There are millions of brands competing for visibility on search engines, and it is now more important in the modern era to do online advertising and marketing. However, you should consider a wide range of digital marketing types to ensure the success of your digital marketing campaigns such as search engine marketing (SEM).
To date, many brands in Singapore have tried to wrap their heads around SEM with little success. This is why they prefer to hire SEM agencies to handle all the activities involved in search engine marketing. With that said, we hope that these questions will shed light on what SEM is, what you can expect from SEM agencies, why you should do it, and how to do it right.
What Is SEM?
Search engine marketing is the process of marketing a brand using paid advertisements that appear on the search results pages. Essentially, digital marketers bid on keywords that search engine users enter when looking for products and services.
This gives them an opportunity for their ads to appear alongside the search results for particular search queries. These ads, which are also known as pay-per-click ads come in a variety of formats ranging from small text-only ads to more visual product listing ads (PLAs).
An SEM agency in Singapore will be on hand to guide you on the best type of ads to use for your SEM campaign to yield maximum ROI. They will then put your ads in front of potential customers who are motivated and willing to make a purchase.
When done right, none of the other digital marketing practices can come close to delivering results like SEM. For this reason, you need to hire a knowledgeable and experienced SEM agency to ensure that the ads are effective in growing your online brand engagement.
What Is The Difference Between SEM And SEO?
While they all work to ensure more visibility for your brand in the online platform, there is a stark difference between SEM and SEO. Search engine marketing involves paying search engines to display your ads alongside the search results.
SEO, on the other hand, involves using relevant content and keywords, without the need to pay search engines for visibility. This requires that you stay on the trends of search engine algorithms to know the best practices that will help your site rank higher on the results pages.
With that said, SEM agencies tend to double into both PPC and SEO practices since they are complementary. However, if you are looking for an SEM agency, ensure that you review their past works. Contact their current and previous clients and gauge how it is like working with a particular agency.
On top of this, SEM and SEO both rely on the proper use of keywords and this should be high on your agenda when choosing an SEM agency. The agency ought to have the resource and the capability to carry out proper keyword research and competitor analysis to ensure the success of your campaign.
Which Is The Better SEM Strategy?
Despite their differences, SEO and PPC are two sides of an SEM coin, and they each have their pros and cons. However, time and money are the biggest determinants in which strategy you should employ.
For example, if you have a hefty marketing budget and you want instant results, paid advertising is the better option. A professional and experienced SEM agency can set up a PPC campaign in less than 24 hours, as well as tweak it in real time to maximise your ROI.
On the other hand, SEO takes longer to realise results and a lot more work, which makes it more expensive when you consider the time value of money. With that said, constant search engine algorithm updates can affect the results of your SEO campaigns. However, if you are operating on a low budget, then SEO is the better strategy.
Wirth that said, the SEM agency ought to know the trends shaping the online marketing and advertising circles. Ideally, the agency ought to use a combination of both PPC and SEO, which will ensure that you dominate the search engines results and visibility on your niche.
While the choice of strategy depends on your overall goals, paid advertising will work best with high competition keywords that are relevant to user queries, while SEO works best with long tail and easy to rank keywords.
The agency ought to ask as many questions about your goals as possible to understand your business objectives and the desired outcome. Without this part of the process, the chances are that you will not receive your desired return on investment.
How Will SEM Benefit My Small Business?
According to statistics from Google, it can take a high-quality website close to a year to scale up the search result rankings. On top of this, high ranking is dependent on undertaking several best practices and monitoring what your competition is doing.
With that in mind, SEM positions your small business at either the top or bottom of the first page. What this means is that while your SEO tactics might not get your website to the first page as soon as you want, you will get visibility by virtue of your ad is on the first result’s page.
You will need an SEM professional, and since small businesses are cash strapped, it is best to outsource the services of an SEM agency. With their experience and workforce, you will be able to generate revenues quickly from your online platforms and scale your business.
The good thing about SEM is that by applying the proper strategies and ad copies in place, you can expect to record sales on the same day. However, the SEM agency must do proper maintenance in order to attain the desired ROI on your SEM practices.
What Qualifications Should An SEM Agency Have?
It takes many hours to master the art and science of combining different SEM factors to generate the best results. With that said, there are certain qualifications that you ought to look out for in order to ensure that you are getting the best value for your money when hiring an SEM agency.
Preferably, the team working on your SEM campaigns should be Certified Search Partners with Bing Ads and Google Ads. On top of this, they need experience with bid management, as well as creating and implementing PPC strategies.
