Paid search (SEM; Search Engine Marketing) captures a wider audience than Organic search (SEO; Natural Listings) alone provides. It also reaches people throughout the Buyer Behaviour Pattern, tailoring your messaging accordingly, and it doesn't cost the earth! For more reasons on why you should be doing Search Marketing, here's "5 reasons SMBs need Search Marketing".
Search Marketing can get quite complex to manage so I do advocate seeking a professional to manage it for you. However, as an Small Business your budget might not stretch to that right now. Here are some tips on setting up and managing a simple search account to get your business more traffic and more potential customers.
Put yourself in your customers shoes – what will they search on to find your business relevant to them? This will develop a keyword list. Divide this list into categories for easier management. Google has a keyword tool you can use to expand your keyword list and cover all bases; some you won't have thought of. This could create a very long list of keyword variations however, which can be hard to manage - so try to keep it relatively focussed.
Choose "Broad match modifier" match type. There are several different Match Types – these are how Google matches your ads to searches. "Broad match modifier" means you will reach a wider audience than other match types, yet remains focussed and eliminates the need for multiple keyword variations. There are some circumstances where this won't work, for example businesses with very niche products or services such as children only hairdressers.
Don't forget your brand keywords. This may seem slightly controversial but research proves that incremental traffic is driven to your site by having both Paid and Organic listings present.
Select your targeting. If you only want to reach people within a certain radius of your shop or office (e.g. desk in your living room like me!) then be sure to add this within the settings. You can also select specific days of the week or time of day that people can see your ads, or choose to reach only mobile users. Refining your target audience can help manage any wasted spend (for example if you only want people to be able to call during certain hours) and make the most of your budget.
Set your bids. You bid how much you are willing to pay per click to your site. The more competitive the keyword the more expensive it will be, however, you don't have to have position one to get the best results. Often position 3 or 4 are the most rewarding (good volume of clicks for lower cost). Unless it is imperative to your business I would avoid bidding too high as the higher you bid the less traffic your site will gain overall.
Create your ads. Then set a reminder to change them soon. You want your ads to stay fresh and you want to test new ads to see what works well and what doesn't. After all my years in marketing it is still very hard to predict which ads will drive more traffic to your site! Test test test! Also get creative with your messaging so that you stand out. Chances are you are not the only one providing what you do so grabbing attention is key.
Deep-link people to your site. Don't just automatically drop people on the homepage hoping people will be able to find their own way. Drop them as far into the site as possible, landing them on the most relevant page of content. People decide if they are going to stay on the site within 3 seconds, so make it easy and relevant for people to find what they want. Google also determines the relevance of the pages you drive your traffic to, and if they deem it less relevant than other businesses then you will rank lower on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). If Google doesn’t think your landing page reflects what your ad depicts, it will score you accordingly.
If you have any questions either pop them in the comments below, or drop me a email and I'll get back to you.