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Successful Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is sometimes confused and mixed up with SEO / PPC / PPM and mobile marketing. In actuality, it is a broader term that encompasses most of these with some SEO techniques thrown in there. Whereas Search Engine Optimization aims to get you better organic search results and higher rank in the results pages, Search Engine Marketing uses paid ads and research to send targeted traffic to your destination.

SEO and SEM often work congruently and as part of each other, though it is not uncommon to see them as distinct specialties. Pay Per Click (PPC), Pay Per Metric (PPM) and mobile paid search marketing are clearly under the SEM blanket. Search engine marketing also needs to be clearly connected to your analytics data in order to make informed choices in its efforts. A|B testing is also key in optimizing and improving your landing page and conversion effectiveness.

A big part of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) deals with online advertising and marketing. We offer customized options to best guide that valuable conversion target audience to you. Options like display marketing (when you see banners and graphical ads on sites), keyword marketing (the paid results you see in a Google / Bing search result), remarketing (having ads “follow” or remind a client that has been to your site and failed to convert), paid social media ads and post, as well as video ads – all with your refined message to these often new, potential customers.

We work with you to get your message distilled to make the greatest impact, both verbally and graphically, on these customers. Impact is key for success because often you only get one chance (outside of remarketing that is). Finally, we use analytics and ad tracking results to consistently improve and grow your ROI (return on investment). This kind of conversion rate optimization is our ultimate goal.

Search Mobile Marketing (SMM) uses many of the same tools, which are then designed specifically for mobile advertising. Mobile use and growth increases dramatically each year and this new arm of search marketing is becoming increasingly more important. It could be as simple as taking your search ads and adapting them to the smaller screens or creating fully developed geo-targeted ads. An example of a geo-targeted ad is when someone using a map program drives by your location and receives a discount or a targeted message encouraging them to visit your business. Mobile marketing is powerful and can bring powerful results when used correctly. We work with you to optimize your success.

We Believe That:

“Today it’s not about ‘get the traffic’ — it’s about ‘get the targeted and relevant traffic.’”

– Adam Audette, Chief Knowledge Officer, RKG

“If you want to achieve excellence, you can get there today. As of this second, quit doing less-than-excellent work.”

– Thomas J. Watson

Components of SEM & PPC


 Research | Audience

The starting point for any good SEM campaign is the research. If we have product A (in our example Yellow Widget) we then would need to research all the keyword combinations we can think of for Yellow Widget and find out what the level of traffic is for that. There are a number of independent tools to do that and both Google and Bing’s Ad engines have features that we would use to get this type of information and find out the popularity of the terms and find out the competitiveness / cost of marketing to these keywords. Some may be expensive and very popular, whereas others may be on the long tail or niche end of things (don’t ignore the niche especially when it takes little effort to market to them and they are usually very targeted motivated visitors).

Another action is to check out your competitors and find out who is selling something similar to our Yellow widget – then using another series of tools start lifting their keywords out and targeting them as well. That way you leverage the work your competitor has done to your benefit. There are a few other tricks we can do here a Successful to get you a very targeted, well- grounded and researched list of keywords or we can train you to do it yourself.

One thing that you will want to work on is to know your audience. Who are they? What is the age group, sex, and general demographic information? Draw a mental picture in your mind of what they look like and how they act, think, types of movies they would watch and then like a good novelist create a persona or sketch of them and they may be a couple of types – include it all but keep it real and targeted to your users’ true personae as you see it. Once you are informed on this type of research you then have an idea of who your tribe and fan base. Then you can write the ads and create the ad graphics (as well as writing the content on your page) in the voice to which they will best relate and react. Of course, there is more to market research in a traditional marketing department and you need to consider and bring it all in to create the perfect ads and keywords which we are going to spend on and market to.


 Paid Search

The major search engines all offer paid search. These are the ads that appear above, below, or beside the organic search results and can be different colors or highlighted in some ways, though their display position and highlighting style can often vary. They are text ads. The location of the ads are on the the top line in blue markets- your primary keyword that you are paying for with another two lines worth of content describing what you are offering. You only have limited characters in each of these and have to avoid certain things like using exclamation points, so you have to choose carefully.

You can also add what are called Ad Extensions, which are like links to your site (i.e. your contact page), your location, your phone number, a callout of some special offer you are having, reviews, app extensions, and search. This will give you a couple more chances to make an impression, as well as make it easier for the traffic to interact with your ad and we highly recommend choosing the ones that are appropriate to you. This is an important, but not often used option. That gives you the basics, but in all honesty there is a lot that goes into making effective ads: how often they show, where they show in the rankings, how much you pay for them, how your page and general quality score affects your results and more which is beyond the scope of this overview. Contact us and we can go over all of it with you.

Keep in mind though that any elements you will want to consider and keyword research is where we will need your help most, as well as in understanding your audience. The rest; like your account structure (which affects the effectiveness of your campaign), tracking your ad performance and reacting intelligently to that (for example sometimes you have to turn off a keyword you think is great because it performs badly), budgeting, reporting, location targeting, competitive bidding, targeting languages and so on. You will need a professional or to be dedicated and trained to be Successful here, which it is not for everyone. We will look at you and your business and together make a call if paid search is worth it and, more importantly, is your site optimized and ready to convert that new traffic and make you a profit.


