Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a rather broad term that often gets confused with other similar terms such as search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC).
SEM works to build traffic to a website by raising its visibility in search engines. That can be either through paid inclusion in search results (pay-per-click–PPC) as well as on-page and off-page tactics to boost a site’s appearance in organic search results (Search Engine Optimization).
It would seem obvious that an agency might try to sell these services whenever they build a new website. Yet, there are certain times when SEO is preferred over PPC, and vice-versa. Here’s how an agency can identify the need for PPC (more on SEO later).
Is the client in a highly competitive marketplace?
Theoretically, all clients who turn to marketing agencies are in a competitive marketplace. If they weren’t, then they likely wouldn’t need to hire an agency! Yet there’s a difference between “competitive” and “unique.” Being in a competitive marketplace is a great opportunity to (literally) rise above the competition through PPC. Here’s why. In competitive marketplaces, it can be very challenging to organically improve a site’s ranking in organic search. There are many factors that can contribute to a site’s ranking, some of which a company can control and others which it can’t.
By engaging in PPC, clients can quickly elevate its visibility in search engines (as well as other websites through display network advertising). However, the client should have a budget to support a PPC campaign, especially in a competitive marketplace. The same keywords
Does the client want an online brochure or a sales & lead generation machine?
If a business is not looking to convert customers through its website, then why should they pay for traffic?
Yet, if they’re looking to generate sales and leads, then PPC can be an extremely useful, cost-effective tool. Some things the client should consider:
- PPC can drive a lot of traffic. But the key is to drive qualified traffic, and that usually takes time to develop.
- The effectiveness of your ads are only as good as the effectiveness of your landing pages. It’s essential to build customized landing pages for your campaigns.
- The client may need to give something away for free in order to close the deal with the customer
How well does the client knows their customers?
PPC is not the place to go to figure out who your customers are. It’s essential to have a solid definition of your customers before starting a PPC campaign. Why? Because it’s essential to understand how people search for products. After all, it’s not what the client thinks, it’s what their customers think.
Does the client have enough budget to justify SEM?
Success in search engine marketing only comes from sustained efforts. And sustained efforts require a budget. Sometimes significant resources.
It’s a common misperception by some small businesses that Goolge Adwords–or other ad network–is an affordable place to market their business. And they’re right, when comparing the costs of Adwords to, say, buying a television ad. However, that doesn’t mean they will get something for nothing. Unless you’re in a very niche market, long gone are the days where you will spend less than $1 for a click. And, if a client wants more than one lead per day, the client should expect to pay a bare minimum of $500/month.
Additionally, it’s essential to develop landing pages that match your ads. Too often, a company will spend money on ads, but will only send potential customers to their home page. And too often, that home page is not equipped to handle that traffic.
Ultimately, it’s essential to pose these questions to the client to determine if PPC is right for them. While it’s not always a good match, with a little bit of common sense, a smart agency can find ways to integrate PPC into their arsenal of tactics that help their clients reach a competitive edge.