In previous posts we looked at how to identify your competition and how basic SEO works. Now let's review how SEM works. As discussed, your best path to market is to utilize both SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) in your marketing strategy because there are two ways consumers use Google Search.
Some always click on the 'Free" "Organic" listings and some only click on the top listings which are paid ads.
Let's see how the term "swimming lessons" can be used to drive more traffic to your YMCA website and help fast track new members.
If you review the above results, you will see a three different types of listings for businesses offering swim lessons.
Advertisements across the top and down the right side. Pay to play!
Local Listings. If you are not currently showing up in the local listings for keywords that are central to your business, visit www.Google.com/Business and make sure Google has your current business information. Note that simply filling out this information will not automatically get your business listed, but it is a good start. In a future posting we will talk about how to leverage your business account to improve your SEO rankings.
Free / Organic. The listings below the Ads and Local Listings that are determined by the Google algorithm.
If you are the YMCA and rely on the Local Listing "Fort Meigs YMCA Center For Health Promotion", you are going to loose site traffic to the paid ads. The first ad is the one on the top of the results page from USMS.org (US Masters Swimming). Down the right rail of the results page you also see a number of ads from companies like About.com, ABC Aquatics Center and Swim Outlet.
Why are these companies paying to appear in the search results? Because they know the value of getting a sales prospect to their web page and the revenue associated with that sales prospect. We have already shown the lifetime value of a YMCA member is approximately $4,700. Each of these businesses has determined the value of a new member to their business and believe the cost of acquiring a prospect is worth cost of running the ad on Google search.
What does it cost to buy an ad on Google?
If no one clicks on your ad, it costs you nothing. Try that approach with your newspaper, TV, radio station or the direct mail vendor.
With Google Search (Pay Per Click, SEM) you are bidding on specific keywords and phrases against other businesses that are bidding on the same keywords and phrases. You are submitting a bid amount based on what you feel a customer is worth and based on what you feel other companies are bidding on the same keyword or phrase - in this case "swimming lessons".
In a traditonal auction, the highest bid wins. But with Google, very little is traditional. While the highest bid may win the top placement, this is not always the case. Since Google only gets paid if a visitor clicks on an advertisement and they process billions of searches per day, Google understands that the bid price is not as important as getting someone to click on as ad.
Let's say I bid $5 on "Swimming Lessons" and you bid $4. I win! Not so fast...
My ad says "Swim Lessons!". Your ad says "Learn how to get free swim lessons". More than likely, your ad is going to get more clicks than mine. So I get 3 clicks out of 10 (3 x $5= $15) and your ad gets 7 clicks out of 10 (7 x $4 = $28), Google will move your ad to the top because it sees that they get more revenue over time from your lower bid price than my higher bid price.
So now you see the importance of writing great ads. But Google also factors in whether or not it beleives that your landing page linked to the ad is going to answer the searcher's questions and solve their problem. So Google also scores your landing page for relevance. Why?
I see the loop hole... I only get charged if my ad is clicked on... So I have the ability to rack up millions of branding impressions at no cost if only I.... "I bid $50 on Nike Shoes!" becasue I know this term has 1.3 million searches per month.
Look at all the free branding I will receive! No one will click on my ad linking to a page about swimming lessons. You are correct. Google will look at your landing page (swimming lessons) and determine that "swimming lessons" will not solve the searchers problem of needing new Nike Shoes. So they will reject your ad. Sorry.
So SEM (Search, Pay Per Click) is a great way to build quick traffic to your website, while all your SEO strategy slowly improves your SERP results. Or, as we beleive, there is room in your marketing strategy to leverage both of these programs, allowing you to reach two different audiences for your products and services.
Are you still confused? Want to know more about these programs and how they can help your business? Give us a call, 419-776-7000, or shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thrive loves Digital Marketing.