Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, is a marketing strategy that uses paid tactics to gain visibility in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS).
When most people talk about SEM, they’re talking about Google Ads. Google is the number one search engine in the world (although Microsoft-owned Bing shouldn’t be overlooked), and the platform receives over 3.5 billion searches every day. That’s around 1.2 trillion per year.
This number is even more astounding when you think about how there 4.54 billion Internet users and about 854 million of them are in China, a country that uses Baidu instead of Google. Our back of the napkin math estimates one Google search per Internet user per day.
Not only is Google search gigantic today, but Google Searches are also growing by roughly 10% every year.
To make matters even more interesting, around 16% to 20% of all Google searches are new, meaning they have never been searched before. That means SEOs and SEM marketers are looking at a substantial new opportunity to raise awareness and capture customers every year on Google alone.
What’s the difference
between SEO and SEM?
Simply put, Google ads and SEM are paid acquisition (PPC), whereas Search Engine Optimization (SEO) aims to rank organically for keywords in search results.
SEM is almost immediate. Once you turn on your campaigns, your ads are shown live, and users start trickling onto your site. SEM includes setting up and optimizing ads, while simultaneously setting and managing a budget that pays for the placement in ads. SEM is a very effective way to drive massive amounts of traffic in a short period of time.
SEO takes a bit more time. It requires targeting keywords you can rank for and having really good content that delivers the value searchers are looking for. With SEO, businesses don’t directly pay for the placement of ads the same way they would in SEM. They use a variety of strategies to influence search engines to showcase their content at the top of SERPs.
Let’s take a necessary aside here. SEO and SEM are not necessarily mutually exclusive strategies. There are ways to leverage both as part of a full-funnel approach to get your immediate traffic that snowballs into long-term traffic (and ultimately more customers)– but we’ll get into that later.
Mastering Google SEM: What it Takes
Whether you’re an individual business, a Google Ads Management Service, or a Google Ads Agency, you need to invest the time to sharpen your skillset like a professional.
Being an expert in Google Ads means mastering all of Google’s suite of services, including Search, Shopping Display, Video, and Gmail ads (as well as one of Google’s closest SERP competitors, Bing Ads).
Marketers and agencies that have earned their stripes with dozens of successful campaigns become Google Agency Partners, which is a certification for all Google specialties.
Being a successful Google Ads agency in 2020 requires staying as up to date on the industry as possible. Google is known to issue industry-shaking news and algorithm updates that substantially impact thousands of digital businesses, and if you’re not on top of the latest industry trends and Google product offerings, you’re only going to put yourself in a less-than-optimal situation.
Google SEM means being well versed in Google’s auction dynamics and systems. Doing so will help you to maximize results at the best cost per conversion or action. Neglecting to do so will result in your overbidding or sending subpar traffic to your pages, a mistake few business owners can afford to make.
One of the most important components of Google SEM is to incorporate it as part of a full-funnel strategy. We can’t stress this enough, so we’ll say it again. Use a full-funnel strategy.
Design a full-funnel strategy that touches on all points of the user’s journey, from the awareness stage to the moment purchase or conversion occurs, and even some sort of retention component to keep users familiar with your brand on an on-going basis.
For example, many luxury products devote a portion of their budget specifically to target users with the same high-quality products they purchased to nip away at any potential buyer’s remorse or brand doubts.
Google SEM is a vital part of a total marketing strategy that leverages all channels to drive success for specific goals. It’s an excellent way to push immediate and reliable traffic, but must be closely monitored because it can eat away at your advertising budget
at a fast pace.
What sets apart one team from another is the ability to execute campaigns in all major verticals, including tech, finance, medical, retail, e-comm, B2B, and lead generation with the same consistent high-octane results.
At JUICE, we‘ve worked with everyone from rising star startups to multi-million dollar companies, two categories with drastically different budgets that require a personalized touch. We’ve driven successful campaigns with budgets ranging from $2,000 a month to over $100,000 a month.
Google ads require excellent ad management.
For example, when a B2B payment processing company came to us with a budget of $20k per month, they had a high cost-per-lead of over $150 they wanted to reduce to an $80 CPL.
We completely changed the account structure to fix inefficiencies in the search campaigns, designed new landing pages with better content and copy, introduced shopping campaigns for card readers as a lead generation strategy for new payment processing accounts, launched display retargeting ads. After one month, we hit our goal cost per lead of $80. After three months, we brought it down to $60.
Google ads require an aggressive commitment to growth.
For example, when an officially licensed pro sports apparel & collectibles came to us with a monthly budget that ranged between $25k and $100k, we segmented shopping campaigns by product category to bid more efficiently, launch seasonal search and display campaigns such as World Series and Super Bowl to maximize sales around big sports events, introduced dynamic search campaigns to cover their 56,000 SKUs more efficiently, and launched display retargeting.
We were able to help scale their revenue from sub $200k to nearly $900k while keeping ad costs at a minimum.
Google Ads require a vigilant entrepreneur’s mindset.
When a startup veterinary clinic in NYC came to us with a $25k/month ad budget to grow online bookings for their new locations, we consolidated the account structure to fix inefficiencies created by the previous marketing agency, immediately paused existing display ads which were spending over $2k per month with no results whatsoever, redesigned display ads with better creative, launched YouTube ads, and launched display retargeting.
The results? We increased their bookings by 45% and reduced their CPA by 65%!
Google Ads are a no-brainer. Every year brings in millions of new opportunities for different brands. As Google continues to grow, the more opportunity you have to drive traffic and sales.