10 SEM Rookie Mistakes that You Might Be Doing Right Now

By Arline Ramirez on April 04, 2017
Arline Ramirez

Search engine marketing is relatively easier to set-up compared to other online marketing techniques, which makes it a natural choice for businesses who want instant results. On the other hand, this same reason is why SEM can be detrimental to any marketing initiative. Any business can use paid search to advertise their wares and with the fact that PPC platforms act as an auction, makes online marketplace very competitive. Businesses who assume that they know or have misguided expectations about SEM will ultimately get outsmarted by their competitors.  

Here are the ten most common mistakes in search engine marketing:  


1. Not Understanding Your Client's Business

The main goal of any SEM campaign is getting in front of the right users at the right time. This entails a nuanced understanding of your customers and their journey as a buyer. B2B leads take much longer to convert into sales compared to B2C, so your search ad needs be highly targeted to make the most of your marketing spend.

PPC platforms enable advertisers set specific targets through demographic, geographic and intent targeting (using search queries).  So you need in-depth buyer personas that goes beyond job role and priorities.


2. Advertising to Everyone

Businesses make the mistake of casting a wider net in hopes of getting as many leads as they can. In paper, this look great. Financially, it can drain your marketing spend.

PPC platforms operate as an auction block. Regardless of whether they want to buy or not, you’re paying for every click that comes through your ad. Also if you’re using a search ad to generate leads, you still have to sift through every prospect you will get. Advertising for everyone will make this process more time consuming and tedious, which is better spent at converting qualified leads.


3. Using Broad Match Keywords

Broad match keywords, as what its title suggest, enables your ad to appear for any search query that is related to your keyword. For example, “red shoes” can also appear for "red male shoes", "red shoes for sale", and "buy red shoes".

While this may sound convenient this will lead to what we discussed beforehand - advertising for everyone. Even if they don’t have any intention of buying your product or taking your offer. This can easily lead to wasted clicks and/or unqualified leads.


4. Not Segmenting Straight SEM from GDN Campaigns

GDN and paid search campaigns can get tedious fast as you constantly need to experiment and optimize ads, so it’s crucial to separate campaigns. The most important part of segmentation is that you will be able to see the results much clearer. The conversion rates of display ads are typically lower than search ads. 


5. Not Using Negative Keywords

Apart from wasted clicks, advertisers also need to watch out for irrelevant searches. Using negative keywords will enable you to prevent search ads from showing up to the wrong search queries.


 6. Not Using Geographic Targeting

Geographic targeting provides a lot of practical benefits apart from enabling you to deliver location specific ads to users. 


7. Not Optimizing Ad Copy

Optimizing an ad copy goes beyond picking the right keywords and making a compelling offer. You also have to build a solid campaign structure, set the right keyword match type, and allocate a manageable budget. On top of this, you need to constantly experiment and test ads to maximize your results. If you don’t have any experience with SEM or haven’t had much success, it’s would be better to hire a specialist.


8. Using a Generic Landing Page

Optimizing a search ad is half the battle. The real conversion actually takes place in your landing page, whether it’s generating online sales or leads. A generic page without any compelling Call to Action will lead to wasted clicks.


9. Not Doing Keyword Research (On Page Content)

One component that that is considered when determining the quality score is landing page. Google uses different inputs to determine its relevance and one of the key component is keywords. You still need to optimize your landing page to ensure that search engines can see that it’s connected to your ad and relevant to the search query.   


10. Not Spending Time Optimizing Your Account (Set-up and Leave)

As what was mentioned before, an effective search ad needs more than the right keywords. Since paid search is easy to set-up and it operates on an auction type of system, PPC advertising is very competitive. You need to constantly experiment to edge out your competitors and get priority placement. More importantly, search queries can also change overtime. You need regular keyword research to expand and update your list, as well as identify low performing keywords.

Search engine marketing is so simple that it’s easy to get plenty of it wrong and different ways to get it right. If you don’t have any experience with paid search or haven’t had much of a success, consider getting hired help to steer you in the right direction.


Now that you know where you got it wrong, you may want a refresher to get everything right. Download our free eBook. 


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Topics: Paid Advertising

Arline Ramirez

About Arline Ramirez

After spending years carving a writing career and doing her best to ditch a shoehorned Nursing degree, Arline finally found her calling as a Content Marketing Strategist. She writes movie reviews, buy more books than she can read, listens to indie music, and loves creative stuff.

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