SEM is a huge, multifaceted field, and the precise functions of SEMs and search engines both change constantly. To keep you up to date and in the know, here are eight essential pieces of advice from SEM leaders with a proven track record of influencing the industry.
Niel Patel: Start Using Schema Markup
Niel Patel is the co-founder of Crazy Egg (the system that pioneered heat-mapping), a well-reputed industry analyst, and an influential SEM blogger. Forbes named him one of the top 10 marketing experts to follow in 2014.
Patel emphasizes “schema markup” as a powerful tool for making your search results more clickable, as it describes your content and explains how it should be displayed to search engines. Just like the h3 tag tells Web browsers to display text in a specific way, you can use schema markup tags to tell search engines which information to include in the SERP and how.
Ian O’Rourke: Get White-Hot Keyword Data
In an interview with the Haggerston Times, Adthena’s Ian O’Rourke details how important it is for advertisers to gather useful data on both their and their competitors’ performance in the SERPs.
O’Rourke emphasizes that without highly technical SEM software you are pretty much blind to your competitors’ activity, diminishing your company’s impact on your market. However, search metrics can tell you not just how you and your competitors are performing, but also where the traffic is going, who is bidding on which keywords, and when companies are submitting their bids.
Marcela De Vivo: Keep Your Links Squeaky Clean and Earn Natural Ones
Marcela De Vivo, founder of Gryffin Media and a freelance writer, recounts on Search Engine Watch how she helped a site escape the burden of thousands of trashy backlinks. The client learned the hard way that because Google is smart and getting smarter, spammy backlinks will either lead Google’s Penguin algorithm to devalue your company’s SEM or land you a manual penalty.
Remember, you can use Google’s “disavow” tool to disown any links that might be harming your rank. However, this does not have the same effect as removing the links entirely.
Once your site has a clean slate, focus on link-building by creating a portfolio of content to which users naturally want to link. Alongside collaboration with evangelist bloggers and savvy social media usage, this strategy will deliver the SEM goods.
Larry Kim: Use Click-to-Call for Mobile PPC Ads
Founder and CTO of Wordstream Larry Kim explains how click-to-call provides powerful conversion within the mobile platform. When potential customers already have their phone in hand, your website should lead them to a direct call with a company representative instead of merely linking their click to your landing page.
Kim says that calls to a company are, on average, worth three times more than a visit to its landing page — an especially relevant fact for fast-paced industries. If a customer visits your page and fills out a contact form, by the time someone at your company reaches out to them, the moment to strike may well have passed.
Barney Garcia: Write Fantastic Ad Copy
Paid media marketing manager for Vertical Response Barney Garcia highlights how fundamental it is that SEMs write brilliant ad copy.
We spend hours poring over spending and Share of Voice graphs. What we’ve found is that they’re rarely the same, and this difference often comes down to ad copy. As Unbounce emphasizes, good copy is about separating yourself from the pack, and it’s impossible to do that with the same page title as everyone else on a given search results page (SERP).
Matt Lawson: Leverage Christmas Traffic
Matt Lawson, director of performance ads marketing for Google, recommends that you optimize your PPC campaigns to benefit from rapid traffic variation during the holidays.
Because Christmas traffic changes so quickly, you should set your PPC parameters, especially your bids, on a day-by-day basis. Consider when your campaigns performed best last year and then channel your resources to your brand’s clear areas of strength.
Following this line of thinking, bidding on the right days or at the right time can lead to more money via fewer conversions due to a higher quality of traffic. Ultimately, this will result in a better return on investment (ROI) for your SEM spend.
Stephen Kenwright: Make Use of Google’s Penguin 3 Algorithm
Stephen Kenwright, head of search in Leeds for Branded3, writes that Penguin 3 takes into account your “disavow” list, as mentioned above. So if your site suffers from too many spammy links, making the effort to purge them should earn you positive results within this algorithm.
If hundreds of poor-quality sites are pointing to your Web page, going through them all to find the few gems can be a huge chore. However, tools like “trust flow” allow you to quickly assess a site’s worthiness rather than having to manually poke around yourself.
Stephanie Beadell: Combine PR and SEO
Manager of content marketing for BuzzStream, Stephanie Beadell recommends that SEMs start approaching business on a personal level to seamlessly align their PR and SEO efforts. She explains that looking at how top news sites choose their sources and then working to insert your site into this process is a great way to form relationships and build quality links.
Wouldn’t you say that all of these practices beat keyword stuffing? Following these tips will challenge your company, but also help you form relationships with important media outlets, parse through the latest data, and create the best ad copy ever, pushing you to the front of the pack in no time.