $3 per click using Google Ads and every sale is $16 on average, you would calculate this as:

16 – 3 = 13. 13/3 = 4.33. 4.33 x 100 = 433% ROI.

Calculating your return on investment is important because it can help you determine if your ads are profitable and targeting the right audience. If not, you may need to tweak your ads to ensure they’re optimised to be seen by your target audience and have an effective call-to-action.

Of course, as a Google Premier Partner and Microsoft Marketing Partner, Localsearch can help you with your search engine marketing. Contact our local digital marketing specialists for your custom quote.

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      Chloe Thistle

      Junior Marketing Administrator

      Chloe Thistle is a Junior Marketing Administrator at Localsearch, bringing her talents and background in digital and social media marketing to her role. She has sharpened her marketing skills across many different industries, including entertainment, fashion and in the B2B field. In her spare time, Chloe can be found either lounging at the beach or five coffees deep at one of her favourite local cafés. No stranger to adventures, she’s trekked to Mt. Everest Base Camp — fueled by coffee of course — has completed the Kokoda Challenge and is always looking for the next mountain to climb! Chloe loves looking for ways to combine her passions for adventure, sustainability and marketing, always chasing the latest trends in both marketing and fashion. Now, she’s utilising her vast life and digital marketing experience to blog and assist in the content with the Localsearch Marketing Team.