Search Engines Don’t Give Out Participation Trophies

Many organizations know they need a larger presence on search engine result pages, but there are many misconceptions about what it takes to get there. One of the strategic pitfalls many face is struggling with their own organic search presence. This usually happens because their website is on the second or third page of Google and it’s a well-known fact that less than 10% of people advance past the first page of a Google search. And while organic rankings are important to a website, it takes time, and the client’s website is not going to be in the top five Google search by next week.

What can really offset lower organic rankings, or reinforce first-page organic rankings is search engine marketing (SEM). SEM is a form of internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages primarily through paid advertising. Now, you might be asking yourself why you should pay to be on the first page when you could use SEO to work your way there. There are several reasons for this.

First, making your way to the front page of Google using SEO is hard, especially if you have a lot of competition. Suddenly you are trying to out-rank each other, and some of your larger competitors have the advantage of more inbound links and more traffic to their site, which gives them higher rankings with search engines. Also, the newer you are, the harder to compete because they have simply had more time for Google algorithms to work with their website. Secondly, search engine algorithms are constantly changing and the way your website is coded, designed and the content on your site all play major roles in how well your site will rank. SEO becomes very time consuming with no guarantee of the results you want.

It’s not to say you shouldn’t try to get better rankings organically. In fact, the most successful SEM strategies happen when a website has both organic and paid results on the first page. SEM is an opportunity to make up for shortfalls your site might have in organic listings.

We’ve talked a little bit about the basics of SEM, but let’s focus on what we really came for – why you should use SEM for your business. There are four main points to have SEM as part of your digital marketing plan:

1. SEM drives targeted traffic. Visitors have made their way to your website because they have used keywords relevant to your business. So you know they are already interested in what you provide, which makes them a more qualified lead.

2. SEM is cost effective. Because SEM is so targeted and you reach such a large audience, you get a much larger ROI for the marketing dollars you spend. Not only that, but you are able to actually measure your conversions. With a television ad, you have no idea how many people decided to use your services or purchase your product because they saw your commercial. With SEM, you have hard data that allows you to refine your marketing efforts, boosting your ROI even more. Plus you’re only paying when someone clicks on your ad.

3. Everyone is using it. Let’s just be realistic for a moment. Your competitors are using SEM. That’s just a fact. If you want to be competitive in your market, you have to beat compete with them on the platforms where consumers are spending their time. SEM can be a valuable tool to give you the leg up you need to take your business to the next level.

4. It’s where the most engaged consumers are. If someone is ready to research or buy, then they are using search engines as a tool to shop.

Like any marketing tool at your disposal, SEM isn’t the ultimate saving grace for your efforts. However, it has proven to be a powerful channel for organizations that apply the right strategy and resources.