Day One Strategy – Part 2

Welcome to the latest installment of the Day One Strategy series. This is a weekly blog series that will address how to start from scratch. Each week we’ll discuss a new topic and offers tips for the business that is taking their very first step. Last week’s topic was Email List Building.

Today’s Topic = Search Engine Marketing

You’re read all the articles, listened to all the experts, and you know that your company could benefit from search engine marketing (SEM), or paid search. That’s fantastic, but where do you start?

Account Setup

Given that the majority of searches done occur on Google, that’s a good place to start. Google’s SEM platform is called Google Adwords. When you visit the site you have the option to get started using their online account setup tools (plus a free 800 number for direct assistance). It benefits Google to have you come on board as an advertiser so you can count on them for help getting started.

You might also want to advertising on Yahoo and Bing, where traffic is lower but competition is also less, meaning cheaper advertising for you.

Keywords

After you create your account, the next thing you’ll need are the keywords that you want to target. When choosing keywords, you want to start very specific. What will your potential customers be typing into the search bar when looking for your products? Make a list and load it into Google’s keyword tool, which will give you additional suggestions based on similar terms that they know get a lot of traffic. They will even show you how much traffic to expect for each keyword phrase, along with some idea of the competitiveness and cost.

Accounts have anywhere from a few keywords to tens of thousands. But to start you’ll want to limit it to those keywords you expect to have the greatest value. You’ll be able to analyze the relative success of each keyword and add more as you go.

Ads

Next, you need to create the ads that will show when someone searches those keywords. Again, Google has a simple tool that allows you to generate ads to fit their platform. You should use a combination of different headlines and sub-headings to create a number of ads, at least 3-4 for each product or product category you’ll be advertising. This allows you to run ad copy tests to find out which ads have the most impact.

Landing Pages

Where are people going to land after they click on your ads? Those are your landing pages. Landing pages are pages on your website that clearly state the offer you are making. It might be a product page, or a sales page, or a lead generation form. Good landing pages restate the information in the ad and direct the user experience in order to eliminate confusion and the number of steps necessary to complete a desired outcome, like purchasing the product from your site.

Getting Started

Once you have all the assets created, it’s time to get started. In order to do that, you need to set your bids (the amount you’re willing to pay for each click) and your budget caps (the amount you want to spend in a given time period). With both of these the general recommendation is to start small, so you can measure performance before spending more.

The key is to continue to test new things – landing pages, ad copy, and keywords – to find the right combination that produces the more sales, leads, etc. at a lower cost. Always be measuring performance.

Stay tuned next week for another installment. If you have a topic you would like to see covered in the Day One Strategy blog series, use the comments below or contact us today.

How to Grow Your Business with Search Marketing

You may be familiar with the terms paid search, or search engine marketing (SEM). Search marketing is the art of serving ads to people using search engines to find what they’re looking for online.

Google, Yahoo, and Bing, the big 3 search engines in the US, all allow advertisers to show ads on their search results pages based on the keywords a person types into the search box. Paid search spending has represented the largest share of online advertising for a number of years, though display advertising is closing that gap in part due to the rise of Facebook.

Paid search spending in the US has risen by 15-25% per year for the last five years.

There’s one reason, it works. Companies consistently strong results with the paid search campaigns, bringing in new business for a fraction of the cost of other advertising channels.

If you’re not already doing it, check out this post on Getting Started with Google Adwords.

Here’s what you can do to grow your business using search engine marketing:

  • Bid on keywords your customers may be searching. Think about what someone would search to find you. If you knew someone was searching “X”, would you want to advertise to them? That’s your base list of keywords to advertise on.
     
  • Bid on variations of these keywords. Google has an easy to use keyword research tool that allows you to upload a list of keywords and generate a larger list of related keywords. They even tell you the average cost and search volume for each word so you can add them to your account.
     
  • Bid on your brand name. This ensures you show up at the top of the results and keeps the competition from stealing searches from you.
     
  • Bid on your competitors’ brand name. This is a risky move because the costs involved might be higher, but it is a good strategy if your goal is to steal market share from a more established competitor.
     
  • Don’t forget Bing and Yahoo. Many people just advertise on Google, and ignore the other 30% of searches in the US that take place on the number 2 and 3 search engines.
     
  • Double bid. Many companies establish secondary websites so that they can bid on the same keywords and show up twice on the first page, increasing the chances of getting clicked on.
     
  • Optimize landing pages for action. No matter what your goal is, make sure you are measuring post-click performance. The page someone lands on after they click on an ad should be built to do one thing, get that user to complete one action – whether that is a sale, a completed form, a phone call, etc.

Once you are up and running, use all the tools available to you to measure the performance of your campaigns. All the way down to each individual keyword, you’ll be able to track cost, clicks, and conversions, allowing you to optimize the way you spend your money over time.

When used the right way, search engine marketing can help you grow your business by sending qualified prospects your way at a low cost.

Getting Started with Google Adwords

No single blog post can teach you everything you need to know about Google Adwords. And I won’t attempt to do that here. This post is for those out there that do not know anything about Google Adwords. It’s an introduction. At the end of the post I’ll include some links for further learning and more advanced tips.

What is Google Adwords?

We’re all familiar with Google Search. When you use search, whether it’s on a desktop or mobile device, you end up on the Search Results page. This page includes both paid links and organic links. The paid links appear most often at the top and on the right hand side of the organic links. They are currently marked by a small yellow “Ad” icon.

Those results are ads. They’re the primary way Google makes money.

In order to get your company to show up there, you will use Google’s advertising platform, called Google Adwords.

Why Should I Use Google Adwords?

If you are trying to drive people to your website or sell products online, Google Adwords is one of the best ways to do it. You can show your ads to anyone searching for what you offer, at the very top of the search results page.

It’s easy to set up, manage, and track on any budget. The user is already expressing interest by doing the search, and your ad will ensure that your company gets exposed to them at the right time, in the right place.

How Does Google Adwords Work?

The entire thing works on a bidding system. You will end up with a list of keywords you want to target, each one associated with your bid, or what you’re willing to pay when someone clicks on your ad. You are only charged when someone clicks on your ad.

Multiple advertisers will be bidding on the same keywords, in most cases. The more popular the keywords, the more competition, and the more expensive those keywords will be. Your bid will be put up against all the other bids for that keyword, and Google will decide who’s ads to show, and where, based on your bid and several other factors.

You have complete control over your daily budget, the content of your ad, and the page someone gets to when they click on your ad. And the Google Adwords platform offers detailed reporting that allows you to track very effectively how your ads are performing.

How Do I Get Started?

To sign up, go to https://www.google.com/adwords/. Everything is free right up until you publish your campaign and someone clicks on an ad.

There are simple tools available to help you research your keywords, build out your keyword lists, create your ads, and set your bids.

If you don’t want to take the time to learn or manage the system yourself, there are thousands of companies and consultants out there who can do it for you, at a fee. And Google also offers their own account management team to assist you if you have questions.

Where Do I Go From Here?

If you want to learn more about Google Adwords, try to following resources: