How do You Automate Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

Automating a Search Engine Marketing campaign is a fine balance between science and art. Simply put, all it requires is a technology platform you can leverage on and some form of human oversight to ensure the smooth running of the campaigns.



On Start of Campaign

At the start of the search marketing campaign, it would require close monitoring and adjustment of bids. If budget allows, try to bid sufficiently so that most keywords will be able to achieve Ad Position of at least three and above. This would help to ensure visibility for most of your ads so that every ad has an opportunity to be shown or clicked.


Optimizing the Campaign

After a few weeks of close monitoring your Pay per Click (PPC) campaign, start observing metrics like CTR, CPC, quality score and your average position. Do they meet your requirements? Are there bids that need to be change? Are there redundant keywords that need to be “negative” off?


If your keywords have CTR that are below 1%, it may mean that the ads are not very relevant to the person who is searching and saw the ads.  You can consider either to pause these keywords or to refine the ads to achieve a better CTR.


If you have linked your website to Google Analytics, you can also create dashboards to generate deeper insights. One of my favourite dashboards is analysing the keywords by its page views and conversion rates as seen below:



This allows me to decide if I should allocate a greater bid for keywords so that they may appear more often and help to generate more conversions.


Automating the campaign

Once the campaign has been optimized and starts to stabilised, you can start automating the campaigns by using the Automate features of your Adwords system.  For instance, to ensure your keywords will always remain among first page bid you can set “Raise bids to first page CPC when…” keywords bid drop below first page bid. Keywords bid can also be automated if their Average Position has drop below a certain position.



There are many more automating features under the “Automate” tab which can be set to assist in automating the campaign.


Maintaining the Campaigns

As the campaigns are running in automated mode, it would be good to visit the campaign from time to time to monitor the performance. It would particularly be useful to check the “Keyword details” tab for keywords that are triggered by your broad and phrase match keywords. For important buying keywords, you can add them as exact match into your active keywords set. For those that are redundant, you can add them as negative keywords so that future search of these keywords will not trigger the ads.


Henceforth it is indeed possible to automate your campaigns, but it is advisable to do it only after you have optimized the campaigns. With automation and monitoring in place, it can help you save time and effort while continue to run a rewarding campaign.