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5 Steps to Using Search Engine Marketing for Your Online Marketplace

Google, SEM, SEO, search engine, Adwords

Search Engine Marketing is one of the most powerful tools for increasing traffic to your online marketplace platform. While you’re working on improving SEO for your newly launched marketplace website, advertising on Google AdWords will give you a head start in reaching your audience.

While Google has provided a comprehensive self-serve guide for everyone to learn how to use AdWords, it certainly helps to know the basics and best practices beforehand so you’ll be well prepared to launch your AdWords campaign.

The Basics of SEM

What’s great about SEM is that it’s hardly considered intrusive or annoying like traditional ads. When you advertise on Google Search, customers are looking for an answer to their question, a solution to their problem, or simply to fulfill their wants and needs. Google AdWords offers a targeted approach to advertising, as you can target specific keywords, interests, and devices.

Google shows a maximum of 4 paid search slots on top of the organic results, and a maximum of 3 slots below. You ads could also show on a Google Map search — you choose where it appears and only when people are searching for the type of products or services you offer.

To test AdWords for free and download the complete resources, you first need to sign up for Google Partners as an agency. Click on Certification > AdWords > AdWords Fundamentals, and download the exam guide.

What determines your ad rank?

Everyone is vying for the top ad position, which is only awarded to the bidder with the highest ad rank. Based on the formulas below, you can see that even if you bid lower, it’s possible to get a better ad rank than your competitors if your quality score is higher.

Your ad rank = Max Cost Per Click (CPC) x quality score

Photo credit: Neil Patel.

The higher your quality score, the less you have to pay for the same spot. Your quality score, which is measured on campaign level, is determined by the following:

·         Clickthrough rate (CTR = clicks/impressions. It has to be above 5%)

·         Relevancy (keywords and landing page must have exactly the same words)

·         Landing page quality (mobile responsiveness, load time, etc)

Note that your actual CPC = (Ad rank of next competitor/your quality score) + $0.01. With CPC bidding, you’re only charged when someone clicks your ad. You can decide how much you want to spend monthly, and Google will charge you accordingly. Next, let’s see how to set up your AdWords campaign.

Step 1: Define your campaign objectives

Under your AdWords account, you can have several different campaigns, and each campaign can contain different ad groups targeted with different keywords. At campaign level, you manage your daily budget, bidding style (manual or automatic), network targeting, and location/language targeting. At ad group level, you can manage your keywords and ad copy.

It’s recommended that you organize your campaign and ad groups into common themes. The more specific the ad group, the better your quality score will be because your keywords and ad are more relevant to the landing page.

Photo credit: NPG.

Your objectives are to capture users at either browsing, evaluating, or completing stage.

·         Browsing: Car rental in Sydney

At this stage, the user is engaging in initial search using general search terms.

·         Evaluating: Cheapest car rental Sydney, Car rental review Australia

The user is using more specific keywords, likely comparing and reviewing the choices.

·         Completing: Book Avis Australia, Avis Australia promo

The user is using brand keywords or very specific search terms, likely ready to make a purchase.

Step 2: Use Keyword Planner for research on relevancy and price

Your keywords should not be too general, but also not too specific. Avoid one-word or long-tailed keywords that are way too long. To build your keyword list, it’s recommended that you brainstorm, use searches for similar or competing brands, talk to customers about what they search, and find related keywords using the Google Keyword Planner (available in the Tools menu). Also, make sure the keywords you choose appear on designated landing page. In certain cases, putting the top domain page as the landing page may decrease relevancy.

Photo credit: WordStream.

It’s recommended that you use exact and phrase keywords to improve CPC. Broad match keywords are likely to negatively affect your quality score. However, you can use negative keywords to narrow the search terms your ads will appear on. Negative keywords are written with by adding a minus sign before the keyword. Note that brand keywords see the most conversions and are commonly used for mature industries. Businesses in new industries should spend on non-brand keywords.

Step 3: Create the ads

To write your ads, you have to know the text format:

Photo credit: Moz.

Great text ads typically state location in the URL, a unique proposition, a value proposition (savings and discounts), and a call to action. Make sure you use proper English and punctuation. Google might disapprove ads that contain “click here”, superlatives, claims, and brand hijacking. If you’d like to put claims such as award-winning, you must be able to prove it on your marketplace website. Additionally, the copy in the ad should match with words on landing page.

There is also a way to get free ad extensions! You can make your ads longer by adding location and contact number (managed through your Google My Business account), 2-6  sitelinks on browser or 4 sitelinks on mobile, reviews, and extra words (callout extension). However, extensions may not show if your website has a low quality score.

When creating the ad, you can select Search Network and/or Display Network, opt a campaign out of mobile, select locations and city exclusions, and languages. You’ll also be asked to enter a campaign name. The best practice for naming the campaign would be to indicate Search or Display, country, language, then name of campaign. It’s recommended that you select all languages and set the delivery method as standard.

Step 4: Bidding

Here, you set your maximum price per click. You can also bid for individual keywords later. You will be given the choice of manual or automatic CPC bidding. For beginners, it’s safest to use automatic to maximize clicks. There’s also an option to use enhanced CPC, which means Google optimizes display, but also bids for you to get keywords.

Later on during your campaign, you can start to use Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) bids for conversion focus. This requires you to first have conversions in the last 30 days of your campaign and to have conversion tracking set up. You will then be able to target cost per acquisition, which depends on the profit expected per acquisition and how much your product or service costs.

Step 5: Optimize your campaign

AdWords will allow you to monitor results and optimize your campaign through A/B testing. Several ways you can optimize your campaign include improving the ad copy and free extensions, add new ad groups and add keywords as well as negative keywords. The Opportunities tab on your AdWords dashboard advises you on how you can maximize your campaign.

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