Everything You Need to Know About PPC and SEM

Understanding digital marketing and SEO techniques is a tricky thing. It can be wildly confusing and seem like a jumbled bunch of nonsense to someone who does not understand how the industry works. This is why it is so important to do your research and contact professionals if you need assistance. In a world where flags and penalties can be handed out and ruin your chances at ranking highly within the search engine algorithms of Google and other sites, you definitely should play it safe.

Let’s discuss a commonly used technique, pay per click (PPC) and search engine marketing (SEM), to help make your understanding of what a search engine optimization and digital marketing company are going to do for your website.

What is Search Engine Marketing?

Also known by the acronym SEM, search engine marketing is a type of marketing model that is an incredibly effective way to grow your business within the current marketplace despite it being a very competitive and somewhat fickle place. If you look at current online marketing trends, you will notice that there are millions of businesses in any given industry all vying for the attention of potential customers and clients. To give yourself a fighting chance in this incredibly saturated and competition-based market, you have to develop a viable plan of marketing on a digital scale, especially within search engines.

Defined as the practice of using paid advertisement to strategically place ads on search engine result pages, also referred to as SERPS, search engine marketing is a great way to get your name out there while spending a small amount. These ads usually appear higher up on a search engine result page with a tag that explains they are sponsored content or in a special section that is just for paid advertisement.

It is important not to confuse search engine marketing with search engine optimization, also known as SEO. Search engine optimization is a different process entirely that uses strategic posting and content posted onto a website to organically boost the ranking of a site within search engine standings. It does not involve the same paid advertisements that are utilized within search engine marketing, though the two do go hand in hand.

Search engine marketing still requires work, not unlike that which goes into SEO techniques. Before you can begin a targeted advertising campaign, you or the company you hired to handle the SEM work has to first work on figuring out which keywords are most relatable to your desired customer and client range. Building this keyword research data backlog can work greatly in your favor, as it opens up the opportunity for you to truly understand what people are searching for within your industry and customize your advertisement to that window.

Using a keyword search tool or similar device can help this process go smoothly. Using a good, well-planned keyword strategy is a great way to ensure you are on par with your assumed keywords and ready to start your campaign. You can research to find keywords that are relevant to your customers, client, business, and industry to utilize within the campaign.

You can also enlist the assistance of SEM professionals to locate keywords you should avoid, too. These are phrases or single words that may seem related but are not going to get you any good traffic or and will, instead, waste your ad budget. You should stick to terms that have the same search intent as what is relevant to your business or industry niche to prevent this from occurring.

The Ad Auction

It is often understood that those with larger budgets for advertising will come out on top. This, while a factor towards your overall advertisement success, is not something that is solely the answer to your advertising desires. Instead, you have to realize that there is something called an “ad auction”.

Ad auctions happen on small scales every single time someone types a question or phrase into Google. For example, something as generic as, “ice cream near me”, will trigger an ad auction for those sites that have AdSense accounts set up and are related to the search, according to Google’s algorithm.

Google takes the information from the ad to rate its overall quality and will factor this quality rating into the likelihood of the ad winning the auction to be displayed with that given query. The Google algorithm also factors in the total amount a company has listed that they are willing to pay for a click (more on that in a minute) on their link. The algorithm is more inclined to favor content that will pay more per click, as it has a higher revenue potential for Google, so these higher-paying potential advertisements will have a better shot at being placed on the page.

Pay Per Click

Once the ads are on the page, you are in the game and will be showcased as a potential viable link for those looking to find a solution to their problem or specific product. If your ad is clicked, you will pay a preselected amount for that click. This is how pay per click or PPC advertising works.

It may seem a little silly to pay each time someone clicks your link but think about it: paying a couple of dollars to display a link in a place where someone is inclined to click it and potentially purchase an item worth $20 is a profit. This type of advertising works because it caters to what people want (their search query answered) and offers a chance for you to make a sale, launch a conversation with a potential client, or render a service. It is a win-win situation!

Your PPC rate is set before your advertisement goes live and can vary greatly depending on what you want out of your advertisement. For example, if you want to rank very high within the standings and have a better chance at winning your bid for the given query, you should invest a little more in your advertisement’s pay per click bid rate. Some companies bid as little as a few cents and others go with upwards of eight to ten dollars. The decision is yours; you can use data like the keyword value, popularity, and level of interest in that keyword to help you decide what amount is appropriate. Then, if you notice you are not getting selected to be showcased very often, you can easily switch things up and change your minimum bid level after the fact to help boost your chances.

