Keyword Advertising and Effective Search Engine Marketing (SEM), without loosing your shirt

Traditional marketing methods (emblematics, broadcast ads and printed ads) can still be effective. Search engine marketing can be successful if you use traditional methods of marketing (embematic items, printed ads, etc.). Because there are so many options, I won’t be too specific in my coverage. Some of these may be more suitable for you than others. My best advice is to speak with a qualified website solution provider who has extensive knowledge of SEM and how it can be integrated into your Website design.

A long list of ways to market your company (specifically your website) via search engines is available. There are three main categories of pay-for placement methods.

  • You can purchase the number one spot in the page margins of search engines for specific keywords. While this placement might seem attractive, it is only as reliable and cost-effective as your advertising dollars. It is possible to be outbid by someone willing to pay higher for this position.
  • Pay-per click (PPC), which allows you to pay per keyword, can be used depending on the popularity and budget of your chosen word(s). Your position will change depending on the popularity and budget. Although this can be very effective for getting traffic to your site, it is not the same as someone who clicks through and makes a purchase once they are there. You don’t pay per-click for customers who purchase products. It is not a matter of paying for the visit.
  • By having search engine companies act as liaison between your site and other site owners, you can pay to advertise on their Websites. This is a relatively new method of advertising. By paying for an advertisement and allowing your ad on other websites, search engine companies will index it. Kickback benefits are also available. This is a win/win arrangement in theory and practice.

Keyword ad campaigns are the most restricted of these three methods. They can be limited to a set amount of dollars per month or until your account is replenished. Although you don’t have to write a blank check to advertise using keywords in these ways you should manage your budget and account well. Buyer beware!

I’ve had clients who came to see me due to poor keyword advertising accounts from their previous service provider. Some of these clients were victims of fraud outright. In my mind, one particular case stands out.

An accountant approached me complaining that he was spending $400-$600 per month over the past 6 months to get 200 clicks per month to his website. You might think, “Wow…that’s a pretty solid guarantee.” Each month, he was provided with a report by his provider that confirmed that he was getting the same amount of traffic from his keyword ads (more than 200 hits per months). However, he complained that he didn’t have any new clients from his Website (otherwise known as “conversions” in ad response. Unreasonably low ratios between hits (impressions), and sales (conversions). I was suspicious.

I did some research about his website’s performance and found that it was quite disturbing. His credit card was automatically charged with rebilling (refilling his account) every fifteenth of the month up to his monthly budget of $500. If his account balance was $250 at the beginning of each month, he would be charged $250 more to bring it up to $500. Each click cost him money. Over the next 30 days, his account balance would be incrementally deducted until it was time to replenish it the following month. His ad would “fall off-the-map” if it ever reached zero. But such a billing strategy assured him that he would never exceed his budget. It sounds like a foolproof way of advertising, doesn’t it? You will get guaranteed hits and no overruns. It gave him a false sense security and he was being scammed!

An analysis of his website traffic revealed a steady stream of visitors, some from his paid-for advertisement campaign. I saw about 20-30 hits that were related to his pay per click deal. He had between 150 and 180 hits on the 14th of each month, the same day he replenished his account. He didn’t feel anything unusual about it, as it never dropped him to zero. However, it became obvious that the person who managed his account was taking advantage and paying for artificial hits. Although he had over 200 hits in his reports, as he was promised by his manager, he was unwittingly padding his accounts!

Don’t let this happen to you! This story was not meant to discourage you from paying for advertising. Paid advertising can be extremely effective when used correctly. Just to let you know that there’s more to online business than meets the eyes, it is just a fact. You are better off being forewarned. Be prepared to market your website. But be careful with your finances. You will find the best way to market your Website is one that uses all three of the above types of ads. This allows you to determine which type works best for you campaign. A Text Message Marketing (TMM), portal might be a good option to supplement your variable advertising budget. This portal offers a flat rate option. Text Message Marketing (TMM), a relatively new trend in marketing, appeals to millions of people for a variety of reasons.

Many solution providers and SEM firms that have been around for a while are trusted. Otherwise, they would not be in business. However, you should be proactive in managing your advertising budget. Your SEM provider should provide more than a report detailing the total number of hits per month and an invoice to pay for your account. They should provide the Website analytics which show you all your traffic, trends, hits-per page, hits-per day, sources of hits (so that you can verify they are from different addresses), keywords used in finding you, and so on. Even if you don’t look at those reports, it will deter you from keeping your SEM provider honest. Although they may be honest, you must CYA (cover all your assets).

We are a team of professionals with each having two decades of experience in start-ups, sales, marketing, finance, HR, large scale project and profit centre management and running mature cross functional operations. At we are big believers that knowledge transfer is critical to our industry’s evolution. We love to share our experiences and learnings through our online resources.

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