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What Is Search Engine Marketing? Beginner’s Guide

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What Is Search Engine Marketing? Beginner’s Guide

In a world with 5.6 billion Google searches per day, the importance of showing up in Google’s search results can’t be overstated.

That’s why search engine marketing is necessary for your business. But what is it? And how do you do it? In this guide, you will learn the following:

What is search engine marketing?

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a type of digital marketing that utilizes search engines to get more traffic to your website.

Many industry “experts” often use SEM to talk about pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. However, SEM encompasses paid marketing and organic search engine optimization (SEO).

Let’s clarify this a bit.

SEM vs. SEO

The main difference between SEM and SEO is that the goal of SEO is strictly to get organic traffic from search engines like Google, whereas the goal of SEM is to use both organic and paid methods.

SEO falls under the umbrella of SEM.

SEM vs. PPC

The main difference between SEM and PPC advertising is that PPC is strictly about purchasing ad placements on a search engine, whereas SEM can include SEO.

We believe it’s best to have an all-encompassing SEM strategy that includes PPC ads and SEO so that you’re not leaving money on the table.

But how do you do that?

How to build an SEM strategy in three steps

Building a cohesive SEM strategy involves determining which keywords to target with SEO, PPC, or both. Which strategy you use depends on a few things, which we’ll cover shortly.

So if you haven’t done keyword research already, that’s your first step.

You can learn how to do that in our comprehensive keyword research guide. But if you want a quick way to find keywords, enter a few broad topics into a keyword research tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer and check the Matching terms report.

For example, if you have a site about fashion, you may enter broad topics like “fashion,” “hoodies,” and “tshirts.”

Matching terms report results

Then you can sift through the ideas for anything with decent search volume that customers are likely to be searching for.

Once you’ve got some keywords, follow the decision tree below to decide whether to target them with SEO, PPC, or both:

Decision tree showing how to choose between SEO, PPC, or both

Let’s go through this process in more detail.

  1. Are searchers looking to learn or buy?
  2. Can you realistically rank anytime soon?
  3. Are the ads getting lots of clicks?

Question 1. Are searchers looking to learn or buy?

For this question, you’re analyzing a keyword’s search intent. You’re looking for one of two types of searches:

  1. Informational
  2. Transactional

To determine which type of search a keyword is, analyze the SERP for informational vs. commercial intent. In other words, are people looking to learn something or buy something?

For example, let’s look at the keyword “fashionable sneakers.”

The SERP overview shows us that most results are listicles with sneaker recommendations.

SERP overview for "fashionable sneakers"

This tells us this keyword is primarily informational. Searchers are looking to learn. 

In this case, your questioning ends here in the decision tree because you know you should target the keyword with SEO.

Sidenote.

 Although there are occasionally reasons you may want to run ads to “informational” keywords, you will generally only run ads for transactional keywords, as it’s too costly otherwise. 

However, if we look at the SERP for “hoodies,” all of the results are e‑commerce pages selling hoodies:

SERP overview for "hoodies"

This tells me this keyword is transactional. So searchers are looking to buy.

In this case, we need to ask more questions to figure out how to target the keyword.

Question 2. Can you realistically rank anytime soon?

This is a question of keyword ranking difficulty.

If you can potentially rank organically for a keyword easily, you may want to consider SEO. If not, you will need PPC (at least in the short to medium term).

You can get a rough idea of how hard it may be to rank for a keyword with the Keyword Difficulty (KD) metric in Keywords Explorer. This metric runs on a scale from 0 to 100, with keywords scoring “0” being the easiest to rank for.

For example, if we plug the keyword “tshirt” into Keywords Explorer, we see that its KD score is 74:

Keywords Explorer overview for "tshirt"

That signals that this keyword is likely tough to rank for.

We base our KD score on the number of referring domains (linking websites) to the top-ranking pages. If you scroll down to the SERP overview, you’ll see why KD is so high for this keyword—all of the top-ranking pages have hundreds of referring domains.

SERP overview for "tshirt"

However, KD only gives you the rough difficulty of ranking for a keyword. And it can sometimes be misleading.

For example, the KD score for the keyword “black tshirt” is 1—which seems very easy.

Keywords Explorer overview for "black tshirt"

But if you scroll down to the SERP overview, you’ll see a first page dominated by household brands like Amazon, Target, Nordstrom, Zara, and Kohls.

SERP overview for "black tshirt"

This indicates that searchers are probably looking to buy from well-known brands, so it’s going to be pretty tough to rank anytime soon if that’s not you.

The point here is that you shouldn’t rely entirely on third-party metrics like KD when deciding the ranking difficulty of a keyword. Read our post on determining ranking difficulty if you want to learn more.

If you don’t think you can rank anytime soon for your keyword, use PPC.

If you think ranking in the short to medium term is possible, use SEO.

However, even if you can rank, you may still want to consider using PPC. To decide if this is right for you, you need to answer one more question.

Question 3. Are the ads getting lots of clicks?

Even if you’re able to rank for a keyword easily, high clicks going to ads signal that you may want to do both PPC and SEO to monopolize the SERP and get more clicks.

You can see how many clicks the keyword ads are getting in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer by hovering over the green, yellow, and orange bar in the Volume box.

Keywords Explorer overview for "tshirt"

For the keyword “tshirt,” the paid ads get 8% of the clicks, and 2% of searches get clicks on both the paid and organic results. So roughly 10% of searches have at least one ad click.

This seems low. However, notice that 63% of searches result in no clicks whatsoever. Only 37% get clicks. This means that roughly a quarter of searches with clicks get ad clicks.

So, in this case, using PPC ads and SEO (if you can rank) is probably the best bet.

Rinse and repeat this process for all of your keywords to determine which strategy to use for each. If you need more help deciding which strategy to use, check out our SEO vs. PPC guide.

Now you should have a spreadsheet full of keywords, and you should know which ones you’re targeting with SEO, PPC, or both strategies.

Rather than overwhelming you with everything you need to know about SEO and PPC, I’ll offer the basics of how each of these works and give you links to dive deeper into the concepts.

Basics of SEO

For your SEO keywords, you’ll need to start an SEO campaign.

This means creating new content for the keywords you don’t have content for yet and optimizing old content for those you do have content for.

Essentially, SEO can be boiled down to three main activities:

  1. On-page SEO (optimizing your content)
  2. Link building (getting backlinks from other websites)
  3. Technical SEO (optimizing your website’s code and structure)

Follow the links to learn more about how to do these things. If you have no idea where to start, refer to our beginner’s guide to SEO basics.

Basics of search engine PPC marketing

For your PPC keywords, you’ll need to know the basics of how Google ads work.

Running an ad boils down to:

  • Choosing your ad type and goals for each keyword.
  • Having strong ad copywriting.
  • Picking the most relevant keyword themes.
  • Deciding on a budget.
  • Understanding the Google Ad auction.

First, create a free Google Ads account and familiarize yourself with the dashboard.

Then, watch this excellent video overview of how to get started with Google Ads.

How the Google Ad auction works

Google uses the ad auction system to determine which ads should be displayed every time a search is done or every time a site with Google Ads is visited.

This is important to understand because it can make the difference between running successful ads and wasting money on ads that are too expensive.

There are three main factors that the ad auction uses to determine which ads get shown on a page:

  1. Your bid – You can set the maximum bid amount you’re willing to spend per click. A higher bid amount means a higher chance of your ad being seen. But bid too high, and you may be losing money—so test this often.
  2. The quality of your ads – Google Ads uses a Quality Score to determine how relevant and useful your ad is to a search or webpage. The higher your score is on a scale of 1–10, the more likely your ad will be shown. So try to make your ad as high-quality and relevant to the target keyword(s) as possible.
  3. The expected impact from your ad extensions and other ad formats – This is additional information you can add to your ad, such as your company’s phone number or links to specific pages on your site. Google estimates how these added extensions will impact your ad’s performance and uses that estimate to determine how often your ad is displayed.

