Search advertising demystified for small business

Guest blog post by Sarah Azzam
We’ve designed a series of articles to help your small business grow and succeed in the digital space. Our first article will help you understand everything you need to know about Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

What is SEM?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is an essential aspect for any business trying to create an online presence. One of the best ways to use SEM is through paid search advertising which is often referred to as PPC. This means your ads will appear on search engine pages and retargeting ads will appear on specific websites.

PPC stands for pay-per-click, meaning you pay each time someone clicks on your ad, rather than paying a set price to run the ad for a specific length of time. This is one example of how paid search is different from offline advertising.
Bing Ads is the service to use to set up and run PPC ads.

What is SEO?

When you search for your industry in Bing, how can your company place at the top of the search listing so it’s seen by more people?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a series of search engine based promotional activities, designed to target your audience online when they’ve searched for your company.

This means SEO will boost your site’s ranking in organic search results and essentially means your company becomes more visible to your target audience, who make up part of the 85% of the Australian population searching online.
You can’t pay to improve your organic rankings (other than the money you may pay someone to do SEO work).

Can I afford SEM or SEO?

There are many levels to both these practices – there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. This basically means there are various ways to improve your chances of ranking organically well without breaking the bank. You get to set your own budget for paid search and spend only as much money as you choose.
For SEO, you get as much as you put into the budget. Even if you improve one area of your site, such as better on-page content or a faster page load time, this will boost your chances of ranking well and being found by your audience.

How will SEM help me?

SEM can help your business in many ways, but it depends on where your target audience is. It supports both the early and late stages of the customer journey – the first and last interactions a shopper has with your brand before becoming a customer.

How will SEO help me?

SEO can improve the technical aspects of your website and on-site content, which will help search engines find and understand the information you want to share. But what about those physical stores in Sydney and Melbourne? You’ll want to use Bing Places for Business to claim your local listing. There’s also a number of on-page optimisations you can do to make sure your location shows up when people search for hat shops in a specific city.

What do I need for SEM or SEO?

Firstly, you’re going to need a website for your business to create an online presence.
SEO – this will involve improving pages on your site by offering robust and useful content for your audience, which can improve internal linking, reduce your page load time and other actions.
SEM – spending money in PPC means you need to make sure you have somewhere to send people who click on your ads. Ideally, you’d send them to landing pages created for specific ads, but you can also send them to the home page, product pages, or category pages on your site. It’s up to you!
The key to SEO and SEM is the more you know about the words people use to search for your product or service, the more precise you can be when using these two services.


Both SEM/PPC and SEO will help you get your site in front of potential customers at various stages of the customer journey. You can do each one with budgets of any size. So, what do you need to get started? Here’s a quick list:
– Build a website
– Optimise your website for search engines to pick up your information and serve it to your target audience searching for your products or services online
– Include SEM techniques to get across to a wider audience
– Understand your audience. Once you know what words your audience are searching in Bing to find your business, it’s easier to deliver precise targeting and a successful search engine marketing campaign.
If you’re already advertising on Google AdWords, you should also consider adding Bing Ads to your search engine marketing mix to tap into over 13% of searchers who use Bing.
Need help? Free expert coaching is available by calling 1800-005-451, or make an appointment for a time that suits you.
 *Source: Internet Live Stats ( Estimate for July 1, 2016. Elaboration of data by International Telecommunication Union (ITU), World Bank, and United Nations Population Division.

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