Search Engine Campaigns

To advertise on search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN, business owners specify the keywords that trigger their ads and the maximum amount they are willing to pay per click. This determines how their ad will be displayed within search engine results as "sponsored links."

The display order of paid ads is influenced by advertisers' bids and other less tangible factors such as the "quality score" of ads and the quality of destination landing pages on your site.

With nearly 50 percent of market share, Google is the most popular search advertising program, followed closely by Yahoo with roughly 17 percent of the market. As a result, most business owners will want to begin by creating and optimizing search engine marketing campaigns for Google. Thereafter, successful campaigns can be adapted for other search engines.

Search Engine Market Share December 2012

Company Searches (millions) Market share
Google sites 11,763 66.7%
Microsoft Sites 2,867 16.3%
Yahoo! sites 2,647 14.5%
Ask Network 534 3.0%
AOL, Inc. 310 1.8%
Total 17,628 N/A

Source: comScore

With Google, you can spend $10 and send your advertisement to 50 million people instantly. Marketers who jump into Google Adwords for the first time often get a crash course in street-smart direct response marketing. Too often, the result is overspending. To prevent overspending, take these issues into careful consideration when planning an Adwords campaign:

  • Use many, inexpensive keywords. It is extremely useful to find inexpensive keywords in bulk. These can be variations of your primary keyword behaviors. These terms can be tested and distilled along with your ad layout during an A-B ad split. This is another reason why more keywords is better. In essence you will discover more about your market by creating as many combinations of keywords associated with a primary keyword in a distinct campaign. Most people are bidding on too few keywords and missing the right ones.
  • Relevant ads are rewarded. Your position on the page is determined by the cost of your bid. However, the higher the percentage of prospects that click on your ad, the less you have to bid to keep your position.
  • Ads must be clicked on 0.5 percent of the time. This means out of 200 exposures, your Google Ad must be clicked at least one time. If it does not get clicked the minimum amount, Google will flag the keyword for removal and raise the minimum bid price. This means you suffer financially if you cannot write decent ads.
  • Ads are syndicated to other locations. You can deselect this feature if you so choose. Be very careful with this feature if you are bidding on expensive terms. Sometimes website owners seek out expensive high-bid Adwords in order to receive the high commissions from the Adsense click. They do this by getting their friends to click on your ad placed on their themed websites. You can avoid this fraud by choosing the kind of websites you want to syndicate your ads to.
  • Headlines should match the primary keyword. This has been proven to increase relevancy and click-thrus.
  • Provide a relevant landing page. Have many variations of your primary keyword under one campaign. Let them sort out automatically. Just be sure you know how to write ads with this method.

Yahoo and MSN attract different users, and search engines have strong brand loyalty. Yahoo is a strong favorite with 18- to 34-year-olds, while MSN and AOL have a stronger preference among the 35-55+ age group.

Work Smart

Work Smart

MSN offers one of the best tools to understanding the demographics of customers. In the research area of the Microsoft Ad Center, you examine the traffic, geography, age, gender and lifestyle of users by keyword. Within a few seconds, you would be able to find out that women age 24-35 and men age 36-50 are the most frequent seekers of information about "cheese." These individuals are often affluent and often lead a "bourgeois prosperity" or "career and family" lifestyle. What more could a marketer ask for?

Developing a search engine campaign is just the beginning. If you truly want to be successful, you must constantly refine your SEM plans.

Related Resources

Refining SEM Plans

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