The main takeaway here is that two-thirds of the factors that determine how well your ad performs are specifically performance metrics, not just how much you’re willing to spend.

In other words: If you have a high-quality, relevant ad, you can earn more for less.

Head to our guide to PPC basics for a more in-depth overview of how to do PPC search ads.

Search engine marketing examples

Now that you understand what SEM is and how to do it, let’s look at a few examples of companies that have used the full scope of SEM to grow their business.

1. Ahrefs

As I mentioned before, Ahrefs gets nearly 1 million organic visits to its site per month.

Site Explorer overview for ahrefs.com

We’ve spent thousands on PPC advertising, and our blog has content that ranks for almost every SEO-related keyword you can think of.

Here are a few keywords we’ve been targeting with PPC campaigns, found using our Paid keywords report in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer

Paid keywords report results

As far as SEO content goes, some of our most popular high-ranking articles include the following:

I used the Top pages report in Site Explorer to find out which are our highest-performing pages.

Top pages report results

2. Canva

Next up, we have Canva, my favorite graphic design tool. It receives a whopping 70.3 million organic visits per month!

Site Explorer overview of canva.com

Canva is an excellent site to look at because it uses SEO on many commercial and informational keywords. In fact, one of its best keywords is “make free logos,” which gets 119,000 searches per month and leads to a free logo creation tool it built.

If we look at its Paid keywords report, we can see it’s bidding on over 900 keywords.

Paid keywords report results

Take a browse through its blog to get some ideas of how it approaches SEO and content creation.

3. The Wandering RV

The Wandering RV is a digital publisher for RV owners. It receives over 100,000 organic visits per month.

Site Explorer overview of thewanderingrv.com

It made a spot on this list because of its skillful use of statistics pages to build links. By ranking for keywords like “how many people die in car accidents” and “RV industry statistics,” the two pages have received links from 500 referring domains.

Best by links report results

These aren’t just any links. We’re talking about high Domain Rating (DR) links from websites like iHeartRadio, AOL, and Life Hacker.

List of domains with corresponding data like DR, Ahrefs Rank, etc

While link building is one of the hardest parts of SEO, building statistics pages like these is one of the easiest ways to acquire high-quality links with minimal manual outreach.

If you want to learn this link building strategy, check out our case study on how we ranked #1 for “SEO statistics” and acquired 36 links from 32 unique domains. It walks you through our exact process step by step.

Final thoughts

SEM is crucial for almost all businesses these days. If you have customers who use Google, you should probably be implementing some form of SEM.

Hopefully, you now have a complete SEM strategy to execute. If you’re still stumped, here are a few other articles to help you get the ball rolling:


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What Is It & How To Write It

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What Is It & How To Write It

In this guide, you will learn about alternative text (known as alt text): what it is, why it is important for on-page SEO, how to use it correctly, and more.

It’s often overlooked, but every image on your website should have alt text. More information is better, and translating visual information into text is important for search engine bots attempting to understand your website and users with screen readers.

Alt text is one more source of information that relates ideas and content together on your website.

This practical and to-the-point guide contains tips and advice you can immediately use to improve your website’s image SEO and accessibility.

What Is Alt Text?

Alternative text (or alt text) – also known as the alt attribute or the alt tag (which is not technically correct because it is not a tag) – is simply a piece of text that describes the image in the HTML code.

What Are The Uses Of Alt Text?

The original function of alt text was simply to describe an image that could not be loaded.

Many years ago, when the internet was much slower, alt text would help you know the content of an image that was too heavy to be loaded in your browser.

Today, images rarely fail to load – but if they do, then it is the alt text you will see in place of an image.

