#1 will be obvious. How about #2 through 17?
The Advantages of Paid Search Marketing
In an effort to constantly deliver what clients want, we’ve been monitoring and analyzing the best channels for more than 20 years+. When Seattle Organic SEO started, we felt that SEO was the strongest marketing strategy to leverage and helped many achieve their goals by exercising proper SEO. Today in 2022 (going into 2023), we still feel SEO is quite powerful, but patience is more important than ever & it definitely costs more to garner month after month organic benefits. Also, there are many more considerations to think about when working on a businesses’ SEO.
Today, we share one of the strongest marketing channels in the second decade of the second millennium: SEM. We will share a very detailed guide and comparison between SEO vs. SEM soon, but before we do, we wanted to share some of the strongest reasons why you might consider starting a Google Ads campaign or advertising on Facebook moving forward. One thing is for sure. Many eyeballs are constantly viewing these 12 websites (& their respective apps) we share in a video and the quickest way to reach them is through PPC.
17 Key Benefits of Search Engine Marketing
What is SEM?
Before getting to the benefits, we should define the acronym SEM first. Yes, it stands for search engine marketing, but if you take the three words literally, it doesn’t identify if it’s paid or free (i.e., what people believe SEO is). However, the search marketing community knows it refers to the paid aspects of search marketing. For the purposes of today’s post and to help everyone else new to the industry, the concept of it being “paid” is important. You pay for this form of marketing vs. what is the wish of most: to have it for free.
Obviously, most marketing historically was paid, but this is a key difference between SEM and SEO and as a result, the purpose behind the post. We want to make sure people understand the advantages/disadvantages of the paid and organic spaces in online marketing moving forward.
Also, we will be treating SEM similarly to PPC — in some cases, it might feel like they are the same. However, to be clear, SEM relates to search engines whereas PPC can be any advertising that is “pay per click.” Moreover, there are many forms of “paid” online advertising and as a result, PPC sometimes encompasses the other strategies as well. The main consideration for the sake of today’s points is that it is NOT organic and you must pay for the traffic or clicks.
1. Speed – Fastest Way to Reach Potential Customers
The #1 benefit of paid search and other forms of PPC marketing is speed. As we all know, time is money. And frankly, none of us have infinite amounts of time. Additionally, many of the top companies in the world win because of their ability to deliver quicker and earlier than their competitors.
Even people who want SEO benefits want it quickly. However, delivering on those needs with search engine optimization is very difficult in today’s environment. With more and more competitors hoping for the same, it can be much easier by simply paying your way to step ahead of them. And again, you can do it quickly.
Frankly, SEM is available today, this hour, this minute. You can literally set up a campaign in minutes (even though we do recommend setting it up with a bit more planning and effort). You can go sign up on Google Ads right now and set up a campaign or as one of the best PPC Management Agencies, we can do it for you. Within literally minutes, your ads could be showing up in front of your potential customers.
Much faster than SEO; you don’t have to wait for results
SEO requires Google or top search engines to even recognize you exist. Search engines need to scrape your site or they need to find links pointing to it and this can take weeks, months and sometimes, they may not even find your site due to many other issues. Basically, Google needs to have your site in their index before they can even consider you. This takes time. And we haven’t even talked about the many on page or other off page efforts you might need to exercise to improve your chances if you are even indexed.
Search Engine Optimization has always taken more time than its paid counterpart, but today, it’s taking even longer. As we mentioned earlier, the competition has increased and there are only about 10 results per page (usually) and it’s easy to do the math as the number of companies vying for the space increases.
With SEM, you just need to outbid your competitor in an auction and you can show up in 1 of the top 4 slots that Google allots. If you want, you don’t even need to show up in those top positions, but can be on 1st page at the bottom and possibly obtain decent ROI regardless. And you don’t have to wait around for weeks or months, where you might even forget that you’re trying to obtain that visibility.
The only limitations are:
- making sure you have a strong landing page for the visitor to convert
- figuring out the right keywords to target
- and deciding on the best copy to use to convince your potential customers to click
If you have these ready, you can start right now.
2. Access to Most of the Popular Sites in the World
Google is the #1 website in the world. YouTube is the #2. Facebook is #3 and MANY of the Top 10 can all be paid to garner online real estate through their search channels and each of them have the ability to display ads after someone searches. You obviously just need to pay for that real estate.
The advertising model is leveraged by many of the top websites in the world.
You don’t have to pay for impressions (even thought that is an option).
PPC stands for “pay per click.” SEM started with PPC as its main way of charging. As it literally says, you pay for the click and not necessarily for people to look at your ad. It’s a more cost effective strategy than the old days of the internet where impressions demanded a high price. However, branding isn’t the only thing companies seek. Frankly, direct ability to transform a consumer’s decision through their ads and translating it into conversions is #1. As a result, you are able to do this through most forms of SEM and PPC.
