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9 Small Business Search Engine Marketing Tips You Need to Know

As a small business, your entire existence can feel like a David vs. Goliath situation. You're up against major competitors. How can you compete when you have a smaller budget and fewer resources?

It's all about strategy. Being smart about your small business search engine marketing or SEM can help you gain traction without spending an arm and a leg.

That's easier said than done, though. If your SEM isn't delivering the results you want, try these top tips.

1. Consider Your Audience

When you're trying to reach customers, remember that there are real people on the other end of that search engine. They have lives and goals, and there are reasons they're searching for something related to your business.

Define who your customers are and what their lives are like. Are they young and strapped for cash? Are they homeowners with families?

With all this in mind, you can design your ads to appeal to that audience.

2. Prioritize Keyword Research

One of the most critical aspects of SEM is determining the keywords you want to associate with your ads. You need to find out the top keywords in your industry and for your audience.

Focus on specific, long-tail keywords with your audience in mind. For example, if you run a hair salon in Denver, go beyond "Denver hair salon." Research terms like "hair salons for updos in Denver" or "Denver hair salon for textured hair."

3. Don't Forget Negative Keywords

If you're new to SEM, a negative keyword is a search term that might be related to your industry but not to your business. Let's take another look at the hair salon example.

You might want to include "hair restoration" among your negative keywords. The word "hair" might make search engines think the search is relevant to you. Unless you're a unique type of salon, though, you probably don't perform hair restoration for hair loss.

This ensures that you aren't wasting money bidding on ads that have no potential to bring in revenue. When your ad appears for irrelevant searches, it also lowers your click-through rate or CTR. This can hurt your ads in the future because search engines think a low CTR signals a low-quality ad.

4. Segment Your Campaigns

With SEM, your obvious overall goal is to increase your business's revenue. To reach that goal, though, you need more specific goals to focus on.

You need to break down your SEM budget into various campaigns. You could have a campaign based on a particular product or service you offer. You could also have campaigns that target particular segments of your market, like college students or retirees.

This allows you to personalize your ads to appeal to specific people or specific needs. Your ads are more relatable to the target customer so they're more likely to click.

5. Customize Your Landing Pages

If you want successful SEM ads, you have to look beyond the ads themselves. Search engines will also base your ad placement on the landing pages your ads link to.

You can customize your landing pages for particular campaigns and ads. For instance, during wedding season, your salon can run a campaign to promote your wedding updos. Design a landing page about this specific service.

Not only will a more precise landing page help your ad placement, but it will help your conversion rate too.

6. Don't Ignore Content Keywords

When we mentioned the keywords for a hair salon above, we mentioned terms that a person would use if they're specifically looking for a salon. That isn't the only way to reach customers, though.

Consider a keyword like "is it safe to bleach your own hair." This person is asking a specific question, and chances are that when they find the answer, they'll be booking a hair appointment instead.

You can write a blog with that same topic and explain all the risks of DIY bleaching. Then, create an ad that is optimized for this keyword and other related keywords.

You don't need to avoid the general "Denver hair salon" ads in favor of more content-related keywords. You can have them as separate campaigns and distribute your budget as you see fit.

7. Remember: Quality Counts

When you set up a Google Ads campaign, your ads go through an auction each time there is a relevant search. Google determines the best ads to show the user based on two factors. One is your budget and the other is your quality score.

Your quality score is a score on a scale of 1-10 based on several criteria. That includes your ad's click-through rate, its relevance to the search, and its landing page. A search engine marketing specialist can help you with each of those criteria.

8. Modify at Every Step

A search engine marketer's job is never one. There are always ways to make your ads stronger, and the targets are always shifting.

Throughout your campaigns, track your results data like your click-through rates, website analytics, and sales. This lets you identify gaps and areas of improvement.

You also need to keep an eye on industry trends. Keyword data will shift as trends and seasons change. For the best results, you need to keep up and adjust your ad strategy.

9. Hire a Professional

If you're reading through this list and feeling overwhelmed, you aren't alone. Search engine marketing is a tricky task with many moving parts.

This is why it's so important to skip the DIY approach and hire a professional instead. SEM specialists have direct training and experience in search engine ads and how to make the most of them for any business.

In fact, you're likely to save money by hiring a professional. Instead of wasting money on ineffective ads because you're inexperienced, you can hire a specialist to make your ads effective from the start.

Using Small Business Search Engine Marketing to Your Advantage

No matter what size your competitors are, small business search engine marketing can be a game-changer. That will only happen if you do it the right way, though. The tips above are a start.

To give your business the best opportunity, contact me as your trusty SEM and digital marketing specialist today.