Intro to Search Engine Marketing (SEM) for Your Blog

The power of Kosher Sea Salt.

[This is part of the The Blogger’s Essential Guide to Search Engine Optimization Series.]

Although I’ve spent some time already walking you through the science and strategy of keyword research for your blog (which I highly recommend you read and is the basis of search engine marketing) the topic is large enough to spend a few more blog posts to expand your knowledge-base as well as provide you some practical tips on knocking it out of the park.

Heck, I’ve already provided 10 free keyword research tools for you and an activity using keywords to help inform your blog title so you can be as well prepared as possible!

But now I want to spend a few moments sharing some thoughts on how you can use keyword research and search engine marketing for your blog site as a whole and how to maximize it for traffic and profitability – some of these elements may create “duh” moments in your head and some of them might cause you to think a little more strategically about your blog property.

What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)? It’s most simply an umbrella term for internet marketing with the intent to raise your search engine ranking by organic strategies (which we talk a lot about in our series on SEO) or through paid placements, inclusions, and advertising.

Ready to get started so you can become a guru of search engine marketing with keyword research? I hope so since some of you may (will) become experts and then can come back and teach me a thing or two!

Learn About Your (Potential) Audience

One of the best things that you can do before you even start blogging is learning a thing or two about your target and potential audience. This helps, naturally, for those that are starting a new blog or have a new-ish blog to begin with but can be challenging if you’ve already got a large blog already (and you may already know “who” your audience is anyways).

The power of search engine marketing and keyword research is first about your ability to know your audience – by spending even a few moments of research can yield some amazing results because it helps you focus your content development and even some of the practical aspects of your blog (like your blog domain, blog name).

What you can do with this information is near-limitless – for example, you’ll be able to target your content to particular searchers who can in return find your blog, your products, and your services and find high conversion, either moving them into subscribers or even customers. It’s power is pretty ludicrous once you get a grasp of even the basics!

One Simple Scenario and Example

Let’s begin by giving you one simple example of how search engine marketing and keyword research can take your blog to a significantly new level, as well as your potential profits. Here’s a step-by-step way (very quickly) how you can use SEM to your advantage:

1. Content Focus – Begin thinking of your blog’s content focus and specifically what you want to target and the audience that you’re writing for. The more specific the better. Take a look at this post on blog content focus for some review. Let’s say we’re talking about cooking with kosher sea salt.

2. Keywords – Begin thinking about keywords that are associated with that particular content and begin jotting them down, ranking them in terms of importance in your own mind. Obviously a few keywords might be “kosher sea salt,” “sea salt,” and “cooking kosher sea salt” perhaps.

3. Profitable? – The next question is whether or not this particular combination of keywords will actually yield some positive and profitable results. Do a basic search via Google and see if any advertisements show up. Do they?

Yup! I see advertisements on the right!

Generally speaking the more advertisements you see on the right and above the results will yield higher profits for your blog content. If you’ve got only a couple of advertisements then it’s possible you’ll want to choose a different combination of keywords for your content focus (per category perhaps).

If you’ve got advertisements on the right-side then you’ve got a good high-value keyword and if you’ve got some above the first results in the first SERPs then you’ve got a high-value and high-profit keyword.

Good things to know, right?

4. Do More Research – Use these 10 free keyword research tools to dive more deeply into the keywords that you’re interested in targeting to see specifics as it relates to the general test in point #3.

Do “exact” match and write those down.

5. Buy Adwords Campaign - There are enough free Google Adwords coupons floating around that you should be able to secure free $25-$100.00 adwords campaign and do a few tests on some of the keywords you’re attempting to target.

Point the adwords campaign to your most relevant page or piece of content and track over the life of the campaign how many impressions and clicks you get as well as product and/or service conversions. This is where the magic starts happening.

6. Do the Math – After the campaign is over tally your results. This can be an exciting discovery and one I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing!

Let’s say you had the following:

  • 5,000 impressions in 24 hours
  • 100 visitors via those impressions
  • You sell 2 eBooks via those 100 visitors for $25 each, totaling $50.
  • $50.00 / 100 visitors = $.50 per visitor
  • Those 5,000 impressions in 24 hours generated some serious cash and assuming 30-40% click through rate (if you’re in the top spot) at $.50 cents each you could be looking at 1,500+ visits per day.
  • What this means is that at $.50 you could be looking at a bit south of $300,000 a year!

Now wouldn’t that be a nice little yearly salary? It’s no wonder that business (and serious bloggers) love to involve search engine marketing to their strategy!

And who knew that you could make so much money off of “kosher sea salt”?!? Just kidding.

The point is this: By doing even some of the basics of SEM you can capitalize on great traffic to boost your blog’s search engine ranking as well as creating opportunities to convert new visitors into lifetime subscribers and customers.

Doing it well takes some time, practice, and training, and perhaps I’ll have an expanded post at some time covering SEM, but this should give you a good primer.

[This is part of the The Blogger’s Essential Guide to Search Engine Optimization Series.]

  • Randy Cantrell

    Wishing I’d done better in math and science when I was a kid. So many stats, so little brain power!

    • John Saddington

      ah. took me years to figure this stuff out.

  • Kevin

    Good stuff John!

    This has inspired me to write about Salt. A lot. ;)

    • John Saddington

      haha. go for it… i think.

  • Loren Pinilis

    The potential of PPC advertising amazes me. It’s a whole, new, intriguing world of marketing for me. Perry Marshall had a good book our a few years ago about Adwords. I don’t know if there are any new editions or if it’s woefully obsolete now, but it opened my eyes in a lot of ways.

    I might point out that, at the time I’m writing this, there’s a clickable ad on the right sidebar for $75 of free advertising through adwords – so for those who are looking for coupons, you don’t have to look far!

    John, what are your thoughts on facebook ads?

    • John Saddington

      i’ve used them for a bit but the conversion rate was so-so. i may have a blog post about it.

  • andrew

    Great Post John.

    Are you taking into account avg CPC’s? If you are earning $0.50/visitor I would think you would also need to take into account the money used in order to acquire the visitor aka, CPC. So in order truly gauge profitability of the AdWords campaign, the avg CPC one would need to pay would have to be less than $0.50 in this scenario, correct? I may be looking at this scenario differently than you, but I figure the cost of AdWords would need to come in at some point.

    • John Saddington


      of course. i provided a brief intro to this and of course you have to pay for those clicks!

  • Jeremy Myers

    I must be missing something…

    Can you use as many of those $75 in free ads as you want? Otherwise, this math only works the first time.

    After use up your free advertising, you then start shelling out $75 for ads for every $50 in sales.

    • John Saddington

      you’re not missing anything. for sure you can’t keep using those coupons… i presented a simple overview. of course you’ll eventually start paying for those clicks.

  • Ana Hoffman

    I can’t believe how many people don’t pick a niche when starting a blog, John – they blog about everything under the sun.

    The result? Neither their readers nor the search engines know what their blog is all about and don’t know how to qualify it in SERPs.

    • John Saddington

      you’re right about this ana!