What is a Search Engine Marketing Strategy?
Quite simply, your SEM strategy is what guides your search engine marketing efforts. It includes your end goal, the ads you’re going to include, the keywords you’re targeting, and the landing pages you’re going to promote.
There are several moving parts involved in creating a SEM strategy. Here are the key factors that influence your ad rank:
1. Search Intent
Discover what people are looking for when they come to your website. Start by thinking about who your audience is and who your competition is. Studying competitor strategies helps you refine your own strategy and get an idea about what works, but it can also help you get ideas for your own campaigns.
Then, refine your audience. What do they search for? What action do you want them to take when they arrive on your landing page?
Asana’s ad links to this page, which encourages users to sign up for free.
2. Keyword Research
Keyword research is the act of finding out which keywords consumers are using to search for products or services like yours. Keywords are the terms typed into a search engine to deliver a list of results, so choosing the right once is paramount to the success of your SEM strategy.
Start by using a keyword research tool (SEMRush, Ahrefs, or a Chrome plugin like Keywords Everywhere are all good options) and typing in a term relevant to your product. You’ll then be served a selection of similar keywords that people use as well as a search density, which shows you how many people are searching for that keyword each month.
For example, the keyword “employee engagement” brings up these related keywords on the Keywords Everywhere plugin. You can see that the term “qualtrics” is searched 368,000 times a month, while “types of employee engagement” get 590 searches.
Once you’ve run your keywords through a keyword tool, you can dig deeper on a granular level to find out what questions people are asking when they search. An increasing number of people use Google to answer their questions, and you’ll find a lot of regularly-searched keywords start with who, what, where, why, and how.
To find out what questions people are asking around your products and services:
Use a tool like AnswerThePublic
Search forums like Quora and Reddit
Check out the “People Also Asked” section in Google’s search results
“Be careful with keyword match types when setting up your campaign,” says Adam Thompson, Marketing Director of Code Signing Store. “If you don’t carefully choose your keywords and keyword match types, you’ll end up paying for clicks on queries that aren’t really relevant to your business. If you’re not sure, start with exact match keywords. You can always expand to phrase or broad match keywords if the exact match versions are successful.”
3. Ad Formats
You can run a variety of different ad formats as part of your search engine marketing strategy, and it will totally depend on what your end goal is with each campaign.
Here’s a breakdown of what’s available:
Search campaigns: simple text ad results
The top four results served for the search term “time tracking tool” are all part of a search campaign.
Display campaigns: image-based ads that show up on websites in the search engine’s network
Video campaigns: video-based ads served at the start or part way through a video on YouTube
Shopping campaigns: product listings that let shoppers compare products side-by-side across different eCommerce websites.
These are the most common types of ad formats, but you can also serve ads that:
Think about how much you’re willing to spend on each ad. You’ll need an overall budget for your campaigns as well as a per-ad budget for each individual ad you create.
Make sure you tie your costs into your overall marketing budget and consistently monitor and track results to see where your money could be better spent.
The Quality Score of your ads is a huge part of whether they will be served to the right people at the right time, and your ad copy plays a pivotal role in this.
Make sure you:
Create compelling meta titles and descriptions for the landing page your lead is going to arrive on
Have quality content that resonates with your audience
Match the landing page content to your ad content so there are no surprises
Use keywords that your audience are actually searching for
“Inside every campaign we build an after-hours ad set that has specific messaging for anyone that converts outside of normal operating hours,” says Shane Pollard, CTO at Be Media. “The messaging changes from ‘call now’ to a more automated CTA, like ‘email us’ or ‘leave a message’. This has helped negate bad reviews and control lead handling. Doing this has increased engagement as it reduces bounce rate from ad click to landing page. When we used the standard ad copy, we noticed higher bounce rates, bad reviews, and a lower number of visitors returning.”
How to win ad auctions using Quality Score and bids
Your ads will only be shown if they have a decent Quality Score and your bid is better than most others out there.
If someone bids $5 on a keyword, but has a low Quality Score, they’re less likely to have their ad shown than someone who bids $4 on a keyword but has a Quality Score of 10.