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What is Search Marketing?

Search marketing is a  marketing strategy that focuses on both paid and unpaid search activities in order to make it’s online presence. There’s not a single day in our lives we pass by without searching something on our search engines be it Google or Yahoo or Bing. The thing we search about or what we type in the search box is known as a search query which directs us to the result. The page that appears after searching for a particular thing in the search box is known as SERP i.e Search Engine Result Page. The higher you are on a search engine the more traffic you are likely to get.

Why do people prefer search marketing? Everyday millions of people browse over the internet in order to search about various stuff, maybe restaurants or some latest news or about a certain product. Every marketer’s wish is to appear on the top of the search engine. Hence they prefer search marketing.

Search marketing is divided in two types:

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
Source: WorkWave

SEO: Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization is the process of gaining presence through unpaid efforts. The ads that appear on the SERPs through this process are unpaid and are known as organic results. These ads appear below the paid ads.

How do we increase the chance of getting listed organically? There are a lot many things an advertiser can do to improve the chance of his ad getting ranked organically. One can rebuild and keep on improving the content. The advertiser can keep on adding more and more keywords to improve the performance. He can improve the quality of the content, make an active presence on social media in order to create external links. The advertiser can also mention other site links to link to his site. In the image given below the part highlighted in green is the organic part. 

Basically it’s all about increasing the visibility of the brand or service or product on the search engine. This can be possible by serving the ad in front of the right audience at the right time. The advertiser can optimize it’s rank naturally.

SEO Categories:

  • On-page SEO: This category focuses on optimization of keywords. This digital strategy includes keyword research and content creation. On-page SEO basically helps the search engine to understand the content better in order to improve the ranking. This optimization works on maximizing the results the content receives from the search engine by improving the ranking, organic traffic and conversions. One needs to improvise the content by adding more and more specific keywords by thinking
  1.  What would a person search for?
  2.  How more relevant can the content be? 
  3. How authoritative is the entire site on the topic?
  4. Keyword popularity and many more.
  • Technical SEO: This optimization tactic focuses on improving the backend structure and foundation of a website. Technical SEO improves both the user’s as well as the search crawler’s experience and eventually leads to higher ranking. This strategy work on the following aspects:
  1. Indexing
  2. Mobile friendliness
  3. Site speed
  4. Crawl ability
  5. Security
  6. Structured data
  • Off-page SEO: This type of optimization includes acquiring high quality back-links. It helps build a website’s reputation and authority by connecting it to high quality websites. When many websites get linked to the brand’s website, the search engine finally gets to know that the website is trustworthy and reputable which leads to the increase in it’s search ranking.

SEM: Search Engine Marketing

Source: IndiaMART

Search engine marketing is the type of search marketing that uses paid tactics to gain visibility in the SERPs. It includes optimizing the ads as well as setting up budgets for ad placements. These ads mainly appear on the to and bottom of the search engine. They have an Ad designation that is meant to show that it is an paid ad.

Source: SEO Hacker

SEM Platforms:

  • Google Adwords: It is the most widely used SEM platform. Millions of google searches happen on a day to day basis. Hence, this platform can help the ad appear in front of a large online audience.
  • Bing Ads: This platform claims to connect with the searchers that Google cannot reach. It also helps to connect with searchers by serving the ads on partners like Yahoo and MSN. 

Keywords- The Foundation Of SEM :

Source: Workana

Keywords are the basic elements of the Search Engine Marketing platforms. The more relevant the keywords are, the more relevant the content becomes which eventually leads to the improvement of the ad’s ranking. There are four types of keywords. 

Types of SEM keywords:

  • Broad Match Keywords: These are the keywords which do not bother relevant variations. The ad appears whenever a person searches using the keyword’s synonym or plural or singular form or capitalization or any other variation. This type of broad match helps attract more number of visitors by spending less time and money building the keyword list. Here is an example below.
Broad match keywordAds that appear on searches
Men’s shoes-Shoes for men
-Best shoes for men
-Men’s shoes
-Best shoes for men nearby
-Men’s footwear etc
  • Broad Match Modifier Keywords (BMM): These are the keywords which have got a ‘+’ symbol before the keyword phrase. When someone searches with BMM the keywords will appear in the exact manner as they are being searched, provided, the order of the keyword phrase can be different. For example:
Broad Match Modifier KeywordAds that appear in the searches
+black +bag-Buy black bag
-Black bags for sale
-Strappy black bag
-Black bags for women
– Bags for women in black
  • Phrase Match Keywords: These are the kind of keywords that target the exact phrase. They are represented in between quotations i.e “ ”.  They appear for the keyword phrase or close variants of it like misspellings, singular, plural, synonyms, stemmings, abbreviations, accent, paraphrases etc. For example,
Phrase match keywordAds that will appear in the searches Ads that will not appear in the searches
“Football shoes”-Shoes for football
-Buy football shoes for sale
-Red football shoes
-Comfortable football shoes
-Football player wearing red shoes
-Footballs and shoes 
  • Exact Keywords: These are the keywords that appear when someone searches for a term which is of same meaning as the keyword. They are represented inside square brackets ’[]’. It appears for close variants as well. The close variants include misspellings, accent, abbreviations, singular or plural forms, stemmings, synonyms, functions( prepositions, conjunctions, articles etc), same search intent etc. Let’s go through the below example for better understanding.
Exact KeywordAds that may appearAds that will not appear
[Hats for women]-Hats women
-Women hats
-Women hat
-Hats for women
-Black hats for women
-Buy women hats
  • Negative Keywords:  These are the keywords used to exclude a particular keyword targeting. They are represented with a “-” symbol before the keyword. This basically prevents an insignificant search term ( what people type in the search box) from being triggered to a particular keyword. The keyword can be a broad match or phrase or exact keyword. For example,
Search TermNegative Keywords
Free shoes

