We left off on Part 1 just after I gave this brief definition of SEM:
Search Engine Marketing. This can include SEO as well as pay-per-click, ad words, web analytics and any other tool that helps you market your business over the internet.
Today, let’s dip our toes into SEM just a bit further. Google offers something called Google AdWords. It’s a do-it-yourself advertising service that allows you to buy advertising on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) in several ways. You can choose pay-per-click, which means you only pay for the advertisement when somebody clicks on your ad. You have other options, such as cost-per-1000 impressions (CPM). You’ll pay for every 1000 impressions, but people don’t have to click on your ad. You can also have your ad show up on other websites that match certain keywords. These sites have given Google permission to post your ad, and they get paid a small amount for doing so. What you pay is based on a complex bidding system. Here’s a great explanation right from Google’s help page:
“Every time someone searches on Google, AdWords runs an auction to determine the ads that show on the search results page, and their rank on the page. To place your ads in this auction, you first have to decide what type of customer action you’d like to pay for. For example, you might choose to pay for the following actions:
The number of times your ad shows.
This is known as a cost-per-thousand-impressions, or CPM, bid. We recommend the CPM bidding method if you want to increase awareness of your brand. Note that CPM bidding is available for Display Network campaigns only.
Each time one of your ads receives a click.
This is known as a cost-per-click, or CPC, bid. We recommend the CPC bidding method if you want to drive traffic to your website.
Each time people take a specific action on your website after clicking on one of your ads.
This is known as a cost-per-aquisition, or CPA, bid. We recommend the CPA bidding method for seasoned AdWords advertisers who are interested in conversions, like purchases or signups.
These are called your bidding options. Most people starting out in AdWords use the basic CPC bidding option, which means they accrue costs based on the number of clicks they get on their ads.
If you use this option, the amount you’re charged per click depends in part on the maximum cost-per-click bid you set in your account, also called maximum CPC bid. This represents the highest amount that you’ll ever pay for an ad click (unless you’re setting bid adjustments, or using Enhanced CPC). In fact, you’ll be charged only the amount necessary to keep your ad at its position on the page.
Let’s say you’ve set a maximum CPC bid of $1 for your ads. The most you’ll pay when a customer clicks your ad is $1. You’ll often pay less than your maximum bid, though, because with the ad auction you pay no more than what’s needed to rank higher than the advertiser immediately below you. The amount you pay is called your actual CPC.”
Wow! Even brilliant business owners can go crazy trying to manage an SEM campaign, which is why there are so many SEM firms out there who are happy to do the work for you! If you have the interest and time to implement this yourself, a nice feature with Google AdWords is that you can set up a daily budget and work within it, tweaking as your business grows.
Sometimes, the quest to rank high on Google may pit your small business against big corporations that have spent millions on the AdWords you want to buy. This may be a losing battle and your PR/marketing efforts can take other paths. If you’re a small business and get most of your clients by attending industry gatherings, you may put your effort into getting out more! What’s most important is that you find the clients/customers who want exactly what you do best.
I’ve noticed that companies whose C-level suite consists of people over the age of 50 are more comfortable with the old-school person-to-person meetings and a handshake, while younger companies are much more open to social networking and internet marketing. If you’re selling lip gloss, an SEM campaign makes much more sense than a company that conducts high-end executive search.
Once again, we’re reminded that the first step in marketing your business requires a thoughtful assessment of what your goals are and the best path to your mountaintop. Don’t assume that you have to use every option that’s out there. Be discerning when it comes to your time and your money.
Start with a solid foundation:
- Know what you do best
- Know who your customers are
- Develop a keywords list
- Develop your key messages
- Develop great content that honestly incorporates your keywords.
- Develop a website that communicates clearly, is easy to navigate, and is optimized
- Use your messaging consistently in every communications vehicle you incorporate into your content plan
- Consider carefully the ROI you’ll receive by blogging, using social networks, employing video on your site, publishing media articles, using news wire services, paying for SEM and web analytics or becoming an expert interview/presenter etc.
Each business is unique, because every person is. Identify and remember what your best characteristics and talents are, and develop your marketing plan around that!