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A beginner's guide to search engine marketing (SEM)

Which paid search platform is right for your business?

Google Ads might have market share, but Bing Ads are much cheaper. Which one should you choose for your business? We'll look at the pros and cons
2020. 1. 22. • 5 분간 읽음
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Should you put your marketing dollars towards Google or Bing?

If you're on this page, then you might already have a bird’s eye view of search engine marketing (SEM).
However, for those who are still confused, I'm here to explain!
Search Engine Marketing is a digital (online) marketing channel to make your website more visible to your potential clients.
Simple?
Let’s make it even simpler!
It's a paid search strategy to make your business appear prominently on search engine results pages (SERPs), while search engine optimization (SEO) is an unpaid strategy to rank in the SERPs on the merit of the content you produce.

What is the importance of SEM?

Simply put, it increases your reach. It gets your business in front of more people. More reach to the clients means more traction, more leads and more conversions.
However, when you dive into SEM, you find out it can actually be a bit complex. That's because there are different platforms for running your ads, and each one has its own particular strengths and weaknesses. Let's have a look at the platforms.

Search engine marketing platforms

There are two mainstream search ad networks which work pretty well to send more traffic to your website:
Google Ads (previously Google Adwords) Bing Ads (recently rebranded Microsoft Ads)
As the names imply, these are the products of Google and Bing search engines.

What is Google Ads?

Google Ads is a Google product which advertisers use to get more traffic via SEM. You can run a few different kinds of ads via Google Ads, including text, display and video.
Google Search Network Ads
Google's text-based Search Network ads are ads that appear at the top of search engine results pages. They display based on the keywords users type into the search query.
The price of the ads varies and it depends on different factors. Normally, high-value keywords are expensive to run ads on them.
google ads example
In the above image, a result which has written “Ad” with it is an ad placed by Google AdWords.
The green box shows organic research and this is the place where different websites join hands with Google to show their ads on the bases of shared revenue with Google.
Now let's break down the elements of the Search Network ad.
elements of a google text ad
Target URL: This is the URL people will land on when they click your ad
Headline: This is the space where you make your first appeal to your potential customers. You get 30 characters here.
2nd headline: This appears alongside the headline. You can use it for your brand or as a call to action. You get another 30 characters here. You can even insert a third headline of 30 characters.
Description: This is your ad copy. You get 90 characters here. You can also add a second description of another 90 characters.
Sitelink extensions: Here you can include relevant links on your website.
There are also some other options with text ads. For example, you can add a "Call" link in mobile that calls your business' phone number when users click on it. You can also add an app download link.
Google Display Network
This is an ad network that uses visual ads that are placed on websites. They can be still images, GIFs or videos.
There is a wide variety of options available under Google Display Network, which enables targeting, retargeting and also advertisers can have active access to a mountain of data.
It has advanced automation tools that help you reach the right and laser targeted audience who had a previous interest in your enterprise.
Moreover, you can also target that potential client who showed interest in your landing pages.
The automated bidding system is available so that you can have the best return on investment.
Shopping ads
Google Shopping Ads display as a feature on search results pages. They include an image of the product, the price and a link to the retailer. If it's available, these results will also pull in a Google Reviews star ranking.
google shopping ads

Bing Ads

So, now let’s move to the other powerful Search Engine Marketing network.
Bing ads follow the rule of pay-per-click (CPC).
It simply implies that you will be paying to Bing according to the number of clicks you get from the potential clients.
Here is a screenshot of the Bing ad.
bing ad example
You can see that these are very similar in structure to Google text ads.
How does it work?
Clients place ads on targeted keywords. If a person searches those keywords then your ad will show up and then he/she clicks to go to the landing page of the specified service or product.
Pretty simple just like Google Ads.
Right?
Why use Bing Ads?
First of all, Bing Ads is a much less competitive landscape, making it a more affordable option for many businesses. And, according to reports from Microsoft, Bing users spend 36% more money on desktop.

Bing Display

Bing has recently launched its own Display network. Once again, it functions similarly to the Google Display Network.

Differences between Google and Bing ads

Although Google is a giant search engine compared to Bing, there are some positives and negatives which are related to each search engine.
To make things clear, I’ve compiled a detailed comparison of both the search engines’ marketing stats.

Market share

Google is huge and it grabs a big market share. According to eMarketer, Google accounts for about 73% of the paid search market.
That number can be a bit deceptive in terms of impact, though. Bing and Yahoo get almost 5 billion searches a month.

Shopping ads penetration

Google's Shopping ads are available worldwide.
While Bing is not that versatile in terms of penetration. You cannot target a huge audience base worldwide.
So, what you can do with it?
Well, with Bing, you may show your shopping ads only in select countries. Below is the list of countries where you can show shopping ads through Bing and Google.
google and bing shopping product ads comparison
Affordability
Affordability is where Bing really shines.
Clicks are much cheaper on Bing. The average cost per click (CPC) of Bing ads is $7.99, compared to $20.08 for Google.
Available Languages
Google takes the prize once again!
It supports 46 different languages, while Bing is far more behind in this race with 12 languages supported.
Moreover, in Google, you can set any language while launching a campaign and edit it later. In Bing, however, you can set any language while launching a campaign, but you can't change or edit it once the campaign has been launched.
User demographics
This is a really important area to understand when choosing between the platforms. Google users tend to skew younger. They're more likely to be college educated, more likely to use Facebook and less likely to have children. They're also more affluent.
Bing users, meanwhile, are an older, less tech savvy demographic. They're more likely to be blue collar, more likely to have children and are mostly 35 years of age or older.
In other words, if you're selling low-cost kids shoes, Bing could be a great choice. If you're selling a piece of marketing automation software, Google is the better bet.

Tools for ads

Both networks provide multiple tools for advertisers like keyword research and analytics.
However, the keyword search volume is lower on Bing, which means the data isn't as robust.

Final words

Both Bing and Google have some positives and negatives, but you should put the majority of your budget towards the platform where your target demographic is searching. There's no harm in spreading your spend out over both platforms, but you'll get the most bang for your buck by focusing on the search engine that best reflects your target customer.

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