How SEM Efforts Can Boost Your Ecommerce Business
Feb 17 2022
Ecommerce businesses devote time, expertise, and other precious resources to establishing a reputable online presence. With the right search query, people can discover your business’s products or services — but pinpointing the right search query can be a challenge. Every person searching online is bound to interpret the same need differently. Search engine marketing (SEM) can help lead all those different people toward the same destination: your ecommerce site.
SEM combines the monetary boost of paid ads with the strategy of search engine optimization (SEO) to create an essential digital marketing tactic. Continue reading to learn why investing in SEM is essential to building a digital foundation for your online business.
Search Engine Marketing Facts and Figures
Before evaluating your business’s SEM efforts, it’s important to have a general understanding of current paid and organic search performance.
In 2021, cost per click prices rose across several retail categories for Google search ads.
Organic search makes up over 50% of total web traffic, while paid search accounts for approximately 15%.
Recent data shows nearly half of all Google searches in the U.S. result in zero-click sessions, with only 3.83% of searches resulting in paid clicks to non-Google-owned websites.
Combine increasing competition from organic search with the rising cost of paid search, and it’s apparent that businesses should prioritize both SEM and SEO tactics to ensure future success for their ad strategies and, ultimately, their companies.
The Benefits of SEM Strategy for Ecommerce Sites
Nearly every type of business can benefit from an SEM plan, but this digital marketing strategy is especially important for ecommerce businesses, particularly those without a brick-and-mortar presence to supplement their sales. Consider the following benefits when deciding how to approach SEM improvements.
Establishing a positive brand image. PPC ads (a key component of SEM) might be the first interaction someone has with your company, so a good first impression is key. Paid ads appear before organic results on SERPs; this means a good ad can set a positive tone for your brand early on in a customer’s purchasing journey.
Prime positioning for motivated buyers. A properly optimized paid ad will appear to people already looking for the product or service you provide — i.e., those all-important bottom-of-funnel customers. With the right keyword choices, your ad has a better chance of appearing in transaction-related search queries, guiding more potential buyers to your site.
As mobile searches become more prevalent, getting the top paid spot in SERPs becomes more crucial. Certain devices may only show two or three results on screen before scrolling; you want your business to be at the top of the list.
More control over how your site competes. Paid search is competitive, but it’s not as competitive as organic search because there are fewer players in the paid space. Even if your ad budget is small, you’re still not competing for organic traffic, which is harder to capture because so many other sites are vying for attention.
What will boost your SEM strategy is optimization. Choosing the right keywords and aligning ad and landing page strategy with your SEO efforts is the difference between simply paying for clicks versus budgeting wisely to actually convert your ideal customers.
Tips for Strengthening Your SEM Strategy
Even though SEM is a paid strategy whereas SEO is targeted at organic search traffic, both require optimization. Luckily, you can (and should) use SEO research to inform your SEM game plan.
Creating campaigns in Google Ads is a great place to enact SEM tactics. In your next Google Ads campaign, create relevant, highly focused ad groups by designating different KPIs to separate groups. This will be extremely helpful when measuring ROI, monitoring how well the ads perform, and noting which messages resonate best with your audience.
The success of each ad group depends on your keyword selection. Select a mix of long- and short-tail keywords to cover the full extent of the buyer’s journey. (This list should align closely with keywords used in your SEO strategy.) Focusing on long-tail keywords might be more effective for teams with small budgets, as queries with your long-tail keyword selections are more likely to contain transactional terms and search intent. Online keyword research tools, such as options from SEMrush and Google’s Keyword Planner, are great for getting started.
Set the maximum amount you will bid on your chosen keywords. Note, however, that having the highest bid won’t always “win” Google’s ad auction; the ad’s quality and relevance play a role as well. Refer to Google’s Quality Score tool when designing your ad to understand how Google uses different factors to determine which ads will appear in SERPs.
As with any digital strategy, monitoring campaigns, measuring results, and optimizing based on your findings will help your team refine marketing efforts for even better ROI going forward.