The basics of search engine marketing

Sir Tim Berners-Lee metaphorically ‘created’ the internet by building the first ever web browser called the World Wide Web. It gave people around the world the ability to access information using an easy to understand graphical user-interface system. In a way, it was similar to how Microsoft changed the landscape of personal computing by the introduction of Windows 2.0, 3.0 and above. Ordinary folks now have the ability to navigate the internet without first going to college to get a degree in computer science.

However, search engines are the unsung hero in this tale of technological accomplishments. They allowed users to find specific webpages at the click of a button thanks to the behind-the-scenes work of millions of search engine robots which spend days and night crawling through almost the entirety of the internet to build comprehensive databases which can be accessed in fractions of a second.

Today, around a third of all internet traffic originates from search engines. That means, about 1.8 billion referrals are made by search engines daily. This is the reason why search engine marketing (SEM) has become a vital part of digital marketing.

Not all search engines are equal; Google controls over 90% of the market. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

What is search engine marketing?

Globally, e-commerce generates cumulative revenues in excess of $3.6 trillion in 2019. Since search traffic is responsible for a third of that, it stands to reason that marketers are trying to funnel potential customers to their websites using search engines. However, instead of relying exclusively on organic ranking, search engine marketing (SEM) bypasses search results and plant relevant ads of search pages.

To put it simply, search engine marketing (SEM), also known as paid search or pay-per-click advertising, is a method of incorporating advertisements into the search engine results page.

How should marketers implement a search engine marketing strategy?

SEM campaigns cost a lot of money. In order to ensure that marketing budgets are not wasted needlessly, marketers must ensure that they are reaching the right customers. There are many methods to achieve this. However, the two most important methods are accurate keyword and customer profile research.

With the right customer profiles, marketers can eliminate customers based on age, location and household income level, among others. With the right keywords, or key phrases, marketers can ensure that their ads are only shown to customers who are looking for products or services that match closely to theirs.

Marketers shouldn’t worry about the low number of potential customers – that’s a good thing. The budget for the SEM campaign will be used efficiently, and the ROI will be dazzling.

It goes without saying that marketers should constantly analyse the effectiveness of their keywords and customers profiles through A/B and multivariate testing to improve on their click-through and conversion rates. That is the hallmark of great marketers and businesses.