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Finding the Role of SEM in Your Business

The question is often asked by any size of business: “Where should I put my marketing dollars?” At least one of the answers should be SEM. SEM (Search Engine Marketing) in 2019 is almost a default effort that every business needs to employ to be successful in the digital space.

That is not to say that your business should go willy nilly into the world of SEM without a plan, a direction, a set of goals, and other KPIs to ensure that you are spending your money wisely. After all, to any business owner, every dollar is important. Ensuring that the money you are putting out into the ether is bringing money back in is of the utmost importance. Fortunately, through a good SEM campaign, you can more often than not rest assured that you will generate some ROI.

There are a slew of reasons why these efforts are important for any business, but not all will be relevant to your business. However, if you can find the solution and the reason that fits your needs, that is always a good start.

Immediacy: You can start a campaign right now and start getting results the next day! This isn’t always the best route, as there should be planning and discovery that goes into any marketing effort, but if you are looking to generate more traffic, gain more brand awareness, increase the number of leads in your funnel, and more, you can quickly generate a successful campaign (with proper planning) and get moving!

Brand AwarenessIn the realm of search, you can never be certain what your competitors are going to do. Outside of regularly checking your own brand name in searches, you can ensure you stay at the top of the results by bidding on your brand. Usually, the cost is low, because your name will have fewer searches and competition than most. Searchers will also see your name at the top of the list if you include it in the ad copy, increasing awareness and association with your product or service. It is always good to be front of mind to your users.

Search Intent: When using any SEM platforms, you are gaining data on what your users are searching for. You can look in detail at the search terms that are generating clicks and conversions for your ads, which in turn shows you the search terms that people are associating with your business. This can drive more marketing efforts through your site, from new static web pages to blogs and videos that you can create on your site. It really opens up a new world of opportunity.

Mobile: By now, nearly everyone knows the large market share that mobile search has, which is propelled even more by the rise in voice search. As these numbers continue to go up, it is important that you find your users where they are. With the smaller size of the mobile search engine results page, it is important that you stay near the top. This can be accomplished with a good mobile SEM campaign, keeping you relevant to both desktop and mobile users.

Localization: Nearly all search, especially when it comes to Google, is targeted to the area surrounding the user. More and more, people are searching for terms like “near me” or “in INSERT CITY” to generate searches that are more relevant to them. This isn’t surprising, as searchers get smarter about finding the things they need and the search engines get smarter about delivering those local results. With an appropriately targeted SEM campaign, you can target the specific areas that your users are in, target relevant local search terms that your users are looking for, create ad copy surrounding those specifics, and generate more quality leads!

Small Budgets: As a business owner, especially if you’re just starting to delve into an SEM campaign, you don’t have to blow everyone out of the water with a $10,000 budget. Budgets of all shapes and sizes can be catered to and manicured for success within any campaign and as that campaign generates success and growth, it can grow with you. Don’t get scared by budget numbers.

As for which platform you should use to start your SEM efforts, Google is the general default. This makes complete sense since it dominates the search market, but there are other platforms out there you can test to find your audience and meet them where they are. Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you take the time to do your research up front, determine your goals of any marketing effort, and make the commitment that you are going to spend the time to try to make it work. If you half-ass your marketing efforts, especially when it comes to SEM, you can expect results accordingly.

Take Advantage of the Holidays With Shopping Campaigns

The golden era of Black Friday shopping and sales has passed. Over the past few years, the Black Friday mega sales that have been a staple of brick and mortar businesses for years have dropped precipitously, being replaced by online sales, Cyber Monday, and more and more businesses trying to get a competitive edge in their industry. Anymore, Black Friday starts weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday, especially online. So what can you do to take advantage of this trend?

With more platforms finding new ways of advertising and selling products online, providing your customers with opportunities to buy your products around the holiday season has become easier. New ways to sell are constantly popping up, providing early adopters more opportunities to find new market space for their products and connect with more users than their competition. Amazon, Instagram, Google, and more have all continued to push the envelope for online sales and advertising.

  1. Amazon: Clearly, Amazon is the elephant in the room, but the difference is, EVERYONE can see it. Recently announcing its second headquarters, connecting with more payment platforms and rewards programs, and taking more market share for online advertising than ever before, Amazon is continuing its not so slow march toward world domination. You can advertise and sell your product directly through Amazon, figuring out shipping logistics and distribution along the way, or you can advertise on the platform and send people to your ecommerce solution to purchase form there. Either way, there are going to be plenty of eyeballs to attract over the holiday season, and you don’t want to miss out on these opportunities.
  2. Instagram: Instagram just recently unveiled new shopping features for its advertising platform that will enable companies to capture more hearts and minds of their users. The new features include an option for users to view the products that are shown in a video they are watching, allowing them to purchase some of their favorite products from the media that is right in front of them. With the increase in video consumption almost daily, this a great opportunity for companies that are able to produce video of their products regularly.
  3. Google: The behemoth that is Google continuously provides advertisers the ability to advertise their products through the Google shopping network, enabling companies to target users using the already robust Google Ads platform. Especially for those that are already using Google AdWords as a way to reach their customers, this is an easy space to include a new shopping feed and take some more market share while selling more product.
  4. Facebook: Even with some of the issues that Facebook has had in recent months, ad revenues for companies continue to run and be a viable opportunity to sell products and services to its users. When considering that that Facebook user demographic is getting older, those are the users that have some disposable income, have children, grandchildren, and are potentially using Facebook even as a way to search for and research products amongst their friends and family. Have a Black Friday deal you want to send to those that have visited your website but didn’t purchase? Consider using Facebook remarketing campaigns to bring them back around and complete that sale.

