We’d all like to believe there are hacks to search engine marketing, some sought-after secrets or hidden techniques that will put us above the competition if only we could discover them first. But the truth is search engines are such a competitive space for advertising, there just aren’t that many secrets anymore.
The good news is there are still ways to tighten up your strategy and create campaigns that set you apart. This takes giving special attention to areas often overlooked or areas that don’t receive the attention needed to make them major game changers.
So what are some areas you can sharpen to increase the efficiency of your search engine marketing? Let’s take a look at a few.
1. Cross-Reference Your Goals and Metrics
This won’t work if you don’t have clear goals to begin with. Are you aiming to increase sales or revenue by generating leads? Are you wanting to increase brand awareness? Or perhaps you want to focus on website sales? There are specific metrics that give a clear picture of whether you’re hitting your goals or not.
For example, let’s take a look at metrics needed to measure lead generation and brand awareness in SEM.
2. Ad Schedule
Running your ads at all hours of the day may seem to make sense if you want to increase your chances of reaching prospects. But the truth is the people you want to reach are not online every moment of the day. So it’s a waste of money to have your ads display when prospects won’t see them.
Learn when your prospects are most active on search engines. Research on your prospects, whether self-conducted or learned through other verified sources, can tell you a lot about who you’re catering to and their relationships with digital platforms including search engines.
For example, if you’re aiming for a certain age group, that will affect search frequency. Internet usage is generally higher with younger age groups and strong with millennials. Are you trying to reach a certain type of professional? Then consider their work hours. Are they in a different time zone? Line up when, and how long, your ads run with their hours. Also, if your ads are tailored for inbound marketing, especially phone calls, you might want to make sure the running of your ads is aligned with your business hours.
Two of the most important things to consider here are when your audience is online and when you are available to receive inbound leads.
3. Cater to the Buyer’s Journey
One size fits all may work for some ads but if you want to cater to the individual prospect, which you should to get their attention, you need to build your campaign with the buyer’s journey (i.e. awareness, consideration, and decision phases) in mind.
So how do you attract prospects in the buyer’s journey phase that aligns with your goal? One way to do this is with the keywords you choose. Using general terms is more likely to attract prospects in the awareness phase. So this would be people more susceptible to brand awareness than lead generation. With the likes of branded keywords you can attract prospects in the consideration and decision phases which would work better for a lead generation goal.
Using smart content and smart CTAs is a great way to have one campaign appeal to prospects in multiple phases.
4. Ad Position
Where does your ad show up on a search engine result page (SERP)? Understand that even the position of the most optimized ads are still subject to shift. But optimizing your ads still attributes to getting a favorable position. So what factors determine your ad position/rank?
Quality Score + Maximum Bid + Ad Extensions
- Quality Score:
- Maximum Bid:
- Ad Extensions
You’ll find that the way quality score is used varies from platform to platform, but for each search engine platform, it plays an important part in determining ad position. So what determines your quality score? The overall determining factors are user experience (what is a user’s experience with your ad, landing page, etc.) and relevance (how relevant is your ad text to prospects, how relevant are your keywords to ads, etc.).
How much you bid on a keyword is a big determining factor for your ad position. The higher you bid, the higher you rank.
These are ads within ads. They provide additional means for a prospect to interact with you including call buttons, specific offerings, etc.
If you’re working under a specific budget, then there’s only so much you can do for maximum bid. But you can work on improving your quality score by making sure your ad text, keywords, and landing page info are relevant to prospects. Also, improve user experience by making removing friction from the conversion process (i.e. clutter-free design, mobile-friendly campaign, concise but straightforward ad, etc.).
As for ad extensions, the more ad extensions you have, the greater your chance at getting a higher ad rank.
With the highly competitive state of the search engine marketing space, it can be tough to stand out. But tightening up these few areas can make a big difference in increasing your SEM success.