3 Ways to Get the Most Bang For Your SEM Buck

By Kitty French, Manta Content Editor - December 30, 2015

3 Ways to Get the Most Bang For Your SEM Buck

Small businesses see the value in targeted digital marketing, but the price of search engine marketing is steadily rising. Make the most of your SEM spending.

A survey of the advertising revenues reported by the major search engines reveals the staggering amount of money businesses are pouring into search marketing campaigns these days:

  • Google reported earning $59.6 billion in from advertisers in 2014—a 17% increase from the Internet giant’s 2013 ad earnings.
  • Yahoo raked in $3.38 billion in search revenue in 2014, a 14% increase from 2013. Yahoo’s paid-click ad sales rose 10% in 2014. The search engine also generated $1.87 billion from display ad sales in 2014, with sales up 17% from the previous year.
  • Microsoft reported a 39% increase in its search advertising revenue in 2014. The company attributed the growth, primarily, to increased revenue per search.

The data point to an inescapable truth: Competition is increasing for paid search keywords and pay-per-click ads, driving up the cost to execute successful campaigns.

With Fortune 1000 companies spending hundreds of millions on digital marketing every year, it’s little wonder that the cost of online ads can creep up on small business owners. As search marketing continues to dominate as an advertising platform, the price of cost-per-click keywords climbs ever higher. Can you as a small business owner afford to compete with global brands for the most relevant keywords?

Of course you can—but you have to be smart with your search engine marketing (SEM) budget. Here are three tactics to manage effective campaigns without blowing your promotional budget:

Slow and steady: If you have a limited SEM budget, you should focus on stretching it out over your fiscal term rather than spending it quickly on shorter campaigns with high-priced cost-per-click ads. According to Adobe’s digital marketing experts, sporadic SEM campaigns don’t do much good in the long run. Continuous advertising will help your ads earn a higher placement in Google, Bing and Yahoo keyword algorithms.

Go niche: Adobe also advises bidding on more specialized, narrower terms rather than terms that will be coveted widely in your industry. For example, rather than bidding on the keyword “attorney,” a small law practice might bid on a keyword that represents a niche aspect of its practice, like “debt negotiation.”

Outsource at a flat rate: Save yourself the time and headache of managing your search marketing by purchasing an all-inclusive search engine marketing service. At a manageable, flat monthly rate, services like Manta’s Priority Search keep your search campaigns within a budget, with no surprise fees or last-minute rises in keyword auctions.

These few tactics will keep you from being priced out of SEM. You’ll find your digital marketing budget will go a long way with a little strategic thinking.

Is your business #1 on Google? Manta can get you there! Find out how to place your ad on top of search results with a Manta membership.