If you run a business in Singapore, you must have come across this term – search engine marketing.
Search engine marketing (SEM) is a digital marketing strategy that aims to increase the visibility of a website in search engine result pages. More visibility means more traffic to your business website, and this has several advantages to your business.
In the past, SEM covered both search engine optimization and paid search activities. The term is currently used exclusively to refer to paid search.
How does search engine marketing work?
Search engines use complex algorithms to comb through websites to ensure that a searcher gets results that are most relevant to their search query. With SEM, your website gets a higher ranking and more visibility on search engine result pages than the organic results.
For example, if you are looking for the best digital marketing agency in Singapore, you will type a relevant phrase on the search engine. In the results page, you will see the companies that offers such services. Search listings that use SEM will appear on top of page, above the organic searches, meaning that a user is more likely to click on them.
From a marketer’s point of view, SEM is a strategy whose objective is to boost a business by driving more potential customers to their website. The first step of implementing SEM is choosing a suitable platform, such as Google AdWords and Bing Ads. After this, the business owner will enter a set of keywords relevant to their website, choose the targeted location for the ad, create the ad that will appear on SERPs, and finally bid on a price they are willing to pay for very click on the ad.
What are the different types of search engine marketing?
The most popular method of search engine marketing is pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. PPC is a strategy that allows marketers to place adverts on ad platform and pay the owner of that platform for each click on their ad. The objective of a PPC advert is to lead a search engine user to a business website where that user can complete the desired end action, such as buying a product or a service.
Google AdWords is the biggest PPC ad platform, followed by Bing Ads. Many businesses in Singapore favour these two because of their close links to Google and Bing, which are the most used search engine platforms in the country. Also, these services operate with real-time bidding (RTB), where the advertising inventory is sold in a private automated auction using real-time data.
Every time there is a vacant ad spot on SERPs, an instant auction takes place for the relevant keyword. Several factors, such as the quality of the ad and the size of the bid, determines which listing appears on top of the search results.
An auction starts when a user types in a keyword in the search engine, or when an advertiser shows interest in displaying ads related to the user’s search query. The ad that wins the auction gets more visibility on the search engine result pages.
If you want to participate in these auctions, you must first register an account with Google AdWords or Bing Ads. After registration, you will then configure the ads and decide the location and time when you would like the ads to appear.
PPC aside, the other method of search engine marketing is local search. This technique aims to improve the visibility of your website within a specified area, say Singapore. When creating a business profile for local search, it is advisable to include the company name, physical address and phone numbers. You can also increase the effectiveness of this strategy by encouraging existing clients to give you positive reviews online.
The Benefits of Implementing SEM
SEM is massive investment that has numerous benefits to any business. These include;
Increases Brand Awareness and Authority
A well-implemented SEM strategy provides more visibility for your website, which in turn makes more people aware of your business. Also, consumers often trust companies that appear on the first page of SERPs. If your page ranks high on Google, you are likelier to generate more leads which you can then convert into regular clients.
Easy to set up
It is relatively easy to initiate a search engine marketing campaign. SEM also takes effect in a much shorter time than SEO, meaning that changes are noticeable a short while after implementation. Depending on the reactions by your target audience, you can either improve on what you are doing or change it completely. The best thing is that you can modify your site, keywords and SEM budget based on the response you get from your audience.
It grabs the attention of your audience at the right time
According to studies, 90% of internet users know what they are looking for. The importance of keywords in any online marketing strategy underpins this finding. By implementing SEM, you are delivering your content, products and services to an informed audience that is already interested in your offerings. This means that you are not forcing an idea onto them and to make it better, SEM only bills you when they click the ad.
It is measurable
Another unique quality of SEM is that it is measurable. It allows you to track its progress using detailed analytic tools such as Google Analytics. Such data is particularly essential, as it helps with keyword optimisation, content optimisation, and most importantly, budget allocation.
Measuring SEM against your business goals shows you if the campaign is viable. This is crucial in preventing excessive losses where the campaign proves to be ineffective.
As mentioned earlier, ad platforms require you to enter a target location when setting up a paid advertisement campaign. In addition to keywords, targeting your ads improves their effectiveness, as they reach people who are likely to show interest in your products and services.
In this digital era, many businesses in Singapore are growing their online presence as a means of improving their sales and brand awareness. However, the majority of these enterprises only have basic website without SEM and SEO. Investing in SEM gives you an edge over other competing companies in your niche by ranking your website high on SERPs. A whopping 71% of search traffic clicks originate from the first page of Google search results.
