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The Guide to SEM for SMBs

Small is big.

If you’re an SMB at Dreamforce, then this phrase should sound familiar to you. In today’s marketing landscape, it’s often the little guys who are making the biggest waves in the industry, meaning that SMBs can pack just as powerful of a punch as their corporate counterparts.

But life as an SMB isn’t always easy. Without the huge budgets and countless resources that bigger companies have at their disposal, SMBs often have to turn to other tactics to generate new business without the increased headcount. And one such tactic that a lot of SMBs and mid-market companies have experienced success with is paid search advertising.

Unlike search engine optimization, in which the biggest prizes often go to the largest companies, paid search advertising levels the playing field for SMBs. Instead of having to build up a search ranking over time, like with SEO, paid search can produce immediate results. Regardless of size, companies can bid on the keywords that are most relevant to their product or brand, meaning that an ad from an SMB could be just as likely to show up in the sponsored results section of a search engine results page as an ad from a bigger company.

Still not convinced? Here are a few more reasons that companies — large and small alike — should consider investing in a paid search strategy.

1. Paid search gets you into the top (sponsored) search results, quickly.

If you want to get your website into the top sponsored search results — and fast — paid search advertising is the way to go. The harsh truth of search marketing is that most of your target audience won’t go beyond the first page of search results. So if you’re not appearing on the first page of the organic results, paid search is a great alternative.

2. Paid search is very measurable.

Unlike organic search, which has become much less measurable after Google’s Hummingbird announcement, paid search provides hard data that you can use to measure the success of your efforts. Everything is trackable — so you can see how many people are clicking on your ads, your cost per click, and your paid search ROI.

3. Paid search is cost effective.

With paid search advertising, you’re not charged until someone clicks on your ad, meaning that you’re only paying when someone takes a desired action. You also get the benefit of impressions with paid search advertising, so even if people aren’t clicking on your ad, they’re probably still seeing it.

4. Paid advertisements can be highly targeted.

Another great thing about paid search advertising is that your ads can be highly targeted. You choose which search keywords you would like to use, and your ads will display for those targeted searches. You can also target display ads on other sites based on buyer behaviors and activities, so you can reach your audience with the most relevant messaging possible. And, based on your results, you can also edit, refine, and optimize the ads you’re showing to get the best returns.

5. Paid search can be implemented quickly.

Unlike with SEO, where it takes time to build up relevancy and authority in search engine rankings, a paid search advertising campaign can be put together relatively quickly. Once you’ve bid on your desired keywords and launched your campaign, results can be seen immediately, too — making paid search a great option for companies who want to appear in search results, but haven’t had the time to build up their ranking using SEO alone.

The benefits of paid search advertising are especially helpful for small to medium businesses with a lot of their plates and few resources to work with. Your paid search budget can be as small or as large as you like, so start by allocating a small portion of your budget to search and seeing what the returns are like. Then, adjust your strategy and budget from there.

If you’re at Dreamforce and are part of an SMB, we’d love to see you at tonight’s Small Is Big welcome party!