There are certainly more things to consider during the holiday season to ensure that you are able to maximize sales for your user base. More users than ever are searching for products and services through voice search, whether through a device like an Amazon Echo, Google Home, or just their smartphones. If you are not focusing on the appropriate search terms for your advertising purposes and creating mobile-centric ads, you could very well be missing a load of opportunities.

Need help with your business plans? RPG can help. >>

Google Medic Update

Around August 1, 2018, Google rolled out what it has been calling one of its many core algorithm updates. Initially title the “Medic” update, many SEOs and industry professionals were noting that many healthcare and health-related websites were the most affected by the update. However, looking at some of the indicators and trends, it looks as if this was an entire search change and has affected companies across a multitude of different industries.

First, just to stick with the theme of many other Google updates that have had names (i.e. Panda, Hummingbird, Penguin, Pigeon), I feel like this should really just be called the “Serpent” or “Snake” or “something similar to the medical field and the logo associated with that industry” update. Why we just decided to be boring and uncreative (I suppose SEOs are often both of those things…) feels lazy. Come on everyone, we’re better than that.

Second, this has very clearly affected more than just the healthcare and health-related industries. We have seen rankings fluctuating across all industries. According to the Google team, there is nothing in particular to “fix” for this core update, but it is just an overarching quality update to give credit where credit is due to websites that have been doing the right things. Does that mean there’s nothing you can do to either get some of those rankings back or to make an even large positive trend?

Of course not! With the continued focus from Google and the other search engines to deliver their users the right content in the right place at the right time, the quality of your content and marketing efforts online are more important than ever. Gone are the days of producing content in bulk. You need to ensure that your content marketing efforts revolve around being unique, giving your users what they want, answering questions that your users didn’t even know they had, and just generally putting your best foot forward. If you don’t feel good about what you’re putting out there, why would anyone else?

If you’ve noticed that you’ve lost some spots in the SERPs or seen a slow down in your organic visits, check to see if you’ve been affected by this latest update. Don’t sit still and hope for the best; get to work! If you’re lost and just don’t know where to start, contact the team at Revenue Path Group and we can help come up with a custom strategy to keep your company moving forward!

 

What is Mobile-First Indexing and Why Should You Care?

Over the past few months, Google has begun to roll out an element of their search that has been a hot topic of discussion: mobile-first indexing. We know that mobile usage is having an effect on every business online, and we know that more users every day are picking up a phone or tablet to find their answers. But what does a shift to mobile-first indexing mean for your online presence, and what is mobile-first indexing anyways?

In today’s search universe, more than half of all search traffic comes from a mobile device. Mobile search overtook desktop search in volume back in 2014, and the mobile universe has not looked back. Think the next generation isn’t going to continue the trend? Google has an entire look into Generation Z and where it sees the biggest market shifts moving forward. They are getting smartphones earlier, using them more, and want you to come to them, not the other way around.

So now what?

What is mobile-first indexing?

According to Google, “Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.” Sure, nearly every website platform that exists today provides businesses with a responsive version of the site, which qualifies as a mobile version. But moving forward, that mobile version could become the primary page that is indexed and ranks, making the most beautifully, well-crafted desktop design move to a secondary focus for Google’s search algorithm.

Source: Moz.com

 

What impact will this have on your website?

In the immediate, the mobile-first indexing is rolling out only to a handful of websites. Google is testing the effect that this indexation will have prior to making it widespread, but it is going to be coming for all sites. This is not an indication that you will need to redesign your site, but you should begin to look at the site primarily from the mobile point of view. Was it designed with mobile in mind? Does all of the functionality carry over to mobile? How do your users interact with it on mobile? These are just a few of the questions you’ll want to answer.

Overall, the impact on your website will fluctuate. If you have a mobile-friendly site that exists because of the platform you used, you will likely see some negative effects on your organic value. If you designed with mobile-first intent, your site should see positive gains in organic.

What do you do right now?

Step one: don’t panic. Google is not going to be penalizing sites for having a desktop focus directly, and this is still being rolled out fairly slowly. All users will be notified via their Search Console (if you don’t have your Search Console set up, you should do that) when the rollout for your site has completed. As of now, there is no date as to when this rollout will be completed for all sites.

Step two: start making some changes. Although it will not hurt you today, you should begin to prepare for tomorrow. Talk with your team about mobile-first indexing, what you can be doing differently, and begin to focus on your mobile users. Write content that is focused on mobile search (i.e. question-based, terms using “near me,” etc…) and design in a way that will display best on mobile devices.

This will be a big shift in the way that Google operates, and the other major search engines (Bing, Yahoo) will surely follow suit. So begin planning now for the future of search, because your users are out there waiting on mobile!