3 ways to make a splash with search engine marketing

Brand managers can increase their websites’ traffic and more easily convert visitors to paying customers by using these best practices.

Offering valuable content and an outstanding website are crucial to PR and marketing efforts, but so are strategies that get consumers to click.

Search engine marketing, also known as paid search ads or pay-per-click efforts, can help brand managers attract consumers’ attention and help your organization or client stand out to those looking for a solution.

However, just punching out a digital ad or throwing money at keywords won’t help you succeed. Consider these three takeaways for successful search engine marketing efforts:

1. Choose keywords carefully.

Sherman Standberry, co-founder and chief operating officer of Lyfe Marketing, says PR and marketing pros’ best strategy for turning visitors into customers is to “bid on high-intent keywords” that are relevant to your organization’s products and services.

Keywords or key phrases are considered to have a “high intent” when they signal that the person searching has a strong chance of conducting a transaction—whether that is actually purchasing something or inquiring about products and services that will probably lead to a sale. These high-intent keywords are part of “transactional” search queries.

Online searches to buy home improvement supplies, get a car insurance quote or to find out the price of a subscription service are transactional, and those keywords and phrases carry high-intent terms signaling the person might soon act.

In contrast, informational or navigational searches (in which people look to get answers contained on a webpage or to find a particular website) contain low-intent keywords.

Standberry says:

Use an advanced keyword research tool, such as SEMRush, to analyze keywords and competitors to identify the best fit for your business. Once you select these keywords, install conversion tracking to track the amount of conversions you are receiving from specific ads and keywords. As your ads run, you should be able to identify high-performing combinations of ads and keywords that are driving more conversions than others.

Christoph Trappe, author, speaker and director of content for Stamats Business Media, recommends skipping the “obvious” keywords and key phrases on which your competitors are already bidding. Going after slightly less popular keywords can give you a bigger bang for your budget.

Trappe says:

… [I]n the digital world, there are often a lot of additional keywords that have a lot less competition for them. Go after them. For example, let’s say your industry has three keywords that everyone is biding on, but the next seven have a lot less competition (but could still drive good business results). Try to go after them and maximize your budgets that way.

2. Provide an outstanding website experience.

Getting consumers to visit your website isn’t the end of your work. You must persuade visitors to spend time on your website—and end their visit with purchasing or subscribing.

Paul Hunter, marketing manager of Liberty Marketing, says brand managers should consider how they can help consumers through the marketing and sales funnel. You can do this by improving your website’s user interface or overall user experience, optimizing your website and remarketing ads.

“The reason these methods work well is because you’re helping and targeting users that have already discovered your product and shown interest by either moving through the site or adding items to [the] basket,” Hunter says. “It’s more straightforward converting interested users than those still in discovery stages.”

Liam Solomon, marketing lead at Lovethesales.com, echoes Hull and says optimizing your website can help you rank better in search results, which ultimately increases your ROI and helps make your search engine marketing efforts successful.

Solomon says:

Page speed seriously affects your ability to rank, especially given Google’s recent addition of the mobile index. When creating content on site, it’s really important to optimise image file size to keep it is as small as possible whilst maintaining clarity. Forgetting this will dramatically affect your page speed and the rankings of said page.

3. Measure your efforts.

If you want to increase your search engine marketing ROI, Stanberry says you must invest the time into actively managing and analyzing your performance.

He says:

Many SEM managers have a “set it and forget it” mentality towards SEM and fail to optimize their campaign for conversions. In order to see success, brand managers will have to do careful research, A/B split test multiple sets of ads and keywords, and leverage tactics like remarketing to boost conversion rates.

Hunter suggests determining your goals, then using Google Analytics and Google Ads to benchmark your success.

“Once goals have been identified, use a specific set of KPI’s for success rates,” Hunter says. “For example, if brand awareness is the main aim, focus on the number of impressions and clicks.”

Stuart Cooke, freelance SEO consultant at Pinnacle SEO, says it’s crucial to identify which pages on your website are converting visitors to customers, so you can drive online traffic to those pages while you improve those that lag behind.

Cooke says:

The best way to measure SEM efforts is to focus on the amount of conversions [your campaigns have] contributed to. Though figures like rankings and traffic can be important factors to success, they can still be misleading, as ranking for the wrong keywords and increasing traffic to under-performing pages won’t have the affect you are looking for.

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