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CONTENTS
WHAT IS SEM?
WHAT ARE THE BASICS OF SEM?
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SEM AND SEO?
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SEM?
WHAT ARE THE COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IN SEM?
SHOULD YOU HAVE AN AGENCY HELP YOU WITH SEM?
Strategic Search Engine Marketing (SEM) for enhanced search visibility

05 March 2024

A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING (SEM) IN SINGAPORE

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WHAT IS SEM?

If you know of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), then you have probably heard of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) as well. SEM is a digital marketing strategy that focuses on increasing a website’s visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) through paid advertising. Unlike SEO, which emphasises organic methods to improve search rankings, SEM uses paid search advertising to drive traffic to a website.

WHAT ARE THE BASICS OF SEM?

Platforms

Platforms in SEM refer to digital advertising platforms where advertisers can create, manage, and optimise their search engine marketing campaigns. They provide tools and features to help advertisers reach their target audience. 

Some of the main platforms used include:

  • Google Ads

Google Ads is one of the most widely used SEM platforms. It offers a range of ads which you can choose from, such as search ads, image ads, and video ads. 

  • Bing Ads

Bing Ads offers similar ad formats to Google Ads, including text ads, image ads, and video ads. Text ads are the most common, but image and video ads can be used to enhance visual appeal. They also offer ad extensions, such as site link extensions, callout extensions, and location extensions, to enhance ads and improve click-through rates.

  • Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads differ slightly from the two platforms above. It does not run on a search engine, but rather on social media. It offers a variety of formats that are mainly targeted towards those who would prefer visual advertisements. This includes image ads, video ads, carousel ads, and slideshow ads. 

Keywords

Keywords are a crucial part of SEM campaigns as they are used to target users who may be interested in seeking out the products or services you provide. These are used to trigger ads which will appear in search engine results whenever users search for certain phrases. 

There are several different types of keywords in SEM, and to better illustrate our examples, let’s assume the identity of a person running a cafe in Singapore. 

  • Broad match

Broad match keywords mean that your ads will be shown to users who have entered relevant phrases that are loosely related to your chosen keyword. This match type gives you the widest reach but may also result in your ads being shown to a broader audience that may not be as targeted. 

For example, if you are running a cafe in Singapore, you may use the broad match keyword of “coffee shop,”. This might cause your ads to be shown to users searching for “best coffee shop in Singapore,” “local coffee shops,” or “coffee shop near me,” even if they are not specifically looking for your cafe. 

This can help increase visibility and reach a larger audience, but it may also result in lower click-through rates and conversions compared to more targeted match types.

  • Phrase match

Phrase match keywords allow your ads to be shown to users who search for a specific phrase, or close variations of that phrase, with additional words before or after. This match type offers a more targeted approach than a broad match but is less restrictive when compared to an exact match.

If you use the phrase match keyword “coffee shop in Singapore,” your ads may be shown to users searching for “best coffee shop in Singapore,” “coffee shop in Singapore open late,” or “coffee shop in Singapore near MRT,”. However, it will not be shown for searches like “coffee shop near me” or “coffee shop menu.”

Phrase match allows you to target a more specific audience while still allowing for the flexibility of variations of your chosen keyword. This helps to increase the relevance of your ads and improve your click-through rates and conversions.

  • Exact match

Exact match keywords allow your ads to be shown only to users who search for the exact keyword or a close variation of it. This match type is ideal for targeting a very specific audience.

By using the exact match keyword “coffee shop in Singapore,” your ads will only be shown to users who search for “coffee shop in Singapore” exactly as you’ve specified, without additional words before or after. Your ads will not be shown for searches like “best coffee shop in Singapore” or “coffee shop in Singapore open late.”

Exact match keywords help ensure that your ads are highly relevant to the user’s search query, which can lead to higher click-through rates and conversions. However, as these keywords are very specific, they may have lower search volumes compared to broader match types.

  • Negative keywords

Negative keywords are used in SEM campaigns to prevent your ads from being shown to users who are unlikely to be interested in your products or services. You can exclude certain search terms from triggering your ads, helping you to focus your advertising budget on a more relevant audience.

If your cafe does not offer alcohol, then you can add “alcohol” to the list of negative keywords. This prevents your ad from being shown to users who search for “cafe with bar in Singapore” or “cafe with alcohol”. 

Negative keywords can help enhance the relevance of your ads, improving click-through rates, and reducing wasted ad spend on irrelevant clicks. 

Targeting

In addition to keywords, SEM allows targeting according to geographical location, demographics, interests, and behaviour. This allows you to narrow down your audience base for a more precise advertising campaign.