Some ad networks do require a large initial sum to advertise, but most of the major SEM ad networks offering PPC don’t have minimums beyond the amount people are willing to pay for each click (or strategy you use for your campaigns).
5. Access to the Top Real Estate Leveraging Critical SERP Features
What’s a SERP?
Before we talk about SERPs constantly, it’s important to define what it is. SERP stands for “search engine results page.” Basically, the results that are returned to you after you enter a keyword or phrase into the search box is the SERP.
What are SERP Features?
In the same vein, it’s also important to clarify what sort of results show up these days. At the beginning, google mainly just had 10 text based website results return when we looked for anything online. Over time, the results became more diverse and today, we have many different types of results that show up in Google (SERP Guides by Moz & SEMRush). And for the sake of not being overly verbose, we will use Google as the primary landscape when talking about search engines. Since it dominates internationally and is the majority of search in the United States, it makes the most sense to use our ubiquitous search engine.
Google ads space – The First 4 positions
At the genesis of google, the first and most important positions for any search were held by organic. Google had a master plan, however. They knew this real estate was prized. As a result, they slowly started with ads in the current “knowledge graph” area (to the right of the main results). And then they slowly tested to make sure people weren’t too frustrated with ads showing up in those valuable spots. However, today, the top 4 positions of any SERP are frankly allocated for Google Ads, if they deem the space would be best served for Google’s bottom line. Of course, as we’ll see below, there are other SERP features that do sometimes take up that space. With that said, they are mostly paid. And again, they are probably the most valued and mostly require payment in order to secure that spot guaranteed.
You can see all 4 spots used in our example. The search is supposedly the 4th most expensive keyword phrase today (costing some advertisers as much as $1270/click):
For ecommerce searches, Google Shopping real estate can make/break brands
Currently, (paid) google shopping results show up in 2 places:
a. Google shopping results in the traditional google ads space:
And similar to its sister product (Google ads), hey are prominent and many times catch the visitor’s eyeballs first. However, access to this is through paid means and very little of this real estate is free.
Local Service Ads
For some industries (73 of them as of 10/24/22), you will see ads even higher than Google Ads. They will be listed as “Google Guaranteed” or “Google Screened.” Again, this is through paid means. It can be paid by conversion vs. the traditional “pay per click.”
Local 3 Pack
These 3 packs have been a mystery to many businesses and even some SEOs. To garner exposure and the top position, you can pay for it through SEM.
6. Retargeting capabilities
Leveraging the behemoth itself, let’s use their words in how they explain this powerful feature:
Retargeting ads use small pieces of code placed on your website to track a new user’s ‘cookies’. Cookies are small files automatically saved on a person’s browser that store preferences and other information. This code then adds the anonymous information of the users who visited your site to a specific list that you create. Later, after a visitor has left your website, their cookies will alert Google Ads to display your most relevant ads as they browse other sites online.
You set the rules for when visitors or users should be added to your retargeting list. You also specify how long a user’s information should remain on your list. This way, you aren’t reaching out to users who aren’t ready to make a purchase or who are no longer interested in your product.
The code placed on your website is not visible to visitors and will only communicate with a person’s browser if the user’s settings allow it. Every internet user’s browser has the option to allow or disallow cookies, although disallowing cookies often means a less personalised online experience. If your website has a Google Analytics tag already, you can use this instead and skip adding the Google Ads retargeting code.
Taking these steps does not mean that your business is able to collect or view personal visitor information. Google policy requirements specify that any code placed on your website to run an Internet-based advertising campaign cannot collect personally identifiable information (PII) including but not limited to email addresses, phone numbers and credit card numbers.
7. The power of multiple networks & channels
Obviously, you have access to the billions of searches conducted monthly and this post was mainly to focus on paid search. However, through the search giant and as we’ll elaborate on more in future posts, there are many other channels you can use if you’re willing to spend. And google makes it relatively easy to include these channels in any Google ads campaign including:
The Power of Video Ads, i.e., YouTube
There are many who claim there are more searches on YouTube than even Google. I wouldn’t dispute it. The Video website is quickly rising to become the most used website and app in the world. People are lazy. They like it convenient and video delivers this to them in the most easy way.
We may soon see people simply searching on YouTube and the site possibly giving us results from Google because all the eyeballs have migrated. Frankly, the purchase of the company in 2006 was possibly the best investment any company has made in history. For only $1.65 billion dollars, they are now now generating $7.3 billion in ads in the most recent quarter.
While this is great for the search giant, you might wonder “how much does it cost?”
