Reaching your target users through search engines matters! Even more, the majority of users choose to buy from a business that is on Google’s first search engine result page. This is why it is no surprise that the best brands in the world invest heavily to improve their SEM strategies and achieve success with their marketing campaigns.
Search engine marketing became the undeniable part of companies’ marketing arsenal, allowing them to grow their brand and sales through paid advertising, and let’s not forget the additional gains such as profitable targeted traffic, and the capacity to assess and improve paid search results.
The following best practices for boosting SEM success are essential if you want to succeed in the marketplace. Whether you implement them alone with your team or get help from your trusted agency partners, these are the SEM tactics that you need to implement now.
1. Audit Your SEM Strategy
In some cases, your search engine marketing strategy might not deliver the desired results, even if you’ve invested a serious amount of money and effort on it. If that’s the case, you need to analyze if your SEM strategy can actually help you achieve your goals, and audit each aspect that the strategy can cover.
To make your WordPress site and SEM work together in favor of your business goals, everything must be implemented properly, from keywords analysis, campaign frameworks, content analysis, copywriting, to bid and ad management, as well as ad tracking operations.
Perform a Quick SEO Audit
There are aspects that play a key role in your SEO success, but also affect your SEM campaign achievements as well. For example, on-page SEO, mobile SEO, and the overall search-friendliness of your website. Your SEO is important to the entire online success of your website, you need to focus on the following when you audit.
Open your Google Search Console and see if you’ve submitted a correct version of your sitemap. Go to Google Index → Index Status where you can find out how many of your pages are indexed by Google.
Again, open your Search Console and go to Google Crawl → Crawl Errors to see if there are 404 errors that occurred.
UX and Site Architecture
When auditing site architecture and experience for SEO, rank your top 10 pages and ensure that each of them is no more than two clicks away from the homepage.
Also, ensure that categories and tags are contained in your sitemap. Each of your categories must have a clear purpose and unique content that can engage the readers that come through search engines.
Analyzing your entire keyword strategy can help you come up with new ways to succeed in SEM and beat your competitors!
You can use a tool such as SEMRush to:
- Identify the keywords your competition is ranking for.
- Identify the keywords your competition is buying.
- Identify the keywords you are ranking for.
- Identify the keywords you’re buying that convert visitors.
- Identify the keywords that you want to rank for.
- Evaluate how you stand against the competition.
- Identify the keywords or phrases of your homepage title tag.
Internal and external links matter for strong SEO! Open your Search Console, and go to Search Traffic → Links to Your Site
Here, you can discover your most linked content, the anchor text of how your data is linked, and the internal pages that you link to most. You should find out what are your most valuable links.
See whether your top linked pages are consistent with your top organic traffic pages. Your internal linking structure should always match with your best content.
People nowadays prefer to search on mobile devices, and this is why you need to give attention to your WordPress website responsiveness. First, go to Google’s Mobile-Friendly tool and study each of your top pages to see how mobile-responsive are they.
If your site is not mobile-friendly enough, you need to do something about it, because not only is it harmful to your SEO ranking, but also people tend to stay away from terrible mobile versions of sites.
With PPC, you can get results on search engines instantaneously! However, there are things that you need to examine and improve in order to achieve success for your SEM campaign.
What is the right cost-per-click target for your SEM campaign? You need to scrutinize the numbers from your analytics and analyze the costs for the campaign. Simply put, you need to define the ideal CPC for each of your search marketing campaigns.
ROI tells you whether you have a positive return for your campaigns or not:
ROI = (Total Revenue – Total Cost) / Total Cost x 100
If you have a positive ROI, then you’re generating more revenue than you’ve initially spent on advertising. But, if it’s negative then it means that your investment is not working and you need to figure out where your mistakes are.
Conversion rate is important because not everyone that clicks on a search engine result will buy your product or opt for your service. A cost-per-click is not quite the same as the cost-per-sale.
Conversion Rate = Number of People that Buyed / Number of People that Clicked the Ad
AdWords Average Conversion Rate
On average, advertisers can expect conversion rates of 3.17% on Search or 0.46 on Display networks.
