Part 3: Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
You’ve got a great looking website that’s a selling machine and now you want to put it to work. Well if you are like many small business owners and don’t have the time or patience to wait for a SEO campaign to start sending you sales leads, then Search Engine Marketing might just be what you’re looking for.
Search Engine Marketing using pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is the fastest and easiest way to get your website listed on page one of Google search results for keywords that are specific to your industry. You may also recognize this form of marketing through Google as Google Adwords.
SEM is also a great way to get targeted traffic coming to your site as opposed to targeting the general masses because it not only lets you target specific keywords, but also other factors including city, time of day, and other filters.
Probably the biggest con of SEM versus SEO is that it ends up costing more in the long run, but for those who don’t want to wait, it’s the next best thing.
How does it work?
Once your campaign is setup and running, your website listing will appear in the sponsored search results area of search engine listings when someone types in keywords that are related to your business products & services. These listings are usually on the top, bottom and right side of search results. Then when someone clicks on your listing, you are charged a fee.
How do I get there?
You have two options – you can hire a search engine professional who has been trained by Google to properly setup and manage a SEM campaign for you, or you can try do it on your own. Although SEM is easier to perform than SEO, it still requires a lot of time, training and energy to do it right.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard small business owners say they have tried to setup and manage their own campaigns, only to find out they end up wasting their money because they simply don’t have the time or energy to properly setup and manage it because they are so busy running their own business.
This is why I recommend hiring a professional, who has been trained by Google, as they can really make the difference between a successful campaign that gives you a good return on investment (ROI) and one that ends up simply wasting your marketing dollars.
What does it Cost?
If you hire a professional to manage the campaign for you, some agencies will charge you a setup fee and others won’t – but all will charge you a monthly fee to manage it and this can vary. It is often either a flat fee or a percentage of your overall monthly spend budget. Then there is the portion that you actually pay Google, and as I mentioned earlier, you only pay when someone actually clicks on your listing and the cost-per-click really depends on how much competition there is for the keywords you select in your industry.
For example, it would cost far more to get your site listed for a keyword search for, say, “restaurants” than it would be for “mobile tire repair”. Why? Because there are hundreds of businesses out there competing for the keyword “restaurant”, and only a few mobile tire repair businesses competing for their related keywords.
How much do I need to Budget?
Above and beyond a monthly management fee, you set the budget for how much you want to spend for your monthly pay-per-clicks. The general rule of thumb is: the more you spend, the more clicks to your website, and the more sales leads for your business.
For example, if you hire a professional to manage the campaign for you, and let’s say, they charge you $250 per month for their fee, then you decide how much you want to put into the actual Google pay-per-click (PPC) portion of the budget. If your business has a total monthly online marketing budget of $750, then $250 would go to the monthly management and $500 would go to the Google pay-per-click portion.
Things to look for in a SEM Management Professional
- Make sure they have been trained by Google specifically to manage adwords campaigns.
- Make sure you know what they are charging you for monthly management – some will hide their fees then you don’t know how much is going to them and how much is really going to your ad dollars.
- Make sure they take the time to learn about your business in detail so they know what keywords to use and what keywords to avoid so that your ad dollars are not being wasted.
- Make sure you have the option to develop a relationship with a person you can talk to once a month to discuss goals and changes to your ongoing campaign.
- Make sure you have the option to adjust your Google ad dollar budget up or down throughout the term, especially if you have a seasonal business – this gives you way more flexibility to adjust your marketing budget to the current conditions or seasons of your business.
If you really want your business to get on page one of search results and get there quickly, SEM using PPC and an experienced online marketing professional can be a very effective way to generate new sales leads and help grow your business.
This is PART THREE in a 5-part series on Online Marketing. Click below to skip to the next section: