Don't Waste Money on SEM

Make sure your paid search strategy is worth it.

Both SEM, or paid search advertising, and SEO can be valuable search marketing strategies – here’s how we define the terms, and some advice on how to use each. But you should be sure your SEM strategy will turn into a profitable cash machine before you start funneling your money into it. Don’t waste your money: use it wisely. Consider the following…

Your audience has questions. You have answers.

Is your audience doing research or just looking for a quick buy? According to Wordstream, informational queries are hard to monetize – the best way to target your audience might be with high-quality SEO content that provides helpful, relevant information.

Think of these searches like choosing a college versus buying a textbook. When you’re choosing a college, you take your time, do your research, and pick the best option by weighing many factors. When you’re buying a textbook, you might just drop by your school’s bookstore, or Google the book and order whatever comes up first – or cheapest.

Organic search has a specific role along the customer journey. In fact, 85% of customers use the Internet to research before making a purchase (Status Labs). If you’re just looking to get your product in front of the right eyes at the right time, then sure – SEM is a great place to focus. But if your audience is asking questions and doing research, then don’t waste your money – work on SEO.

You need relevant, credible content.

Build authority with search engines (and your audience!) with quality content, a strong social footprint, and an authoritative link base – all pieces of SEO best practices. Developing valuable content has the potential to position you as a trusted expert, increase your traffic, and decrease spending.

Even if you do spend money on paid search results, SEO is still worth your time. To increase your ad quality score and rank first among paid search ads, you’ll need keywords, ad text, and landing pages of high relevance and quality. How do you get those? Integrate SEO into your strategy.

Solid SEO provides the foundation to retain and convert the traffic generated by SEM strategies (Forbes). The job of a search engine is to bring the user the best possible results. Applying SEO principles to your broader marketing strategy and all the content you create will help make YOU the best possible result. While you’re optimizing for the search engine, you’ll also be optimizing for your user.

Not to mention, part of optimizing SEO includes having timely, relevant content on your site. One great way to do this is by blogging, which helps increase organic traffic to your site – especially if your blog content is helping to answer your audience’s questions. This will take a lot of patience, but show you great results in the long run. Learn about the company that used blogging to increase business traffic by 300%.

You want to build long-term brand awareness, loyalty, and momentum

51% of smartphone users have discovered a new company or product when conducting a search on their smartphones (Google). Let your customers easily find and use your website, and give them reasons to keep coming back.

  • Improving your SEO will allow you to be found easily by your audience in every stage of the customer journey.
  • Using the right keywords helps bring in targeted organic traffic, making it more likely that the audience you reach will convert into customers.
  • Having quality content that you update regularly written in the language your audience speaks will give them a reason to trust you as a brand and return to your business.

Of course, SEO is not magic – it takes time, effort, and patience, and its success depends on many factors. Without incorporating a strategy to invest some money in your marketing efforts or depending on what your strategy is, you may hit a wall with SEO eventually.

Hitting your limits with SEO? Think that SEM might be a better strategy for you? Read about when you should stop spending time on SEO.

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