Tag Archives: Keyword research

In : Search Engine Optimization Comments : 0 Author : Sam Barraza Date : 30 Mar 2020
SEM Blog

The term Search Engine Marketing (SEM), although named two decades ago, is still surrounded by a heavy smog of unclarity. For marketing newbies and experts alike, it is difficult to find information online that clearly outlines its meaning, especially since there are many articles out there constantly contradicting each other. This search for objective truth has easily become an infuriating pursuit for people wanting to jump into digital marketing. 

Here at Birch, we want to simplify the learning process and bring some clarity to the table concerning SEM. Do you want to fully comprehend what SEM is and how it can help improve your business? First, be sure you understand the basics of SEO. Need a refresher? Visit part 1 of this install here. Okay, now back to SEM – let’s begin from its conception: 

History of SEM  

In a 2001 article for Search Engine Land, American technologist Danny Sullivan popularized the term Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to categorize both SEO and paid search. However, although Sullivan meant for SEM to function as an umbrella term for both paid search and SEO, it didn’t take long for marketers around the globe to start transforming SEM into a term for paid search –  and paid search only. Hold your horses – we know what you are thinking: How did this happen? 

Well, ten years later, Danny revisits his thoughts on SEM by writing “The Name Game: Does SEM = Paid Search? Does Search + Social = Inbound Marketing?” The article explains that the gained popularity of SEM as a paid search term was mainly at the hands of Wikipedia, who defined SEM as “the act of buying listings on search engines” (We checked, and it currently defines it as “promoting websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results). 

Although wrong, Wikipedia’s definition stuck, and unwilling to go against the tide, Sullivan now relinquishes his original definition by the end of the article. He invites the reader to accept SEM as the “practice of buying listings” as well. So, you heard it from the top. As of now, SEM is widely regarded as solely paid search. 


SEM versus SEO

Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing your website in the hopes of getting organic traffic. In other words, it’s quite literally – free real estate. SEO methods such as on-site SEO, off-site SEO, and technical SEO are pivotal in the process of making your content “search engine crawler friendly.” This increases the chances of ranking higher in Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). If you wish to go more in-depth about SEO, you can read our past blog “Deep Dive into SEO: The Good, Bad, and Worst” where we talk about white, black, and grey hat SEO tactics.

A younger Danny Sullivan might say that SEO and PPC fall under the same SEM umbrella. However, as explained earlier, today’s Danny Sullivan will agree that SEM is now most commonly used to refer to paid search. Paid search, also known as pay-per-click  is different from SEO in that it uses a formula to calculate the price of an online ad. Advertisers then go ahead and pay a fee each time a user clicks on their ad. While the primary benefit of SEO is its “freeness,” PPC ensures your space in searches. 

SEM Strategies

SEM strategies can differ in intent and execution depending on the channels that are utilized, but all involve the same general planning steps. Here are a few strategies to help you understand SEM and how you can implement it in your own business:

PPC Keyword Research 

Any good campaign begins with some keyword research, and the starting point for keyword research should be to brainstorm. Your campaign should not be solely dictated by fancy software. Instead, you should humanize the process by simply putting yourself in your prospective customer’s shoes. What are they searching for and how do they word these searches? 

Divide your keywords into four main categories: brand terms, general terms, related terms, and competitor terms. 

Brands terms: keywords that contain your brand/business name.

General terms: keywords that relate to your product or service.

Related terms: keywords that users who want your product/service might be searching for.

Competitor terms: keywords that contain the brand/business names of your competitors. 

Now, we are not advising you to completely disregard keyword tools, but to think of brainstorming as a successful starting point of your campaign. Your own keywords might end up correlating with the ones given to you by software, which will only serve to assure you that you are heading in the right direction. 

Google Ads Account Structure

If you’ve heard of PPC you have probably heard of Google Ads, the online advertising platform where marketers pay to display brief ad messaging that publicizes their product or service. The structure of these ads is important, as it is the defining factor that controls how your ads are triggered and when and where you want them to appear. Building a sound and logical structure also results in better quality scores by Google, which later manifests into better results and lower prices. Here are the main components of a high-performing Google Ads account:


SEM Google Ads Account

Campaigns: Establish a Foundation

On the campaign level, you are able to set up your budget, network, language, ad schedule, target locations, and device targeting. Remember to build your campaign based on what type of business you are running. Each campaign has a type, and it is up to you to choose between search network, display network, shopping, video, and universal app. Therefore, it is vital to do some soul searching and really dive deep into your business’s high-level goals before committing to one of the types listed above.

