January 4, 2022

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The Fundamentals of Paid Search Marketing or SEM 101

Chances are you’re already familiar with paid search marketing, also known as “search engine marketing” or “SEM,” even if you’ve never heard the terms before. If you’ve ever Googled anything—from new homes near you to the best steak restaurants in town—you’ve seen the product of search engine marketing in the form of those ads that pop up at the top of the search results page. Below we will dive deeper into SEM 101.

Google isn’t the only place you’ll find these ads. All of the other top search engines, including Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo also display paid search ads whenever you use their service to search for just about anything—and all of those ads are the result of paid search marketing.

Those ad impressions (as they’re called) show up when you search for specific keywords that have been chosen by the search marketing manager and added to the keyword list meant to trigger the ad. It may sound complex, but we can assure you, it’s really not. We’re here to walk you through the fundamentals of search engine marketing and give you a better understanding of how it works and how it can benefit your business. Think of it as SEM 101!

What is Search Engine Marketing?

What does SEM stand for? As we already mentioned, SEM stands for “search engine marketing.” It’s a pretty common term that is sometimes referred to as “pay-per-click (PPC)” or “paid search,” although there are actually some minor differences between SEM and PPC that we’ll get to in a bit.

Whether we’re talking about PPC or some of the other practices that fall under the broader umbrella of SEM, though, we’re referring to a digital marketing strategy that involves paying for targeted ads that appear on search engines whenever someone searches for a specific keyword or keyword combo, designed as a way to not only generate traffic but also increase visibility on major search engines.

Because these targeted ads show up at the top of the page, above organic search results, they’re a good way to get a product or website in front of the eyes of users as soon as they search for a specific keyword. Anyone who has taken the time to type a query into a search engine already has a pretty high interest in whatever they’re looking for and therefore has a higher likelihood of actually making a purchase, or, as they call it in the business, a “conversion.”

Is there a difference between SEM and PPC? As we said, SEM and PPC are terms that often get used interchangeably, but they aren’t actually the same. Search engine marketing is actually a larger umbrella that includes a number of different strategies for increasing the visibility of a site through search engines. SEM includes those ads we already mentioned as well as strategies that improve organic results. Pay-per-click, on the other hand, is a specific form of advertising that you’ll find not only within search engines but also in video ads on YouTube. It’s advertising that is paid for on a per-click basis, hence the name. Each time a user clicks on a PPC ad, you pay a little for that click.

What’s the purpose of SEM or paid search marketing? When you get right down to it, the purpose of all marketing is really the same: to gain exposure and drive more people to your product or service. It’s all about delivering qualified traffic, sales, and leads directly to your site based on specific search terms that are likely to be employed by people who are looking for what you offer.

Because the resulting ad links appear above the organic search results, paid search marketing can help to ensure that your business is the first thing people see when they’re using the defined search terms. People who are already using those keywords to search are high-quality leads who are more likely to turn into customers once they’ve found your product or service.

What are the most common paid search platforms? As we already mentioned, just about every major search platform offers paid search options. Naturally, the more popular the platform, the better results you’re likely to get when you’re using it for the purposes of paid search marketing. Two particular programs do the lion’s share of the PPC business these days, Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) and Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads), since those cover two of the most popular search platforms around.

What’s the Process for Developing a Paid Search Campaign?

When you hire L&P Marketing to help design an SEM campaign for your business or website, we optimize your keywords so that your ads are most likely to show up for people who are searching for the product or service that you offer in their area and who are likely to convert into customers. How do we do it?

  • Audience Research – It starts with research to see who the target audience is. We find out who uses the search terms we’re looking for and who is likely to go from a casual browser to a converted customer. That way, we’re sure your ads will reach the right people.
  • Budgeting – Next, we craft a custom plan based on your projected budget and sales goals, so that we’re all on the same page when it comes to your SEM strategy.
  • Keyword Research – Once we know who is searching, we need to know the keywords they use. This is where our comprehensive research creates a list of the most active keywords that are relevant to your business, so that your targeted ads get the most bang for your buck.
  • Geo-Targeting – By ensuring that your ads are delivered to prospects in specific areas, we can help you gain an edge in your market, build brand awareness in your area, and find interested shoppers near you.
  • Ad Copy Personalization – Getting your ads in front of more eyeballs is no good if prospective customers don’t click through. That’s why we personalize the ads to generate the most effective conversion rate.
  • A/B Testing – We use a variety of metrics to track which ads are top performers, so that we can use that information to optimize your PPC campaign to ensure that you’re getting the best results.
  • CRM Integration – As part of our process, we integrate your ads account with whatever CRM you currently use, whether that’s HubSpot, MailChimp, Builder Trends, Sharp Spring, etc.
  • Conversion Tracking – Another way that we measure the performance of your SEM campaign is by gathering data on what people do after they interact with your ads. Someone who clicks on an ad and then immediately clicks away is a lot less valuable than someone who clicks on an ad and then becomes a customer.
  • Measurement and Reporting – All of our metrics and data are delivered to you and analyzed by us so that, together, we can make informed decisions about the performance and future of your campaign and ensure that you’re getting an increasing return on your investment.

Why you Should Hire L&P for Paid Search Marketing!

As an industry leader in SEM, we’ve been around the block a time or two, and we know what works. We also know that SEM, like any other marketing, isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. No one knows the needs and the capabilities of your business better than you do, and we’ll work directly with you to forge a partnership to deliver the very best in SEM solutions for your master-planned community, mixed-use development, or B2C organization.

Our team is certified in all the major PPC and SEM programs. We’re a Google Ads Certified Partner and a Microsoft Advertising Certified Partner, employing a skilled team with a wide range of experience implementing SEM strategies that work for our clients, helping your company rank higher and more often in search results. When you partner with L&P for your paid search marketing campaign, you’ll have access to a team that consists of a paid search expert, an analytics and SEO expert, and a social media expert, to name a few.

Industries We Serve:

At L&P, we’re proud to provide a one-stop source for branding, digital media, and marketing of all kinds, specializing in planned community branding and master-planned community marketing. As a result, we know our way around SEM for real estate, master-planned communities, and mixed-use development. The industries we serve include

•           Apartment buildings and complexes

•           B2C organizations

•           High- and mid-rise condominiums

•           Homebuilders

•           Master-planned communities

•           Mixed-use properties

•           Real estate agents

•           Retail

•           Senior living

•           Single and multi-family homes and townhomes

That was SEM 101. If you still have questions, don’t worry! We’re happy to provide answers and guidance to help you get the most out of your paid search marketing campaign! If you’re ready to see how search engine marketing and PPC can help your business grow and succeed by delivering qualified leads that are already searching for what you have to offer, don’t hesitate to contact L&P Marketing and ask to speak with one of our expert strategists about a new SEM campaign today!

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