Search Engine Marketing
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is advertising via Pay-Per-Click (ie. Google AdWords) by bidding on the top advertising slot for specific keywords.
SEM differs from SEO because you have to pay for every click you get. If you are in a hurry and want to get sales right away, Search Engine Marketing may be worth it... but it really depends on the market keywords you are fighting over.
ie. Lets say you are trying to sell real estate in Toronto. There are a lot of real estate agents out there doing the exact same thing. The bidding is going to be high, in the range of $2 to $10 per click, and there is no guarantee that people clicking will actually buy.
However, depending on the topic you are competing for, SEM can be worth it. If the price of bidding is quite low you can get lots of potential customers that way.
My recommendation is that people test SEM out for themselves or hire a SEO/SEM expert to do it for them. The advantage of hiring an expert to do it for you is that they can carefully pick the right keywords, the right bid range, do it on a budget and provide statistical analysis.
Its always cheaper to do it yourself, provided you have the technical know-how to do it properly and aren't overbidding.
Six SEM Tips for Do It Yourselfers
#1. Familiarize yourself with all the terminology: See our SEM Glossary.
#2: Set a maximum bid of 10 cents and don't limit yourself to Search Engines, but instead use the entire network of websites for those keywords. Don't limit your PPC budget to just search engines. Starting small like this allows you stick your toes into PPC advertising and learn from it without risking huge amounts on what might be a fruitless effort on your part.
#3: Don't forget mobile advertising, especially if you are advertising your business location and want to find local customers.
#4: If your business is a specific place (ie. a restaurant) remember to limit the location diameter to 50 km.
#5: You can also bid on specific websites. (Or go to that website and ask them directly for advertising rates. Some websites allow direct linking. ie. Lilith eZine Advertising.)
#6: The more specific you are, the cheaper it will be and the more likely you are to get customers in your target audience. Create mini campaigns around specific sets of keywords.
Maximizing Your ROI
Learning how to maximize your Return On Investment can be very tricky if you are new to Search Engine Marketing. To learn how we recommend doing lots of research, experimenting with small amounts and/or hiring a professional. If you are already active with SEM, but are not getting the desired results we can help you to improve your ROI. Please contact us if you desire to set up a meeting to discuss SEM options.