Ad Groups: Build Your House

Your ad groups are sets of similar ads that will display based on bids and keywords established within the ad group.  These keywords will then trigger your text ads and direct the user to a relevant landing page. Wordstream goes on to recommend a maximum of 7-10 ad groups per campaign, ~20 keywords per ad group, and 2-3 ads per ad group. 

Keywords: Interior Design

Now it’s time for some keyword research. Make sure to use keyword tools such as Google Ads Keyword Planner found inside your Google Ads account and other free or third-party options. There are four different keyword match types, which function as “parameters that can be set on your keywords to control which searches trigger your ads.

Broad Match: Allows you to reach the widest audience which can mean irrelevant traffic.

Modified Broad Match: Gives you the reach of Broad Match but is a little more selective by making your ad match when the search term includes keywords you designated with a plus sign.

Phrase Match: Your ad will only appear when a user types your keyword phrase in its exact order. This type allows you to have greater control over your campaign.

Exact Match: This one doesn’t need much of an explanation. You designate the exact words you want users to type in order to trigger your ad. 

Ad Text: Exterior Design

Google Ads Help defines text ads as a “form of marketing communication that advertisers can use to promote their product or service on the Google Network.” Simply put, this is the text users who trigger your ad will see. Ideally, you want to have 2-3 ads per ads per group, which will then direct to the landing page. Always remember to use copy that is both intentional and that incites the reader to take action. 

Building out an account is not as intimidating as it seems. It is key to understand all the moving parts of your account structure to be able to establish an effective plan that will acquire relevant traffic and lead them to your landing pages. When building out this structure, remember what each element means and what each dictates in order to launch a successful and attention-grabbing ad. 


There are more PPC strategies, tips, and tricks out there, but with this solid foundation, we hope we were able to cut through the noise and offer valuable clarity – because we know it was needed. 

Although effective – and when done right almost magical – SEO does not always ensure your place in the SERP. It might be time to give SEM a try. Raise your total volume of traffic by targeting clicks in paid search and use this laser-targeted visibility to your advantage. And if you are ready to take off into the world of PPC, do it with a dependable partner that will manage and optimize your campaigns. 

Contact Birch River Design Group for more information about our PPC services for a holistic approach towards everything search-related.

In : Search Engine Optimization Comments : 0 Author : Susie Date : 14 Dec 2018

At a glance, search engine optimization (SEO) appears to be difficult and complicated. To achieve a high Google ranking, implementing SEO strategies such as keyword research, content marketing and link building is necessary. Nevertheless, the search engine algorithm posts updates and changes at such a lightning speed that your SEO efforts can become obsolete and useless right before your eyes. Maintaining a high search engine visibility regardless of ever-changing SEO rules can be frustrating.


Yet, a closer look reveals that some SEO elements remain important factors on a website’s ranking despite various updates on Google’s search engine algorithms. SEO experts say that prioritizing these factors in web development will continue to positively impact a site’s success no matter how many updates happen. Therefore, a web developer who wants to shield a website from a sudden drop in traffic and ranking from any future updates should apply these core elements for an effective SEO strategy. Below are some of the factors that should always be part of your SEO efforts.

Create useful content.

Useful content is something that never goes out of style — even in the online world. If you put prime importance on making your business website a source of high-quality content, you never have to be scared of any of the changes that the search engines will roll out. Make an effort to regularly produce content that people cannot find elsewhere or provide an answer to a question that people are searching for. You may need the help of SEO tools such as Google Trends or Google Search Console to determine popular topics. People are bound to share your content and will likely go back to your site if your content is unique andinformationn. Increasing traffic and link building will be much easier, too.

Build good backlinks.

Link juice is one of the factors that search engines use to assess the quality of your website. The more quality links that are pointing to your site, the more link juice you have and you have a greater chance to get a higher search engine ranking (depending on your target keywords). It is important to remember that link building should be done with caution because you cannot just link to as many sites as you want. According to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, a site is likely to be penalized for link building practices that are obviously done to manipulate a search engine’s ranking. Links that will complement your SEO efforts should come from authentic and relevant sites. To improve your website ranking, you should also ensure that any internal and external links on your site do not lead to broken or error pages.


Provide title tags & meta descriptions.


Title tags and meta descriptions that accurately describe what your website or content is about will help search engines in ranking your sites. Your target keywords should be present in your tags and descriptions to increase your chances of ranking for a particular term. In a search engine’s page result, users will likely click the website that perfectly describes the information they are searching for, thus improving your site’s click-through rate. To take advantage of the benefits that your website can get from title tags and meta descriptions, remember to abide by the rules set by Google.


Optimize with the user in mind.


