Search engine marketing - The most important points in brief:
All companies and organizations have one thing in common: they want their website or online store to be found as high as possible in Google search results. But how can you achieve that? Through SEM, SEO, and SEA. But what do these abbreviations stand for, and what is the best strategy for your company?
SEM is a form of online marketing that focuses on the promotion of websites and online shops in search engines, especially Google. It involves measures to improve the visibility of websites in search results. These measures can be categorized into two main types: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Advertising (SEA).
Search Engine Marketing is one of the most critical factors in online marketing because most people begin their search for information, services, products, restaurants, and the like on search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Since Google holds a significant market share of 83.84 percent (as of September 2023), far ahead of the second-placed Bing with 8.7 percent, SEM efforts are usually tailored for Google.
Traffic from search engines is particularly important for businesses because when customers initiate search queries, they are typically already actively seeking a product, service, restaurant, or solution. This means there is often a purchase intent. Alternatively, customers may have a problem and are searching for a solution, which your company’s product may perfectly provide, for example, if you offer a mold remover and the customer Googles “how to remove mold in the bathroom.”
With Search Engine Marketing, users are not confronted with potentially irrelevant advertisements (push marketing, such as email marketing or display advertising). Instead, they receive relevant ad placements that assist them in their search or problem-solving (pull marketing). Search engine marketing, therefore, has less waste compared to traditional online marketing channels.
As mentioned earlier, SEM consists of two subcategories: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Advertising (SEA). By combining SEO and SEA, your company can be found both in organic (unpaid) search results and in paid results (Ads).
The goal of SEO is to increase the visibility of companies and organizations in organic search results, ideally ranking among the top ten results to attract more users to their website or online store. This is achieved through on-page optimizations of the website and off-page optimizations.
The most important SEO optimizations need to be implemented on your own website. This includes, among other things:
Off-page Search Engine Optimization includes everything you do outside your own website to improve your ranking in search queries. This includes, among other things:
The significant advantage of SEO measures is that they have a long-term impact. If you have optimized your website so well for your keywords that you are found on the first page of Google, you won’t disappear from the search results too quickly.
The disadvantage of SEO measures is that they are very time-consuming, and it can take quite a while before you can see the results of your efforts. Additionally, depending on the keywords, the competition is high.
Search Engine Advertising (SEA) means that as a company, you pay to appear at the top of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). However, the term “sponsored” is used to indicate that it’s a paid advertisement. How high you rank in the paid ad sections for your keywords depends on the amount of your payment.
Through Google Ads, ads can be placed in various channels, including not only Google Search but also on YouTube, in Gmail, and the Google Display Network.
The major advantage of search engine advertising is its speed. Once your ad is paid for, you can immediately be found at the top of the search results.
The disadvantage of SEA is that it’s not sustainable. As soon as you stop investing money in your SEA efforts, you will also immediately disappear from the search results.
Search engine marketing (SEM) plays a significant role in the marketing mix of most companies because it is the central element for attracting customers to your own website or online store. SEM strengthens your online presence. Other important reasons for using SEM include:
In Search Engine Marketing, opinions are divided. While many companies primarily focus on SEA, paid ads on Google, others believe that long-term success can only be achieved through SEO.
For many small businesses, it’s also a matter of cost whether they use SEO, SEA, or a combination of both. Keep in mind that not only SEA comes with a cost. Even though you don’t make payments to Google for SEO, it primarily requires resources, meaning the time of your employees. Ideally, you may have dedicated staff members handling the search engine optimization of your website or online store.
It’s important to allocate your budget wisely. For example, you don’t need to advertise for all the keywords you want to be found for. If the competition for a specific keyword is too high, it’s sometimes helpful to target different keywords or keyword combinations.
In summary, a combination of SEO and SEA is recommended for your Search Engine Marketing, especially in the initial phase when you need to make customers aware of your company and product.