Billions of people search the web every day. Search Engine Marketing (SEM for short) is how you can get your ads in front of these future customers where it counts: in premium spots on the first page of search results. You set your own budget and are charged only when your ad is clicked. This makes SEM an affordable way to reach more customers for businesses of all sizes — including yours. If you’ve seen ads appear at the top or right of search engines, then you already know what SEM is. When your ads display in these optimal, highly visible positions, your business can have an edge over your competition. Plus, most searchers only click on the first few results, which gives these premium ad spots a visual advantage to catch the attention of your future customers.
Here's how it works:
- People search online for a product or service
- They enter search terms (called keywords) into search engines.
- These searchers then find your ad If the keywords in your ad match a search, your ad appears next to or above search results on Bing or Google. Customers reach out to you You can configure your ad so that people have the option to call you, visit your website, or go right to your door.
- Now that you know the basics and benefits of online marketing and have assessed the readiness of your website, let's introduce you to Google Ads, Google's online advertising program, and make sure it's a good fit for you.Your ad can appear when someone searches for terms related to your product or service, or when they're on a website with content related to your business. How does this work?
1. Does your website have a clear, eye-catching headline? Having a distinct headline on your site is essential to helping customers quickly know that they're in the right place. This will encourage them to stay on your site longer and ultimately take an action that's valuable to you.
2. Is your site fast enough for mobile?To turn your visitors into customers, your site needs to work quickly on mobile devices — from smartphones to laptops. See how your site scores on mobile speed, and get quick fixes to improve it:
3. Does your website clearly list the benefits your customer will get if they purchase your product or use your service? When people come to your site, you want to make sure they know right away why they should stay. Make sure the benefits are scannable and easy to read; bullet points are a great way to do this.
4. Does your website feature images or video? Eye-catching media like photos, video, or graphics are appealing to customers and an effective way to engage them with your business. But don't overdo it. Too much media can cause your site to load slowly. You don't want people leaving your site before they see the most important information!
5. Is there a clear call-to-action on your site? A call-to-action is something that indicates to your customer exactly what you want them to do on your site, and how to do it. For example, a "Buy now" button that links to a transaction page, or a "Call today" message next to a prominent phone number.
When you're clear about the action you want people to take on your site, visitors are much more likely to actually take that action and bring you the business you're looking for.
6. Is it easy to locate your business' contact information on your website? Making it easy for people to reach you is a great way to build trust and increase transparency with potential customers.
Here are a few more ways to boost customers' confidence in your business:
- Include customer testimonials or 3rd party verifications about your business
- Openly share information about your business and clearly state what it does
- If you request personal information from customers, make it clear why you're asking for it and what you'll do with it
- If you run ads on your site, make sure you distinguish these ads and sponsored links from the rest of your site content
7. What's the most important thing you want people to see on your site? If someone new came to your site, would they be able to locate it right away?An easy-to-navigate website is essential if you want to convert potential customers to paying ones.
Here are a few more tips for creating a high-performing website:
- Put important information towards the top of the page - Make it easy for your site visitors to find your most important content. Make sure it's immediately visible when they arrive on the page so they don't have to scroll down to see it.
- Think about smaller screens - It's not just about the desktop computer anymore. Your customers use different digital devices, like mobile phones and tablets, throughout their day. The smaller the screen, the harder it can be for people to find what they want. Creating a website that automatically adjusts to a user's device is the best way to make sure everyone who gets to your site finds what they're looking for—no matter what device they're using.
- Make navigation simple - Keep your site clean, clear, and simple by:
- Limiting the number of navigation links
- Avoiding the use of pop-ups or other features that could interfere with navigation on your site
- Making sure your site loads quickly so people don't hit "back" before they even get there
- Quick links to more information - Make it easy for customers to find links to any additional information about the advertised product they might want. For example, a prominent "Learn more" link.
8. Does your business have an online presence beyond your website, such as a free Google My Business listing or social media site? The web is a big place, which is why your business needs a strong online presence beyond just your website. This can expand your business' visibility and help you reach more customers. If you don't have one already, create a free Google My Business listing. This will get your up-to-date business info on Google Search and Google Maps so that customers can find and connect with you, no matter what device they're using. Also, take advantage of free social media sites and services that allow you to create a page or listing for your business.