Search engines exist to help the users discover relevant content fast. This means that your SEO strategies should primarily be directed with the user and not the search engines in mind. To enhance usability, examine your website and determine the areas that you can fix. Page speed, interesting content and homepage layout are some of the important elements to take note of. If your website is slow, has boring content and the homepage does not readily explain what the site is about, a user is likely to leave your site quickly.


According to an article from Neil Patel, search engine algorithm announces frequent updates to keep up with the changing needs of people. This factor implies that is necessary to watch out for the latest SEO trends to further make your website user-friendly. For example, the forecast for SEO trends for 2019 now puts more importance to voice search and mobile-based search. Therefore, to maintain good standing on Google’s search result, remember to include an efficient mobile friendly version and add a voice search feature on your website.


The core SEO elements listed above have been deemed valuable since the earliest days of search engine history. Yet, their importance never diminished and they will continue to be important determining factors in Google’s search engine rankings. With so many websites being created every day, the competition in the land of search engines is getting tougher. To keep up with the competition, seeking the services of SEO experts will greatly help. Our team in Birch River Design Group offers SEO packages that can greatly boost your visibility on the web! Contact us today to learn more about our professional SEO services!

In : Search Engine Optimization Comments : 2 Author : Susie Date : 16 Nov 2018

A high search engine ranking can do wonders to the digital marketing efforts of a firm as it is a surefire way to increase web traffic and, therefore, revenue opportunities. This explains why the first page in Google’s search result is a much-coveted spot for all web developers and marketers.


However, people who are new to search engine marketing are likely to be advised that search engine optimization (SEO) is not an area where you can expect immediate results. With this in mind, planning SEO strategies and patiently waiting for positive results which can take several months may sound frustrating. Still, carefully implementing SEO tactics may surprisingly get you ranking in your chosen keywords in no time at all.


Make SEO a Big Part of Web Design & Development


The technical aspects of SEO (or on-page SEO) may seem like a broad topic to tackle but basically, you just want to make it easy for search engines to find and crawl your web pages. To ensure that the overall website design and architecture fit the requirements of an SEO-friendly website, you want to avoid broken links, crawl errors, and slow-loading web pages. Relevant keywords in your URL structure, meta descriptions, and title tags will also improve your website ranking.


Another way to improve website quality is by using (or switching to) the secure version of HTTP which is the HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS). To allow users to access your site anywhere and anytime, your pages should also have a mobile version. Using free tools such as PageSpeed Insights, Google Webmaster, and Google Analytics can greatly help in your SEO campaigns.


Take Time to do Keyword Research


If you want to gain clients, presence and availability greatly matter. The way to ensure this in the online realm is through keyword research. Without knowing the right keywords to use in your chosen niche, achieving your SEO goals will be very difficult.


There are many free SEO tools to utilize if you want to improve your Google ranking through keyword research. Nevertheless, purchasing a keyword research tool to discover the best keywords to use will surely be worth the investment. A list of keywords with high search volume is like a gold mine that you can use all throughout web development because it gives ideas of what keywords to input in choosing a domain name, providing meta descriptions, and in crafting web content. Basic guidelines in best SEO practices though says that balance and relevance should be in mind to make the most out of your keyword research. Putting in too many keywords (keyword stuffing) may result in a lower SEO score.


Get Insights From Your Competitors


Competitive analysis is the next logical step once you know the perfect keywords to target. When you check out the business websites that are currently enjoying the spot you are aiming, you get clues on what to follow and avoid regarding your SEO strategies. The insights you will get in studying the approach of your competitors will prove to be valuable in laying out your SEO strategies.


Get Noticed in Local Listings


You are missing big opportunity if your firm is not yet in local listing pages such as Google My Business, LinkedIn Company Directory, and Yelp. You are online because you want to be seen and discovered, you better take advantage of these local directories so prospective clients can easily contact you. It is free advertisement and can improve your SEO score because you earn links in reputable authority sites.


Maintain a Blog with Useful Content


The challenge in SEO does not stop even after landing in the first page of the search engine results. You have to maintain your high web ranking to prevent numerous websites from stealing your spot. One way to keep your site content fresh and relevant is by creating a blog. Regular posting of useful content with the right keywords will help you gain subscribers and will further boost SEO ranking.


Link to Experts & Authority Sites


Search engines determine a page’s quality by the number and quality of links that are pointing to a website. You can request link exchange from experts in your field by manually reaching out to them. Sharing links in social media sites can also be part of your link building strategies.


Search engine optimization (SEO) is essential in web development because no one builds a website only to have it hidden under thousands or even millions of web pages out there. To enjoy the many benefits that come from having high-ranking websites, firms are naturally on the lookout for the best SEO companies out there.


Birch River Design Group can implement the best on-page SEO strategies so you don’t miss a valuable click. Give us a call today to learn how we can help drive more traffic to your business website!