SEM and SEO: two words that you are surely tired of hearing.
The first thing I will do is explain what SEM is and why it is important. Later I will talk about the great dilemma of digital marketing: SEO or SEM and how they differ.
In addition, so that you do not get lost at any time, I have prepared a glossary with the basics of search engine advertising.
Ready to clear your doubts?
What is SEM?
SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is paid ad campaigns within search engines.
An essential pay-per-click (PPC) platforms are Google Ads and Bing Ads, although it is the former that accounts for most of the market. Therefore, it is the one that I will refer to throughout the post.
The SEM helps you attract those users who are looking for a product like yours. The main idea is that when you enter relevant search keywords for your business, they find you in the first position and decide to buy on your site.
Search engine advertising works through pay per click (PPC). Therefore, you are going to pay every time a person clicks on your ad.
Note that pay-per-click advertising can also be done on non-search engine platforms. A good example is social networks, which have their own options for creating PPC campaigns: Facebook Ads and Twitter Ads, without going any further.
Platforms such as social networks, not search engines, would not be covered by the SEM umbrella. However, you should not lose sight of them for the best results.
And how much are you going to pay each time a person clicks?
An auction model purchases advertising on Google Ads. You will be thinking about the typical American program where a person offers 400 dollars, and the last one leaves the figure at 800. In this case, the one who has offered 800 dollars would take it. But the Google Ads auction works differently.
And it will depend not only on the money you are willing to pay but also on the so-called Quality Score or Google’s quality level. To better understand it, the quality score is the number from 1 to 10 that Google assigns you to indicate if you have created a good ad for a specific keyword.
What determines the quality of an ad? Well, there are multiple factors, but 3 of the most important are:
1. The CTR, in other words, the percentage of clicks obtained from all the people who have seen the ad. The more attractive your ad is and the more related it is to the keyword, the higher the CTR score.
2. When users see our ad, the relevance between the ad group and the keyword considers that it is made specifically for their search.
3. The experience on the landing page. Google takes into account what is done on its platform and analyzes your landing page. It also checks if your website’s content is directly related to the search term that the user has used.
It is about creating relevant ads that are closely related to the user’s searched keyword. This way, you will increase your quality score, lower your cost-per-click and achieve a higher return on investment.
There are other factors that will affect the quality score of your ads. For example, the relevance of the texts that compose them or the performance history of your Google Ads account. Now, only Google knows exactly how much weight is given to each factor; the rest can only be guessed.
SEO AND SEM: What’s the difference?
Within digital marketing strategies, SEO and SEM occupy a place of preference. But are you clear about how they differ?
Let’s search for “buy a phone”:
Typically, when you search, the first three or five results are brand ads. You may also see the right side with various Google Shopping ads. This is all SEM – they are paid ads.
On the other hand, the results below the ads are a result of SEO. Search Engine Optimization is the tactics that we do on a page to appear in the search engines organically, that is, without having to pay for it.
To be as clear as possible, and given that right now you will have a lot of questions, I am going to give you the main differences between SEO and SEM:
1. Costs: The main difference between SEO and SEM is that you do not have to assume a direct cost for each visit to your website with an SEO strategy. However, this does not mean that SEO is always cheaper to carry out or does not involve any cost since technical knowledge is required.
2. Immediacy: The SEM is more immediate since you can create a campaign today and start appearing in the search engine results. But if you stop paying, you stop showing up. On the other hand, in SEO positioning, the results are seen in the long term, and it is easier to maintain if you work on a strategy.
3. Ranking: In SEM, you can appear in the first positions, while nobody can guarantee it in SEO.
4. Objective: SEO-oriented content is focused on seeking the highest quality and usefulness for the reader. In comparison, the texts with an SEM approach have a specific purpose and are more oriented to generate purchases.
Why is SEM important?
There are plenty of reasons to incorporate SEM into your Digital Marketing strategy. These are some of the benefits that SEM can bring to your brand:
1. Get qualified traffic to your website: By being able to perform segmentation by age, sex, territory, interests and allowing users to filter based on the keywords they are looking for, all this ensures that this traffic will be made up of people interested in your brand.
2. Brand actions and visibility: Positioning yourself in the top positions of any search engine is a great way to get visibility for your brand. Even if the user does not click the first time, seeing your page in the first place will allow them to associate it with the need they want to satisfy, placing your brand in their “top of mind”.
3. Possibility to adjust your budget: You do not need a huge initial investment, so it is suitable for all types of organizations. In fact, there are certain areas where CPC is very high. Insurance, banking, marketing and advertising, or online education are some examples.
4. Generate conversions: Search engine advertising offers you a lot of possibilities to measure conversions and thus be able to ensure that your ads are effective.
What is better, SEO or SEM?
Both SEO and SEM aim to get visits to a web page from search engines. And now the eternal dilemma appears: SEO or SEM? Which one is best for your business?
Why choose one when you can get great results by combining two strategies? Yes, the most effective is the combination of SEO and SEM. When both are implemented, the results are very positive, and your business is more likely to earn a place in the SERPs.
Now, if you do not have such a large budget to carry out the two strategies, you will have to choose based on your business needs.
Basic concepts and KPIs to understand SEM
You will be fed up and may lose your motivation if you are just starting in the SEM world since you don’t know these weird words. It is essential that you know some basic concepts and KPIs (performance indicators) to understand Search Engine Marketing.
Keyword or Keywords
They are words that describe your product or service. They are the words that will make your ad appear to the most interested users so that they can become your customers.
It occurs when a user completes a specific action. For example, when a user makes a purchase or subscribes to a newsletter.
It is the number of times your ad is shown on the results page of a search engine, apps or videos on its display network.
It is the average number of times a unique user has seen your ad in a given period.
It is about the degree of agreement between the elements of your advertising campaign (ads, words, and content on your landing page) and what a user is looking for. The more relevant your ad has, the better positioned it will be, and the less you will have to pay for each click. Relevance has a direct impact on the quality score of your ad.
It is the web page where the ad takes when users click. The landing page of your ad is a crucial aspect of its success. I recommend that the page should be optimized to achieve your goals.
Quality level or quality score
It is the score, from 1 to 10, that Google gives to each of your ads. Some of the parameters taken into account to decide the quality score are clicks (CTR), the relevance of the ad, and the experience on the landing page. Higher quality ads contribute to lower prices and better SERP rankings.
CTR (Click-through rate)
The CTR is the percentage that shows how often users see an ad and click on it.
CPA (Cost per acquisition)
It is the price that it costs you for a user to convert in the ad, that is, to complete the goal you have set—for example, buying a product, filling out a form, or downloading an ebook.
CPM (Cost per thousand impressions)
It is the price you pay for every 1,000 times your ad is shown to users. It is a system that is used a lot in display ads.
CPC (Cost per click)
They are the bids that are used in advertising campaigns on the internet. You will only pay each time someone clicks on the ad.
ROI (Return on investment)
It is the profit you get from the ads compared to what you have invested in them. In this way, you will know if the campaign has been profitable or not.
It is the way to get your ads to users who have already interacted with your website. It is one form of advertising that offers the best conversion results since your ads are only seen by people who have previously been to your website, store, or blog.
I hope the article helps you understand the importance of SEM (search engine marketing) and how it can influence your website traffic.
Welcome to the fast-paced and wonderful world of online advertising! I assure you that wonders can be done. Any questions, I am for your comments.