It is important to understand two things when embarking on your own Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaign. First, the search engines are all about making money and will gladly help you spend your marketing budget in a way which benefits them the most and not necessarily look after your best interest. Secondly, the search engines are about offering relevant search results as without relevancy they would have no users.

While most search engines have taken on a public position similar to “church and state” in separating their PPC business lines with their organic search group, one can simple read their annual reports to gain insight as to which side of the house their income in being derived from.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is nothing more than an online advertising/marketing campaign. One in which you pay the search engine for every click which materializes by the searcher. Understanding how the PPC bidding process works is a key factor to your online success. Not only will every keyword or keyword phrase be priced differently, but the competitive landscape also influences the price of keyword clicks as well as your desired page position. Let’s take a look at some of the do’s and don’ts of search engine marketing.

search engine marketingSearch Engine Marketing: Best Practices

Research which keywords to use for your search engine marketing campaign – Besides documenting the obvious keywords first which make sense for your property, go ahead and visit your competitors’ websites. On the home page of your competitor’s website, click on “view” in your browser’s tool bar and scroll down to “View Source”. This will open up a new browser window on your screen which will show you the website computer code for your competitor’s home page. Next, look for a line of code near the top of the screen which is titled “keywords”. That line of text will show you which keywords your competitor is marketing themselves on via their organic search optimization efforts. Researching your competitor’s keywords will help you to fine tune your own list of keywords for your PPC program. Another good resource is to use Google Keyword Tool, which is found at This tool will help you find hundreds of relevant keywords for your PPC campaign. These keywords even include misspellings of popular keywords. Looking over your website server logs will also provide you with some insight as to which keywords your visitors are using to find your website.

Bid to be in the top 3 search positions – The search engines have found more ways to spend your online marketing budget by syndicating their top listings to their network of third party search engines. So if you want your listing to appear on other search engines, it’s best to be positioned in the top 3 listings…which will cost you more on a pay per click basis of course. Bidding to be in the top 3 positions must be done in a very targeted manner to gain the most value. Again, stay away from highly generic terms but instead target long-tail keyword phrases.

Search Engine Marketing: Practices to Avoid

Don’t pay the most per click just because you want to see your brand in the number one position all the time – As mentioned previously PPC is mostly a bidding game, with the top rankings going to the highest bidder. So while it may make sense for you to bid top dollar for your company’s name on Google, it doesn’t make any sense to bid as aggressively for generic terms. Doing so will certainly cause you to exhaust your PPC marketing budget in no time with irrelevant click throughs, which the search engines will happily send your way.

Don’t send users to your homepage  – If you’re paying for search engine marketing make a relevant landing page on your website which provides content relevant to the search term. This extra step will go a long way towards increasing your online conversions from click to customer.