 Display Network

The display network is a collection of sites that have spaces allocated to ads. Google currently has the largest reach with over 2 million sites that reach over 90% of internet users worldwide (according to their site). When you go to a webpage and at the top or on the left or right of the site you see a graphical banner (sometimes animated) or you are using an app and you see a banner there – you are seeing the display network in action. Just like paid search, the display network has many of the same elements involved, account structure, quality, tracking and so on, so running it is deep.

It also requires creating a number of different shapes and sizes of these banners to cover the most ground (as different sites have different ad spaces) though that just takes a little effort on the side of your / our design team once the initial ad model is created. One of the wonderful things to consider here is that you can target specific sites that are within the network. Say there was a popular site about our widgets – we could set it so that we only showed and competed for ads on that site, and no others. Furthermore, we can target by interest or topics and then refine down the sites that our ads show on. So, if we have a topic like technical widgets that fits the product we are advertising for, we select that topic, then show the ads and over time, refine how our ads play in that space.

It can be a fun game and we here at the office will make a little competition out of these ads (including paid search). We will produce competing ads for the same space, set them to display equally (you can have Google choose which is best to show which is smart for beginners or longer running campaigns that have built up a history of conversion data) and then the person who gets the most clicks or conversions (we usually play conversions as we feel they are more quality than a click, though not with a CPM campaign (where you just pay to show the ad mostly to create brand awareness) which gets a free meal and the loser has to create a new ad or refine their old one for the next round. we have digressed, but the point is that you can really strategically target an audience and get important and new traffic to your product.


 Remarketing / Retargeting Ads

In our experience, Remarketing is the most effective in terms of cost- per- click pricing and the total conversion rate. Out of all the different types of paid advertising we do, this in the one we recommend the most – it is a display network cousin. A user visits a page on your site and gets a cookie on their browser. Later, when surfing the internet, your ads show up advertising the product they were just looking at on your site. You keep reminding them about the product in which they were interested and eventually they return to your site, complete the purchase and the cookie is removed. The ads no longer show. Ever been to a site and then went to another one just to see the ad for the site you were at not so long ago? This is remarketing.

With it you are everywhere. It only targets people that come to your site and there are a couple different flavors of it, including mobile. One of the wonderful things about it is that you can customize it, decide how often and long the ads follow the user (frequency capping), set specific ads for specific visitors and the pages they land on, build your list up and take advantage of using keywords to show the ads when they type in a search, and many more options. It is a little difficult for a first- time set up and takes some work to get going, but we have seen the best return on this one and the chance to communicate with a customer once again, which normally you may not have ever seen again – this can’t be missed by the Successful marketer.

Another huge plus with Remarketing is an aspect called “Users Similar to Remarketed”. Once you build up a large enough list you can enroll in this, which will target users who act like the ones on your list, even though they may have not actually visited your site. It is very powerful and something we can help you use to become even more lucrative.


 Mobile / App / In- Game Ads

Mobile, App, and in- game ads operate similarly to all the other ad types. You can show text ads and image ads as well as ads built with Google Web Designer (which we have not done) in mobile smartphones or tablets with full browsers which most have now. The trick is that you will want to take your ad and optimize it specifically for these devices. You may also want to design it with them in mind both graphically and textually. Furthermore, you can go deeper – say someone is shopping at the grocery store with that store’s app running. When they type in Yellow Widget you could show a message with a discount offer to encourage them to make that purchase right away.

You are also able to geo-target ads. If your user is near your store you could send them a message – pretty powerful and pretty new stuff. This year is when these technologies have really started entering the picture. One thing to keep in mind when working in this space is you want to keep your content even shorter and less intrusive. Another option is to start an SMS or text messaging ad campaign and here is where Successful won’t be much of a use for you. Our whole team feels texts are sacred (not text apps though like WhatApp) and just don’t want to touch that one. We can, however, recommend vendors to you if you are interested in it.

Mobile is the future / now, and if you want to advertise in the mobile market, we are happy to help you with the image text ads – we are still learning in the geo-targeting space as well as narrow marketing. If you are interested in one of those, please let us know. We will work with you at a significant discount and learn together.


 Shopping Campaigns (Formerly Product Listings)

Imagine one day you search for our “Yellow Widget” and in the SERP (Search Engine Result Page) you see the regulars (organic results and paid search text results) but right next to them there are these ads with pictures of Yellow Widgets with the name, price, company and a couple have a special offers as well. It might even say “Shop for Yellow Widgets on Google” at the top. This certainly catches your eye over the organic results, the standard search results, and you want that for your product. You have just experienced Shopping Campaigns or Paid Product listings.

