Blog Post

SEM: What is it and Why Should it be part of your Digital Media Plan?

04/24/2019 - Sierra Ducey

Search engine marketing is not something to miss out on when it comes to advertising to today’s digitally-oriented consumers. These are people who find answers to their most pressing, personal questions through a search bar — and they aren’t interested in searching for very long. Patience is limited and annoyance is rampant as users travel to the second or third pages of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). To serve them best whilst simultaneously increasing site traffic, a brand must strive to be a leading, first page result. Search engine marketing, or SEM, is the solution that, when navigated correctly, can increase a brand’s awareness by 80%. And as little as $5 per day can get a company started when choosing to work with pay per click (PPC) advertisements. 
SEM is an effective, low-cost solution that marketers and media planners across industries are using to increase site traffic. By using Google Ads, (a popular SEM management platform,) any business has the ability to double their marketing investment. Users can customize ads by type, consumer segment, and geographic location to reach the most promising, profitable searchers possible. And when SEM is paired with programmatic, a brand not only turns up on the first page, but does so in a relevant, highly engaging way. The following information serves as an SEM refresher for any brand hoping to become a leading search engine competitor in 2019 and beyond. By understanding this information, your company can surely rise to the top of the page and to the top of a consumer’s mind:

What SEM Terms Should A Brand Become Familiar With?
The following concepts are essentials. By familiarizing yourself with these terms, marketers and media planners become better prepared for SEM implementation and management. How, when, and to what degree they’re used depends on the brand’s desired goals:

  • SERPs, or Search Engine Results Pages: The pages chock full of ads and links that pop up when a consumer conducts an online search query.
  • DAs, or Domain Authority: The strength of a domain that determines its placement on a SERP. This term was coined by Moz, an SEO software company, and compares the power of one domain to another, (allowing the stronger, more applicable site to show up first.)
  • Paid Keywords: Paid keywords come into play when a company pays to have their website show up near the top of a SERP. This is the allocation of funds toward certain keywords or phrases that a target consumer would likely type into a search bar. By paying to be associated with certain words, your brand is able to increase reach and site visibility to target audiences.
  • Organic Keywords: Organic keywords are unpaid words or phrases that trigger your website to show up in an SERP. These words lead to a natural ranking of websites based on search engine algorithms. To increase chances of being a top SERP link, a brand is encouraged to adjust their SEO practices as applicable, (i.e include popular search words in website links, titles, and descriptions).
  • Long-Tail Keywords: Longer queries that are recorded in a website’s search bar. These keywords are longer than three words and are typically highly specific questions or requests.
  • SEO vs. SEM: SEO, or search engine optimization, and SEM are used conjunctively to increase a brand’s visibility on a SERP. SEO is an unpaid tactic that falls under SEM and is all about researching, adjusting, and implementing certain tactics to make a brand’s content a top SERP result. SEM, or search engine marketing, involves both SEO and paid (possibly PPC) search ads or listings. It’s the larger umbrella term that accounts for any initiative made by a brand — paid or unpaid — to reach more people from a desired SERP placement.

What are the Common Search Ad Formats?

  • Traditional PPC Text Ads: Text-based advertisements that can be found at the top, bottom, or side of organic SERP listings. These postings must display themselves as ads, (via icon or statement) and are only paid for when a consumer clicks on them. A brand chooses which keywords trigger these ads to appear and what circumstances to take into consideration, including timing, location, and demographics. These ads operate on a bidding system, so the higher a brand pays, the higher their website is displayed, post-inquiry.
  • Google Shopping Ads: Search engine shopping ads are commonly used by e-commerce retailers. These ads pair photos with product details and are displayed on SERPs and Google’s Shopping tab. They pertain to certain keywords, (paid or organic) and compare prices to similar products posted by other merchants.
  • Display Ads: Google’s Display Network can be used to promote display ads on Google’s search engine and alternate sites. These photo or video ads appear naturally as users peruse through hundreds of websites and apps. Brands can even choose to serve up retargeting PPC display ads to consumers who had already purchased from them or visited their site within a certain timeframe. It’s a strategy that reaches 90% of internet users globally, allowing companies to reach users off-site in an attempt to reign in interest at a low cost.
  • Video Ads: Video ads have been increasing in popularity thanks to advancements in the form of faster speeds and higher-quality digital platforms. YouTube — purchased by Google in 2006 — is now the third most visited site on the web. More than 1 billion hours of YouTube videos are watched every single day. To hone in on this market, more advertisers are beginning to communicate with target audiences via video ads across video platforms. These PPC ads can be displayed in the form of banners, in-stream video ads and in-video overlay ads.

Why Pair SEM With Programmatic?
SEM initiatives are promising. But when SEM is paired with programmatic, expect even greater results. The data gathered from consumers through programmatic campaigns is extremely insightful. Having this information on-hand can help marketers gain an understanding about the audiences they’re hoping to target with SEM. Knowing how, when, and why someone searches can assist advertisers in writing ad copy, choosing keywords, and reaching the right people on the right sites. Simply put: programmatic is the roadmap that tells you exactly what a consumer is searching for. And our team at Digilant can assist in combining the two together to reach the strongest results possible. For more information, learn about our Search Engine+ Solution here, which unlocks quality URLs and relevant ad placements for brands across industries.

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