Paid search strategies have a much greater ROI hat other marketing methods. You only pay when a user clicks on your ad, meaning that very little money goes it waste. Furthermore, when a person clicks on your business listing, they are already interested in your offerings and there is a high chance of making a purchase. Other advertisement strategies, on the other hand, require you to pay beforehand, and there are no guarantees over whether the message will reach the target audience.
Another way in which SEM improves ROI is that you can easily pull down ads that have low conversion rates. With traditional adverts, you have to wait until your contract with the ad platform runs out. If you have to pull it down immediately, you will have to incur extra costs.
It is scalable
SEM is incredibly scalable. If you own a startup or an SME in Singapore, you can start with a budget as low as S$10. This allows you test the waters without taking a huge chunk off your limited budget.
As the revenues start increasing due to SEM, you can increase the number of ads as well as the budget allocation. Ensure that you remove ineffective ads and further refine the ones that are selling. Most PPC platforms allows you to set a maximum daily budget, which makes sure that you don’t overspend on your SEM strategy.
What are the main differences between SEO and SEM?
The most significant difference between SEO and SEM is that the former focuses on strategies that improve your ranking on search engine result pages, while SEM combines SEO and other techniques to increase the visibility of a site, mainly PPC advertising.
Simply put, SEO is the process of optimizing your website with the aim of getting free traffic from search engines. Search engine crawlers can easily navigate through optimized websites which increases the chances of ranking higher on search results.
You can implement SEO on two levels – on-page and off-page. On-page SEO refers to the actions you perform on your website to make it search engine-friendly. Off-page SEO involves getting recommendations from other websites which increase the trust that search engines have in your site.
Contrarily, SEM is only implemented on your website. Recommendations from external sites have no impact whatsoever on the success of your SEM campaign.
There is no denying that both SEO and SEM are both effective – however, SEM has a slight edge over its counterpart. SEO is ideal if you want to create site authority by building your organic visibility. It is a lengthy process that requires patience and determination.
If you are after quick results, you should definitely implement SEM. A properly created PPC campaign allows you to easily analyse and fix any issues that hindering your conversion rates. You can experience massive improvements in your sakes from SEM within a few weeks, as compared to SEO which can take up months or even years.
Unlike SEM, SEO is subject to regular updates on search engine algorithms. You have to frequently update your website content to the latest updates by search engines, or risk losing your high ranking on SERPs. Given that SEO takes years to become fruitful, losing ranking overnight is hurting.
PPC ads are predictable and offer more stability. Any changes will not force you to make major alterations in your advertisement strategy. This means that it is easier to run a SEM campaign than it is to run SEO.
Investing in SEM is different to investing in SEO. SEM allows you to set a specific budget at every step of the campaign, ensuring that you only increase the allocation when the strategy is working, and you can easily pull out if the results are negative. You can also start small, and continually increase the budget as the business grows.
SEO vs. SEM – Which Strategy is Better?
Many marketers in Singapore remain undecided over which of these two strategies is better suited to grow their businesses to greater heights. As much as SEM provides quicker solutions, it is largely ineffective without the implementation of proper SEO.
The ultimate choice depends on your business and marketing goals. If you are a startup in a highly competitive niche, SEM is a smart way of getting ahead of your peers. On the contrary, you can opt for SEO if you are in no hurry. Before settling on a particular strategy, ensure that you understand your needs, the difference between the two and what it will take for the tactic to yield the desired results.
Balancing SEO and SEM (PPC)
Although it seems intricate, you can implement both SEM and SEO simultaneously. This ensures that your business enjoys the short term advantages of SEM, as well as the long term benefits offered by SEO. Better yet, the two strategies will cover up their respective shortcomings.
The first step involves collecting conversion data from Pay-Per-Click campaign and using it to convert leads generated through organic SEO. If some keywords are proving useful in SEM, you should also incorporate them into your SEO.
Secondly, ensure that you maximize your efforts on both the SEO and PPC fronts. More visibility on SERPs will boost your traffic and increase the chances of making more sales. This is particularly crucial that are bidding for highly competitive keywords that require a bigger PC budget.
If a certain keyword is popular but too expensive to bid for, consider integrating it into your SEO. This way, you ensure that your PPC campaign focuses on affordable keywords that have a sustainable ROI. Likewise, you can also take a copy that is performing well and include it in the description of your paid ad listing. By doing this, you can significantly improve your click-through-rates, which is beneficial for both SEO and SEM.
