Did you know that Google processes over 8.5 billion searches per day?
That’s a helluva lot of traffic.
As a business owner, you know how important it is to have a strong online presence. But with so many different digital marketing strategies out there, it can be difficult to know where to start. That’s where search engine marketing comes in.
Search engine marketing, or SEM, is the process of using paid and unpaid tactics to increase the visibility of your website in search engine results. This can include things like optimising your website for search engines (also known as SEO), using pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and tracking and measuring the success of your efforts.
In this article, we’re going to break down the basics of search engine marketing and show you how to use these strategies to drive more traffic to your website and increase conversions. We’ll cover everything from understanding SEO and PPC, to measuring and analysing results.
Keep in mind that we’ll only be covering the basics for a better overall understanding, but we’ll link to more detailed guides on different concepts throughout the article.
Search engine marketing 101: What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?
Let’s start with the basics: what is SEO, and why is it important?
In layman’s terms, SEO is the process of improving the visibility of your website on search engines like Google and Bing. This is done by optimising your website’s content and structure to make it more relevant to the keywords and phrases people search for every day.
Why is this important, you ask?
Well, when your website appears at the top of search engine results, it’s more likely to be seen by potential customers.
In fact, according to Search Engine Journal, the top result on the first page of Google receives 25% of the traffic, while the first five results combined receive 68% of the clicks.
That’s a lot of traffic that you don’t want to miss.
Here are more reasons why SEO can greatly benefit your business.
So, how do you optimise your website for search engines?
SEO is no small feat. It’s a time and money-consuming process that requires a lot of dedication and hard work. Here’s an overview of how you can optimise your website for search engines:
Keyword research refers to the process of identifying the keywords and phrases that your target audience is searching for and using them strategically throughout your website’s content, meta tags, and URLs. This is one of the most important aspects of SEO for several reasons, including:
- First, it allows you to understand what kind of information or solutions your users are looking for. This will help you to create content that is relevant to their search queries, and in return, it will increase the chances of your website appearing in the search results
- Furthermore, by targeting the right keywords, you can attract more qualified traffic to your website. This means that the visitors who come to your website will be more likely to convert into customers or clients, which can help to increase your revenue
Check these guides we posted answering different questions related to keyword research:
When optimising your website for search engines, creating high-quality, relevant, and engaging content that provides value to your target audience is key. Here’s how to create a winning content strategy.
Here, make sure to include the keywords and phrases that you want to rank for. That said, you shouldn’t just stuff your pages with keywords. That’s called keyword stuffing, and it can actually hurt your rankings. Instead, use your keywords organically and make sure your content is informative and valuable to your audience.
On-page SEO optimisation
This refers to optimising the internal elements of your website, such as the title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, and image alt tags, to ensure that they are search-engine-friendly.
We talked about on-page SEO in detail in this guide.
Link building is basically off-page SEO. It refers to the process of getting backlinks to your website from other relevant and high-authority websites, which helps to increase your website’s visibility and authority in the eyes of search engines.
How, you ask?
Simply by telling Google that other authority websites in your industry trust your website enough to use it as a source. Every link you get is basically a “vote of confidence.”
The more backlinks you have, the higher your website will rank in search engine results. But not all backlinks are created equal. That’s why you ought to aim for high-quality, relevant links from reputable websites.
Check our guides on link building:
Technical SEO is the process of improving the technical aspects of your website, such as structure, site speed, mobile responsiveness, security, and crawlability, to ensure that search engines can easily access and index your website’s content.
Tracking and analysis
This is yet another crucial aspect of SEO. By monitoring your website’s performance on search engines and analysing different data points, you can identify areas of improvement and boost your rankings.
That’s important because SEO is a continuous process. That’s why you should regularly update your website’s content and make improvements to its structure and backlinks. And don’t expect overnight results – it can take several months to see significant changes in your rankings.
How much does SEO cost?
The answer is, “it depends”.
We’ve covered this in detail in our SEO costs article, but here’s what it comes down to:
- DIY SEO: almost free of charge
- Cheap SEO: Anywhere from £50 to £2,000 per month
- Mid-tier SEO: £2,000 to £6,000 per month
- High-tier SEO: More than £6,000 per month
It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it.
Search engine marketing 101: What is pay-per-click advertising (PPC)?
Now that you have a basic understanding of SEO, let’s talk about PPC advertising.
PPC is a type of paid advertising where you pay a fee each time someone clicks on one of your ads. The most popular PPC platforms include Google Ads and Bing Ads. PPC can be a great way to drive more traffic to your website and increase conversions. Keep in mind that it’s a paid marketing strategy, so you’ll need to budget for it. That said, the results with PPC are almost instant, whereas getting results with SEO takes time (like, a lot of time).
One of the biggest advantages of PPC advertising is that it can generate immediate results. Unlike SEO, which can take several months to see significant changes in your rankings, PPC ads can start driving traffic to your website as soon as they’re live. This can be especially beneficial for businesses that are just starting out and need to quickly build visibility and generate leads.
