SEM (search engine marketing) is a thing right now. Everybody talks about it, some people even do it – but what do we know about it?
We know that no online business could survive without steady incoming traffic, the more the better. Where do you get some?
Your best bet would be reaching out to potential your customers via paid advertising on Google and increasing your website visibility on the search engine results page via myriads of special and not so special manipulations with your website code, content, and design.
This is what Internet marketing in general and search engine marketing, in particular, are all about.
What Is SEM?
In case you haven’t noticed, customers on the Internet have become quite lazy and obnoxious recently. They don’t want to spend hours researching various websites and comparing options presented on them. They aren’t patient enough to scroll through a few pages on Google search to find what they’re looking for.
What they really want is to have someone do the dirty job of sorting everything out for them, the result of which would be a couple of the most suitable options relevant to their search. Google handles that pretty well – hence, AdWords, PPC advertising, and so on.
How does an online business fit into this tight Internet marketing scheme? Through a properly done search engine marketing otherwise known as SEM. So what is SEM?
Most experts would define SEM as a form of Internet marketing that involves promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) primarily through paid advertising.
Primarily but not necessarily – this is why SEM would sometimes include SEO as its part. However, SEO is a whole different world with its own rules and limitations so it’s easier to keep SEO separated from SEM – like they are in the screenshot below.
Organic search results are more difficult to improve and sustain while they’re relatively affordable (if you don’t take time spent into consideration) and have a long-lasting effect.
Sponsored (paid) results drive traffic instantly. Plus, they are generally more expensive and last only while you pay for them.
However, with a proper search engine marketing expert at your disposal, you can cut the advertising campaign costs significantly and improve the conversion rate.
So now that you know the answer to “What is SEM?” question, it is time to talk about search engine marketing.
Search Engine Marketing: Methods and Metrics
Search engine marketing is a form of Internet marketing. It comes in various methods and techniques designed to help your business and/or website make it big.
It is important to note that all these methods should be approached with great care and attention, preferably by a specialist or an agency that provide SEM services.
Display ads are the most popular search engine marketing method by far. They are abundant, rampant, and found pretty much everywhere.
Despite coming in a great variety of forms (banners, pop-ups, floating ads, expanding ads, trick banners, or even news feed ads), display ads adhere to the same logic:
- remember a user via cookies on his/her computer (browse history);
- follow that user to wherever he/she goes and display ads relevant to their browse history;
- search ads.
This is your typical everyday ad seen on search engine results pages on Google and other search engines. Google AdWords currently dominates the market as the leading ad service.
Text ads are hyperlinks found in or around text content on websites. They aren’t really as effective as some other methods but when used in the right context, they can bring results.
All kinds of ads sent to your mobile device or somehow appearing on it. Given the fact that mobile device usage keeps growing from year to year, it is the future of advertising.
Those nice emails you get every day from pretty much any company that’s into marketing. Although some would say email advertising has lost its edge, it’s all about how you do ‘em - creative copy, eye-catching design, and relevant marketing message make for effective email marketing.
- CPM (cost per mille)
With “mille” meaning “thousand”, this metric is used when advertisers pay for the number of displays of their ads rather than for clicks. These displays are also known as “impressions.”
- CPC (cost per click)
All contextual (pay per click) advertising is based on this metric. An advertiser pays only if a user clicks on the ad.
- CPE (cost per engagement)
Some ads are interactive and have controls/buttons so you need a special metric to see how many people actually interacted with the ad after seeing it.
- CPV (cost per view)
This metric refers to the video ads most commonly found on YouTube.
- CPI (cost per install)
Another variation of CPC referring to mobile applications. Advertiser pays only if a user has installed the advertised app.
- PPC (pay per click)
This metric is usually tied in with CPC since they are both parts of Google AdWords universe.
- Fixed cost
As plain and simple as it sounds - a flat fee for running ads during a certain time period.
Internet Marketing: Delivery Methods
In short, Internet marketing is every piece of advertising you see in, on, or around the Internet. That includes search engine marketing as well.
Most Internet marketing specialists would distinguish between the following delivery methods.
1. Display advertising
This type includes all kinds of visual ads (banners, pop-ups, news feed ads, etc.) that you can see on the Internet.
The most prominent method of delivery, display ads range from straightforward banners to more “creative” types like trick banners disguising themselves as operating system messages or other alerts. The latter are considered poor taste and generally not acceptable among Internet marketers with dignity.
2. Content marketing
It’s not all about visuals - words can also sell, and they do sell pretty well (pardon the unintended rhyme)!
Content marketing features all kinds of manipulations with your website content whether it’s texts, videos, images, or other content. When optimizing the content on a website, one must pay great attention to SEO because these two often come together.
3. Social media marketing
Aka “SMM”, social media marketing is what boosts your brand awareness and sales among users of mobile devices.
Time spent by an average person on his/her mobile phone ranges from 1.5 to 3 hours a day, which is more than we spend on eating or talking to each other in person.
This, however, is more than enough for marketers to come up with creative ad solutions for us, mobile device users.
4. Affiliate marketing
This type of marketing suggests advertisers organizing third parties to generate potential traffic (customers) for them. The third party earns a commission every time a user takes a desired action.
What are the benefits of Internet marketing for a regular business? Here are the main ones:
- Cost - it’s accessible and affordable to most businesses, including the smaller ones.
- Measurability - every piece of marketing-relevant data is being tracked so that you could easily analyze it later.
- Multiple formats - your ads can exist in the form of images, texts, videos, audios, animation, etc.
- Targeting - if you’re after a particular type of audience, you can cater your marketing message directly to them.
- Coverage - global.
- Speed - yesterday you launched an Internet marketing campaign, and today you’ve got tons of traffic.
Since the techniques and strategies of Internet marketing are so varied, it is difficult sometimes to choose the most effective and profitable ones for your business.
This is when you need an expert to help you set up the Internet marketing campaign of your dream - the one that will bring you success and open up new marketing channels.
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