SEM Secrets Only the Experts Know
Roughly 60 percent of all Internet users rely on search engines to help them find information, which translates into literally billions of searches per day. Google alone processes an average of 40,000 searches per second. Getting your website in front of targeted viewers based on their search queries can definitely boost the amount of traffic your website receives, which in turn can generate more leads and sales. The core concept of SEM (search engine marketing) is learning how to leverage both paid and unpaid methods to increase the amount of traffic coming to your website. This carries a relatively steep learning curve if you’re not well-versed in the SEM tactics that professional search engine marketers use. Below are some simple yet highly effective tricks that the experts regularly employ in order to gain a competitive edge.
- Your ad headlines must be eye-catching. This is one of the most important points to remember. The entire conversion process starts with a click, and if you don’t have an attention-grabbing ad headline, your click-through-ratio (CTR) will be poor, which will result in higher click costs. Use dynamic words that carry an imperative such as “Stop”, “Get”, “Find”, etc., in your ad headlines in order to attract more clicks.
- Speaking of ad headlines, take advantage of Dynamic Keyword Insertion, which inserts the user’s search query into your ad headline. This is a proven CTR booster.
- Segment your ads into various groups based on keywords or themes. For example, if you’re selling a weight loss product, you may want to attack it from a couple of different angles such as “Lose that baby weight” (for new mothers) or “Lose weight for your wedding day” (for brides-to-be). Setting up different ad groups for each theme will help you better track the performance of each idea so that you can learn what resonates best with your audience.
- Test different button colors and sizes for your landing pages. Believe it or not, these small factors can make a huge difference in your conversion rates. Different colors evoke different emotions, and different button sizes can improve or hinder visibility. You would do well to split test different button colors to determine what types of button colors convert best with your audience. Big call-to-action buttons have been repeatedly proven to work better than smaller ones, and they’re easier to use for mobile visitors as well.
- Start your bid amounts high, even above the suggested bid, at the beginning of your campaign. This will increase your CTR off the bat, improve your click pricing and boost the quality score for those particular keywords. You can then gradually lower your bids.
- Analyze your keyword list and make sure that every match type (i.e., broad, exact, phrase, etc.) for every keyword is present on that list. As your campaign goes on, you can assess which match types produce the most impressions, and you can purge the non-performing match types.
- One of the most effective and yet overlooked SEO tricks in the book is to add ALT tags to all of your images. Technically speaking, the phrase “ALT tag” is actually a shorthand term that means “the ALT attribute found inside the IMG tag in your site’s HTML code.” The ALT tag provides an alternative text to display on your web page in case the image does not display due to a broken link, missing file, etc. Use a keyword rich description of the image in every ALT tag; you’d be surprised how many times your image will show up in Google’s “Image Results” for search queries that relate to your image.
- Run a tighter daily budget, even if you have decent headroom. This will help you gain better control of your budget, and in many cases, it can actually reduce your cost-per-click (CPC).
- Page load speed is critical but often overlooked. Slow page load times on your landing pages will equal a lower quality score, which can increase your click costs. Your landing pages should be cleanly coded and free from cumbersome scripts or heavy animation. In addition, use lower-resolution image files to decrease their size, which will boost your page download speed.
- Use sitelinks extensions in your ads; they are an amazing CTR-booster.
One of the main things to remember about SEM is that it will require a certain degree of experimentation and testing in order to find the sweet spot. The experts became experts by being willing to do more testing (and failing) than the average marketer would be comfortable doing. The SEM best practices listed above will definitely boost your SEM campaigns, but the best results will come by committing to a being a lifelong student of search engine marketing.
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