When it comes to reaching our target audience, there are different ways to do it. And one of them is through SEM or Search Engine Marketing. But, do we know what SEM is and everything it really entails? Are you exploiting all its possibilities? Where do we place it in relation to SEO? In this post we give you all the answers.
Contenido del artículo
- What is SEM
- What do you need to do SEM?
- Types of SEM
- Difference between SEO and SEM: when to use each of them
What is SEM
SEM, also known as search engine marketing, can be simply defined as a branch of marketing that focuses on appearing in search results through paid ads. Or rather, any paid action you take so that your ads for products, services, etc., are seen by your potential customers when they’re using the Google network.
And although at first we always think of Google when we talk about SEM positioning, in reality it isn’t the only place where you can place paid ads. Apart from Google AdWords, there are also Bing Ads or Yahoo! Search Marketing. Much less famous and used, but there’s no reason to forget them. In fact, curiously, Bing usually has a higher conversion rate (but obviously, being used by much less people, it generates much lower profits than Google)
The advantages of SEM, from our point of view, are mainly three:
- Reach a qualified audience, because you can segment what kind of users you can target according to age, location, interests…
- Generate sales and conversions, because SEM campaigns usually have a very clear CTA or call to action: buy, subscribe, etc…
- Gain visibility, especially if you use the Display network, which we’ll talk about later.
What do you need to do SEM?
The SEM marketing pure and simple, the one we all think of when we talk about SEM, is not just placing ads for the SERPs and that’s it, it has a whole strategy behind it. And in order to successfully carry out your SEM campaigns, these are some of the concepts you should know:
These are the words for which you want your paid ads or SEM advertising to appear. Regardless of the network in which they will appear. You can also play with the concordances, so you can choose if you want to show your ad when someone searches specifically for “second hand car”, or if someone searches for “buy a car”.
If they’re targeted for the search network, it’s important to write them containing some of the keywords. Depending on how your ad is, it will be more or less easy to win the bid to appear. So you have to pay a lot of attention to them, because they’re the basis of your SEM campaign.
It’s directly related to what we have just mentioned. If Google considers your ad to be of good quality, it will be easier for you to win over other advertisers, and you won’t need such a high bid.
The term speaks for itself, we all know what an auction is, but not so much how it works when applied to SEM. If we look at the results of an organic search, SEM advertising almost always appears at the top and bottom of the page. But the number of paid ads shown is not infinite: there are usually 3 at the top and 2 at the bottom. Whether you appear at the top or at the bottom is determined by an internal auction that happens in a matter of milliseconds and where the best ad wins.
This is the total amount of money you’re willing to invest in the SEM campaign, so make sure you don’t go overboard. The budget is divided between 30.4 and is distributed on a daily basis. Once the budget is finished, the ad will stop running for that day. Of course, you can change the budget at any time.
As a result of all the above, your ads will have more or less impressions. In other words, they will appear more or less times in the results so that users of your interest can see them.
This one is easy: when a user clicks on your ad and reaches your website.
CPC or Cost Per Click
This value determines how much each click on your ad costs you. You can set what is called Maximum CPC: the most you are willing to pay for each click. The values between which you can move are not decided by you, of course, but are given by the bidding in which that keyword normally moves.
The percentage of impressions needed to get a click. If you have a CTR of 4%, it means that out of every 100 impressions your ad gets, 4 people click on it. It’s very important to take into account this data to plan your SEM, because if you need to sell 100 products per month for the campaign to be profitable, and you only have a 0.1% CTR, it’s importante to calculate how many impressions you need and see if with the investment you need it’s worth it or not to do SEM.
In addition to all this, you have to decide where you want your Google ads to appear and why: in search results, in YouTube views, while the user is browsing websites with similar interests to yours… All this Google SEM will be better understood in the next section, where we talk about the types of SEM.
Types of SEM
If you’re not familiar with SEM positioning, it’s likely that you haven’t thought about it or don’t know it at all. But I’m sure that when you read our list, you’ll realize that you know many ways to use SEM marketing.
