SEM: Where to Start

July 29, 2019 Kevin White


Even SEM pros—those who speak with confidence about PPC, KPIs and CTRs—had to start somewhere. “The basics of search engine marketing are still simple, and they offer an accessible marketing tool to any business owner,” says Anne Coqueugniot, SEM Product Manager for Yellow Pages.


Determine the objectives

The first question to ask is why you want to invest in paid listings (or SEM, for Search Engine Marketing). To increase public visibility for your business? To promote a new product or a specific service? “The objectives play an important role in terms of budget planning and the indicators to watch when gauging the effectiveness of a campaign,” says Anne Coqueugniot.

Identify keywords to include…

The Google search engine offers different tools to identify frequent searches and suggest appropriate keywords. “The purchase price for keywords depends on demand, and there may be a lot of competition for certain generic/broader expressions, like ‘dentist,’” Anne Coqueugniot warns. “The tools favour more affordable terms that indicate a strong intention to purchase—‘dentist root canal treatment,’ for example.”  

…and words to exclude

Using negative keywords helps prevent ads for the business from appearing in searches that are considered irrelevant. “For example, the word ‘free’ often indicates a clientele for which visibility isn’t worth paying for,” says Anne Coqueugniot.

How can you know which keywords are relevant to your business? The search engine marketing (SEM) experts at Yellow Pages have worked on more than 25,000  campaigns; their vast experience with organizations such as yours means they can give you sound advice.

Create the ads

Next, it’s time to create the ads to display. What do you want to promote? What are your competitive advantages? What sets you apart from the rest? “To be convincing, it’s best to be specific,” recommends the Yellow Pages expert. “If you keep it vague and direct Internet users to your website’s homepage, you risk losing them, because they haven’t found the answer to their question. An advertisement should match the corresponding search.”

Determine the geographical area and the budget

The geographical radius within which to display ads depends on each business: a local business may choose to focus on a single neighborhood, while an online business may cover all of Canada. “The amount to invest may be determined according to the means and objectives of the company; it could be $10 a day, for instance,” says Coqueugniot. “You can get convincing results even with a small budget.”

Should you focus on your main market, or try to develop new ones? With a long-standing presence in all regions, the experts at Yellow Pages understand the situation for today’s entrepreneurs and can help you assess your options.

Refine and perfect

To ensure they have maximum impact, campaigns should be revised regularly, and not left on “autopilot.” “We carry out tests on the content, the extensions that display additional information, the selected keywords and the bids, in order to identify what’s generating the most interest and the highest return on investment,” says the product manager. “These improvements make it possible to reach an optimal position for each click (depending on the investment).”

Find the right partner for your SMB

Don’t have the time to take care of all these issues? Rather than miss out on business opportunities, consider entrusting the management of your SEM to a reliable partner. But make sure that your business is a priority for the supplier you choose—a modest budget should give access to the same quality and expertise as a wealthier client.

Yellow Pages SEM Service was specifically designed to meet the needs of a wide range of SMEs in all regions of Canada and from every industry.

Premier Google Partner certification

The Premier Google Partner designation, awarded by the largest search engine in the world, is for businesses that have shown an exceptional aptitude for managing pay-per-click campaigns—and one of these businesses is Yellow Pages. “Google conducts checks to ensure that our investments are managed optimally and using best practices,” says Coqueugniot.


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