Search Engine Marketing (SEM) for beginners

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The process of setting up and maintaining a successful Search Engine Marketing campaign is a big job.  But with a little study, forethought,  goal setting, and measurement anyone can do it, and be relatively successful.

In this post I will cover the initial, high level steps to get your Search Engine Marketing campaign off to a solid start.  You can also visit Google Adwords for an extensive (75 modules when I took it) online training class that they offer.

Establish Your Goals

What do you want to accomplish with your Search Marketing strategy? What do you want your prospects to do when they find your website? Where are your customers geographically? These are just a few of the questions that we will ask to help you build and clearly define goals for your Search Marketing campaign.

A clear path, or sales funnel within your website should be defined.  Does your website communicate you value proposition to your prospects?  Does your website represent your company well?  Does it give a clear benefit to doing business with you?  Is your websites content engaging?  If the answer is no to any of the above, you may want to consider revamping your site before spending money to drive prospects to it.

Keyword Research, Selection and Tuning

Do you know what keywords people are searching when trying to find your business?  What keywords will make your phone ring?  Selecting the wrong keywords is probobly one of the biggest reasons Search Engine Marketing Campaigns fail.  Many PPC beginners will often go for “high volume” keywords, which often are extremely competitive and expensive, and may or may not achieve your desired results.  On the other hand, selecting keywords that get very little searches do little to move a small businesses sales forward.

There are many resources available for keyword research today.  In any case, at the very least every PPC marketer should use some sort of website analytics to measure how paid visitors are interacting with your website.

PPC Budget Management

Have you done your research on how competitive the keywords you want to buy are?  How big of a geographical area do you want to advertise to?  Have you allotted a sufficient monthly budget?  I have always used a simple calculation with my customers when coming up with a proposed monthly budget.  I call it the “5 Click Rule”.  The rule is pretty simple, you want me to get your phone to ring from highly qualified prospects, Google wants to serve your ad, we need to budget for a minimum of 5 clicks per day.  Let me explain further…

If your a Plumber serving the Portland, Oregon area, and you want to advertise to people in Google searching for “Plumbers Portland, Oregon”, and that keyword string costs $10 per click, we need to be prepared to spend $50 a day on Adwords.  If you want to advertise your services everyday, that is a monthly budget of $1500.  Now that’s not to say you will spend that much, as there are ways to be competitive on a lower budget, but if you want to really see the value of PPC, 5 people seeing your website, when they are looking for exactly what you do, should net you 1-2 calls per day.  What could the average Plumber make in extra sales if he had 30-60 new calls per month…I know it would be a lot more than $1500.

Lesson here is, if you’re going to venture into PPC, budget enough so it works.  Throwing $300 (or $10 a day), and getting your website 1 click extra isn’t going to do anything to move your sales needle.

Compelling Ads and Creative Development

Creating compelling ads, that get clicked on so your prospects can see your website can be a big challenge.  Many new PPC marketers will make the mistake of looking at their competition, and doing similar ads.  This will do nothing for you as it doesn’t differentiate your business at all from your competition.  Focus on what make your business different, and where you beat your competition.  Creating ads that show how you are different will get you much better click-throughs, than ads that say the same thing as everyone else.

Look for future posts from us that will dive deeper into Search Engine Marketing Tactics, Quality Score, Bid Management and more.

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