Screenshot from Search Engine Journal, May 2024

Alt text also helps search engine bots understand the image’s content and context.

More importantly, alt text is critical for accessibility and for people using screen readers:

  • Alt text helps people with disabilities (for example, using screen readers) learn about the image’s content.

Of course, like every element of SEO, it is often misused or, in some cases, even abused.

Let’s now take a closer look at why alt text is important.

Why Alt Text Is Important

The web and websites are a very visual experience. It is hard to find a website without images or graphic elements.

That’s why alt text is very important.

Alt text helps translate the image’s content into words, thus making the image accessible to a wider audience, including people with disabilities and search engine bots that are not clever enough yet to fully understand every image, its context, and its meaning.

Why Alt Text Is Important For SEO

Alt text is an important element of on-page SEO optimization.

Proper alt text optimization makes your website stand a better chance of ranking in Google image searches.

Yes, alt text is a ranking factor for Google image search.

Depending on your website’s niche and specificity, Google image search traffic may play a huge role in your website’s overall success.

For example, in the case of ecommerce websites, users very often start their search for products with a Google image search instead of typing the product name into the standard Google search.

Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner]Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner], May 2024

Google and other search engines may display fewer product images (or not display them at all) if you fail to take care of their alt text optimization.

Without proper image optimization, you may lose a lot of potential traffic and customers.

Why Alt Text Is Important For Accessibility

Visibility in Google image search is very important, but there is an even more important consideration: Accessibility.

Fortunately, in recent years, more focus has been placed on accessibility (i.e., making the web accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities and/or using screen readers).

Suppose the alt text of your images actually describes their content instead of, for example, stuffing keywords. In that case, you are helping people who cannot see this image better understand it and the content of the entire web page.

Let’s say one of your web pages is an SEO audit guide that contains screenshots from various crawling tools.

Would it not be better to describe the content of each screenshot instead of placing the same alt text of “SEO audit” into every image?

Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Alt Text Examples

Finding many good and bad examples of alt text is not difficult. Let me show you a few, sticking to the above example with an SEO audit guide.

Good Alt Text Examples

So, our example SEO guide contains screenshots from tools such as Google Search Console and Screaming Frog.

Some good examples of alt text may include:

”The
”Google
”List
”Screaming

Tip: It is also a good idea to take care of the name of your file. Using descriptive file names is not a ranking factor, but I recommend this as a good SEO practice.

Bad And/Or Spammy Alt Text Examples

I’ve also seen many examples of bad alt text use, including keyword stuffing or spamming.

Here is how you can turn the above good examples into bad examples:

”google search console coverage report
”google
”seo
”seo

As you can see, the above examples do not provide any information on what these images actually show.

You can also find examples and even more image SEO tips on Google Search Central.

Common Alt Text Mistakes

Stuffing keywords in the alt text is not the only mistake you can make.

Here are a few examples of common alt text mistakes:

  • Failure to use the alt text or using empty alt text.
  • Using the same alt text for different images.
  • Using very general alt text that does not actually describe the image. For example, using the alt text of “dog” on the photo of a dog instead of describing the dog in more detail, its color, what it is doing, what breed it is, etc.
  • Automatically using the name of the file as the alt text – which may lead to very unfriendly alt text, such as “googlesearchconsole,” “google-search-console,” or “photo2323,” depending on the name of the file.

Alt Text Writing Tips

And finally, here are the tips on how to write correct alt text so that it actually fulfills its purpose:

  • Do not stuff keywords into the alt text. Doing so will not help your web page rank for these keywords.
  • Describe the image in detail, but still keep it relatively short. Avoid adding multiple sentences to the alt text.
  • Use your target keywords, but in a natural way, as part of the image’s description. If your target keyword does not fit into the image’s description, don’t use it.
  • Don’t use text on images. All text should be added in the form of HTML code.
  • Don’t write, “this is an image of.” Google and users know that this is an image. Just describe its content.
  • Make sure you can visualize the image’s content by just reading its alt text. That is the best exercise to make sure your alt text is OK.

