That whoosh you just heard was the rush of thousands, nay, millions of businesses moving to online ads and other paid inclusion search marketing programs to help drive sales and growth. Call it search engine marketing (SEM), keyword advertising, pay-per-click (PPC) or cost-per-click (CPC) -- whatever name you use spells the same thing: a great, cost-effective way for small and medium businesses to reach prospects anywhere, anytime.
Almost any business that wants to attract prospects and customers should consider it. For reaching broad market segments via the web, it can't be beat. For reaching specialty markets, it's great too. It's also great for advertising locally; and especially great if you are the type of entrepreneur who likes keeping an iron grip on your budget. Top benefits include:
- Speed, flexibility and control. Write your copy, open an account, set your budget and see your ads online within hours. Quickly change your ad message and keywords or turn your ad on/off with a mouse click. Manage your account from the comfort of your office PC.
- Establish a monthly spending cap so you never spend more than you want.
- Track results with greater control and precision than you've ever had before. See detailed, up-to-the-minute performance reports 24/7.
- Target your effort locally, to special topic interests, market segments or in other ways.
- Pay only to reach people who show an interest in your product or service by reading and clicking on your message, ad, content, location map or whatever you use.
- Start as small as you like and build your budget as your business grows.
Get it done in Google AdWordsGoogle AdWords is a quick and simple way to buy targeted cost-per-click (CPC) ads, regardless of your budget. Ads are displayed along with search results on Google, as well as on search and content sites in the Google Network, including AOL, EarthLink, HowStuffWorks and many others.
Say yes (or at least maybe) to YahooYahoo offers excellent online advertising and other "paid inclusion" solutions for small business. Their "Search Marketing" product can deliver a huge audience for your ads.
Target your SEM efforts locallyOptions for advertising a business locally online have blossomed.
Go with vertical search to reach B2B and other specialized marketsTo reach a more specialized audience for your ads, look to "vertical search engines."
Business.com leads the pack in the B2B arena and is the world's largest B2B advertising network, including partners such as The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Forbes, Entreprener.com and many others. Locate other vertical search sites at SearchEngines.com.
Have SEM specialists submit your business across the internetWeb popularity has spawned several excellent services that will help launch and refine your search engine marketing effort.
Generate more keyword ideas for your ads and other SEMFree online tools can suggest possible keywords for your ad campaign and reports how those terms have performed.
Get fluent in SEM-speakThe world of search marketing speaks an entirely different advertising language than you may be accustomed to.
- Don't measure search marketing success just by the math. Sure, the number of clicks and conversions you get is important. But search ads can also be golden for testing different ad copy, boosting a brand rather, generating PR and diversifying your marketing base to include local ads, shopping ads, map listings and more.
- With no monthly minimum spending limit or time commitment and only a minimal fee to set up your account, Google AdWords is certainly worth a try.
- There's no waiting to change or manage your online ads. Login and manage your own bids and copy from the comfort of your own computer with the self-serve tools offered by most sites.
- Consider increasing your visibility with a "featured" ad or other premium placement options. It costs more, but might be worth it.
- Make your listing work harder for you by highlighting multiple products and services within each listing with multi-links.