By Jared Atchison, co-founder of WPForms, a drag-and-drop form builder for WordPress that’s used on over 4,000,000 websites.

Search engine marketing is one of the most effective digital marketing strategies to grow your business.

Having top search engine rankings and getting traction from your audience organically requires steady efforts. You don’t get to see instant results as climbing the SERPs takes time, especially when you’re just getting started.

And then there’s the competition.

It can be difficult for you to outdo the competitors who have gained authority in the industry over the years.

This is where search engine marketing comes in.

Search engine marketing is a paid marketing tactic where you leverage search engine platforms to display your snippets at the top of their page.

This is a reliable strategy to acknowledge a quick boost in traffic and sometimes conversions. However, this is not as easy as it sounds as search engine marketing is an intricate process.

Today, I will share six useful tips to ensure success in search engine marketing.

So, without further ado, let’s dive in.

1. Identify the right keywords.

It’s essential to identify the right keywords to ensure success in search engine marketing. Keywords dictate your targeting strategy. They serve as guidelines for search engines to display your ads in response to the queries of your target audience.

Each keyword targets dozens of search query variations. These queries may or may not contain your targeted keyword in its exact form. It depends on the parameters you define for the respective search engines.

People use search engines to research products or services of interest. Keywords help you target prospects that seek solutions similar to what you have to offer. This helps you capture quality leads and initiate the conversion process.

2. Explore search intent.

Once you’ve selected fitting keywords, the next step is to explore the search intent of your audience. Search intent can be classified into three types: informational, navigational and transactional.

Informational queries represent a top-of-the-funnel audience. These users seek information that can help them solve certain problems. For example, “how can I factory reset my phone?” Here, the user is looking for information to do the needful.

Navigational queries represent a middle-of-the-funnel audience. These users are in the consideration phase and seek viable alternatives that cater to their concerns. For example, “iPhone accessories.” This is a bit of a specific query in terms of finding a preferred solution.

Transactional queries represent a bottom-of-the-funnel audience. These users have a buying intent and seek solutions as per their respective concerns. For example, “best site to buy an iPhone.” The query has a clear purchase intention.

The selection of the search intent is dictated by your campaign’s objective. If you want to boost reach, it’s better to target navigational queries. But, if you seek conversions, targeting transactional queries is a good course of action.

Informational queries are generally not recommended for targeting unless you wish to cast a wider net. These queries are very broad and generic. So, there’s a risk of attracting junk traffic.

3. Choose the right platform.

When getting started, it’s recommended that you target a single search engine compared to running ads on them all.

There are many search engine platforms to choose from. But, the most popular are Google, Bing, Baidu, Yahoo, Ask and DuckDuckGo.

Now, the question is, which one should you select? And the answer is quite simple. The one that’s the most preferred by users representing your niche.

Google is the market leader in the search industry followed by Bing and the rest. It’s the most preferred search engine by users around the globe and a popular choice for search engine marketers.

4. Get your website’s basics right.

A website with a clunky user experience severely affects the conversion rate of your campaigns. Even if your campaign is brilliantly designed, users would immediately exit the site if it performs poorly.

Does your website take forever to load?
Does your website contain broken links or images?
Does your website have poor navigation?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, your campaigns would likely lead to poor conversions.

Optimization is the key here. You can acknowledge desired conversions only by ensuring a seamless user experience.

5. Make adjustments for negative keywords.

In search engine marketing, the keywords you target make different variations. Some of these variations actually disrupt your campaign performance by attracting junk traffic.

Junk traffic comprises a wrongly targeted audience that’s less likely to convert. This happens when they start seeing your ads because their search queries match the keyword variations you target.

It’s recommended that you exclude these variations to ensure seamless targeting. This is where negative keywords come into play.

Negative keywords prevent your ads from being displayed to the wrong audience. They rule out your ads from being triggered in response to irrelevant keyword variations.

For example, if you’re a subscription-based solution, the negative keywords for you would be free, cheap, open source, etc.

6. Test and optimize.

Search engine marketing demands trial and error. You can’t simply design a campaign, go live and start seeing desired results. It doesn’t work that way. If it does, maybe you’ve done a brilliant job or it’s just a fluke.

To ensure that your campaign yields desired results, it’s best that you test out different ad variations. Search engine giants like Google recommends that you create at least three ad variations before going live with your campaign.

And it doesn’t end here.

You have to keep optimizing your ads. The dynamics of your industry and your audience preferences may change over time. What worked today may not work tomorrow. So, you have to account for the changes and make amends when needed.

Optimization is the key. Let your campaign insights pave the way for you and help you make informed decisions.

There you have it. The six useful tips to ensure success in search engine marketing. I’ve kept the list short and sweet to avoid overcomplication. These guidelines should get you started with search engine marketing and help you create campaigns that yield positive results.