Common Questions about Search Engine Marketing

SEM is known by a lot of names.   Obviously to some but maybe not everyone, no matter what you call it, it has to do with the search engines your customers use to look for information on the internet.   Marketing also then must mean that it is something your company does to attract these potential customers onto your website – instead of letting them go to the sites of your competitors.

search-engine-marketingA more common term that you may be familiar with is Pay Per Click advertising.   PPC or SEM, however you refer to it, refers to the process of bidding for prime placement – at or near the top of the 1st page of search results – with one of the 3 major search engines.  If you are reading this, you are no doubt familiar with Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Google has about 2/3 of the search traffic and the other two have captured most of the rest.

SEM can be a very lucrative tool for your business, however bidding keywords can be nearly a full time job – even for a relatively small business.   Finding the “best” keywords, determining a proper bid rate, writing effective ad copy, monitoring results, monitoring your competitions’ activities, sniffing out emerging trends in the search traffic, calculating ROI on all the various keywords that you may be bidding – usually in the 100s of keywords.  Phew! There’s a lot to it, to say the least.

To that end, SOMG has developed a system to more effectively manage your PPC campaign for you.   We have account managers who are certified as Google Adwords Professionals as well as Bing Ad Excellence campaign managers as well.   Additionally, we’ve acquired for them an amazing suite of software tools that lay over the top of the free tools the search engines provide.   All this adds up to a smarter, more nimble, broader campaign run from better data than all but the largest of local businesses have a hope of running on their own.

“But, Greg. This sounds complicated. Can you tell me a little more about it?”  You bet.   In fact, here are some answers to questions posed to me recently by another local business.   Check if you see some of your own questions here.

As far as the budget amount, is that paid up front or is it billed? Next, if the balance of the set monthly budget is not spent, what happens to the balance?

If you have an established account with us this will be billed at the end of the month.  If we don’t use your whole budget – since you are only charged when a click occurs and a new prospective customer is delivered to your site – then you and your account manager will decide together whether to roll the shortage forward or simply reset the next month your budget amount.

To my understanding, a charge is only applied when the potential customer clicks on ad and goes to our “Landing Page.” So could we set our landing page to a specific page on our site or must the click point only to our Home Page?

We can target any specific page that you desire.   I would actually advise against using the home page as the target in all but very rare circumstances.   We may target different keyword / ad combinations to different pages on your site though to test what “path” works best to turn site visitors into paying customers.

How many words or phrases can be active or how many is suggested? Let’s say several are active and they eat up the budget, once that happens will the ad automatically be removed? Or can we rotate the words/phrase? If so would that make it possible for us to lose out on potential searches/customers?

For most advertisers we work with, the search traffic available significantly exceeds the budget levels they are typically willing to initially commit.   If we budget $1,000 per month for you, for example, and unless we tell them differently Google will spread your $1,000 out evenly throughout the month. This means that they will attempt to find you about $35 per clicks each day.   Your ad will “shut off” for the balance of any day when you get over about $50 in clicks – in order to plan against other days when you don’t receive $35 worth of traffic.   This means that there will be lots of searches where your ads won’t show.  The only way to combat that is to increase the budget, but the danger there is spending more than we can recoup in sales, so it’s a balancing act.   Your account manager will work with you to ensure your investment is maximized.

Your proposed draft campaign lists a variety of keywords, all of which appear to me to have 2,000,000 plus monthly searches on Google. How come you estimate only 1,200 – 1,550 potential new customers instead? Further, you show that a $1,000 investment would only attract about 20% of that estimated audience. Does that mean that each click will cost us about $4? Does this change or vary in any way? I’m asking in reference to setting the budget.

Great question.   We obviously don’t want searches that are looking for your keywords but perhaps come from areas that you can reasonably service, say New York, Florida, etc.   Estimating a campaign is a bit of a guessing game before we start the campaign, but our account managers’ tools are really robust and so they filter out as much of the “fluff” as they can to give us as realistic an expectation as possible.   Google, Yahoo, and Bing keep some secrets until we start the campaign though – one of which is what the actual bid amounts are on each of the hundreds of potential keywords that make up this analysis.  They also don’t let us parse out the prices based on geography at this level of detail either.   So yes, in round numbers we are assuming that we’ll be able to find you good traffic in the neighborhood of $4 per click (NOTE: click costs vary widely from industry to industry so your results may be different).   Additionally, our management fee is rolled into this cost to help you with a simplified budgeting process.   Each keyword has its own bid environment, however, and so if we bid 1,000 keywords for you, they may have 1,000 different prices.  The other thing here is that as the campaign is getting started, you and your account manager will have a conversation about ROI.   If we find keywords at $10 for example, you can tell us not to waste our time because you know the ROI will never be there for you.  You can set a click cost ceiling that we stay under if you choose.   We do the grunt work for you, but this is your campaign.

If these questions covered all you wanted to know about SEM campaigns, that’s great. Contact your SOMG representative for your own, no obligation, campaign analysis AKA FREE. If you we missed a topic that you are interested in, please either leave a question here that we can answer for all to benefit from, or feel free to contact me directly.

Greg Thompson
Internet Specialist

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