Are there weeds in your SEM plan?

dandelion_GP Are there weeds in your SEM plan?

Photo: Eric Yuen

As I was weeding my garden recently, I was thinking how those pesky weeds made the garden look full because they were green. However, when you looked closer, it was just a bunch of unwanted stuff taking over my garden. It had no substance.

If left unattended, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) efforts can get like that too—unwieldy and messy. Ineffective keywords and costs may get out of hand if left unchecked.

Below are five tips to help keep your SEM on track.

  1. Keep Track: SEM is not a set-it-and-forget-it marketing effort. Depending on your SEM goals—impressions versus clicks—the campaign should be checked often to help measure success and determine pricing and structure. For example, simply adding a bunch of words to the listing without monitoring the price fluctuation, could make you miss out and cost you more. Check keywords at least once or twice per week and more often for click-thru traffic goals.
  2. Research: Before starting a campaign, be clear about the keywords to use in relation to the end result. For example, if you’re promoting a specific service for the campaign, avoid littering the campaign buy with keywords disassociated with that service. Focus on keywords specific to the goal in mind, as well as those that will be most used by searchers. Doing the research to identify those keywords is important to any campaign.
  3. Define Negative Keywords: Let’s say for example, that you are a financial services consultant. You don’t want your ads to appear when someone searches for financial services consulting jobs. So, in the negative keywords section, add “jobs” to your negative keyword list. Google’s Keyword Planning Tool offers a free, negative keyword tool to help you determine negative terms for your campaign. Ironically, this may also be used to help define good keywords.
  4. Use Features: If you’re using Google AdWords as one of your SEM tools, check out the free features tools, such as sitelinks and locations to help increase visibility and ultimately click-thru rates. Consider links to things like location, pricing, and services.  This feature is campaign-centric so the links must be relevant for all ads in the campaign.
  5. Pull the Weeds: Every campaign has terms associated with it that simply take up space, requiring monitoring, measuring, and reporting. While monitoring your campaign, turn off keywords that aren’t working to make room for the words that are working. Don’t delete them, however, so you can avoid using them in the future.

Know the difference between the weeds and substance. In doing so you’ll have:

  • Effective campaign management;
  • Reduced campaign development time because you’ll already know keywords that work;
  • Increased click-thru rates; and 
  • Improved overall campaign ROI.

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