Best Practices for SEM

Best Practices for SEM from Our Search Services Manager – Part 1

If you’re reading our blog, it’s likely that you’re doing a little more research around some ways you can create a better online marketing strategy. Good news! That’s exactly what we’re here for and are excited to dive into Part 2 of our overall series about best practices for your search initiatives. Today we’re going to be focusing on Search Engine Marketing, but if you need a refresher on Search Engine Optimization first, another critical piece of search services, then you can check out Part 1 of the series here

Now that you’ve reviewed SEO, let’s run through a quick overview of what Search Engine Marketing, or otherwise often referred to as SEM, really is and what it entails. Unlike SEO, which works to produce more website visitors from search engine results organically, SEM is:

A process of gaining website traffic through the purchase of ads on search engines.


Through this post, we might use some marketing lingo that’s new to you, so if you are ever curious about the definition, feel free to check out our “Dealership Guide to Marketing Lingo”. It’s always a good resource to refer to no matter what level of marketing experience you have. 

As you already know from our post on SEO Best Practices, we sat down with our Search Services Manager, Ruth Johndrow to learn more about how to make SEM a better asset to your dealership. She had such a wealth of knowledge she provided us with that we’ve now split this into two parts! But, below you’ll find her first five tips when constructing your Search Engine Marketing strategy. 

1. Set Specific Goals: It’s easy to just say to yourself that you want to be at the tippy top of search results when someone Googles something relevant to your business, however we suggest setting more specific and measurable goals. For example:

  • Drive higher traffic to your home page
  • Generate more leads for XYZ service 
  • Bring in more sales for XYZ product

2. Do Keyword Research: This is a big one! Keyword research is critical before setting up your advertisements. Utilize our Search Services Specialists to research the most searched keywords within your area, meaning those that have the highest search volume. Also, look at how competitive each keyword is. If a keyword is more “competitive” it means you’ll have to bid higher to have your ad shown when it’s searched. 

3. Use a Call to Action (CTA): Definitely don’t forget this one! Calls to Action, otherwise known as CTAs, are essential in ad placements. The ultimate goal of creating an ad is to get prospects to take action right? So be sure to urge the viewer to take action after seeing your ad. For example, maybe something like “Learn More About Our Services” or “Get Started.” There are a lot of great ways to create the perfect CTA. If you want to learn more about CTAs, then click here to read our previous blog post! See what we did there?

4. Ensure Landing Page is Relevant: The point of your ad is moot if you’re not directing to the right landing page to get the prospect to convert. We can’t stress enough how important it is to have the right place for that prospect to go and learn more about your business, the services you provide, or the product you want to sell to them. It’s a no brainer! 

5.Use Targeting: There are a variety of targeting tactics you can implement within your SEM strategy. The more targeted you get with your customers, the higher likelihood you’ll attract the attention of someone further down the sales funnel who’s shopping for what you’re selling. Here are some examples to name a few: 

  • Geographic targeting – You can limit what areas your ads are seen in that way you can focus not just on all of the U.S., but specifically those prospects within a certain mile radius of you. 
  • Interest targeting – You can focus your ad to users who are interested in areas that might be relevant to your product or services. For example, targeting ads for compact backhoes to users who have expressed an interest in home construction and home improvement. 
  • Device targeting – Did you know that in 2014 mobile internet usage surpassed desktop usage according to Hubspot? Be sure to look at what your audience prefers. You can do this through Google Analytics or even your email marketing tool typically. If you’re noticing a clear preference, then target your ads to those kinds of devices.
  • Demographic targeting – If you know that your customer demographic leans towards a certain gender and age group, then utilize that information for SEM as well. You can cater your ads to be directed at genders and age ranges.

Can’t get enough of these best practices? Then you’re in the right place! Next week we’ll be coming back with a Part 2 to SEM best practices since we still have so much more to share! Have any questions about our recommendations above? Feel free to leave them in the comments or email us at


Kelsey Fritz
Kelsey is the Marketing Coordinator at Commercial Web Services where she monitors the latest marketing advancements to better educate dealers on marketing trends that can further their business goals.

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