Once you understand the difference, you can learn how to build your brand with SEM.
In the social media era, it’s critical for businesses to establish themselves as a key authority on certain topics, and search engine marketing (SEM) is one way to achieve that.
The problem, however, is that most people misunderstand the difference between search engine optimisation (SEO) and SEM. The latter simply refers to pay-per-click advertising, but how can you build a brand that way?
Monte Huebsch, CEO of search directory Aussie Web, says this is an interesting and complex question.
“In the early days of SEO, you used to be able to do stuff like put keywords in domains.”
He uses an old URL from an orthodontist that incorporated the word ‘cheap’ as an example.
“Then Google came along and said they’re decreasing the significance of domain names and keywords.”
As a result, businesses need to start building a brand that has a unique enough name that it’s instantly memorable, and then start linking to that brand.
Having a memorable catchphrase can also help. The Little Caesars pizza franchise in America uses the phrase ‘pizza pizza!’ in their television advertisements, and searching for that phrase on the internet presents the user with a purchased link to the Little Caesars site.
Huebsch says these are the types of strategies businesses need to be incorporating into their SEM techniques in order to build their brand. Businesses need to think about the types of phrases they want to rank for, or at least be associated with, and then attack those phrases with ads.
Promoting and running on these terms means you have the chance to build up your brand’s image from the searchers’ perspective, says Jeff Julian on the Digital Marketing Blog by Adobe.
“Also, if you don’t run on your own brand terms, it opens up the possibility of your rivals running on these terms and stealing your customers.”
Huebsch notes this is a long-term game that starts with building a brand outside of SEM. If you don’t have a strong enough brand, SEM won’t help as it’s simply a tool to enable people to find you.
Instead, start thinking about the brand messaging you want to convey and, once you have that confirmed, consider the various phrases you want associated with that brand. Use those to inform your SEM.
“If I say I need to blow my nose, what do I use? Kleenex. If you search on the internet, what do you use? Google. These are brands – you need to get to a point where your brand is associated with those phrases, then use those phrases in your SEM,” says Huebsch.