The Fundamentals of Search Engine Marketing
Written by Dylan Langei
The Godfather, widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, focuses on the powerful Italian-American crime mob family of Don Vito Corleone. The Corleone's were the most powerful mafia family in New York City, participating and controlling almost all gambling, drug trafficking, and corruption. OK, Google is no mob family - and they certainly are not exploiting or indulging in corruption. But, Google does control and essentially own the Search Engine Marketing market - similarly to the Corleone family controlling and owning all illegal activities in New York City. You pay the mob to do business in their city, just like you have to pay Google to get noticed...well, anywhere online.
Why is Google the Godfather of PPC/Paid Search?
We, the users of Google, made them! As of December 2012, Google held a 65.2% share of web search volume worldwide, with 114.7 billion searches that month. Therefore, it's fairly important to have Google on your side. So if you want to reach your target audience, and they're completing on of those 114.7 billion searches, it is worthwhile to promote your search engine ranking and keywords.
Paid vs. Organic Search
My last blog post How SEO is Becoming Less Techy covers organic search, so I won't spend much time revisiting that topic. Paid search, or Search Engine Marketing (SEM), is the various means of marketing for a website via search engines, and entails both organic search engine optimization and paid search strategies. Paid search allows you to pay a fee to have your website displayed on the search engine results page when someone searches for specific keywords or phrases related to your website.
How Paid Search Works
The three main components of a paid search campaign are keywords, ads, and landing pages. These campaigns can be run through Google AdWords, one of the most successful paid search campaign services.
- Keywords: start out by giving Google a list of keywords, which then tells Google to display your ad when those keywords are searched for.
- Ads: you must design ads that are relevant to the search query and attractive enough that the searcher feels inclined to click on them.
- Landing Page: once you've gotten a searcher to click on your ad link, they will be directed to your landing page. The goal of this landing page is to get viewers to convert in some way.
Why Should You Run a Paid Search Campaign With Google Adwords?
Google AdWords is Google's online advertising program that lets you reach new customers and grow your business. You're allowed to choose where your ad appears, set a budget you're comfortable with (you only pay when the ad is clicked on - results based), and you can measure the impact of your ad.
- Organic Rankings Are Volatile: one day you're in the top five for a high-priority keyword, and the next day you're nowhere on that search page. This is because of Google's constant algorithm updates and user-interface changes. With Google AdWords, once you have the right mix of quality score and budget, your ad position is fairly consistent.
- Fairly Low Financial Risk: a campaign on Google AdWords has no minimum budget, can be cancelled at any time, and you are only charged when a user actually clicks on your ad. Therefore, your business is only charged for visits to your landing page, which hopefully lead to conversions. Google AdWords also doesn't require any financial commitment up front. Your business only pays when results are given (users click on the ad), which is a great test bunny for the keywords, ad style, and landing page you have chosen.
- Increase Click-Throughs: although clicks are not a measurement of success, they are a prerequisite for conversions. 50% of clicks generated by paid ads are not replaced by organic clicks when the ads are absent and the website has a first position organic search ranking. This shows that paid ads cannot be replaced, even by the best organic search ranking.
4. Increase Probability of Conversion: as stated in #3, click throughs do not guarantee conversions, but they sure as hell help. Some agencies report increases in conversions as high as 200 percent as a result of combining SEO and paid search. That is pretty remarkable, and 200 percent worth the cost of a Google AdWords campaign.
Example of an Effective Google AdWords Campaign
Elance used Google AdWords to promote web development & design on the platform WordPress. This is an effective campaign for 4 reasons:
- They have included proof and credibility to their ads (along with numbers) by focusing on the fact that they've had over 25,000 happy customers. That is a significant amount of clients that they've served, and looks very credible to a new customer.
- Elance integrates a compelling offer in the ad by offering "top design & development from $99." $99 to build a top-tier website? Sure I'll click on the ad to see what they're offering.
- They've also directed the audience to a landing page that is not their home page, but is a custom URL to reinforce what they're offering - "Custom_Design."
- Elance slips in a call-to-action at the end of the ad, "Start Now!" so that users know what to do if they would like to take advantage of this great offer.