Supposedly some say that ads on YouTube can cost as little as $0.01 to 0.03/per view. It can also cost as much as $0.10 to $0.30 for a call-to-action. However, beyond even the views or actions, you get other additional benefits such as view count rising and sometimes people upvoting your video. These extras can lead to more organic views and upvotes along with better positions with searches on the video channel or elsewhere feeding it. As we’ll explain later, sometimes paying for ads can garner you favor on the site organically — not because you spent money, but as a result of the increased engagement through paid means.
The Power of Email Ads, i.e., Gmail
While Gmail specific campaigns went away in July 2021, Discovery campaigns still offer companies the ability to leverage the powerful site that supposedly has 1.8+ billion users in the world and has over 57.2% of the email client market as the #1 email service in the world. And within even this client, you have the ability to “search” which is one of the biggest reasons why people migrated over to this platform (in addition to it being free):
When creating new campaigns, you simply select a Discovery campaign where Google explicitly tells you it can show up on Gmail along with YouTube and Google Discover.
8. GEO Targeting Capabilities
There are multiple ways to target specific geographies including: Country, City, Region or Postal Code
For instance, let’s say you want to market to the entire United States, you can easily do so by picking the country and google estimates you might be able to reach approximately 313,000,000 people.
How about trying to market to Amazon employees? Maybe you can target their Headquarter’s city (for now). Google has even different options for the cities as you can see with the 2 options here:
You can even target around a location. Let’s say I want to target the people around Sea-Tac airport.
Google will give me options once I click on “Nearby”:
Frankly with SEO, you’re at the behest of Google and you could show up in places where you didn’t even think your post would serve any value. While it might be considered “free,” it could also potentially have an adverse impact as well.
9. Conquesting: Taking Advantage of Competitor’s Keywords
Let’s say you’re a new brand to a market. Well, people don’t know you, but they definitely know the common brands locally. So, why not leverage what they’re already looking for and potentially take over their client base? It might seem a little “funny”, but it happens every day now through Google Ads and many PPC platforms. There isn’t anything against “Conquesting” a competitor at this point.
Even well established businesses are doing it today to literally leverage their competitors’ branding. Case in point: Discount Tire Centers is conquesting 3 brands in the Orange County market: Big 0 Tires, Walmart Tires and Just Tires.
While the ads are not above the competitor’s brand, they are getting a chance to take away that customer for a lower price.
Discount Tire Centers Attempting to Conquest Just Tires
10. You can test any hypotheses
From a/b testing todifferent messaging in your copy, you are able to test quickly and effectively what works. It could take traditional agencies weeks, or months to change different ads. You can obviously target different demographics including different age groups, different sexes and different income groups. There are so many ways to test your ability to find your ideal consumer.
Testing your SEO
As mentioned already, it is VERY important to have a strong landing page that converts. However, you might think your landing page is amazing and find out otherwise. Google Ads or paid search marketing methods can tell you right away. If the conversion rates are higher or other metrics that point to be better engagement, you can verify your theories. You can also be proven wrong and having this tool within your arsenal makes you an even more powerful business.
From keywords to ads to landing pages, Paid Search truly gives you a chance to verify anything you believed (or will believe).
11. Conversions based strategies
Beyond even the ability to pay for just clicks, you are able to control your campaigns through return on ad spend. You can tell Google ads to return your money back + more. You can set the “ROAS” ( i.e., return on ad spend) to any percentage. Google will suggest percentages that they think will be optimal, but you can attempt to get the biggest bang for your buck. Of course, you have to set up conversions tracking before this works, but once it is all set up, you can literally find ways to make your accountants happy (or your investors, if you have them). More importantly, you can be happy with getting the best ROI on your ads spend.
Several other options exist for how you can have your campaigns perform which make it definitely more effective than most other forms of online marketing. You can:
- maximize clicks
- maximize conversion value
- try and lock up specific impression shares
- or even use manual strategies like the old days with “cost per click” control
12. You can leverage Google’s AI
In a similar vein, you are literally leveraging the search engine giant’s lead in artificial intelligence. Their AI is significant when you think about all the data they’ve been able to collect over the years to make predictions on behavior. They are constantly updating strategies to leverage their entire network and have even recently introduced a type of campaign that can ideally convert across all their properties called “performance max.”
The main benefits today leveraging their AI include:
- dynamic ads
- budget control
- bidding automation
- A/B testing
13. Beat your frugal competitors
It should be obvious, but not many people are willing to spend. It’s sometimes the “risk takers” and the folks who “invest” in potential results that win. Frankly, the game of online marketing did have some “frugal strategies” and loopholes initially, but even those cost us one of the most valuable commodities: time. Unfortunately, you either sacrifice time or money and sometimes both by not leveraging what truly can give you instant impact and the many other benefits already outlined.
