Top 8 SEM Hacks to Boost Your Performance

Search Engine Marketing commonly referred to as SEM, is the marketing strategy for expanding the visibility of a website on search engines, mainly by investing in ad campaigns that target the keywords potential customers are browsing for. It also employs organic marketing techniques but to a limited extent.

Believing that you have a basic knowledge of Search Engine Marketing on popular search engines such as Bing and Google and paid advertising methods such as Pay-Per-Click (PPC), here are eight intelligent hacks to improve your effectiveness SEM campaigns.

SEM marketing strategy


Click-Through Ratio, abbreviated as CTR, is a crucial metric in SEM. The name itself indicates that CTR is the number of clicks on a search engine ad divided by the number of impressions. It’s a fundamental indicator of user interest in a particular ad. AdWords uses CTR as a rationale for the quality evaluation of any ad.

The objective is to improve the quality and boost the CTR of an ad to make it enter a positive feedback loop. By doing so, your ad will automatically be pushed by the search engine up in the ranking, further increasing the CTR.

If the quality score of your ad is low, it will be quickly pushed down the search engine pages. An ad with a low CTR will fall in search engine ranking and eventually enter a negative feedback loop, lowering the quality score.

Here is how you can improve your CTR by making it enter a positive feedback loop:

  • Emphasize Strategically:

Use capital letters as a means to emphasize significant words. Ads are not literature, so use capitals strategically to highlight keywords for better results.

SEM hacks
  • Make your Ad Convincing:

Use the not-so-optional Ad extensions to display additional information that can make your ad more convincing.

  • Call-to-Action (CTA):

CTA is like the last nail in the coffin. Use it intellectually to give that extra push needed to press the button. 

  • A/B Test:

Keep testing as it is the only means to know what’s working and what’s not. Analyze the results, revisit your strategy and revise your campaign to improve your CTR.


If someone advises, “Keywords are dead,” they are not honest with you. Keywords are the essence of search engines and form the foundation of your search engine marketing efforts. Nowadays, the voice search option has emphasized the significance of incorporating more semantic phrases and long-tail keywords. In addition to Google keyword tools, many other tools like Topic Research or SEMrush Keyword Magic help generate lists of high converting primary and secondary keywords. Digital marketers are highly recommended to carry out extensive keyword research before you proceed with your SEM campaign.

If you don’t utilize the right keywords in your SEM campaign or don’t know how and where to find the right keywords – you are not laying the proper, foundation and it can adversely impact not only the SEM campaign but the entire marketing efforts.

The hack is to give due importance to ‘negative keywords.’ If you are using phrase terms or broad term keywords, you should check the actual referrer keywords that provoke your ads. If your keyword is “American florist,” you might not wish your ad to activate if someone searches “American florist jobs.” To ensure that your ad displays in the most relevant searches, don’t forget to add “jobs” as a negative keyword.


Search queries are categorized into three types depending upon the searcher’s intent. Search queries are either Informational, Transactional, or Navigational. Depending on the intent of the query, the search engines tend to change how they display ads. For instance, Shopping ads stem from transactional terms that show the products with prices. That’s why it’s significant to create ads based on the intent of the searcher. It’s essential to keep in mind your potential customer journey and sales funnel.


Like any other industry, competitors in the field of SEM are no different. SEM is a tricky business. It is a channel where you can skillfully emulate your competition – and defeat them with a few personalizing tweaks. It would be best if you analyzed their high-ranking ads so that you can revisit your campaign to improve its performance and enhance your CTR. You have, like your competitors, limited options to exploit the features of the ad platform, like Bing Ads or Google AdWords. Using your options cleverly and skillfully can make a huge difference.

One clever hack is to bid on your competitor’s branded terms, provided they aren’t using them, in addition to bidding on your terms to prevent competitors from gaining the upper hand and that too without spending much.

One can keep a close eye on their competitors by having tools like SpyFu. It will help you check out their best-performing keywords for both paid ads and organic listings. You can either use the same set of keywords as your competitors to bid on or choose entirely different keywords. Both options can give you an edge, and you have to test which one works in your case.

One must analyze the ad copies of their competitors carefully. It will help you craft even more powerful ads which will entice your target audience and compel them to click the CTA.


Nowadays days, people use several devices to search. People use mobiles, tablets, and desktops to browse search engines. Generally, desktops are inclined more towards information gathering, while queries from mobile devices have an instant, location-based context. The cost of ads varies according to the device they will run, so you need to keep the device in mind while creating ads. You can’t just create a single ad and expect it to work equally well on all devices.

Nowadays, people conduct more searches on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. It’s the responsibility of an SEM specialist to exploit all the available platforms provided by Google Ads to sow the seeds of as many leads as possible and set up Google ads for mobiles. Recognizing the impact of mobile on Pay-Per-Click advertising and optimizing the campaign accordingly is the key to success since mobile has a proven advantage in total search volume for a keyword match.

Because of the level of intimacy that mobile devices offer, it’s a great way to reach a distinct set of targeted customers and easier to convert the ones who click your Google ad.

One effective hack is to separate your desktop PPC ad campaign from that of mobile. Another hack is to write short ad copy for mobile PPC. Design a dedicated mobile-friendly landing page that is ideal for mobile PPC. Ask for an email address on your mobile responsive landing page to nurture the leads. Don’t forget to deactivate off-hours for desktop PPC and activate on-hours for mobile PPC.


Keep experimenting with varied aspects of your SEM campaign. You can try different keywords and bidding strategies to see what works for your target audience, experiment with different headlines and ad copies, layout, and CTA on your landing pages, and more. Based on the results, you can design new campaigns, stop underperforming ones, and obtain more Return on Investment over time. By far, the most effective way to uncover growth hacks that serve best for your business is by testing.


Google AdWords uses attributes like their GPS coordinates, IP address, or a stated location that allows you to geo-target individuals. You also have the option to target customer segments on region-wise, national, or proximity-based levels—external research influences at every location along with cultural preferences before starting a campaign in any target area.


Being an SEM expert, if you believe that you can also write persuasive copy for the ads since you understand the ad platform, you are mistaken. You can be one blessed individual with a creative writer inside, but that’s not a general rule. It is always advisable to hire a creative team to draft your headlines, ad description, and visual content and get them vetted by a subject-matter professional for technicalities. The basic principle of advertisement is still the same, and the traditional approach still works wonders if you can scale it at digital speed. Copywriters know how to touch the readers’ pain points and entice them to act according to the CTA, so always let the professional do the needful for profitable results.

The Final Verdict

One of the fantastic things about Search Engine Marketing is that there are many facets you can test and tweak to enhance the performance of your SEM efforts. The hack that can’t be overemphasized is to Test! Test your ad copy, test your landing page, target keywords, test your ad extensions. Testing will help you try new ways and means to increase your click-through rate, conversion rates, and ROI. It’s vital to test to ensure you are getting the most bang for your bucks.

Jiten Thakkar

Jiten Thakkar is a Digital Marketing Consultant who specializes in SEO, paid ads, content marketing & growth hacking. He is the founder of Local Forever, a complete directory platform for local businesses that helps them in online presence, marketing and complete website creation. He has consulted various brands and business owners in multiple countries to guide them towards actionable result-oriented digital marketing strategies.

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