How To Troubleshoot Image Alt Text

Now you know all the best practices and common mistakes of alt text. But how do you check what’s in the alt text of the images of a website?

You can analyze the alt text in the following ways:

Inspecting an element (right-click and select Inspect when hovering over an image) is a good way to check if a given image has alt text.

However, if you want to check that in bulk, I recommend one of the below two methods.

Install Web Developer Chrome extension.

Screenshot of Web Developer Extension in Chrome by authorScreenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

Next, open the page whose images you want to audit.

Click on Web Developer and navigate to Images > Display Alt Attributes. This way, you can see the content of the alt text of all images on a given web page.

The alt text of images is shown on the page.Screenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

How To Find And Fix Missing Alt Text

To check the alt text of the images of the entire website, use a crawler like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb.

Crawl the site, navigate to the image report, and review the alt text of all website images, as shown in the video guide below.

You can also export only images that have missing alt text and start fixing those issues.

Alt Text May Not Seem Like A Priority, But It’s Important

Every source of information about your content has value. Whether it’s for vision-impaired users or bots, alt text helps contextualize the images on your website.

While it’s only a ranking factor for image search, everything you do to help search engines understand your website can potentially help deliver more accurate results. Demonstrating a commitment to accessibility is also a critical component of modern digital marketing.

FAQ

What is the purpose of alt text in HTML?

Alternative text, or alt text, serves two main purposes in HTML. Its primary function is to provide a textual description of an image if it cannot be displayed. This text can help users understand the image content when technical issues prevent it from loading or if they use a screen reader due to visual impairments. Additionally, alt text aids search engine bots in understanding the image’s subject matter, which is critical for SEO, as indexing images correctly can enhance a website’s visibility in search results.

Can alt text improve website accessibility?

Yes, alt text is vital for website accessibility. It translates visual information into descriptive text that can be read by screen readers used by users with visual impairments. By accurately describing images, alt text ensures that all users, regardless of disability, can understand the content of a web page, making the web more inclusive and accessible to everyone.

More resources: 


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Google Dials Back AI Overviews In Search Results, Study Finds

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Photo of a mobile device in mans hand with generative google AI Overview on the screen.

According to new research, Google’s AI-generated overviews have undergone significant adjustments since the initial rollout.

The study from SE Ranking analyzed 100,000 keywords and found Google has greatly reduced the frequency of AI overviews.

However, when they appear, they’re more detailed than they were previously.

The study digs into which topics and industries are more likely to get an AI overview. It also looks at how the AI snippets interact with other search features like featured snippets and ads.

Here’s an overview of the findings and what they mean for your SEO efforts.

Declining Frequency Of AI Overviews

In contrast to pre-rollout figures, 8% of the examined searches now trigger an AI Overview.

This represents a 52% drop compared to January levels.

Yevheniia Khromova, the study’s author, believes this means Google is taking a more measured approach, stating:

“The sharp decrease in AI Overview presence likely reflects Google’s efforts to boost the accuracy and trustworthiness of AI-generated answers.”

Longer AI Overviews

Although the frequency of AI overviews has decreased, the ones that do appear provide more detailed information.

The average length of the text has grown by nearly 25% to around 4,342 characters.

In another notable change, AI overviews now link to fewer sources on average – usually just four links after expanding the snippet.

However, 84% still include at least one domain from that query’s top 10 organic search results.

Niche Dynamics & Ranking Factors

The chances of getting an AI overview vary across different industries.

Searches related to relationships, food and beverages, and technology were most likely to trigger AI overviews.

Sensitive areas like healthcare, legal, and news had a low rate of showing AI summaries, less than 1%.

Longer search queries with ten words were more likely to generate an AI overview, with a 19% rate indicating that AI summaries are more useful for complex information needs.