Another advantage of PPC advertising is that it allows you to target specific demographics and geographic locations. For example, you can target your ads to people in a specific city or to people who have previously visited your website. This can help you reach the right audience and increase the chances of your ads being clicked on.
What are the limitations?
However, it’s important to keep in mind that PPC advertising can be expensive if not managed properly. It’s crucial to set a budget and monitor your campaigns closely to make sure you’re getting a good return on investment.
Additionally, to make sure that your ads are effective, it’s important to create compelling ad copy, use relevant keywords and make sure your landing pages are well-designed and optimised for conversions.
For more details on the similarities and differences between SEO and PPC, check this detailed comparison we posted some time ago.
How to set up a PPC campaign: An overview
Step 1: Define your target audience
Start by asking yourself, “who do I want to target with my ads?”
Think about the demographics (age, location, etc.) and interests of the people you want to reach. This will help you choose the right platform and keywords later on.
Here’s a detailed Google Ads targeting guide that we published some time ago.
Step 2: Pick a PPC platform
Where do you want to run your ads?
Some popular options include Google Ads and Bing Ads. Besides being more popular (roughly 80% of companies focus on Google Ads for PPC), Google Ads is relatively easier to use. Furthermore, since it’s widely used by marketers from all around the world, you can quickly find a solution for any problem you may face along the way.
Step 3: Set your budget
How much money do you want to spend on your campaign?
This will help you determine your bidding strategy. Don’t forget to factor in cost-per-click (CPC) and other fees when setting your budget.
Step 4: Organise your ad groups
Organise your ads into logical sets based on their themes and targeting. That will help you keep track of your ads and make changes more easily.
Step 5: Write your ad copy
Time to get creative!
Write ad copy that will grab the attention of your target audience. Make sure it’s relevant and compelling.
Step 6: Choose the keywords you want to target
Choose keywords that are relevant to your products or services and that your target audience might search for. This will help ensure that your ads appear in front of the right people.
Need some help with this?
Check out some of our notable guides!
- How To Use Google Keyword Planner
- Negative Keyword Match Types
- How Do I Find Out How Much A Keyword Costs?
- Keyword Match Types in Google Ads
Step 7: Design and upload ad creative
Design eye-catching images or videos to accompany your ad copy. This will help your ad stand out and get more clicks.
Step 8: Launch your campaign
You’re finally ready to go! Launch your campaign and start monitoring its performance to make changes as needed.
Of course, this is just an overview. For more details on how to set up Google Ads, check this guide.
How much does PPC cost?
Average CPC costs depend on a plethora of factors. But one of the primary ones is industry. For instance, lawyers can pay up to £10-£15 per click. Oh yes, that’s true. Ditto with online casinos that often pay up to £30 per click. Other industries fare much better. But the point we are trying to make is this. If your business is in a competitive industry, you need a high budget.
For more details on the costs of PPC marketing and the factors that affect them, check this guide.
Search engine marketing 101: Measuring and analysing results
Now that you’ve set up your SEO and PPC campaigns, it’s important to track and measure their success. This will help you identify what’s working and what’s not, so you can make adjustments and improve your results.
Some key metrics to track include
Click-through rate (CTR)
This is the percentage of people who click on your ad or organic listing after seeing it. A high CTR is a good indication that your ad is relevant and appealing to your target audience.
This is the percentage of people who complete a desired action on your website, such as filling out a form or making a purchase. A high conversion rate means your website is effectively converting visitors into leads or customers.
Cost per click (CPC)
This is the amount you pay each time someone clicks on your ad. A lower CPC means you’re getting more bang for your buck.
This is the number of people who visit your website from organic search results. An increase in organic traffic can indicate that your SEO efforts are successful.
Search Engine Marketing 101: How to track those metrics
There are many tools available to help you track and measure these metrics.
Google Analytics is a free tool that can provide a lot of valuable data about your website’s traffic and conversions.
By regularly monitoring your metrics, you can identify patterns and trends that can help you improve your campaigns. For example, if you notice that your conversion rate is low, you may want to make changes to your website’s design or the language on your call-to-action buttons.
So, SEO or PPC?
Well, this is no “yes or no” question, unfortunately. But to keep things simple, here’s what we recommend:
- If you’re a new business looking to get leads as fast as possible to get started, PPC is the way to go. As mentioned, it generates results much faster than SEO, but you’ll need a decent budget for it to do that
- On the other hand, if you already have momentum and are looking to boost your brand’s authority and reputation, you should definitely experiment with SEO
- And, of course, if you have both the budget and the time, you should include both in your marketing strategy!
We can help with SEM
Search engine marketing is a powerful way to increase the visibility of your website and drive more traffic and conversions. By understanding the basics of SEO and PPC, and regularly monitoring and analysing your results, you can create a strategy that will help your business grow.
Keep in mind that both SEO and PPC are ongoing processes, so it’s important to stay up to date on industry developments and make adjustments as needed. And remember, it takes time to see significant improvements, so be patient and persistent in your efforts.
We hope this article has given you a good overview of search engine marketing and how to use it to drive more traffic and conversions for your business. If you need any help, just book a discovery call with us today!