SEM Auction:

When an advertiser sets up a campaign, it’s not necessary that the ad would appear every time someone searches for the targeted keyword. Each ad competes with the others in order to appear in the search engine. This process is called auction. Whichever ad wins the auction appears on the top of the search engine. The ad auction is based on three factors:

  1. Max CPC Bid: This is the minimum amount an advertiser is willing to pay when someone clicks on the ad.
  2. Quality Score: This is basically the score or rating that the platform assigns to the ad. It does not appear anywhere. The quality score depends on three factors, they are :                     CTR( click through rate), relevance of the ad and landing page experience.
  3. Ad Rank:  This is the rating the platform gives to the ad. Ad rank determines at what position or rank the ad will appear. The higher the ad rank the better is the placement of the search ad in the search engine.
Ad Rank = Max CPC Bid x Quality Score

Let’s go through this following video to build a better understanding on how this auction works.

Source: MAH Digital Marketing

SEM Targetings:

Search engine marketing  has several additional targeting through which the advertiser can decide where the ad  will appear and who can see the ad.

  • Location TargetingIn location targeting an advertiser targets a particular location or zip code for which the ad will appear. In this case the people belonging to those particular areas can only see the ad. 
  • Ad schedule Targeting: In this type of targeting the advertiser can set the schedule which will make the ad appear only at a particular time in a day or specific days of a week.
  • Demographic Targeting:  In demographic targeting one can target based on gender or age or even salary / household income.
  • Device Targeting: This type of targeting makes one target on which device the ad will appear. It can a a smartphone or desktop or tablet.

SEM Account Structure:

Source : WordStream
  • Account: An account is the highest level in the SEM account structure. All the components come under it. Every account has its own unique id.
  • Campaign: The campaign comes in the second level in an SEM account structure. A campaign has its own goal, budget, targeting, bidding strategy and other settings. It is used to organise the account based on the product or service with target audience and promotions. For example there can be two campaigns under an account differently for shoes and hats or even four campaigns branded shoes, non-branded shoes, branded hats and non-branded hats based on the advertiser’s choice.
  • Ad Groups: Ad groups come as the next level to campaigns. They divide the campaign into more specific parts. For example, each of the above given campaigns examples can be divided into different groups based on colours or type or styles or availability. For shoes they can be – running shoes, red shoes, sneakers, tennis shoes etc and for hats they can be – cowboy, bowler, top hat, sun hat, western hat etc. It is recommended not to exceed 7-10 ad groups in a campaign.
  • Keywords and Ads-  These are based on the target of the adwords. Each ad group has its own set of targeted keywords and ad copies. The ad group and keywords target the particular audience set for their respective ad group. There should be a minimum of 2-3 ads for an ad group and at least 20 keywords.

Ad Extensions:

Ad extensions are additional pieces of information which are added to the ads in order to increase their visibility thereby leading to the increase in the performance of the ad.

Here are the  different types of ad extensions: 

  • Sitelink: These are additional links added to the ad. These let the advertiser to promote additional links to the website within a single ad. The word limit for a sitelink is 25 letters with an additional description with a word limit of 35 letters. Minimum of 2 sitelinks should be added for better performance. Here is an example below.
Source: WordStream
  • Callout Extension: Callouts are small texts that appear with the search ads. These are additional features or benefits of the product or service. An ideal ad should have 4 callouts with a word limit of 30 each. Here is an example below.
  • Structured Snippets: These highlight specific aspects of the product or service. Structured snippets provide information about the variety and nature of the product or service. There should be a minimum of 3 snippets for an ideal ad each having a character limit of 25. Here is an example below.
  • Price Extensions: Price extensions highlight the price of the specific product or service. Here is an example below.
Source: AdNabu
  • Message Extension: Message extensions allow potential customers to send text messages directly from the ad. Here is an example below.
Source: Faisal Anwar
  • Call Extensions: Call extensions let customers make a  call directly from the ad itself. Here is an example below.
Source: WordStream
  • Promotion Extension: Promotion extensions highlight the special offers, deals or sales offered by the advertiser. Here is an example below.

Search marketing technique’s online advertising strategies help an advertiser to build a strong presence in the SERP. It provides the advertiser with several advantages like:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Geo targeted ads
  • Quick implementation and managing of ads
  • Targeting the right audience through optimization
  • Better traffic and visibility
  • Performance measurement


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