Search terms with lower search volumes and lower cost-per-click were more likely to display AI summaries.

Other Characteristics Of AI Overviews

The research reveals that 45% of AI overviews appear alongside featured snippets, often sourced from the exact domains.

Around 87% of AI overviews now coexist with ads, compared to 73% previously, a statistic that could increase competition for advertising space.

What Does This Mean?

SE Ranking’s research on AI overviews has several implications:

  1. Reduced Risk Of Traffic Losses: Fewer searches trigger AI Overviews that directly answer queries, making organic listings less likely to be demoted or receive less traffic.
  2. Most Impacted Niches: AI overviews appear more in relationships, food, and technology niches. Publishers in these sectors should pay closer attention to Google’s AI overview strategy.
  3. Long-form & In-Depth Content Essential: As AI snippets become longer, companies may need to create more comprehensive content beyond what the overviews cover.

Looking Ahead

While the number of AI overviews has decreased recently, we can’t assume this trend will continue.

AI overviews will undoubtedly continue to transform over time.

It’s crucial to monitor developments closely, try different methods of dealing with them, and adjust game plans as needed.


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10 Tips on How to Rock a Small PPC Budget

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10 Tips on How to Rock a Small PPC Budget

Many advertisers have a tight budget for pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, making it challenging to maximize results.

One of the first questions that often looms large is, “How much should we spend?” It’s a pivotal question, one that sets the stage for the entire PPC strategy.

Read on for tips to get started or further optimize budgets for your PPC program to maximize every dollar spent.

1. Set Expectations For The Account

With a smaller budget, managing expectations for the size and scope of the account will allow you to keep focus.

A very common question is: How much should our company spend on PPC?

To start, you must balance your company’s PPC budget with the cost, volume, and competition of keyword searches in your industry.

You’ll also want to implement a well-balanced PPC strategy with display and video formats to engage consumers.

First, determine your daily budget. For example, if the monthly budget is $2,000, the daily budget would be set at $66 per day for the entire account.

The daily budget will also determine how many campaigns you can run at the same time in the account because that $66 will be divided up among all campaigns.

Be aware that Google Ads and Microsoft Ads may occasionally exceed the daily budget to maximize results. The overall monthly budget, however, should not exceed the Daily x Number of Days in the Month.

Now that we know our daily budget, we can focus on prioritizing our goals.

2. Prioritize Goals

Advertisers often have multiple goals per account. A limited budget will also limit the number of campaigns – and the number of goals – you should focus on.

Some common goals include:

  • Brand awareness.
  • Leads.
  • Sales.
  • Repeat sales.

In the example below, the advertiser uses a small budget to promote a scholarship program.

They are using a combination of leads (search campaign) and awareness (display campaign) to divide up a daily budget of $82.

Screenshot from author, May 2024

The next several features can help you laser-focus campaigns to allocate your budget to where you need it most.

Remember, these settings will restrict traffic to the campaign. If you aren’t getting enough traffic, loosen up/expand the settings.

3. Location Targeting

Location targeting is a core consideration in reaching the right audience and helps manage a small ad budget.

To maximize a limited budget, you should focus on only the essential target locations where your customers are located.

While that seems obvious, you should also consider how to refine that to direct the limited budget to core locations. For example:

  • You can refine location targeting by states, cities, ZIP codes, or even a radius around your business.
  • Choosing locations to target should be focused on results.
  • The smaller the geographic area, the less traffic you will get, so balance relevance with budget.
  • Consider adding negative locations where you do not do business to prevent irrelevant clicks that use up precious budget.

If the reporting reveals targeted locations where campaigns are ineffective, consider removing targeting to those areas. You can also try a location bid modifier to reduce ad serving in those areas.

managing ppc budget by location interactionScreenshot by author from Google Ads, May 2024

4. Ad Scheduling

Ad scheduling also helps to control budget by only running ads on certain days and at certain hours of the day.

