SEM or why Google’s algorithms are smarter than you

Our simple explanation for SEM is – the sponsored ads a user sees after typing their search phrase, usually appear at the top and side bar (update: Google is no longer showing side bar ads) of the screen.

But like everything that is good in life, it’s not THAT simple.

In this post we will use Google as an example but do not forget that other search engines do exist such as Yahoo, Ask, Bing, AOL, Baidu (China) and more.

Google is the most popular search engine today. If to shed some light on how big – Google is handling more than 3 billion search queries every day (update: Google handles at least 5.5 billion search queries a day). Google holds nearly 69% of the search market online today whereas Baidu, the 2nd most popular search engine holds only 17% of the global search engine market (as it is Chinese and China is the largest country in the world… Also, Google is blocked in China since November 2012).

Global search share market

Global search share market

As you are reading this article, we assume you live in Mauritius. Can you guess what is the most popular SEARCH PHRASE in Google Mauritius (meaning

Well, it is… “FACEBOOK”!


You might think it’s obvious, but if you think about it again, if users are typing “Facebook” in Google’s search bar, they might as well go on their address bar and type fa… and the browser will complete to “”. It’s shorter and it’s faster, why bother doing it the “long” way? (Not that obvious now, ah?)

Facebook is the most searched phrase in Google Mauritius (screen shot by Google trends)

“Facebook” is the most searched phrase in Google Mauritius (origin: Google trends)

So why do users “search” for Facebook instead of surfing straight to the website?

The answer is pretty simple. It’s a matter of habit. It’s true that there’s no need in searching for Facebook, but Facebook is only one out of dozens searches one user is performing every day in Mauritius. For the rest of the things this one user is searching for, they need Google’s assistance. Whether if they’re searching for a phone number, an address, a video, a car for sale, a house for rent, university information, etc.. It only makes sense that they will use their “default” option for anything they need online.

And if our default option is to use Google, you as a business owner needs to know how to use Google to boost up your business, maintain good relationship with existing clients and generate new clients.

The platform used for Google’s SEM is called Google AdWords.

In order to start AdWords campaign you need to have 4 things only:

  1. A landing page – a website/mini-site/Facebook Fan Page/anything that a user can “land” in after clicking your ad.
  1. A list of keywords related to your business. Before you use Google’s free keyword tool (which is amazingly helpful), we suggest you will try to think how a client would search for your business. Firstly, because it’s interesting for you to think about. Secondly, compare your thoughts with real search phrases coming from your campaign. You will learn many things about your business and your clients.
  1. Division to groups and ad groups – the list of keywords should be divided to groups, by relevancy. For each group create at least one ad.
  1. A credit card – Google search is free but Google AdWords is not. The payment to Google Inc. is being done through AdWords billing and in order to start a campaign you must provide a valid CC details.

This is basically it. Google has made it very simple to use Google AdWords and actually ANYONE can do it.

Keep in mind few other things when opening AdWords Search campaign such as –

  1. Know the terms and their meaning used in Google AdWords, for example – CPC, CTR, bid, match type, final URL, display URL, avg. position, quality score, and others.
  1. Learn Google’s rules for campaigns. Google forbids certain expressions from appearing in your campaign. Also, note that there are rules on how to write an ad (certain amount of characters for headlines and description line, exclamation marks are allowed only once in a description line, and others).
  1. When building a campaign, the campaign’s structure is important. Here are 3 examples –
    • You need to use as many keywords variations. it will decrease your CPC.
    • Maintain high relevancy between keyword groups and ads associated with these groups. For example, if you’re selling kids clothing, a user searching for “girl dress for school” should see a different ad than the one searching for “girl dress for Christmas”. Another example if you own a restaurant, a user searching “cheap restaurant mauritius” should see a different ad than the one searching “prestige restaurant mauritius”.
    • Use numbers in your ad to “break” the text in the ad. It makes it easier for the user to read your ad and draws their attention.
  1. When writing ads make sure to “stick to the truth”. Here are 2 examples –
    • Use the word “best” only if you have a certificate by a recognised entity (for example, “best restaurant for 2014” by a specific food magazine).
    • Don’t use false incentives in your ad such as “we give 1,000 MUR for free” in order to draw users. The user will click your ad but the chance they will stay in your website and be interested with what you have to offer is close to 0 (Unless you are really giving 1,000 MUR for free…).
  1. Optimize your campaign all the time, especially when just launching a campaign. Change bids, pause or change keywords with low quality score, generate search phrase report to add negative keywords and add new keywords, pause low CTR ads, recreate high CTR ads, etc..
  1. Count “real” conversions – check how many people eventually performed an action that benefits your business. Whether they left their details on your website or left a comment, called you or purchased something, it’s important to know where they came from, and in this case, it’s important to know they came from your Google AdWords Search campaign.
  1. Use Google analytics to analyse your users and optimize your website – where they come from, how old are they, which device they use (mobile, tablet or laptop), how long they stay on your website, which page makes them stay more and which makes them leave your website, etc.

The most important advice we want to give you in this post is – Google’s AdWords campaign is about QUALITY, not QUANTITY.

Even if you have unlimited budget and you can pay $5 per click, if your campaign won’t maintain minimum quality, Google will “react” accordingly (reduce your ads appearance, stop your keywords or ads, rank you a low quality score which will affect your ads visibility, etc.).

Remember that Google’s algorithms are smarter and more sophisticated than you.

Google’s quality parameters are extremely important.

Quality is also measured by conversion rates between phases in the user’s “flow” (user searches –> sees your ad –> clicks (or not) –> How long does he stay in your website? Does he leave his details? Does he go back again later on to your website through Google?

Or… after clicking your ad, does the user go back one page to the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) since your ad wasn’t relevant to their search?

Last but not least – at the bottom line, your goal is to promote your business, create visibility and generate revenue. If you don’t know how to run a Google campaign or if you don’t have the time to do it, let the people who know how to do it, do it.

Contact us today for a free consultation meeting!


Did you know that…?

Google is letters play on Googol, the term for the digit 1 followed by 100 zeros. Googol is a number larger than the known subatomic particles in the visible universe. Google’s founders actually misspelled the name Googol and ended up with “Google”. The name’s intention was to emphasise that the search engine would index large quantities of information.

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