More so, the SEM agency should have a team that knows its way around ad copy development and testing, keyword research, budget planning, and pacing, lead generation, landing page optimisation, shopping ads, and more.
The only way to ascertain the SEM agency’s competences is by contacting their current and previous customers. They will give you more insight into the professionalism of the agency as well as the results you can expect.
What Is The Cost Of SEM Services?
The cost of SEM services in Singapore varies greatly from one agency to the other. However, your preferred agency should work around your budget and deliver the best possible results.
Common practice has seen a majority of the agencies offer SEM services as part of a larger digital marketing package that includes SEO, social media marketing, content development, keyword research, and analysis, and more.
With that said the average PPC advert goes for between $1 and $2 for every click. On average, businesses in Singapore spend between SGD 3,000 and SGD 20,000 per month on paid advertising.
What Is A Search Engine Marketing Ad Auction?
While paid advertising is all about paying for ads placement, businesses with the largest marketing budgets do not always win. They might have the financial might to create and deploy targeted ads using highly competitive keywords, but this will not translate to SEM success.
This is because the ads go through an ad auction process before they appear on the search results. To explain this concept, we will take the example of ad auction on Google Ads. The ad auction for a specific keyword takes place every time a user enters a search query into the search bar.
The SEM agency will identify the keywords they want to bid on and indicate how much money they are willing to spend to have their ads appear on Google’s search result pages, in order to participate in the auction. If your keywords correspond to the words or phrases in the user’s search query, they will be entered into the auction.
Not every keyword has an adequate commercial intent to justify it is displayed next to the results. On top of this, two factors determine who wins the ad auction; the maximum bid you have placed and the quality score of your ads.
An SEM agency, in this case, ought to ensure that your ad wins as many ad auctions as possible. This includes knowing the optimal amount of the bid, as well as creating high-quality ads that have proper commercial intent.
What Does Quality Score Mean In SEM Campaigns?
In Google Ads, quality score is the metric used by Google to rate the relevance and quality of the displayed ads. More so, it is used to determine your ad position and the cost per click. For this reason, you need to ensure that an SEM agency can deliver a high quality score.
It can do this by creating an ad that uses the relevant keywords, a good click-through rate to a high-quality landing page.
I Already Have Organic Traffic To My Site, Do I Need Paid Advertising?
When done right, SEO will bring you a considerable amount of organic traffic to your site. However, search engines regularly update their algorithms and this will affect your organic traffic.
For this reason, SEM is the better solution to keep a steady flow of traffic to your website. For starters, user demographic is changing not only in Singapore but also across the world. What this means is that you will get fewer organic traffic as time goes by.
Besides this, an SEM agency will do keyword analysis to display your ad to a wider range of which will give a better guarantee of traffic to your website. Irrespective of the amount of site traffic, you need to stay on top of the game with professional SEM services.
How Long Will My Ad Be Available?
The ads are available online until your daily budget is exhausted. With that said, a competent and experienced SEM agency will have bidding systems in place that will interact with search engines several times a day to ensure that the ads are visible to the right people.
However, several factors will determine how fast your ads daily budget runs out. They include
- Cost per click
- Competitiveness of the industry
- Click fraud
Preferably, the agency will choose the most relevant keywords for your business needs and bid on them for a monthly rate. For most agencies, if you have budget surplus, they will roll it over to the next month. On top of this, the agency should advise you on the best keywords to buy before launching your SEM campaign.
How Do I Track The Results Of My SEM Campaigns?
Only experienced and professional agencies will offer the appropriate tracking mechanisms to ensure that you know the performance of your SEM campaigns. For instance, the agency you settle upon should give you a monthly report that will outline the performance of the campaign.
This should include information such as:
- The number of times your ad has been viewed
- The number of clicks derived from your ad
- The number of phone calls you have received from your campaign
This is only but a snippet of the metrics you should expect from your SEM agency. Some agencies will have an online reporting tool that you can access 24/7. The tool allows you to monitor the most popular keywords, the day-by-day ad click operations, and the activity charts tied to your SEM campaign.
How Do I Improve The Chances Of Conversion Of Leads From SEM Campaigns?
The bottom line when it comes to SEM activities is that they are not only challenging to an inexperienced person, but they take a lot of time and effort. Besides this, you might not be getting the most from your campaigns if you are doing them yourself.
This is among the factors why you need an SEM agency to help you in executing and managing the campaigns. Preferably, the agency ought to have automated alerts that will notify you of the areas in which you ought to make changes to improve results such as conversions and sales.
