The ABCs of Search Engine Marketing

March 16, 2010

Economic times, increased awareness, and online competition are making affordable top search rankings harder to come by. The day of simply placing an ad and assuming it will rank well are over. Considerable time and attention to detail are required to obtain front-page ranking while not overpaying for the coveted positions. Ad, keyword, and landing page quality—along with competition and other factors—are part of the mysterious algorithms search engines use to rank your ads. While this is all quite complicated, a simple ABC approach will help you get started. When setting up a new Search Engine Marketing (SEM) advertising campaign, these a few key areas that I focus on:

Ad Relevance

Services like Google Adwords (our weapon of choice in the PPC battle) give you the tools to capture the attention of your target audiences and bring active searchers to your business. But just having a few ads with a handful of search terms will not be enough to drive the right traffic to your site unless you are in a very obscure business with virtually no competition. Any given ad may make the first page of results and get a lot of clicks, but unless it's relevant to your business, it simply costs you a lot of money while not generating the desired goals. Search terms, or keywords, need to be strategically selected and specific to your business. For the best results, they should be included in your ads, and, most importantly, they must relate to your website landing page.

Business Goals

As with every other marketing effort, business goals must be well defined in order to target and track the effectiveness of your advertising campaign. For example, do you want to increase awareness of your company or a specific product, increase sales, generate leads, or a combination of goals? Goal-setting will help map the advertising strategy and define what a conversion, or specific action, is that allows successful tracking of a customer through your website. Advertising budgets, target audiences, demographics, and geographic market studies are just a few of the areas that should be analyzed to help ensure advertising effectiveness and improve ROI.

Call to Action

With such limited ad space, many are tempted to focus exclusively on the balance of hype and information. However, the right call to action is a necessity when trying to "speak" to an intended audience. The ad should direct a response—call now, order now, buy now, sign up, get a quote, etc.. The ad should be focused on one product or service and should differentiate you from your competitors, creating a sence of urgency and driving a response.

Creating and maintaining an effective search engine marketing campaign can be a complicated process. However, following the ABCs we discussed helps put a campaign on the right track. If setting up and managing your SEM campaigns seems like a daunting task, please contact us.