More than 3.5 billion searches are performed on Google each day, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. Making your small business stand out in this crowded field requires a sound search engine marketing (SEM) strategy. Here’s how three small businesses—a fishing tackle shop, a delicatessen and a children’s book store—could use paid search to reach their business goals.

Fishing tackle shop: Owning keywords
A fishing tackle shop in Ocean City, Maryland wants to attract tourists who rent charter boats for deep sea fishing. These visitors boost the bottom line because they often arrive without bait and equipment. Here’s how the tackle shop could use search engine marketing to reel in new customers:

  • Use Google AdWords to place bids on highly targeted keyword phrases such as “Ocean City fishing gear,” “rigged ball bait,” and “fishing tackle shop Ocean City.” Follow AdWords basics to set up and maintain the campaigns, using campaign performance statistics to see which keyword phrases achieve the most clicks per dollar spent, and eliminating the least effective terms and testing new ones.
  • Target mobile ads. Because travelers are likely to use hand-held devices to search for what they need, the tackle shop devotes a large portion of its budget to mobile paid search ads. It adds geographic terms to keyword phrases so visitors see the ads when they include city names or addresses in their searches.
  • Test special offers within ad copy. By making small changes to the wording of ads and experimenting with different offers, the tackle shop can determine which ads and incentives do the best job of bringing customers to the front door.

Downtown delicatessen: Delivering new customers
A deli in a downtown business district wants to take advantage of rising demand for delivery service to local office buildings. Here are search engine marketing strategies it could use to build its business:

  • Buy paid search ads targeted to zip codes in the deli’s delivery area. Set the ads to run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to capture hungry workers at lunchtime.
  • Combine Facebook advertising with paid search, which research shows can increase the effectiveness of campaigns. Like search engine ads, Facebook ads can be used to target local workers at lunchtime. They can also include pictures of popular menu items.
  • Include special offers in the ads. Tease monthly specials in ad copy and link the ads to a web pagethat includes a full description of specials as well as the deli’s phone number, location and easy to find menu links.

Boutique bookstore: Reaching the right customers
A store specializing in children’s books wants to reach families of toddlers who are looking for high quality reading materials. The store could use these strategies:

  • Drive traffic to the store’s website by using Google’s Contextual Targeting Tool to place ads on the Google Display Network. These ads appear within third-party content related to children’s books. People who read this content are likely to be qualified prospects who are interested in the store’s products.
  • Use paid search ads to promote specific popular children’s book titles and characters. Narrowly targeting ad copy will help the store compete with chain bookstores that have large enough budgets to target more expensive, broad-based paid search terms.
  • Track campaign performance on Google Analytics to find out which geographic locations produce the most hits and use this information to refine the campaigns. For example, if a local retirement community generates a high amount of traffic, the store can create Facebook ads targeted to grandparents in the community’s zip code.


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