Moreover, the agency ought to have tools that will make suggestions on the areas you should improve in your Google or Bing Ads accounts. Other than this, the agency ought to have tools that will allow you to:
- Develop logically organised ad groups
- Discover new keywords
- Improve your ad copy
- Create relevant and compelling landing pages
- Identify negative keywords that are not beneficial in your campaign
With such capabilities, you will be able to achieve your SEM campaign goals in a fraction of the time. On top of this, you will be able to test the strength of your Google or Bing Ads account as well as help you identify easier ways to carry out the SEM campaigns.
What Are Negative Keywords In An SEM Campaign?
The use of negative keywords will make a huge difference in attracting the right people to click on your ads. It requires that you identify a term that is irrelevant to your campaign and add it as a negative keyword.
The result is that whenever someone does a search containing a negative keyword, your ad will be hidden from the results page. There are several benefits of adding negative keywords to your SEM campaigns including:
- They lower your overall conversion costs
- They increase the click-through rates
- Negative keywords are instrumental in improving your quality score
With that said, researching, and compiling an effective negative keyword list can be a daunting and challenging task. It is for this reason that you need to hire an SEM agency that is knowledgeable in your niche.
Before you add the negative keywords to your Google or Bing Ads account, you need to be certain of their irrelevancy to your SEM campaign. This will help you in identifying the correct match type that you should put in your negative keyword.
The SEM agency needs to understand and advise you on the match type you will use for your campaign. This includes knowing whether to exclude a specific term or any term that includes your negative keyword.
What Are The Different Types Of Match Types For My SEM Campaign?
There are three categories of match types for use on an SEM campaign:
- Negative broad match – and this filters out any term that has a word or words of the negative keyword anywhere in the search query irrespective of the order with which they were entered
- Negative phrase match – will filter out the search term where it is included in the keyword in the exact order you entered it
Negative exact match – this will filter out the queries that are an exact match to your negative keywords
For the negative exact match to work, the queries cannot contain any additional words to the negative keywords, and it needs to be in the same order that you entered them. With that said, the SEM agency ought to study your business objectives and choose the right match type for your campaign.
When Should The Negative Keywords Be Added To The SEM Campaign?
After you have created your list of negative keywords, the next crucial decision is in identifying the ideal level to add them. As any SEM agency will tell you, you can add the negative keywords in three different levels:
- Account level – here you add the negative keywords to a shared library, and you can use them for a variety of SEM campaigns
- Negative phrase match – will filter out the search term where it is included in the keyword in the exact order you entered it
- Negative exact match – this will filter out the queries that are an exact match to your negative keywords
An SEM agency ought to know where they should apply the match types to ensure that the intended people see the ads. For example, if they mix up the negative keywords, you will have unqualified leads viewing and clicking on your ads.
How Do I Save Money On My PPC Ads?
Reports indicate that every PPC campaign undergoes some degree of click fraud. For some businesses, they experience it more times than others, but the bottom line is that you are losing money due to click fraud.
You would think that search engines would be making an effort to stop this action, but they do not. They make money from PPC ads, and that is why your best bet is with your SEM agency. The agency ought to have click fraud detection software.
The software will detect the people who are fraudulently clicking on your ads without making a purchase. By taking specific actions, the agency can stop this action and in the process save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
Should I Outsource SEM Services Or Hire An In-House Expert?
This is always a touchy issue since you have more control of your campaign when you hire in house experts. However, the trend in Singapore is that companies are outsourcing the SEM and other digital services.
Established companies have in-house personnel, such as a Digital Marketing Manager or a Webmaster, but they still end up outsourcing SEM services to a trusted agency. There are different factors to consider whether you should outsource or hire an in-house SEM expert.
These factors include:
- Business objectives
- The available internal resources and marketing budget
- Level of expertise
The biggest advantage of outsourcing your SEM services is that the agency will remain professional and emotionally unattached to the ideas. This will increase your chances of success and winning at the ad auctions.
How Do I Get Started With SEM?
Most small businesses are looking to get more things done on a shoestring budget. For this reason, they prefer doing SEM campaigns on their own by investing in training manuals and online video tutorials. The downside to this approach is that they usually end up using more money than professionals at an SEM agency would and with dismal results.
What they do not realise is that an SEM agency will work around their budget in order to give the best possible results. With that said, we will give you a proper quotation of the minimum bid you should make to ensure you get substantial returns on your investment. Contact us today for professional SEM services in Singapore.