To get started it will require an Adwords account and a Google Merchants account for which Google will charge you for the click and if you get a sale the Merchant account arm charge will start at 2.9% + $0.30 for less than a sale of $3,000 (with a break for sales over that amount) at the time of this writing. So you will want to consider that when creating a shopping campaign. Of course, these types of ads have been eye catching and quite Successful with the right product optimization. Since it is tied to Adwords you get a lot of the same benefits such as in- depth reporting, bidding tools, and impression data. However, it is also quite different with the merchant account tie in. Very simplistically without going too deep into it – you will use product groups, which are then divided into attributes like category, product type, and merchant item identification, and you then set your bids according to the product group. Just like adwords and the display network, the winning bid and the one with the highest quality score wins.

You will want to take time to really work on your descriptions and if possible get reviews on the product to increase your chances at the top. Successful thus far has not had a campaign where a lack of reviews prevented the product from being listed – just FYI. There is a lot that goes into this and one way we can help you is by working with you to get your first product set up and then creating an excel file where you can easily set up the rest. Contact Successful for more on that.


 YouTube Ads

YouTube is a vast ecosphere and if you are a video content creator (which we should all strive to be – remember video is important to your content marketing plan) it cannot be ignored. YouTube is definitely part of the spoke hub model. You can use your videos there with traffic influenced by your ads, which can be profitable conversions on your site and enroll new customers. It can be quite effective and is perfect for the audience that likes to consume their information as video and not textual content – in other words YouTube can have a non-tapped audience potential for you. YouTube ads are directly connected to your general Adwords account and if you are running display ads there is a good chance you already have ads on YouTube.

The reason we mention YouTube as a separate PPC model is there are a number of video based formats you can work with here more easily and more Successfully than elsewhere. There are overlay ads, which are the ones that appear as transparent overlays on a video often times on longer videos noted by the yellow mark in the timeline. TrueView ads are the skippable video ads that are seen before and sometimes during or after the main video. If you are doing a skippable TrueView ad please make sure to mention your company and product or at minimum at least your logo within the first three seconds for brand awareness if nothing else. People skip the video pretty quickly after the preview ends and many companies don’t even get their logo up – which is pointless. Of course if you are paying for the more expensive non-skippable in-stream ad then you can show your product / brand at the very or whenever you feel like it.

Finally there are the display ads that appear currently on the left with the recommended next videos. Now keep in mind too that not all videos can have ads in them though the most popular do; the creator of the video has to monetize their video and meet certain criteria in order to be considered ad- friendly. We work with a team of excellent and Successful video producers so if you need help getting a video together, let us know. Successful handles the YouTube advertising aspect.


 Facebook Ads

It took them a little while to get it right, but in the last few years Facebook ads have really became quite powerful. Be careful though because, just like their privacy rules, the way their ads work is subject to change. We want to mention that this is a different entity than the internet as a whole since Facebook is its own environment and has different rules of engagement. It is a vast community and we are careful to recommend that you don’t spam, since many users here simply find the ads intrusive (more so than in the general internet). So in all the social network environments, Facebook being the largest, it is best to be friendly.

With that said, they have a very powerful targeting system because they have more data on their users. They have amazing personal information from the basic location, age, people interest, what they talk about and how they use it, how they are connected, or what events they have in common. So it’s like advertising to friends going to the same wedding. For example, say you worked for a non-profit and you were trying to court a very rich potential donor. If they or their mate had a Facebook account and you could find out a bit about them, like age, location, and a couple interests, you could create an ad and target it so specifically that they are the only ones who see it. Imagine writing that ad – it is just fun. It really is a marketer’s dream and they have a decent analytics end as well.

Facebook also has Boosted Posts which helps you take your ad to more people. A common theme among social networks is the concept of the stream, which is made of news and stories which are constantly minute by minute being added to a person’s view so it can be very likely that if they are not online at the right time they will miss your post. Boosted posts makes it so that the stream doesn’t matter and your connections will see your posts no matter when they log in. Finally there are Facebook offers which allow a business to set an offer ad on Facebook and then when people click on it they get an offer which you set – usually a big discount which will then drive traffic to your store with sales. When you think of Facebook offers, think of Groupon. These are all good for the Successful business and Facebook needs to be a serious consideration as an ad platform. What we recommend is looking at where you are at and what you need, then picking the best platform for you and your audience. Talk to us.


 Other Social Networks

A faster internet makes everyone happy and the days of sitting waiting for a page to load are beginning to end. A slow loading page loses SEO points and the slower it loads the worst it gets. More important now with the rise of mobile browsing we expect to see this metric get more and more weight. Successful will work with you to best optimize for a quick page load time. We want to reach 1.4 seconds or less for full load. That is not always possible, particularly with image- heavy gallery areas or too many weighty special effects and some other considerations when passing high levels of data or downloads.

The biggest take- away from page load speed is that you do not want to be slow. We may agree with you at times (and in fact we are doing this with our own site) that taking a slower than 1.4 page load is worth it if we can you an effect or a big image we feel helps the viewer or assist with a conversion. We need to aim for the goal and make a choice if we need to sacrifice. Load speed is something you will want a strong company like Successful to help you with since there is a lot of behind- the- scenes optimizations that one could do.

Integrate and Optimize

To have a Successful web strategy solution today it is essential that you are integrated. Many of our services are part of the whole picture and combining these elements is crucial for your bottomline. Follow the links below to understand more fully what these are and how they / we can serve you.

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