With a smaller budget, it can help to limit ads to serve only during hours of business operation. You can choose to expand that a bit to accommodate time zones and for searchers doing research outside of business hours.

If you sell online, you are always open, but review reporting for hourly results over time to determine if there are hours of the day with a negative return on investment (ROI).

Limit running PPC ads if the reporting reveals hours of the day when campaigns are ineffective.

Manage a small ppc budget by hour of dayScreenshot by author from Google Ads, May 2024

5. Set Negative Keywords

A well-planned negative keyword list is a golden tactic for controlling budgets.

The purpose is to prevent your ad from showing on keyword searches and websites that are not a good match for your business.

  • Generate negative keywords proactively by brainstorming keyword concepts that may trigger ads erroneously.
  • Review query reports to find irrelevant searches that have already led to clicks.
  • Create lists and apply to the campaign.
  • Repeat on a regular basis because ad trends are always evolving!

6. Smart Bidding

Smart Bidding is a game-changer for efficient ad campaigns. Powered by Google AI, it automatically adjusts bids to serve ads to the right audience within budget.

The AI optimizes the bid for each auction, ideally maximizing conversions while staying within your budget constraints.

Smart bidding strategies available include:

  • Maximize Conversions: Automatically adjust bids to generate as many conversions as possible for the budget.
  • Target Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): This method predicts the value of potential conversions and adjusts bids in real time to maximize return.
  • Target Cost Per Action (CPA): Advertisers set a target cost-per-action (CPA), and Google optimizes bids to get the most conversions within budget and the desired cost per action.

7. Try Display Only Campaigns

display ads for small ppc budgetsScreenshot by author from Google Ads, May 2024

For branding and awareness, a display campaign can expand your reach to a wider audience affordably.

Audience targeting is an art in itself, so review the best options for your budget, including topics, placements, demographics, and more.

Remarketing to your website visitors is a smart targeting strategy to include in your display campaigns to re-engage your audience based on their behavior on your website.

Let your ad performance reporting by placements, audiences, and more guide your optimizations toward the best fit for your business.

audience targeting options for small ppc budgetScreenshot by Lisa Raehsler from Google Ads, May 2024

8. Performance Max Campaigns

Performance Max (PMax) campaigns are available in Google Ads and Microsoft Ads.

In short, automation is used to maximize conversion results by serving ads across channels and with automated ad formats.

This campaign type can be useful for limited budgets in that it uses AI to create assets, select channels, and audiences in a single campaign rather than you dividing the budget among multiple campaign types.

Since the success of the PMax campaign depends on the use of conversion data, that data will need to be available and reliable.

9. Target Less Competitive Keywords

Some keywords can have very high cost-per-click (CPC) in a competitive market. Research keywords to compete effectively on a smaller budget.

Use your analytics account to discover organic searches leading to your website, Google autocomplete, and tools like Google Keyword Planner in the Google Ads account to compare and get estimates.

In this example, a keyword such as “business accounting software” potentially has a lower CPC but also lower volume.

Ideally, you would test both keywords to see how they perform in a live campaign scenario.

comparing keywords for small ppc budgetsScreenshot by author from Google Ads, May 2024

10. Manage Costly Keywords

High volume and competitive keywords can get expensive and put a real dent in the budget.

In addition to the tip above, if the keyword is a high volume/high cost, consider restructuring these keywords into their own campaign to monitor and possibly set more restrictive targeting and budget.

Levers that can impact costs on this include experimenting with match types and any of the tips in this article. Explore the opportunity to write more relevant ad copy to these costly keywords to improve quality.

Every Click Counts

As you navigate these strategies, you will see that managing a PPC account with a limited budget isn’t just about monetary constraints.

Rocking your small PPC budgets involves strategic campaign management, data-driven decisions, and ongoing optimizations.

In the dynamic landscape of paid search advertising, every click counts, and with the right approach, every click can translate into meaningful results.

More resources: 


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