Which is why today it’s more important than ever for your business to display as high as possible on the first page for what your target audience is searching for.
Search engine marketing (SEM) isn’t anything new, but the landscape has become more competitive over the years which is why it’s vital for digital retailers to adopt a strategic approach to paid search advertising.
“It’s crucial to structure paid search campaigns around keywords and queries that deliver results for your brand. Focus on where you can win, rather than always casting a wide net. If you can find areas where you are winning – optimize those areas further and refine where you have opportunity.”
-Jason Bell, Senior Account Analyst at CPC Strategy
What Is Search Engine Marketing?
Search engine marketing (SEM) is marketing that promotes a website’s visibility on a search engine’s result page (SERP).
For ecommerce businesses, search engine marketing is an important method of attracting new visitors and valuable clicks to a website.
If your website isn’t ranking organically on the first page for keywords that your target audience are using, then you’re missing out on 95% of internet users who do not click beyond the first page of Google’s search results.
Which is why many ecommerce businesses leverage paid search ads to show their website above organic results for important keywords.
SEM vs. SEO
It’s easy to confuse search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO).
Search engine optimization (SEO) involves optimizing a website to increase its organic on the SERP.
For brands and businesses, this is known as Ecommerce SEO — optimizing the backend of your website as well as the on-page content of your product and category pages to make it more search engine-friendly. If you want to learn how, you can check out our Ecommerce SEO Checklist.
Search engine marketing (SEM) on the other hand, involves the use of paid search campaigns to display your website’s offering, usually above organic results.
Search Engine Marketing Solutions
For marketers, there are two major search engine networks to consider when it comes to paid search advertising:
- Google Search Network
- Bing Search Network
For many marketers, advertising on Google’s Search Network is a no-brainer: nearly 75% of global search traffic takes place on Google.
That doesn’t mean you should discount Bing, however. There are 145 million unique searchers that use Bing’s Search Network, 66 million of which cannot be reached by Google.
Google Search Ads
Google’s Search Network holds a near monopoly of all search traffic as well as the most sophisticated platform for search advertising.
Bing Search Ads
Bing Ads are text ads that display across Microsoft’s Bing search network, which includes Yahoo.
Similar to Google’s popular Search ads, Bing ads enable retailers to bid on keywords and display their sponsored results above organic results.
Here are a few reasons why you should consider Bing Ads:
1. Extend your reach: the Bing Network (which includes Yahoo!) has 6 billion monthly searches in the US, 12 billion worldwide.
2. Connect with searchers outside of Google: according to Microsoft, 27% of clicks on Bing are exclusive to Bing alone, with 62.5 million searchers that Google can’t reach.
3. Less competition: because fewer advertisers using Bing ads, there’s more opportunity for cheaper impressions and lower CPCs.
4. Easy to get started: Bing has made a seamless process for transferring over Google Ads data and launching your Bing account. Google advertisers will feel very familiar to with Bing’s Merchant Center.
The only way your target audience is going to find your website via a search engine is you show up for the keywords that they are using.
Unless your webpages are already showing up above the fold on the first page for those keywords, you’re only other option is to leverage paid search ads.
Because paid search ads are keyword based, it’s important to exercise keyword research to inform the targeting for your search ads.
The Best Keyword Research Tools For Ecommerce Brands 2019
There are several useful free and paid keyword research tools as well as Google and Amazon reporting to help you discover and evaluate new keywords based on volume, difficulty, and more.
1. Google Keyword Planner
This is the go-to tool for most PPC and SEO marketers. It lets you test out viable search terms, find alternative terms as they relate to your industry and services, and even get historical statistics on your keywords.
Google’s Keyword Planner is free, and it’s a must if you’re using Google Ads.
2. Google Search Term Report
The Google Search Term Report allows you to see which search terms are triggering (or not triggering) your ads within Google’s Search Network.
This can be useful for finding new keywords that you can add to your keyword lists or underperforming keywords to add to your negative lists.
Moz Pro is an all-in-one SEO and keyword tool that provides unique data, helps the user streamline their workflow, and offers actionable insights based on that data.
We use MOZ regularly at CPC Strategy to uncover new keyword opportunities.
Ahrefs is a super powerful SEO (and keyword) tool that can be customized to fit your needs.
The software offers tools users need to research competitors, improve search traffic, and also monitor their niche. Bulk upload a list of keywords to find out how competitive they are and figure out where your content gaps are in comparison to competitors.
The “Content” tab also makes it easy to keep on top of trending keywords in your industry.
5. SEM Rush
SEMrush is another well-respected name in the SEO space, with an amazing all-in-one marketing toolkit that does much more than just SEO.
It’s loaded with features for social media, paid ads, content, and PR.
6. Amazon Search Term Report
If you’re selling on Amazon, the Search Term Report allows you to pull search data to see what customers on the Marketplace are searching for.
Great for keyword harvesting to add new words to keyword lists.
7. Answer The Public
ATP is perfect for those who want a visualization of all possible keywords related to your keyword.
Local Search Engine Marketing
Local search engine marketing is the promotion of a business website for a targeted geographic area.
By targeting a specific geographic area with search ads, you can drive local search queries to your physical store or service.
Much like normal search ads, local search ads enable advertisers to feature their business on the SERP, usually with the addition of an address and phone number so that potential customers can contact you.
You can create local search ad campaigns within Google ads and add location extensions to your existing search ads.
The Final Takeaway
Relying on organic search without locking in that top paid spot on Google or Bing Search means losing out on major traffic volume and conversions.
In fact, paid clicks have become so important that they are beginning to outpace organic clicks for certain SERPs, according to a study by Moz.
Want to learn more?