search enginge marketing tips 2021

SEM Optimization Tips for 2021

Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, represents a key part of any digital strategy because it connects moments of buying intent to a product or service. It is where the discovery of products begins and, sometimes, ends. On Google alone, there are 5.8 billion searches per day. So brands can use SEM to maximize exposure through search, encourage customers to take action, and present solutions to customer needs as they arise.

The most commonly used platform to set up SEM campaigns, Google AdWords, delivers upgrades and new features every year. At Cybba, we stay up to date with all platform changes so both advertiser and end-user can reap the benefits. Here’s what we’re focusing on in 2021 to get the most out of our clients’ campaigns.

Refining Your Keywords

Negative Keywords List

There are endless combinations of words that people can use to carry out an online search. It is important for marketers to identify and blacklist specific commonly used keywords that are not related to their brand. Continuously refining your negative keywords list by adding underperforming and irrelevant keywords will help you avoid serving impressions for unrelated searches, and improve campaign performance.

How will you know which keywords are underperforming? In general, keywords with a CTR under 2% indicate below-average performance.

You can identify irrelevant keywords by looking at the broad and phrase match type search queries that trigger your ad to display. Comb through these search terms and you’ll likely see some phrases that are completely unrelated to your business.


Use Keywords That Reflect The Content On Your Landing Page

Consider the goal of your landing page. Is it informational: promoting an eBook or a webinar? Or is it transactional: encouraging the purchase of a product or service?

Negative Keywords List in Google Ads

If your landing page is transactional, we recommend adding informational qualifiers that aren’t relevant, like “How to” or “Best Ways To” to your negative keywords list.

You can also minimize irrelevant keywords by using long-tailed keywords and exact match types search parameters, which will curtail wasted ad spend and generate higher quality traffic from paid search.


Build an Easy-to-Use Landing Page

Practice good UX design by aligning your landing page with user intent. If you are advertising iPhone cases, make sure your landing page focuses on iPhone cases only. You shouldn’t overwhelm the customer with additional iPhone-related products on the same landing page. The more directly your ads and landing pages relate to the search terms, the better your quality score will be, and the higher your CTR and number of conversions.

Creating Eye-Catching Ads

Countdown Timers

When your ad is served to the proper audience, a compelling CTA will keep them moving along the customer journey. A CTA like Buy Now, Sign Up Today, Try it For Free, or Learn More will prepare them for the content they’ll see on your landing page.

Your CTA can drive more immediate action with the addition of a countdown timer. With this feature, your ad will automatically update to display the number of days left in a promotion and create a Fear of Missing Out, or FOMO.

Add a countdown timer by using the Text Ad Editor tool in Google Ads. Type [=COUNTDOWN into the headline fields and you will be able to configure your timer to display the date and times your promotion is available. See image below.

Google Ads countdown timer


With SEM campaigns, you usually share the top part of search results pages with competing ads. Any way of differentiating yourself, such as an attention-grabbing CTA, will help you gain the greater share of clicks.


Dynamic Keyword Insertion

Like creative used for dynamic display ads, search ads can also incorporate personalized messaging. Unlike dynamic creative, which displays personalized content based on user data, like website behavior or purchase history, Google search ads present dynamic ads based on the specific keywords a user enters.

For example, if your original ad copy reads: 50% Off Footwear | In-store Sale, and the user comes upon your ad by searching for “women’s shoes,” you can program your ad to dynamically display a gender specific message to match the keywords entered. In this example, the ad copy served would read: 50% Off Women’s Shoes | In-Store Sale.

You can use the Text Ad Editor again here to insert dynamic keywords into your ads. Simply type in the {Keywords} function in the ad’s headline text field. A list of keywords you selected for the ad group will appear above the text editing section so you can reference the range of keywords to appear in the ad. Just make sure those keywords will fit well within the headline.


Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are a no-brainer for paid search advertisers since they increase the size of your ad at no extra cost. The more ad extensions you use, the more valuable real estate your ad takes up, and the greater the ad’s visibility.

Ad extensions provide information like location, phone number, discounted items, customer reviews, pricing, and more. Customers are given the ability to connect and engage with a brand in whichever manner they prefer.


Google Ad Extensions Example


The ad above provides all of the information one would need after entering “buy vinyl records” into a search. The keyword appears in the primary headline, so a customer is immediately aware of the ad’s relevancy.

The brand’s primary offerings are displayed with pricing information, a phone number, and other ways to get in touch with a representative. Providing as much relevant information as possible to answer the searcher’s initial question is key to a successful paid search ad.

Revisiting Your SEM Strategy

The beginning of a new year is a good time to evaluate your digital marketing channels, and focus on what tools can offer the greatest opportunity.

Paid search allows marketers to connect with customers when it matters most – in the middle of a buying decision. When it comes to driving qualified traffic to your website and acquiring the best-fit customers, no other channel delivers more cost-effective results.

Cybba’s experience in paid search has enabled brands like Crain Communications to broaden their reach and convert more subscribers by matching user intent with the membership product that best suited their interests.

Interested to see what kind of results we can deliver for you? Connect with a representative today.

John Haslinger
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