It may not just be your “frugal competitors,” but businesses that don’t want to pay for clicks that could cost as much as $1,330/click.
Sometimes the cost of these keywords seem outrageous, but honestly, marketing managers and businesses don’t pay for these fees unless there truly is some form of ROI that benefits them. If it doesn’t, they turn them off or don’t use them. Google didn’t make billions simply by taking advantage of businesses. They actually set the costs low enough that businesses thrive by using these tools.
In the early days off Amazon, Bezos and the team I used to work with would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a month on Google Ads (called Adwords back then). They now spend into the millions as you can see from our post on the top spenders of google ads. However, there is definitely a reason why it’s being used: it delivers the results that even one of the most frugal men in the world would be happy with.
14. Improves your SEO
And the other thing the former richest person in the world may have predicted, but spending on Google Ads can also help your SEO indirectly — which Amazon does quite well. It’s not that Google automatically raises your rankings because you spend on their platform, but when you do spend, you give your website or app a chance to convert. You also give your web properties a chance to be tracked for engagement which google is now monitoring moving forward to see what websites and other web properties deserve organic visibility. It makes sense, doesn’t it?
If a search engine is able to tell that people “bounce” or leave a website immediately after they click it OR if they can track the results in their search engine that might have more page views or time spent on the site than others, doesn’t it make sense to give those results better positions?
There will never be an official proclamation by the search leader, but this logic is what many understand as a way to improve your search engine optimization.
15. The ability to exclude
Not only can you specifically target GEOs or specific demographics and keywords, but you can also exclude many audiences as well. You may not want to be shown for searches that are ambiguous. You may also not want to show up higher on the funnel of conversions. You may want to see conversions directly and target keywords that are lower. Why spend money on keywords that may take too much time to convert?
Negative Keywords Capabilities
You can highlight the terms you do not want to show up for. There are multiple ways of targeting keywords and at the top level, you make get keywords that google deems are close enough for a match. However, you are an expert in your business or specialty and know that specific terms just don’t work well. In many industries there is jargon that may be well known for those industries. However, there are also general terms that may simply confuse people.
These days, there are more and more acronyms and trendy terms as well. You may find some terms simply not working because they have an ephemeral impact vs. a long term one. You may want to exclude those because you know they simply won’t be effective.
You can even exclude specific areas. Recently, we were helping a photographer that caters to potentially expensive prices for some packages. So, we targeted affluent zip codes in various markets that made sense. However, we could also exclude neighborhoods that would potentially waste their ad spend. Maybe a geographic target may also have specific behavior you know is not useful for your purposes. You can exclude that area too since you know it may not help overall.
16. Mutual goals with the top online marketing company in the world
If you think about it, leveraging SEO isn’t to Google’s advantage. Fighting as hard as you can against the engineers and product managers of search isn’t a win-win proposition. If you are constantly able to beat them, Google will ultimately look like they can be taken advantage of. However, if you line the company’s pockets while still achieving your goals, it becomes a win-win.
Sergei Brin and Larry Page knew that some day the search engine would become some of the most valuable real estate. They knew that all the eyeballs which were looking for so many things — basically information — would need to stop by their ads in one way or another. They were the highway to finding anything. The company still intends to be the ultimate destination — whether it be maps or the regular communication you have with friends via emails. When Google becomes the drug everybody needs to simply survive, they can charge us for any ad space they integrate into these utilities.
Until someone builds better dependencies for society, it’s best to learn how to use what is one of the most ubiquitous corporate entities in the world. If they are the main way to honestly promote anything, why not simply partner up by using their platform?
I truly wanted SEO to be one of the most cost efficient drivers for our clients. However, over time, I simply realized it’s VERY CHALLENGING to beat an 800 lb gorilla.
Does it mean you give up on SEO? No. However, if you want a quick driver for visibility or a complementary one, then SEM & PPC are good options.
17. It can be free up to $10k/mo – if you’re a non-profit
From the horse’s mouth:
From the local food banks feeding our neighbors to the international aid organizations responding during times of crisis, nonprofits are crucial to our communities.
Through Ad Grants, Google provides nonprofits up to $10,000 USD per month of in-kind search advertising. These ads appear next to search results when people search for nonprofits like yours. Since 2003, we have awarded over $10 billion in free advertising to over 115,000 nonprofits across 51 countries.
Digital marketing can help nonprofits reach audiences at scale, with highly targeted, measurable solutions that deliver on goals nonprofits care about: awareness, donations, and volunteers.
With the help of technology, we believe every nonprofit can grow online.