Part 3: SEM/PPC – Let’s Talk Terminology

Lure Creative is a full-service marketing company in Kansas City. We help small to medium-sized businesses Get Found & Be Known. In our adventures, we’ve found that many small to medium-sized business owners have questions about marketing, marketing budgets, and just what it takes to grow their business in this digital/online world. We have answers! So we decided to try to answer some of those questions in an ongoing series of blog posts. Part 3 of our Small Business Marketing Questions Answered series, we’re focusing on a common question: Do I Need Search Engine Marketing (Pay-Per-Click/Google ads)?

SEM – Let’s Talk Terminology

First of all, let’s clarify a couple of things. SEM (Search Engine Marketing) started out as  a broad term that encompassed both paid (PPC) and unpaid (SEO) marketing. Originally called “search engine marketing,” the shorter phrase “search marketing” is now often used as the umbrella term over SEO and SEM. The longer phrase “search engine marketing” is now typically used to describe paid search activities. Also, Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) is the Google-owned platform that provides the service of running PPC ads which is why you may hear PPC ads referred to as Google ads. Whew, now that we’re all on the same page, let’s dig a little deeper into SEM.

What Is Pay-Per-Click Marketing?

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads show up in search engine results and you pay each time a user clicks on an ad – hence the name. What you pay depends on the competition for specific search terms. Higher-volume terms will have a higher cost per click. The nice thing is that you don’t have to pay for just displaying the ad – only when someone clicks on it.

A Combination of SEO and PPC Is Usually Required
Both SEO and PPC strategies can be very effective, which is why most companies we work with use a combination of both. Both SEO and PPC show up in search results. They both revolve around the language that people use to search for content and they both and both share the goal of driving traffic to a website or landing page. 

But SEO is a long game that may take six months to a year before generating steady results. PPC advertising can be used to get immediate results because you can get very specific about the demographics you want to target. As soon as your ad goes live, you can start bringing in leads. 

Put simply, SEO is “free to join,” while PPC is “pay to play.” That being said, we should also mention that while SEO is “free”, a comprehensive SEO strategy requires an investment in content creation, ongoing optimization, and regular monitoring and tweaking. 

Used together, these two tools can help businesses achieve both short and long-term business goals. But both are at the mercy of Google and their ever-changing algorithms, so they must be constantly reassessed and reviewed so they remain effective. 

So When Should You Consider Investing in PPC?

Many times, target keywords are so competitive that it would take too long to get to the top of a search engine results page using purely organic strategies. That’s when it may make sense to essentially buy your way to the top. This makes sense if you’re  looking to promote time-sensitive offers (discounts/sales), a new product/service or new location.

One more thing – PPC can only bring people to your website/landing page. Converting them is another hurdle. You must understand your target buyer, know what kind of message they’ll respond to, etc. to get actual conversions.

If you decide to dive into PPC advertising, we recommend you don’t rely on yourself or someone who “knows a little bit about SEM”. You may end up wasting a lot of money. 

We hope this helps you to understand and see the value of PPC when it makes sense. It can be a valuable tool to bring in leads quickly and we rely on it to do just that. If you’d like to learn more, or need help with a strategy, please feel free to contact us at Lure Creative. We’d like to be your marketing partner and help you Get Found and Be Known.