How to create a successful SEM strategy
There are over 6 billion online searches worldwide, every day. So now more than ever, having a strong online presence is crucial to your business’s success.
But how do you win the Search Engine Marketing game? Do you go paid or unpaid? Are Google AdWords all they’re cracked up to be?
The rapidly evolving world of digital marketing is a topic that stretches far beyond the scope of this article. In fact, universities and private colleges can barely keep up with the ever changing landscape of online media and technology.
For the purpose of getting a grasp of the basics, here are some tips on building a successful SEM strategy.
Unpaid Search Engine Marketing
Unpaid SEM combines several techniques to improve your website's ranking in search engine results (referred to as Search Engine Optimisation or SEO).
Technique 1: User friendly content
If there was ever a single rule to live by when it comes to SEO, it’s that user-friendly content rules.
Whether it's written information about your business, your products or services, or a video on your company’s blog page – it's important to maintain relevant content that is easy for your website visitors to consume. Some things to consider:
- Is your content free of grammatical errors? Is it simple to read? Is it accessible for people who are visually impaired?
- Is it easy for users to access the content they are searching for? Website visitors should be able to find what they need within 3 clicks.
- Is your content viewable on mobile devices? Google has started to penalise websites who do not support responsive viewing (content that adapts to all screen sizes).
The bottom line: Investing in quality web content will lay the platform for your business to appear in search engine results.
Technique 2: Keywords
This involves researching specific keywords and phrases your customers are searching for (that relate to your business), then writing your web content around them. The more relevant your content, the more likely search engines are to pick up your website.
For example: keywords for a hairdresser could be 'hair', 'haircut', 'colour', 'hair stylist', 'treatment' etc.
Google search phrases could be 'Sydney-based colour expert', 'best hair stylist Sydney' or 'wedding up-dos'. Therefore, your written content should contain keywords or phrases that your customers would use when searching for your products and services.
Tip: Balance is key, so try to sprinkle keywords into your content where it makes sense to do so, ensuring that your written content makes grammatical sense at all times. Try to avoid overloading your content with keywords as this will interfere with your brand's tone of voice.
Technique 3: Links
Inbound links that direct visitors to your website also boost your relevance in the eyes of Google. Aim to build inbound links from reputable sites (and websites relating to yours) as this tells the Google search engine that your website is credible and worth a visit.
Remember Technique 1 above? This is an example of when your quality content helps boost your brand's credibility in the eyes of Google. Other websites, such as blogs, industry news and review sites will include links to your website in their articles – which tells Google that people care about your content.
The end result? Your website will appear higher up in the search rankings, as Google always lists the most relevant and interesting websites first.
Paid Search Engine Marketing
While unpaid SEM (referred to as SEO) is effective, it can be difficult and time consuming to get to the top when your competitors are using the same techniques. That’s why you may consider investing in paid SEM.
Pay Per Click
Paid SEM commonly takes the form of Pay Per Click. These websites sit at the top of Google search with a discreet 'ad' next to the link. The prominent position increases your chances of customer clicks and, as the name suggests, you only pay for the ad when someone clicks on it.
Depending on your budget and the level of competition for your search phrase, you can purchase a variety of keywords from Google – known as Google AdWords. Once you 'own' these keywords, searches that match them will place your ad or website at the top of the list.
Paid SEM also applies to banner ads, social media and YouTube – and using a mix of paid SEM can be highly effective. To get started, check out searchengineland.com or the Google AdWords support site. They give you access to handy how-tos and tutorials.
Trial and error
Every industry is different. So the best way to see what works and what doesn’t is to test a mixture of keywords and paid vs. unpaid SEM. Measure the success of each to guide your strategy in the future.