Still, you need to benchmark your AdWords conversion rate to see if your efforts are effective or not. For example, let’s say that you used to have a conversion rate of 0.3% and you’ve boosted it up to 1.3%. However, you know that the average is 3.17% for each search, so if you’re still at 1.3%, you have a long way to go to reach the average first, and then improve for more.
Analyze Your Competitors
The competition in PPC is ferocious, and it’s getting tougher for businesses to separate themselves on Google. As you bid on carefully-selected search terms, so are your competitors.
This is why you must conduct competitive analysis and audit of your industry to see how you stack up against your rivals. You’ll discover lots of opportunities, but also threats that you need to address.
There are several PPC competitive analysis tools that can help you with your competitive analysis:
- SEMrush: Provides you with crucial insights on ad copy, keywords, new competitors and overall competitor performance.
- SpyFU: Provides you with nine years of history for competitive keywords, organic rank, and ad variation.
- AdBeat: Shows where traffic comes from, what it does within the site, and where it goes when it leaves the site.
- iSpionage: Provides data on keywords and ad copy, to assist in evaluating CTR and CPC. Has historical PPC data for Google and Bing.
- Keyword Spy: Helps you recognize profitable keyword-ad copy combinations and important keyword data such as ad spenders with the largest change in a number of targeted keywords and keywords with the largest CPC change.
- WordTracker: In addition to a wide range of PPC competitive analysis, this tool has a real-time competitor- monitoring component.
The key areas to analyze about your competitors in terms of PPC are:
- Competitor Selection: Identify your top PPC competitors and create a list of their domain names.
- Keywords: Find out what keywords the competition is bidding on because this information helps you find new keyword ideas. Also, it identifies the companies you are bidding against when targeting specific keywords.
- Ad Text: It analyzes numerous examples of competitors’ ad text, and see what it offers as well as credibility statements and CTAs that your competitors are using. This information can help you develop ads that can beat the competitors’.
- Destination Page: Find out whether competitors send traffic to a home page, landing page, or a microsite. Analyze the elements of the destination page as well in terms of offers, credibility statements, CTAs, forms, images, videos, downloads, and additional primary and secondary conversion elements.
2. Build a Quality Keyword List
The backbone of every profitable PPC campaign is keywords. It is all about understanding your target customers and figuring out the terms that they’re searching for.
Start by analyzing each of your pages and gather relevant keywords from the content. You can organize your keywords in the following manner:
- Brand Terms: Keywords that include your brand name and branded terms.
- Generic Terms: Keywords which are related to products or services that you provide.
- Related Terms: Keywords that are related to what users are searching for that are also related to your content, product, or services.
- Competitive Terms: The branded names of competitors that provide similar products and services.
When you brainstorm keywords, try to put yourself into your target users’ shoes. What do they type in the search bar that takes them to your website?
You can start with more general terms, and be more specific afterward:
Smartphones -> New smartphones -> Used Smartphones -> Used iPhone -> Used iPhone headphones
Of course, the search engines can connect related terms, and that’s why it’s a wise choice to target short form or alternative phrases of the keywords that you want to target. Search engines are also exceptionally capable to comprehend long-tail keywords, and you need to make sure that you’ll take that into account when you form the keywords that you want to target with your PPC campaign.
Refine Your Keywords List
When you complete your keyword list, you need to know which keywords to include into your campaign, and which one to delete from your list. There are keyword tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner that can help you figure out what users type into the search engine.
Higher competition means that more advertisers bid on a specific term, which implies that you need to pay more to get a better position in search engine results. Keywords that have a higher volume, but low competition are the ones that you need to bid on. They can drive tons of traffic to your pages, and they won’t cost you a lot in the process.
Don’t Ignore Negative Keywords
When you develop the keywords for your PPC campaigns, you shouldn’t ignore negative keywords as well. These are the terms that you don’t want your ads to show up for, and they help you to avoid unnecessary clicks, as well as refine your ad targeting as much as possible. To find negative keywords, pay attention to the following:
- Search Query Report: If you notice words in your search query report that are a bad fit for your account, you need to label them as negatives before taking chances with them again.
