Search engine marketing (SEM) platforms are absolutely necessary. However, there are still businesses out there that do not seem to think so. Toys R’ Us, JCPenney’s, Brookstone. These behemoths have all failed to do one thing – adapt.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Prior to search engine marketing, companies had to rely on fixed advertising budgets that focused on promoting their brand, products or services across a specific marketing channel such as radio, print or television. This is no longer the case with search engine marketing.

SEM platforms have provided a means for companies to supersede larger competitors at an actionable scale with digital advertisements. Search engine marketing allows an advertiser to purchase traffic based on a specific keyword or set of keywords on a click by click, fixed impression or pay per view basis. While this cost can add up, it still provides the advertiser with an unprecedented level of control compared to traditional advertising methods.

Search engine marketing also allows advertisers to choose how to target traffic based on an advertiser’s specific needs and budget. Companies can even pinpoint exactly who they are targeting: geographic area, age group, hour of day, actions taken on the digital property, even IP address. In comparison, this goes way beyond the targeting options traditional advertising methods have allowed.

Digital advertising guide

Digital advertising budgets are variable not fixed. They virtually depend on what the advertiser wants to spend. Smaller advertisers can test the waters on any SEM platform before making substantial investments in their marketing budgets which could potentially bankrupt them. The advertiser has complete control.

Ever since the inception of the internet we have had the ability to develop the digital world in the way we see fit. So it’s not surprising that digital advertising has evolved to provide the advertiser with the power to decide how to allocate their digital advertising dollars, down to the individual keyword or SEM feature. From these beginnings search engine marketing has evolved to encompass a wide array of targeting methods which have further empowered the small business owner to take control of their own digital marketing strategy.

Digital marketing campaign features and targeting which advertisers can implement include geo-targeting, display advertising, call only advertising, remarketing (retargeting), shopping advertising and contextual targeting to name a few. This in turn has provided the target audience with an increasingly relevant online experience when searching for products or services that they need.

Social mentions from influencers

The SEM and SEO industry continues to grow. So does the long list of networks and platforms which have developed their own digital advertising solutions to tap into and monetize their respective traffic.

Many of us probably remember the days when Facebook allowed businesses to promote their company pages for free. That quickly changed after Facebook released the Facebook Ads platform. The same is true with most, if not all, social media networks. Even Instagram influencers have become monetized. This may seem disadvantageous to the advertiser. However, traffic monetization has come with one big advantage, the ability to track digital advertising campaign performance.

Prior to SEM one of the biggest issues advertisers had was in determining the effect of their off-page and on-page search engine optimization (SEO) efforts on their bottom line. Search engine marketing has made tracking traffic possible by making it necessary for networks and platforms to develop ways for advertisers to accurately track their return on investment.

After all, why would a small business pay to advertise their products or services if they cannot track results?

Google local listing

These SEM solutions have greatly assisted small business owners because they allow them to make more of an impact on their return on investment with less advertising dollars in comparison to larger competitors.

In my experience, the problem with this model is that there are simply too many possibilities to experiment with. Just because a keyword has everything to do with your product or service does not mean clicks will result in a positive return on investment.

With great power comes great responsibility. Advertisers seem to forget that at times. There are many niches, keywords and options to invest in when it comes to SEM. However, there are also a wide range of scalable opportunities and highly accurate tracking capabilities available to the small business owner which they can take advantage of when they are ready to dive into the world of digital marketing.