Why (almost) everyone should be running an SEM campaign.

PPC help avoid things like this.

PPC help avoid things like this.

For us at Pattern Digital, advertising is about putting your products or service in front of people that would be interested in them, but just don’t know about them yet. Sounds simple, right?

But advertising and marketing has established somewhat of a negative view in the public eye because so many marketers forget that basic, basic rule. You should aim to help people discover, not force things down their throat.

The classic approach - put an advert on your customer’s favourite website - means that there will also be people on that site that have no interest in your product. For a small business just starting out, there can be concerns that your money is being wasted on these people or that your advertising is seen as a negative.

SEM addresses both of these concerns. And that’s why, no matter what size your business is, you should probably be running an SEM campaign.

What is Search Engine Marketing?

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is, in simplistic terms, the adverts that you see on sites such as Google and Bing. It's an advert that, in simplistic terms, can put your website above your competitors in Search Engine Results Pages.

In the below example, ASOS would be the first result if there were no Google Ads (we call non-advert results 'organic'). With the ads, Fashion World Clothing appears first.

Although this might seem like a dirty trick - it's not just about spending money. Ads still have to be relevant to the users search query (Google will penalise them if they are not), so the customer still gets what they want.

What’s the difference between SEM and Pay-Per-Click (PPC)?

Search Engine Marketing is a type of Pay Per Click advertising, but it’s a passive form of it. SEM is usually a text advert that is only shown when a user has actively searched for something related. If you’re selling brown boots via Adwords on Google, your advert will only show when someone has typed in that they are looking for brown boots. This is passive advertising – the customer is coming to you.

Other PPC services are usually more image based adverts and appear on many different sites. Although there will likely be some level of targeting (‘women age 20-24 that live in Cambridge’), it’s still an active form of advertising. You’re approaching the customer rather than having them come to you.

Why is SEM a good place to start paid advertising?

  • You’ll be happy - It’s a safe bet for your money
  • Your customer will be happy - you won’t be forcing a product on anyone

SEM is a safe bet for your money.

Google averages show that users make $2 for every $1 that they spend.

That doesn’t mean you can just turn a campaign on and the money will start rolling in instantly, but in terms of other channels it’s an incredibly good statistic!

Paying on a pay per click model means that you only pay when someone actually clicks through to your website (obviously). This means that if you have a good site and great product, it’s a fantastic way to get qualified traffic to your website.

The price you pay is also based on an auction model. If you say you’re willing to pay £1 for each click, and your competitor says they’re willing to pay £0.61 – you’ll win the bid but still only pay £0.62.

SEM means you only target people that want your product or service.

Search Engines only show an advert if a user has typed in a phrase or word that you your advert to appear against. For example, if you only want your advert to appear when someone types in brown leather boots under £50, then you can. We wouldn’t recommend ONLY targeting this keyword, but it’s entirely possible to do.

The main advantage of this, of course, is that you know 100% that see your advert are being actively helped. They want brown boots, and you want to show them some brown boots. There’s very, very little space for disappointment there.

How do I start?!

Google accounts for 80% of all SEM traffic, so start there. Google Adwords is a free to use interface to help you build and run SEM campaigns, and it’s (relatively) easy to understand if you have the time to learn. There’s a wealth of community support online to help you with questions that you may have and you can log in with your existing Google Account.

Start small - target terms that are really, really relevant to you and don't over extend. Build up from there.

Of course, if you don’t have the time to learn Adwords yourself or need advice on where to start then please get in touch. We’ll make sure that you understand what we do as we go so that you learn slowly but surely.

SEM gives you not only the most passive form of advertising out there, so you’re less likely to piss people off, but also guarantees you pay as cheap a price as possible.

So if you have a business and are making enough money that you can consider paid advertising, or want to increase your profits and find new customers, there’s no excuse to not start with SEM.