How To Buy Your Way To The Top Of Google

In the online version of the tortoise and the hare, the hare wins too.

You’ve no doubt heard the tale of the tortoise and the hare.

Tired of the hare’s arrogance, the tortoise challenges him to a race. Not surprisingly, the hare gets off to a flying start, leaving the tortoise trailing far behind. So confident is the hare that he will beat the tortoise easily, he decides to take a nap at the midway point. Meanwhile, the tortoise continues to make slow but steady progress and eventually passes the napping hare and heads towards the finish line. By the time the hare wakes up, it’s too late. The tortoise has won the race.

The online marketing world has its own version of the hare and tortoise race, with Search Engine Marketing or SEM playing the part of the hare, and Search Engine Optimisation or SEO the role of the tortoise.

The big difference online is SEM and SEO can both be winners because they are running different races, albeit with identical prizes in the shape of increased traffic to your website.

SEO - steady as she goes

You can think of SEO as the distance runner, the marathon man. SEO is in it for the long run. It takes time to see the fruits of your SEO labour, but the traffic it produces is free. What's more, its impact can be long-lasting. SEO done now can pay dividends for months, even years, to come.

SEM - run rabbit run

SEM is best suited for shorter races, particularly sprints. It's more Usain Bolt than Mo Farah because its impact is instant. You pay your money and see immediate results because you are literally buying your way to the top of Google's search results pages.

When you search for a product or service via Google, for example, the top of the results page is reserved for paid for advertising in the form of Google Ads. The same is true for other search engines like Bing and Yahoo, both of which offer paid advertising slots under the name Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads).

This gives a business paying for one of those advertising slots a massive advantage over their competitors who don't. The obvious benefit is you are at the top of the page and so a potential customer will come across you first. But it's so much better than that. Your ad appears at precisely the moment that potential customer is looking for your product or service., making SEM the ultimate form of targeted advertising. And remember, you only pay for that ad if that potential customer clicks on it and goes through to your website.

The downside is that traffic generated by SEM is never free. You are paying for every single click. That's why it is often called Pay Per Click advertising (PPC). And when you stop an SEM or PPC campaign, it's like turning off a tap. Your ad no longer appears so nobody can click it. The traffic you've been paying for stops immediately.

When it's best to back Search Engine Marketing

Since both SEO and SEM can drive more traffic to your website, it makes sense for most businesses to use both.

Here's when we believe SEM should definitely be part of your marketing arsenal.

  • When you have little or no presence in Google's organic search results, paying to appear on Google is your best option. This might apply to you if you are a startup or are just establishing an online presence, or if you are just beginning to use SEO. By using paid search, you'll show up immediately.

  • When you operate in a very competitive market, Google Ads is a must. If your competitors are paying to be at the top of Google, you'll need to join them to beat them.

  • When an unexpected opportunity arises, paid search can allow you to cash in immediately. Suppose every kid suddenly wants a Red Widget for Christmas and you just happen to have a stock room full of them. You can bet your last advertising dollar that parents will be Googling for suppliers of Red Widgets, and Google Ads will put you right in front of them.
  • Here's how Google Ads works

    Google Ads isn't the only PPC offering out there, but it's definitely the biggest, and it will give you a good idea how SEM works.

  • 1. Decide on a goal. Every advertising campaign must have a goal in mind, and PPC is no different. It might be to drive more traffic to your website, but it could also be to get more people through the doors of your bricks and mortar shop, or to get more customers to call you. Or you may simply want to increase brand awareness.

  • 2. Decide where you want to advertise. You get to choose where your ad gets displayed. You can target a global audience or a national one, but most small businesses will want to target their local market. Google Ads lets you do precisely that. You can set your ads to display only in a certain region and even within so many miles of your business.

  • 3. Create your ads This is where you get creative. And remember Google Ads aren't limited to words. You can use images in display ads and even video (when advertising on YouTube, for example).

  • 4. Set your budget You stay in control of your ad spend by setting a monthly budget. You can also adjust this budget up or down as necessary and pause advertising if you wish to.

  • 5. Go live! Your ads will appear when people search for your goods and services via Google. You can also choose to display your ads across Google's vast network of partner sites.

  • The beauty of SEM is that you will be able to track which of your ads, keywords, and placements are providing the best returns, allowing you to adjust your campaign accordingly.

    Click fraud and how to prevent it

    One major concern that SEM clients have is click fraud.

    What is stopping a competitor repeatedly clicking on your ads and costing you money?

    Or what is preventing a website owner repeatedly clicking your ad to increase his or her revenue when you advertise on a Google partner site?

    Google and the other PPC networks do have anti-fraud measures in place and they do refund advertisers for clicks that they deem invalid.

    There are also other measures we take on behalf of clients to minimise click fraud further. For example, we can exclude clicks from high-risk countries. Fraud protection software can also be deployed to provide an additional level of security.

    Brandwise and SEM


    To find out more about how we can help you both plan and manage your SEM campaigns, let's get together for a no-obligation chat. Click the button below, fill in your details, and we'll get that arranged.

    How To Buy Your Way To The Top Of Google

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