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A Beginner's Guide To Search Engine Marketing

Updated: Apr 2, 2018

Love is all you need for Search Engine Marketing? For many people, search engines are black boxes with complex algorithms. This guide will shed some light on search engines, how they work and how to create your first search engine marketing campaign.

Over the years, search engines have become the default tool that consumers use to conduct research and purchase products and services. As such, Search Engine Marketing and website ranking has become a cornerstone of any marketing plan.

What is Search Engine Marketing?

A type of internet marketing associated with the researching, submitting and ranking of a website by search engines to increase visibility, website referrals from search engines. There are two types of website traffic from search engines, organic or paid search. We will focus on paid search for this article. Read our article on Search Engine Optimization to learn more about organic traffic.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

For new businesses, it can be tough at the beginning to build up your website ranking through search engine optimization and content management. This is especially true for industries with a lot of competition. If this is the case for your business, you may want to consider investing in pay-per-click advertisements.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is a business model whereby a company that has placed an advertisement on a website or mobile app (via Google AdWords) pays a fee to the host website when a user clicks on the advertisement. Some common pay per click advertisements are search engine ads, banner ads on websites and mobile apps and ads on social media (e.g. Facebook or YouTube).

Image: Search Engine Results Page (SERP) - Search Engine Ads.

Image: Banner Ads on Websites.

Google AdWords

Google is by far the most popular search engine today. A report from statcounter shows that Google has over 91% of the search engine market share worldwide. As such, all marketers should learn how to use Google AdWords effectively to maximize their marketing spend and avoid common mistakes.

What is Google AdWords? An advertising platform on the Google search engine. Google offers several types of search advertisements including display ads, video ads, search ads, app ads for online and mobile channels.

How to Use Google AdWords?

Advertisers use AdWords to target users across two media networks, search network and Google Display Network (GDN). Search network are advertisements that appear on Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) when a user queries a relevant keyword. While Google Display Network allows advertisers to place their banner ads on a variety of websites including blogs, news sites and YouTube.

1. Establish Marketing Goals

What is your Search Engine Marketing goals? Building brand awareness? Sales lead generation? E-commerce? Your marketing goals will impact how you setup your Google AdWords account and the features to use.

2. Identify Your Target Market

Understanding your target market and how they behave will help you target them more effectively. Here are some questions you should be asking. Who are your customers? What do they do? When do they do it? When are they searching online? What device do they use?

3. Conduct Keyword Research

Select and bid on keywords relevant to your business to effectively reach your target market when they using search engines. The Google keyword planner tool can help you estimate the cost, competition and volume for each search term. Sharpen your SEM strategy with long tail keywords (3 to 4-word phrases). People use these keywords to search for specific information. They are targeted, have less competition and cheaper.

4. Set Your Bid and Budget

Set a budget that you can afford. The bidding process functions like an auction. Marketers bid for relevant keywords for their marketing campaigns and brand. Google’s algorithm then ranks the bids using two main factors, max bid and quality score.

Ad Rank = Max Bid X Quality Score

The higher your quality score, the lesser you pay for your ranking. A website with quality content and relevant keywords will increase your quality score. Cost Per Click (CPC) is the amount that you will pay for each click through.

CPC = Ad Rank of Next Bidder / Quality Score + 0.01

If the cost per click is high for popular keywords, consider using long tailed keywords. Although volume will decline but conversion rates will increase and expenses will be lower. Remember to keep some budget aside for A/B testing and brand building.

5. Structure your account

You can setup several search campaigns for each AdWords account. Each search campaign can have distinct marketing goals (e.g. brand awareness or driving sales). Under each search campaign, there are several ad groups, each containing one or more ads which target common keywords. Marketers can use ad groups to separate product or service types.

6. Write Amazing Ads!

Write text ads with compelling headlines, a clear call to action and relevant keywords to maximize click through rates. Also, make use of extensions to give your ad more information. Leverage on emotional response to get more clicks. Write several ad copies for the same campaign for A/B testing to understand what works for your target market.

7. Design an Appealing Landing Page

After visitors click on your banner ads, the first thing they see is your website. Spend time and invest in a visually appealing landing page. Some useful tips include keeping the page neat and simple, focus on benefits not only features, have a clear call to action, ensure its mobile optimized and minimize form fields.

8. Implement Conversion Tracking

Add tracking code to your website and use either AdWords or Google Analytics to track conversion rates. Constantly fine-tune your ads and website and adopt best practices.

9. Build a Remarketing List

Building a remarketing list will allow you to retarget prospects who have previously visited your website. When prospects see your ad on another website, they will be able to click through to your website. Read our article on Remarketing.

10. Constant Optimization

Conduct A/B testing on your ad copies and landing pages to find the most effective ones. Adjust bids based on keyword performance and add negative keywords to your sharpen targeting.


When these 10 simple steps for Search Engine Marketing (SEM), you are on your way to launching your first Pay-Per-Click Advertisement. Developing a marketing strategy with both PPC Advertising and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), your business will be able to effectively drive website traffic, generate leads and growing your business.

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Search Engine Marketing For Businesses

Recommended Article: A Beginner's Guide to Search Engine Optimization