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Rohan Ayyar

Rohan Ayyar, Regional Marketing Manager India, SEMrush - a digital marketing SEO tool.

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10 Quick Hacks to Improve Your Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Assuming that you have a fundamental understanding of SEM platforms such as Google AdWords and Bing Ads, as well as digital advertising methods such as Pay Per Click (PPC), here are ten quick ways to boost the effectiveness of your SEM campaigns.

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Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the process of improving the visibility of your website on search engines, primarily by running ads that target the keywords your customers are searching for. To a certain extent, it also involves organic marketing, or what is better known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Assuming that you have a fundamental understanding of SEM platforms such as Google AdWords and Bing Ads, as well as digital advertising methods such as Pay Per Click (PPC), here are ten quick ways to boost the effectiveness of your SEM campaigns.

1. Don’t begin without keyword research.

If someone tells you “Keywords are dead,” just look the other way. Keywords or search queries are still at the heart of search engines, and with the rise of voice search, you need to target even more semantic terms and long-tail keywords. Use tools like SEMrush Keyword Magic or Topic Research to generate relevant lists of primary and secondary keywords (and related expressions or industry-specific that your audience is searching for) before you begin any SEM campaign.

2. Base your ad format and copy on the nature of the SERPs.

Search queries are of three types: informational, navigational and transactional. Search engines change how they display ads depending on the nature of the query. For example, transactional terms result in Shopping ads that show the product and price. Make sure you create ads based on the intent of the searcher, keeping in mind your customer journey and sales funnel.

3. Optimize for cross-channel marketing.

Search engines consider a lot of factors when they rank a website for a keyword or phrase. This includes the relevance of your content as well as the value of your branding. As a result, even your campaigns on other websites, social media, or even traditional channels indirectly influence how people search for your branded terms and how Google associates your brand with non-branded terms.

4. Closely watch your competition.

SEM is a channel where you can easily emulate your competition – and beat them with a few tweaks. After all, your options are limited by the feature of the ad exchange or platform, like Google AdWords. Further, you can also bid on your competitor’s branded terms if they aren’t, as well as on your own ones to prevent them from gaining an upper hand without spending much.

5. Use benchmarks.

Half of all money spent on advertising is wasted. The trouble lies in figuring out which half. Determine your Key Performance Indicators (KPI) at the start of every campaign and monitor every metric – such as Cost Per Click (CPC), Cost Per Acquisition (CPA), Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) Click Through Rate (CTR), ROAS (Return On Advertising Spend), and so on – that is important to tracking your KPIs. Be aware of the standards and averages for these metrics in your industry so that you can be sure your budget is being used wisely.

6. Have pros write your ad copy.

Search marketers and account managers can be forgiven for thinking that if they understand the ad platform, they can also write copy for the ads. Big mistake. Use a creative team to craft your headlines, text and graphics, and get them vetted by a subject-matter expert for technicalities. The traditional approach to advertising still works best, if you can do it and scale at digital speed.

7. Target desktop and mobile devices efficiently.

People search in different ways from mobile and desktop devices. Mobile queries have an immediate, location-based context while searches from desktop lean more towards information gathering. The cost of these ads varies accordingly too. Create different ads for mobile and desktop keeping in mind these factors.

8. Target locations carefully.

Google AdWords allows you to geo-target individuals using attributes like their IP address, GPS coordinates, or stated location. Other than that, you can target customer segments on a national, region-wise, or proximity-based (radius around a location) level. Research cultural preferences and external influences at every location before you start a campaign in that area.

9. Use all features of the platform, especially new ones.

Google AdWords makes frequent changes to the way their ads are structured and display. They introduce new “extensions” every now and then, letting you add critical bits of information such as a phone number, time-limited offer, or shipping information to your ad copy. Such features are displayed prominently by the search engine itself, so there’s no point in overlooking them. You can also use different bidding strategies based on these features and factors like time, location and device.

10. Always be testing.

Keep experimenting with different facets of your campaign. You can test the keywords you’re targeting, parts of your ad copy (headline, link, etc.), copy, layout and calls to action on your landing pages (where visitors land when they click on your ad), bidding strategies, and more. Based on the results, you can begin new campaigns, stop underperforming ones, and get more ROI over time. This is by far the fastest and most effective way to discover growth hacks that work best for you!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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