Elevate your online presence with Search Engine Marketing (SEM) strategies

Ad Copy

Ad copy can be found in SEM in the form of a headline, a description of your product and/or services, and a call-to-action (CTA). A well-crafted ad copy can raise your click-through rates as you will not be the only person who is running an SEM campaign. It can help engage readers and have them click on your ad in hopes of finding out more. 

Ad Auction

Even after you have kicked off your SEM campaign, there is no guarantee that the search engine will show it to users who are looking for a related or exact term which matches your keyword. This is determined by an Ad Auction that takes into account several factors:

  • Your maximum bid

This is the maximum amount you are willing to pay if someone clicks on your ad. The higher your “bid”, the greater the chance of your ad being shown. This is also a reason why proper targeting and selection of keywords are crucial. Therefore, it is important to reach the right audience who may bump your conversion rates up rather than irrelevant ones who will click on your ad and end up leaving. 

  • Your ad quality

The quality of your ad will be analysed once it is created. Google will then proceed to give it a score of 1 to 10. This is known as the Quality Score, and it will be calculated based on the relevance of your ad and the website it links to with the person who sees it. 

  • Your use of ad assets 

While you are creating your ad, you will have the option to add additional information such as a phone number, an address, reviews of your business, and images. The use of such assets provides users with more information, capturing their attention, and increasing the chance of your ad being interacted with. 

These factors are all taken into account when it comes to determining the position of your ad (ad rank), and whether it will be shown to users at all. The ad rank will be recalculated each time it is eligible to appear in search engines, therefore its position may be different each time.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SEM AND SEO?

While SEM and SEO go together in any digital marketing campaign, some differences set them apart. Below is a table to showcase them and hopefully boost your understanding of SEM and SEO. 

 

Aspect

SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

Definition

Paid advertising to increase visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Organic optimisation to improve website ranking in SERPs.

Cost

Involves paying for clicks or impressions (PPC).

Generally free, but may require investment in time or resources for content creation and optimisation.

Visibility

Immediate visibility once ads are launched.

May take time to achieve higher rankings in organic search results.

Positioning Control

Can choose specific keywords, ad copy, and targeting options.

Limited control over which keywords and content rank highest in SERPs.

 

Harness the power of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to soar in search results

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SEM?

Quick results

Ranking on the first page of Google, or any search engine, is the goal for many businesses. But SEO will take time, especially if you are competing against others who have been in the top spot for a long time. Through SEM, you can see quick results as your ad will be placed in front of users who search for your keywords. 

Precise targeting of audience

SEM allows for precise targeting of your desired audience. This can be done by filtering them through geographical location, age, and socioeconomic groups, amongst other factors. You can also do this by selecting keywords that you think your audience will search for. 

Ability to measure performance

SEM platforms such as Google Ads allow you to track and measure the performance of your ads. You can access detailed information such as top-performing keywords, and click-through rates. If you are running multiple ads, you can compare their performance against each other, and determine in which area is improvement needed. 

Builds brand awareness

As your ads appear before your targeted audience, they are going to be aware of your business and the products and/or services provided. SEM can be used to cut through the horde of competition and have your brand displayed at the top of the page.

WHAT ARE THE COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IN SEM?

Not conducting keyword research

Thorough keyword research is a key part of a successful SEM ad campaign. Skipping this step and resorting to guesswork can lead to a part of your budget being wasted on irrelevant keywords. You may also end up targeting the wrong audience, leading to a low click-through rate and conversion rate.

Neglecting to track and review performance

SEM ad platforms provide detailed reports on the performance of your campaigns. Neglecting to analyse them can cause you to miss out on valuable information which can provide pointers on improving your ads. An SEM campaign can’t be run on autopilot as it requires monitoring and optimisation to produce consistent results. 

Linking your ads to poorly designed landing pages

Once a user clicks on your ad, they do not instantly turn into a customer. This is where your landing page or website comes into play. If your website is poorly developed, tough to navigate, or has slow loading times, it will be tough to see a rise in conversion rates. 

Propel your company to new heights with Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SHOULD YOU HAVE AN AGENCY HELP YOU WITH SEM?

With a quick Google search of “How to get started with SEM?”, there will be a long list of guides for you to go through. Starting from scratch when it comes to SEM can be time-consuming, not to mention, undergo a tedious process of trial and error when optimising your ads. Instead of spending long hours pouring over articles and “how-to” guides, why not go for an SEM agency? 

Get in touch with us at Cleverly SG, as we provide SEM services that drive results while moving towards your campaign objectives.