How To Approach Search Engine Marketing

PPC adverts are ranked by AdRank score
Basic Concepts of Search Engine Marketing
September 11, 2019
Developing a Statistical Early Warning System
November 20, 2019
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How To Approach Search Engine Marketing

We’ve already covered the basic concepts, now let’s consider how to apply them in real life.

SEM + Segmentation = Results

Segmentation is a standard approach to organising your marketing operations around categories that are matched to meaningful aspects of the market’s structure, such as groups of consumers or the different products you sell. The SEM products that Google and Bing and their peers offer are conducive to organising your marketing in this manner.

SEM accounts usually allow the user to create campaigns, and then within those campaigns create ad groups which group adverts and keywords together. You can map the market segments to campaigns, other segments to ad groups, and subsegments to individual ads, if necessary, though you cannot segment the keywords at this level. It’s incorrect to think that being near the “top” of the tree should mean a segment is more important – the tree analogy is just an article of how SEM accounts tend to structure themselves.

Conceptual SEM account structure

For example, let’s say you are a yacht dealer and you operate across the entire market from luxury ocean-going yachts to small dinghies. You might be able to segment your customers by their wealth, work status, and their yachting aspirations. Perhaps your most significant customer segments are rich retirees, middle-income retirees, and young professionals.

You can also view the market from the perspective of its products. Perhaps the products you are most involved with are ocean-going yachts, family cruisers, and racing yachts.

With this information, you could structure your marketing campaign in one of two ways: Either by setting the products at the highest level, or by setting the consumer segments at the highest level, and then structuring your adgroups by either product or consumer segment, like so:

Campaign structured by consumer group then product

Personally, I prefer to have customer segments at the highest level since I think it helps to focus the mind on the people who you want to target, but either option is fine. The important point is that the hierarchy reflects the market you operate in.

Keywords Connect Segments to Adverts

The next step is to consider which keywords would be used by the people who are going to search for the relevant products you want to sell. The best way to do this is to use a keyword tool, like Google Ads keyword planner.

So how do you choose the keywords? The best place to start is with the thing your target audience are going to search for, like “ocean going yachts”. Be quite specific. The keyword planning tool will analyse this search term and then come back with a list of suggestions. Look through the list of suggestions, and add all the keywords you think are relevant to your objectives. Then, look again, and spot any keywords that are irrelevant.

For instance, you may want to include “ocean going yachts for sale”, but exclude “ocean going yacht cruises” since you don’t sell sailing holidays or “ocean going yacht charters” because you don’t hire yachts out either.

It’s important to realise that people who search with very general terms for a particular product might not be interested in your services since there may be several domains which apply to the product but not to your business. This exclusionary step is important to ensure that your campaign is efficient since you only want to bid to appear next to searches that are relevant to your business.

Phrase Matching

There are three ways that a search engine can match a search term to the keywords you bid against. These are: phrase match, exact match, and broad match. Which one you use can dramatically affect the efficiency of your campaigns, and the default option – broad match – is often the worst choice, so it’s important to consider which one you should use.

Broad Match

This setting means that the search engine will show your advert to people who have searched for the keywords that you want to bid against, and also against other searches which the search engine deems are similar to those keywords. For example, if you bid on “ocean going yacht” your advert may also be matched to “ocean going sailboat”.

It is a useful option if you are trying to assemble a good list of keywords to bid for but are finding it difficult to work out which ones are likely to be effective. However, it is also susceptible to the kind of mistake noted above, where a very general search term is matched to entirely the wrong kind of search – people who want to hire what you have to sell, rather than buy, for example – and your budget gets wasted showing adverts to people who are not searching for the services you offer.

Phrase Match

Phrase matching is where the search engine will display your advert to people who have entered a search term that includes a keyphrase you have purchased. The words must be in the same order, but it will ignore minor differences such as plurals or spelling mistakes. So if you have bid against the keyphrase “ocean going yacht”, it will not be matched to “ocean going sailboat”, but it might be matched to “sailing to Australia in an ocean going yacht”, or “Ocean going yachts for hire”.

Exact Match

An exact match is when the search engine displays adverts for search phrases that exactly match keyword search terms you have bid against. The only play in the joints is that it will ignore differences in punctuation, spelling, and plurality. In this case, if you had bid on “ocean going yacht” then the search engine would only match searches for “ocean going yacht” or some limited variation like “ocean going yachts”.

If you are fairly certain you know what people are going to search for then use phrase match, or even exact match if you want to be very careful. Broad match is good if you cannot find a good list of keywords from the keyword tool, but it needs careful monitoring.

Conversion Tracking

Ultimately, the purpose of spending money on SEM is to generate a return for the business. This is usually confirmed by some kind of action on your website, such as buying a product, but it can also be represented by other useful goals such as signing up to a newsletter or submitting an enquiry.

These events can be tracked using tools such as Google Analytics and associated with the relevant advert. It is here that the power of SEM is fully leveraged. These tools can establish which keywords and which adverts promoted the greatest benefit to your business, and you can then focus your advertising budget on them.

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