SEM Campaign: How It Is Structured and What It Is For

Intercepting new customers by leveraging organic traffic and online advertising platforms is the purpose of an SEM campaign. Find out what are the basics and the main techniques to reach the goal.

We are talking about SEM, acronym for Search Engine Marketing , or how to generate qualified traffic to a website, or to a landing page , to increase visibility and generate conversions. To plan a SEM campaign, you will need to act strategically and organized on SEO and SEA. Here’s how it’s done.

  • SEM campaigns: what are they?
  • Why is it important to do search engine marketing?
  • SEM campaign: advantages and objectives
  • Where to start to create an SEM campaign?
  • How much does a SEM campaign cost?
  • SEM campaigns: what are they?

The Search Engine Marketing is the set that includes two fundamental techniques of digital marketing: SEO + SEA . To understand and exploit SEM, therefore, it is first necessary to focus on these activities:

SEO ( Search Engine Optimization ) = these are techniques aimed at making the site more performing (SEO on page) and creating a good ‘ecosystem’ that attracts visitors and makes the site appreciated by the search engine, for example with link building ( SEO off page).

It aims to increase traffic and clicks in an organic way, with a consequent improvement in positioning in the SERP ( Search Engine Result Page ), or in the search engine results page. Tip: To get a good organic ranking on specific search queries, especially the very ‘competitive’ ones, you need to constantly use resources and be patient.

SEA ( Search Engine Advertising ) = paid campaigns through the purchase of sponsored spaces on platforms such as Google Ads, or PPC ( Pay-per-Click ) campaigns . The purpose is to generate profiled traffic to convert a set goal, such as the sale of a product / service. NB Sponsored links and paid ads guarantee high visibility in a short time.

In summary, we can define an SEM campaign as the result of the strategies implemented for organic positioning plus those for sponsored positioning.

Why is it important to do search engine marketing?

Emphasizing that the search engine is the main road to web content is a statement that in its banality explains why search engine marketing is a priority. The confirmation comes from some numbers, relating to the giant search engine in the sector: Google. In 2019 the source Similarweb.com reports that Big G was visited 62.19 billion times , grabbing 92.18% of browser searches, leaving Bing 2.23% and Yahoo! 1.6%

SEM is therefore the most effective method to exploit the potential contained in these numbers. Numbers that also contain two warnings: the competition to emerge on search engines gets higher every day; the importance of Ads campaigns will become more prominent than just organic positioning. This is why, in order to structure a good SEM campaign, it is necessary not only to make the SEO aspects, which are essential, but also to plan SEA investments capable of intercepting customers and attracting visitors in the various phases of navigation and decision-making.

SEM campaign: advantages and objectives

Once a SEM campaign has been defined and its strategic importance highlighted, we enter into the merits of its practical application by analyzing its objectives and advantages.

SEM objectives

The objectives of a SEM campaign are defined in the planning phase, so that the appropriate resources and the right techniques to achieve them can be identified, depending on the company strategies and the scope of the business. We can group them into the following macro-categories and, in logical and sequential order:

  • Visibility
  • Traffic
  • Conversions
  • Sales

SEM advantages

To identify the advantages of a SEM campaign, in which the SEA, as mentioned, has an important specific weight, let’s try to compare it to the SEO activity aimed at mere organic positioning:

Timing shorter : an effective SEM campaign to deliver the policy objectives more quickly. The SEA in particular can be managed and analyzed even in the short term, while the evaluation of SEO results requires much more patience.

More controllable variables : the search engine algorithm is constantly updated and the fluctuations on the organic SERP are subject to fluctuations that are not always predictable.

Greater range of interception : using the Ads platforms allows you to intercept leads and customers at various levels of their navigation, corresponding to the different stages of the customer journey .

Real time monitoring : analysis of data relating to clicks, conversions, time spent on the site, visitor behavior, etc. they can be analyzed in real time and allow you to adjust the shot to optimize resources, without wasting the available budget.

NB Organic and advertising are not two parallel and alternative ‘worlds’. Both, in fact, are necessary in equal measure, or almost. If you decide to contact a SEM specialist , he will himself suggest an integrated strategy in which the two elements contribute to the established result. Intercepting the target audience with organic results, relative to a certain type of needs and with sponsored results for another type of needs, is the secret to making an SEM campaign work.

Where to start to create an SEM campaign?

To plan a SEM campaign that has ambitions of success, it is first of all necessary to identify the starting points of SEO and SEA. For example, with regards to keywords from an SEO perspective, it is better to focus on a few keywords and in particular those that determine the highest volume of traffic in the sector; from a SEA perspective, on the other hand, you can work on tens or even hundreds of keywords that generate less traffic.

Also as regards the budget to invest, it is important to make preliminary assessments on how to ‘dose it’: how much to invest in online Ads and how much instead in organic optimization work? The conclusions you will draw from these analyzes must not remain static during the SEM campaign, but must be adjusted according to the monitoring metrics, among which the ROI ( Return on Investment) stands out : the return on investment equal to the revenue generated by a given investment, minus the cost of the investment itself).

Finally, another point to consider before starting the SEM campaign is the choice of the platform or platforms to use . The best known is undoubtedly Google Ads : creation of the free account, entry level in offers also suitable for micro budgets and a complete monitoring panel, make it the most popular Paid Search Platform by marketers and SEM specialists. If the user clicks the ad or performs one of the actions set in the campaign objectives, then a cost is generated for the advertiser.

We will see in the next paragraph on which parameters the cost can be calculated. Very far from Google Ads, but also always to keep in mind, there’s Bing Ads toPaid Search Platform showing ads on the Bing search engine network: There is no minimum bid to activate a campaign and different sets of keywords can be tested to optimize ROI. We have already pointed out that Big G plays a dominant role in the search engine scenario, but it is also true that the latest data relating to Bing speak of about 6 billion searches per month, globally.

How much does a SEM campaign cost?

There is no fixed cost to consider for a SEM campaign, because – as we have remarked – it consists of investments in the SEO + SEA field . We can, however, calculate a budget estimate based on the different payment systems for sponsored ads that appear at the top of the SERP. Here’s how the most common ones work:

CPM (Cost per Mille): This is the most popular cost scheme for online ads. The price is counted for every thousand impressions of the advertising banner, which means that for 1 € / CPM you will pay 5 € upon reaching 5,000 impressions. NOTE: Do you know how exactly an impression on Google is calculated? Each time the ad is served / displayed on a search results page, or a site on the Google Network, it counts as an impression .

PPC ( Pay Per Click ): this is the most used advertising method for SEM campaigns. Unlike the impression-based scheme, in this case the advertiser only pays when the user clicks on the ad link. This means that no-click views are not counted as a cost, but are still recorded as impressions .

CPA ( Cost Per Acquisition ): otherwise known as “Cost Per Action“. In fact, it is counted when the user performs a specific action on the ad and this action is predetermined as the objective of the campaign. It can refer to placing an item in the cart and completing a purchase, or downloading content, installing an app etc. and it is calculated by dividing the total PPC cost by the number of conversions achieved. This scheme allows to understand the actual economic impact of the SEM campaign in progress, or if it is convenient or not.

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Published by Abdul Rimaaz

Abdul Rimaaz business consultant is trained to advise your marketing plan. It can advise, for example, improvements in terms of your company's Internet presence, position one of its brands or implement new strategies to win customers. Being a business consultant is not an easy task and I have thought to summarize, for this entry in Business United Kingdom.

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