How SEM, PPC, and SEO Go Hand In Hand

So, SEM, PPC, and SEO sound like a lot of alphabet soup if you do not know the meanings behind them but once you do, their importance really shines. Truly, if you can master using these three concepts, you are on your way to successfully work on digitally marketing your business. Plus, the three actually go hand in hand.

You see, in a perfect world, you could write a stellar article with tons of information, rich keyword usage, and perfect parameters and see it excel within the search engine algorithms. Your hard work would pay off and the article would be right at the top of the list, as it answered everything properly and fit the niche needs of the searcher perfectly.

This is not a perfect world, in some ways, though, and, unfortunately, many other people have the same ideas as you and perhaps even got there first, allowing them to rank higher automatically. Similarly, maybe they have ties with larger websites or are a larger website themselves that generally gain more traction. Regardless of the reason, some sites are going to beat you right out of the gate and instantly rank higher.

This does not mean you should give up on SEO, as it definitely offers a lot of perks, especially when working with keywords that are not as competitive as some of the larger and highly sought out ones.

If you cannot get the ranking with SEO, SEM and PPC advertising can really help ensure you still have a fighting chance. SEM and PPC allow you to recognize the worth of your content yourself and take matters into your own hands and boost your standing through budgeted, paid advertisement.

With PPC content, you can boost your own signal by creating a quality advertisement with links to your site, appropriate headers and information, and photo, and more to mesh well with Google’s algorithm. Then, you can set a budget that is reasonable and design a pay per click amount that matches your needs and budget suitably. Once this is done, the ad is off to bid. The advertisement auction happens in seconds as the page loads and the search queries are showcased; if you have a strong enough ad and a big enough budget, then you are likely to find yourself near the very top of the page, waiting to be clicked by a curious searcher.

The Upside and Downside of SEM and PPC

Like any marketing tool, there will be some pitfalls and concerns that come with using SEM and PPC. All types of advertising create both pros and cons and feature a wide range of different potential successes, as well as potential downturns. Let’s weigh the pros and cons together and see how things weigh out.

The Advantages

Pay per click advertising offers some very serious benefits, including an increased opportunity for growth and the ability to create situations where clients and customers can see your products or services more easily than ever before. It is also very cost-effective since you only pay when a user actually clicks your link in order to reach your website. This means there is a chance they may notice your site, not click the link where you would pay for their interest, and come back later if they happen to remember something about your listing that caught their eye.

You can also create incredibly targeted advertising that directly deals with those who would otherwise already be interested in your services or products, allowing you to have an increased chance of making contact with them without wasting time on keywords and niches that do not pertain to you.

The customizable features make the process incredibly easy to use and allow you to formulate your perfect advertising campaign, creating an opportunity where you can make an eye-catching ad that will draw customers and clients in. You can also use the Google analytics tools to monitor the success of your campaign and measure the effectiveness of your pay per click and general advertising efforts, too.

Google also offers training materials for free online and there are tons of webinars concerning how to best utilize Google advertising, too, allowing you to make the most of your investment. All in all, the tools are definitely there to help you comfortably and confidently take on handling your advertising campaign. If you have the will to succeed and the right team behind you, you have a definite fighting chance.

The Disadvantages

While there are only a few, the disadvantages of this type of marketing are worth considering. It is a serious time investment where you have to check-in and monitor your ads, tweaking them as needed to ensure their success. You also have to understand that if your ad works well, the costs of your bid will add up. You have to budget appropriately and have a team prepared to help you convert those clicks into purchases or interest, too.

Let SEO Vendor Help:

SEO Vendor is a digital marketing company working to assist in creating the perfect online campaign for businesses across the world. With a staff consisting of trained professionals at the ready, SEO Vendor is waiting to help you ensure your business is the best it can be, with search engine rankings that reflect the value of the company as a whole. For more information, contact the SEO Vendor team and get the ball rolling! Success awaits!

Josh McKay
Josh McKay
I write on the foundational concepts of search engine optimization (SEO). Learn the strategy behind great SEO, including keyword planning, content optimization, link building, and SEO for ecommerce, local search, and mobile audiences.
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