Taking a balanced approach to keyword bidding in SEM
In your company’s digital marketing approach, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is without question the most logical avenue for ad spend in 2024. SEM is also likely the most important factor in your company’s ability to thrive, not only online, but in person as well.
At the heart of every SEM campaign lies an intense bidding process for certain keywords. This bidding process basically dictates where and when your ads appear in search results. Now as important as these keywords are in driving traffic and potentially ROI, a balanced approach to SEM investment is crucial for any-sized company’s long-term success.
Who rules over the keyword?
To understand the argument for balance, we must first look at the current ‘arms race’ unfolding in the world of keyword bidding. Firms, both large and small (but mostly large, let’s face it), dump a lot of money into securing top placements for high-traffic keywords, often at significant cost per click. It’s important to understand that bigger companies have the edge in securing high-traffic keywords because they obviously have more ad dollars to spend.
For those who don’t understand this process in detail, a non-strategic approach to keyword bidding can lead to unsustainable outcomes where costs can spiral, and return on investment diminishes. This is mainly because of the volatility that “simply clicking” brings to the table:
Am I being taking seriously compared to the competition?
A potential customer clicked, but didn’t follow through (you pay for that).
How long will I be comfortable with this process?
Will ROI outpace ad spend?
Should I focus on organic search optimization instead?
Should I focus of other marketing strategies?
Regardless of it all, it takes money to play the game and how long you can stay in depends on your budget. If you a large company with large pockets, you’ll do just fine. However, for the small-business struggling for financial independence, the entire process can leave a lot to the imagination.
“Keyword tunnel vision”
Moreover, a non-strategic approach can also cause organizations to fall into the trap of “keyword tunnel vision.” This is where an organization puts its focus on a limited number of highly competitive keywords, which neglects the “bigger picture” where opportunities for ROI could reside.
This fixation on the competitive keywords can result in missing out on lower-cost, high-converting “long-tail” keywords which could provide substantial benefits in the long run.
Examples of “long-tail keywords”
“organic cotton baby clothes made in USA”
“gluten-free vegan chocolate chip cookies delivery”
“beginner yoga classes for seniors in Miami”
As opposed to:
“organic baby clothes”
“vegan cookie delivery”
“senior yoga classes”
Before choosing any keyword, it’s always wise to consider “who rules over the keyword,” then figure out how your organization can make a move.
A smarter (balanced) approach:
So to be clear, a balanced SEM investment strategy is not necessarily a call to spend less, but instead a call to spend smarter. It actually requires a diversified approach that factors in not only short-term gains, but also long-term growth and brand building.
- Diversification Mitigates Risk: Just as financial advisors encourage investors to diversify portfolios, marketers should also spread their SEM investments across various keywords and campaigns. By avoiding over-reliance on any single keyword, businesses protect themselves from volatile pricing and shifts in search trends.
- Encourages Creative Strategy: Facing exorbitant costs for top keywords can spark innovation in the bidding process. Smaller brands (let’s say) might be forced to think creatively about their unique selling propositions and how to leverage them within their SEM campaigns, potentially carving out new niche markets.
- Sustainable Growth: By deliberately targeting a mix of high and low-competition keywords, businesses can achieve a more stable growth trajectory. The ROI may unfold over a longer period, but the upward progress is often more sustainable than the rapid but short-lived gains from winning costly keyword auctions.
Another consideration for a balanced SEM investment strategy revolves around broader brand goals. Are we too fixated on immediate conversion ROI, or are we also measuring return on engagement? Costly keywords might drive immediate sales, but SEM can also serve to engage customers, foster loyalty, and build community – elements that translate to long-term value for a brand.
In the quest to dominate the SERPs (search engine results pages), company’s must resist the temptation to equate high costs with high value. Instead, embracing a well-rounded SEM strategy can lead to sustained success and brand resilience. By investing in a diverse array of keywords, engaging in creative ad strategy, and focusing on both short-term conversions and long-term engagement, businesses can ensure they’re not just playing the SEM game, but excelling at it.
The real victory in SEM isn’t simply paying for visibility; it’s crafting an investment strategy that delivers consistent growth, strong customer relationships, and enduring brand presence. After all, in the grand tapestry of digital marketing, a stitch in time in the form of a balanced SEM investment is truly an art.
For more insights and guidance on digital marketing strategies tailored to your organization, connect with us and let’s begin start a dialogue that will propel you into a profitable future.