The biggest benefit of paid Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is not that you get traffic to your website, but that you find out what your market wants.
If we define marketing as the process of:
1) Finding out what people want.
2) Finding out how to sell it to them.
3) Finding out if you can make a profit doing so.
4) Converting this knowledge into profit!
… then you can see how awesome paid SEM is.
The Purest Form of Traffic
By showing ads when people search for something in Google, we find out what they want.
If someone searches for “wedding rings Dublin”, then we know they are in the market for wedding rings, and that they are at the end of the buying cycle (since they are searching by location).
We could run a test using different ad headlines e.g. “Luxury Wedding Rings”, “Affordable Wedding Rings” or “Custom Wedding Rings”. The ad that gets the most clicks would tell us what is foremost in the mind of the searcher.
While fine-tuning this campaign we find out search volumes, the cost-per-click, cost-per-lead, cost-per-sale, and whether we can get a positive ROI. With this information we can either refine until we’re profitable or “fail fast” and move on.
With paid SEM, by the time you’ve got to step 4, you’ve already done steps 1 to 3 and have either a profitable sales funnel or not.
Therefore the biggest benefit of SEM is to use this “purest form of traffic” to evolve your business offering and give the market what it actually wants, and not what you hope it wants.
If you’re not using paid Search Engine Marketing like this then you’re only buying traffic.