(June, 2015 - Updated March 4, 2019)
Every digital marketer’s to-do list should include search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, and search engine marketing (SEM).
The relationship between SEO and content marketing seems natural -- write content that is strong, unique and aligns with your audience’s interests and search intent, optimize it, and your organic traffic should increase.
With this approach in mind, SEM can seem like the outlier, a standalone tactic unrelated to other digital marketing efforts. But a proper SEM campaign should be included in a comprehensive, robust, multi-channel digital marketing strategy. Adding SEM to your digital marketing framework enhances visibility and trust in your brand.
Enhanced Visibility, Trust and Control
SEO is all about brand awareness, but there’s no guarantee your brand will be featured on a search engine result page (or, after a user leaves your site) without help from a SEM campaign. SEM will help users remember seeing your brand, even if they didn’t click on your ad, and in return remember you.
SEO and SEM work together to optimize your brand and create trust with your users and search engines. Search engines will start to view your site and your brand as a trusted source as soon as users see your ads and click on your content.
Since Google replaced the #1 organic position on Google search engine pages with the Zero Position (and continuously updates their algorithms) it’s difficult to feel like you’re still in control. But SEM provides you more control. As long as you optimize your ads well, develop strong landing pages and set your budget accordingly, you can end up in the #1 spot, even if Google releases a new algorithm update tomorrow.
Inform Your Long Term Strategy
Most companies see SEM as another expense, but it’s not. It’s an investment in your business that could play a vital role in your digital marketing strategy. There are many different mediums you can use when it comes to digital advertising and, for most companies, they fit into two categories: Google Ads, including display, search and video ads, and Social Media Advertising. Choose the ad types that best align with your strategy. For example, if you’re trying to build awareness, a YouTube campaign might be your best bet. Alternatively, if you’re focused on a specific campaign with a clear call to action, a targeted social media adverting campaign might be best.
After you select the ad type for your SEM campaign, you’ll need to verify you’re using the best keywords and targets.
For search ads to be successful, it’s important to target the correct keywords. For example, if you have a page or section of your website that aligns with you’re a keyword grouping in Keyword Planner, it makes sense to use that as the basis for a new landing page.
Alternatively, when engaging in an engagement-driven campaign like a display advertising campaign, it’s important to ensure your target audience accurately reflects your target audience offline, while taking into consideration users who are already engaging with your content. (Google Analytics’ demographics report is great for this.)
When you integrate your SEM campaigns into your marketing efforts, you gain new insights about your audiences you didn’t have to begin with. SEM ads help you stay relevant and part of the conversation. You can also use them as a testing tool to find out the best way to interact with your audiences. Test your language, tone of voice and content topics with your PPC ads and analyze the results. Find out what works and what doesn’t, and where customer interest lies before you spend hours writing multiple blog entries or white papers on specific topics.
SEO, content marketing and SEM are not separate worlds, but related tactics within an overall strategy aimed at one thing: driving quality traffic to your website.