Lastly, you can use cheap PPC ads as a platform for testing the popularity of keyword phrases before integrating them into your website’s content. A phrase that performs well with PPC is likely to be a successful when implemented for SEO purposes.
Remember, implementing both SEO and SEM gives you the upper hand over your competitors who only use one of the two strategies.
The Disadvantages of Search Engine Marketing
Similar to other marketing strategies, SEM has its fair share of disadvantages. You should know of this before you decide to implement SEM for your business in Singapore.
It can be expensive
PPC can be quite costly, especially if you are running an upcoming business in a competitive niche. What makes it worse is that the costs are initially unnoticeable because they tend to be small. If you fail to do adequate research before posting ads, you will lose lots of money without getting meaningful returns. Focusing on wrong keywords and targeting inappropriate audiences can also drain your budget within a short time.
It needs continual investment
PPC campaigns need continuous investment to run – the more money you spend, the better the results. It is worth noting that this makes sense only if you are generating profits. Otherwise, you will end up losing large amounts of money while clinging onto hope that your fortunes will change.
It allows competitors to review your campaign
For a novice, it is hard to decode a PPC ad listing. This, however, is not the case for competitors who want to understand your marketing tricks. Competing businesses can easily look at your keywords, landing pages and your tactics by clicking onto your advert.
How to Implement SEM for your Business in Singapore
Now that you know what SEM is, its advantages and disadvantages, how it compares to SEO and so forth, let us look at how you can implement this strategy to improve your business.
Learn why your clients use search engines
SEM is entirely run on search engines, so it makes sense to know why people are using these sites in the first place. The top three reasons are research, entertainment and shopping.
Your PPC ad should encompass these three elements. For example, it should contain adequate information about your business to satisfy the researcher. The description should be entertaining and you should also include a compelling offer that will convince the shopper to visit your website.
Allocate a budget
Failing to designate a budget promotes overspending. Ideally, your SEM budget should cover the expense for writing copy, creating landing pages, research, campaign management, analytics and PPC.
Moreover, you have to ensure that you site is fast and responsive. The best way of doing this is by integrating SEO into your plans.
Set clear objectives
Any marketing strategy must have clear objectives. Goals are vital in gauging the progress of a SEM campaign, as well as its feasibility.
Objectives vary depending on the business – some aim to increase brand awareness, while others work to generate leads and make more sales. A smart way of tracking the actions people take on you website is by leveraging the powerful Google Analytics tool.
Identify your target audience
One of the key objectives of SEM is to give potential customers the services they are after, easily. Having knowledge of the needs of your target audience helps you create ads that are more relevant and have the chance of earning several clicks.
The easiest way of understanding your targeted clients is through compiling and evaluating the behaviours of your current customers. When doing this, identify the ones that are most likely to convert and make purchases.
Create compelling landing pages
When a user clicks on your ad listing, it redirects them to the landing page. For this reason, ensure that the message on this page is consistent with the description given in the ad – if the ad is about pizza delivery, the landing page should be similar. Having a different product increases the bounce rate, which is detrimental for both SEO and SEM. Also, the landing page should have few distractions and if possible, offer only one product.
If your product or services needs detailed explaining, refrain from using the landing page for this purpose. Instead, provide a link to another webpage with the explanation.
You can boost a customer’s confidence in your brand by including logos of previous clients. Most importantly, ensure that your landing page has a compelling call-to-action statement.
Without relevant keywords, you are readying your SEM campaign for failure. The primary objective of keyword research is identifying the popular phrases that people are using to find websites in your industry. It also helps in estimating how much you are likely to pay for that particular keyword.
Maintain high standards
Paying for SEM doesn’t guarantee the top spot on SERPs. The quality score of your ad listing depends on the click-through rates (CTR), keyword relevance, landing page quality and historical performance.
A high CTR means that your ad is relevant, which translates into a higher ranking on SERPs. The same applies for relevant keywords and landing page quality. The aspect of historical performance slightly disfavours new entrants into the SEM scene, but if the other factors are on point, it has a negligible impact.
From a layperson’s perspective, SEM is a version of SEO where you pay to get quick results. Both strategies share a similar end goal, but SEM offers a quicker path to the main objective. You can deliver your ads to a relevant audience that is already in the sales funnel and almost ready to convert.
If you relish this prospect, stop hesitating and get started. After all, this article tells all you need to know, and most importantly, how to effectively implement SEM.
Get in touch with us for custom search engine marketing (SEM) services in Singapore.