- Negative Match Types: The match type that you attribute to a negative keyword has a big effect on the traffic that is being obstructed. You need to match negatives to exclude queries that include your negative term.
- Negative Keyword Options: The more negatives you set before you begin with a campaign, the more cash you’ll save as a result.
- Multi-Level Negatives: Most probably, you will recognize negatives that work across multiple ad groups or campaigns.
3. Use the Latest AdWords Features
Search engine marketing is just impossible without Google AdWords. It’s a highly effective marketing channel for reaching your target customers. According to some calculations, Google Ads reach up to 90% of the users online, and 77.8% of US search ad income comes directly from Google.
The advertising model itself became a major breakthrough in the business world since its inception, and beneath its surface lie sophisticated technologies and innovations that can help you gain a competitive advantage in your industry.
The Discovery Ads Format & Discovery Feed
The discovery feed is introduced as a strategic counter move against Facebook’s feed-based content and ad consumption monopoly.
Discovery ads are excellent if you want to reach the users across Google properties exactly when they want to discover something new on their feed.
- Rich and Appropriate: The users will feel encouraged to click with an ad that showcases your brand or products in a swipeable image carousel, rendered natively across each Google property.
- Results: By blending reach and creative canvas with Google’s understanding of intent, your ads will deliver the results that the audience cares about.
- Incomparable Reach: You can reach hundreds of millions of people across YouTube home feed, Gmail Promotions and Social tabs, and the feed-in Discover only by deploying a single campaign.
Google Shopping and Showcase Ads
With shoppable ads on Google Images, you can highlight multiple products within your sponsored ad. Showcase Shopping ads — a visual ad format that includes rich lifestyle imagery allows you placements to even more surfaces like Google Images and the feed on Discover.
Firebase Dynamic Links
Dynamic Links are clever URLs that allow app owners to send existing and potential users to any location within their iOS or Android app.
With Dynamic Links, you can seamlessly transition users from your mobile website to the content within your app. The links survive the app install process, users can pick up where they left off on your mobile site without missing a thing.
Promotional campaigns that include Dynamic Links work for every user across platforms. When users open or install your app, they see the exact content your campaign is marketing, including any discounts you’re offering. Simultaneously, Google Analytics for Firebase works with these links and allows you to track and share conversion data with your Google Ads account.
There are a few additional tricks that you can use to conquer the marketplace and get impressive PPC results:
Optimize for Mobile
Mobile ad spends topped $100 billion and takes more than 50% of all PPC ad spend. The earlier you focus on your mobile PPC strategy, the more clicks you will get from the consumers
To compare the ad effectiveness on desktop versus mobile, you need to segment your data by device. This will give you a good feel for whether or not your PPC strategy works better or worse on mobile. Responsive web design is not good enough anymore – your post-click pages must be optimized for mobile users.
Ditch the Bad-Performing Ads
You must monitor your ad conversions and your marketing spends. If an ad drives a lot of traffic, but no sales, then the ad is not worth to invest in anymore. It’s better to minimize non-profitable PPC spends and redirect your budget towards the best-performing ads that bring beneficial clicks to your pages that boost click volume and sales.
Users can leave your post-click page for multiple reasons. In lots of cases, it might even have little to do with your offer. And most of the time, when a person leaves your page, they might never come back, unless you remind him/her.
This is where retargeting steps in. Through retargeting, you can place a cookie on the browser of your traffic and ensure that your page stays on top of the mind of the visitors that left the page previously. It reminds them of your brand again and how you’re the perfect solution to their problems.
With each year and with each Google update, there will be always innovative ways to boost your SEM results. Learn from the tips above and apply them immediately if you haven’t done so far. The practices above will help you gauge the most effective aspects of your campaign, understand your target audience, and achieve better results overall.
Remember that search marketing is a competitive field, and as your rivals invest heavily in ads across channels, you can’t expect to rely on organic search and scale your online presence at the same time. There are no SEM campaigns that don’t work – there are only websites and aspects of the campaigns that are not optimized to engage the consumers.