So, how'd you do? If you answered "No" to any of these questions, you might want to think about updating your website. You'll not only give your customers a better experience, you'll be better positioned to make the most of your Google Ads investment.
Keywords connect you with customers
Keywords are words or phrases you choose when you set up your Google Ads campaign. These are terms you think your potential customers are likely to use when searching for products or services like yours. By matching your keywords with the ads you create, you make it possible for your ad to show when someone searches for similar terms, or visits a website with related content.
Step right up and enter the ad auction
So how does Google Ads determine which ads should show? It all happens with a lightning-fast ad auction, which takes place every time someone searches on Google or visits a site that shows ads.Google Ads calculates a score, called Ad Rank, for every ad in the auction. Ad Rank determines your ad position and whether your ads are eligible to show at all. Generally, the ad with the highest Ad Rank appears in the top position, and the ad with the second-highest Ad Rank appears in the second position (when ads meet the relevant thresholds). You can think of Ad Rank as having five factors:
- Your bid - When you set your bid, you're telling Google Ads the maximum amount you're willing to pay for a click on your ad. How much you actually end up paying is often less, and you can change your bid at any time.
- The quality of your ads and landing page - Google Ads also looks at how relevant and useful your ad and the website it links to are to the person who'll see it. Our assessment of the quality of your ad is summarized in your Quality Score, which you can monitor—and work to improve—in your Google Ads account.
- Ad Rank thresholds - To help ensure high quality ads, we set minimum quality thresholds that an ad must meet to show in a particular ad position.
- Search context - With the ad auction, context matters. When calculating Ad Rank, we look at the search terms the person has entered, geographical location at the time of search, type of device used (such as computers or mobile phones), the other ads and search results that show on the page, and other user signals and attributes.
- The expected impact from your ad extensions and other ad formats - When you create your ad, you have the option to add additional information to your ad, such as a phone number, or more links to specific pages on your site. These are called ad extensions. Google Ads estimates how extensions and other ad formats you use will impact your ad's performance.
At the end of the day, what you pay
With cost-per-click (CPC) bidding, you're charged only when someone is interested enough to click your ad and go to your website. You tell Google Ads the most you're willing to pay for a click on your ad (called the maximum cost-per-click bid), but you could be charged less.You have control over your Google Ads budget. You decide the average amount you want to spend each day. On the days when your ad is more popular, Google Ads will allow up to 20% more of your average daily budget so you won't miss out on those valuable clicks. But don't worry, we'll lower your maximum budget on other days so that, over the course of a month, your overall spend will average out to the limit you've set (assuming your campaign runs for the full month). So now you know how Google Ads works. Now let's make sure it's a good fit for you.
Which online marketing option is right for you?
Plan on signing in to your Google Ads account at least once each week. How much time you'll spend there varies, but budget between 30 minutes to an hour per week to check on how your ads and keywords are doing, and make any adjustments to boost performance.
Just like with anything new, it might take a little extra time at first to learn the ropes. We encourage you to continue with the 2 remaining guides in this series. They'll walk you through building the right Google Ads campaign based on your goals and tracking and improving your results as quickly as possible.
Don't have the time to make sure your investment pays off? Consider trying one of these time-saving options instead:
Find a certified professional to manage your account Consider hiring a Google Partner to manage your Google Ads account for you. Google Partners are agencies, marketing professionals, and online experts who've been certified by Google to manage Google Ads accounts. There are thousands of Google Partners worldwide. You can search for a Partner by name, or search based on your location, advertising budget, or the type of service you want help with. Learn more about how to find the right Google Partner.
Online advertising lets you target your ads to the type of customers you want, and filter out those you don't That's right! When you advertise online with Google Ads, you can use different targeting methods to reach potential customers right when they're searching for your products or services. This can help make sure you're putting your advertising dollars towards reaching only the people most likely to become your customers. When you advertise alongside search results on the Google Search Network, you select keywords to help target your ads to people searching for related terms. You can also choose to show your ads at certain times of day, and specify a location and language.
When you advertise on websites that show Google ads (called the Google Display Network), you can get even more specific by choosing the age of the people you want to reach, the types of sites they visit, and their areas of interest. Connect with customers no matter where they are—on their computers, tablets, mobile phones, even in apps!Take advantage of different ad formats and features to customize your ads to your different business goals, like adding a clickable "Call" button to your ads to get more phone calls, or using video ads to showcase your brand