Only for the Search Network
This is the SEM advertising we know the most and the oldest. These are the ads that are marked as such when we search for what we need in the search engine. You only pay when you click on the ad (the CPC of before).
Only for the Display Network
It works mainly for the branding of the company. It literally serves to get users to see you, as the ads are made through banners, rich media or even video. The websites that belong to the display network are of different themes and you can choose the one you want, that’s the good thing. And that’s why we said in the first point that you can reach a qualified audience. Why do you want to appear on a shoes website if you’re selling mugs?
Search Network with Display Selection
You appear on both sites, although generally more on Google results than on pages associated with the Display network. But the combination not always works well. For example for ecommerce it isn’t suitable.
SEM on Mobile Apps
If you have ever downloaded a free mobile app, you’ll see that many of them show ads. Well, that is also SEM. And they can be text ads, image ads, call ads…
For search terms that are associated with the purchase, or very focused on converting. For example, if you search for high heels, you’ll see images of the products with the price already included. And if you click on it, you’ll be taken directly to the page where you can buy it.
In this case, you pay for your ad to appear to those users who have already visited your website, thus showing an interest. It’s the typical ad that if the remarketing is not well done, “chases you” for days and days. For example, you entered to see a trip to a travel website, and then the ad of this trip appears everywhere.
We’ve all seen YouTube ads while watching a video, right? And they can be of different types: the one that comes before the video, the one that comes in between, the one that lasts only a couple of seconds, the ad that lets you skip it when you’ve already watched the first few moments… Well, those are also SEM ads.
Difference between SEO and SEM: when to use each of them
The first thing is to know what SEO and SEM are. About SEM, we’ve made it clear already. And as for SEO, in general, approximately 95% of searches are done through Google. So basically SEO or Search Engine Optimization is to apply to your website the best practices recommended by Google. In this way, if your site provides value to the user and also meets its guidelines, the search engine will include it in its index and will end up reaching the first results of the organic search.
For practical purposes, the difference between SEO and SEM is mainly that SEM is paid and SEO is “free”. Which isn’t really true, because to do SEO properly you’ll need an investment to get your website up to speed. But the point is that you can appear in search results without paying. However, in SEM, every ad is a payment.
If we talk about SEO SEM Marketing, it’s important to keep in mind that you can’t approach SEO and SEM in the same way. The main difference between SEO and SEM is that SEO is, as we always like to say at IDX Innovadeluxe, a long-distance race. While SEM, if the campaigns are well planned, can give you (almost) immediate results. This leads to what should be an obvious conclusion: SEM is useful as long as you pay, but the moment you stop bidding for ads, you will no longer have visibility. The good thing about SEO is that it is a more lasting work, because it’s about working your website so that Google itself positions it because it likes it.
It’s also true that at the beginning of launching a project, as it’s usually difficult to gain visibility, it is best to adopt a joint SEO and SEM strategy. That is, first get visibility and clicks through ads and in this way Google and users already begin to know you.
Another joint strategy can be if you launch a specific campaign at a specific time – for example Christmas, Mother’s Day, Black Friday… – and you want to give it “a boost”. It’s fine to do SEM for that specific landing page instead of trying to position it organically.
What we want to say is that SEO and SEM are not incompatible, and that if you do one you don’t need to do the other. Not at all. We advise you to work on SEO as a base (because if you have a good website, you’ll have good landings, which will increase your ad quality level) and vary the SEM investment according to your needs. But the vast majority of traffic should always come from organic positioning, which is more durable over time, not from search engine marketing.
SEM positioning is a very powerful tool to make yourself known among users, especially if you want to do it in a much faster way than waiting for Google to find you. And depending on your needs and budget, you can do one type of SEM marketing or another.
As you have seen, there are many factors to take into account in SEM marketing. So if you are going to do it on your own, we advise you to start with what seems easiest to you (probably search network campaigns) with a not very big budget, and try to see what happens.
Of course, if you have any questions or contributions to make, we’ll see you in the comments.