SEM or search engine marketing is one of the most powerful ways to drive qualified consumers to your website to engage with your business. This is because it falls on the demand-capture side of digital marketing – you’re able to serve detailed ads that align with consumers who are actively searching for your product or service via keyword queries on Google. This differs from demand-generation media types such as video or display where impression-based metrics are measured to build on objectives such as brand or product awareness.
As with any advertising channel or campaign build-out, it’s important to identify your goals before targeting consumers on Google. Are you advertising for a product or service? Is there a particular event that you’re looking to generate website traffic for? Understanding your deliverables will help contribute to the search campaign’s effectiveness and evolution through optimizations. Although each SEM campaign is different, you can follow the fundamental blueprint below to ensure you’re taking the right steps to maximize your ROAS.
Create & name your campaign – Create a new campaign that aligns with your business goals and assign a relevant name.
Geo targeting – Setting up the right targeting parameters is crucial. Select how small or large your geographical target is. You can choose to target entire countries, states, cities as well as custom radii with latitude and longitude coordinates.
Bidding strategies – Select a bidding strategy that aligns with your campaign goals. This strategy will ultimately determine the price you’re willing to pay per click for certain keywords that are searched on Google. You can elect to run “Manual CPC” and set custom bids for each keyword or you can pick one of Google’s automated bidding strategies:
- Target CPA
- Target ROAS
- Maximize clicks
- Maximize conversions
- Maximize conversion value
- Target impression share
If your goal is to show up as frequently as possible, you would want to select target impression share. If your focus is on driving website traffic, you should elect maximize clicks.
Build an Ad Group – Think of ad groups as campaign filters that assist with categorizing sets of keywords and ads for different products or services. There is no limit to how many ad groups you can have, but there’s no need to overengineer a campaign’s structure. For example, a campaign that’s designed to sell athletic footwear may see strong results if ad groups are segmented by sport. However, to further separate ad groups by shoe size wouldn’t be beneficial.
Build your ads – Once your ad group(s) are established, build your ads and ensure you have 2-3 ads active per ad group. This is recommended to help determine performance benchmarks so you can analyze the data and optimize any underperforming ad(s). It’s also important to utilize all the space Google provides within its ad template to tout your product or service and its features/benefits. The most important ad fields are:
- Headline #1 (30 character limit)
- Headline #2 (30 character limit)
- Headline #3 (30 character limit)
- Description #1 (90 character limit)
- Description #2 (90 character limit)
- Page Path #1
- Page Path #2
Google’s recommended best practice is to run responsive search ads. What are responsive search ads (also known as RSAs)? RSAs are ads that dynamically adapt to serve more text and the most relevant messages based on your customers’ keyword search in Google. Google will automatically test different combinations and its machine learning will identify which combinations perform best for a given keyword search.
Create your keywords – Keywords are to a campaign what a foundation is to a house. Aligning your keywords with your product or service will make or break your campaign’s success. For example, an athletic footwear campaign may include keywords such as “golf shoes,” but it shouldn’t contain “golf clubs.” The less specific your keywords are to your product; the more likely advertising spend will be wasted on irrelevant clicks. It’s best practice to start out with 10 to 15 keywords using various keyword match types. Google’s keyword match types include:
- Broad match – ex.) golf shoes – this keyword match type tends to generate more impressions and sometimes higher traffic volumes, but this comes at the cost of showing up for searches related to your keyword such as golf clubs.
- Phrase match – ex.) “golf shoes” – this match type triggers your ads to show when keyword searches that include the meaning of your keyword such as golf shoes near me.
- Exact match – ex.) [golf shoes] – ads may show for keyword searches that hold the same meaning as your keyword, such as golf sneakers.
Let’s discuss your SEM strategy!
- Book – Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords by Perry Marshall (2014 edition)