For most small businesses the difference between SEO and SEM is that of a letter. In case you are not conversant with the terminology, SEO stands for search engine optimization and SEM stands for search engine management. While SEO is an organic method to grow your web presence through keywords and good content, SEM is concerned with managing your advertisements and outreach on major search engines and e-commerce websites.
This week we will look at a solution that optimizes SEM for small and medium sized businesses. In this adCore review we will check how this free tool can help you automate your paid search management efforts. We will look at its interface, features, and see how it can be of use to you.
Which is better: SEO or SEM?
According to Aaron Kliner, Product Manager at Podium Advertising Technologies, the company behind adCore, both SEO and SEM are essential to build a small business. Incidentally, Podium believes in democratizing SEM and has algorithms designed by pioneers in the SEM space. adCore, itself, is in its fourth version with version 5 due to be released in the coming months.
Kliner says that SEM is a better choice for high-competition keywords as it provides an immediate return on investment as compared to SEO, which is a longer-term investment strategy. Examples of such keywords include names of brands and products that users commonly search for on search engines or e-commerce websites.
As I mentioned earlier, SEM methodology involves management of your outreach and advertising efforts. Commonly used methodologies include purchase of commonly used keywords and sponsored advertising on websites. In essence, SEM reduces reliance on content and places emphasis on management of keywords. “You have much more control as you are responsible for the bidding on each keyword and not relying on content,” says Kliner.
Who Is It For?
Kliner says that adCore is ideal for eCommerce businesses, particularly those sites listing many products. “Using adCore, you can turn your eCommerce site into a dynamic ad campaign so that your ads will automatically update based on changes to your website inventory,” he says. According to Kliner, the solution is also ideal for small businesses that do not have a dynamic inventory. This means that small businesses, which do not have a high rate of inventory turnover, can use the solution’s bid management system to advertise their products on search engines and other websites.
The Search Engine Management Interface
adCore has three main tabs to help you automate your SEM activities: Campaigns, Reports and Clients. The Reports Taballows you to generate analytics regarding your campaign and invite users to view your account. The Clients Tab is perfect for SEM agencies managing multiple client accounts. But the bulk of your time will be spent in the Campaigns Tab where the Dashboards allow you to Link, Submit and Optimize your campaigns.
Using adCore’s Submission dashboard, you can build your PPC campaigns in just minutes creating dynamic campaigns based on your website inventory. You can then push those campaigns to Google AdWords Yahoo, and Bing search and shopping.
Working With The Solution
There are three modules within adCore: Submission (used to submit links to the interface), Optimization (used for bid management), and Reporting (used to generate analytics related to your SEM efforts).
Each has a dashboard that enables you to configure major campaigns through links to your website. Each campaign is associated with keywords, ad groups (for similar campaigns in a feed), and ads. Each campaign can also be associated with a feed. That feed is especially helpful to include metadata about your products. For example, you can configure an Electronics feed that maps product brand names and attributes to specific keywords. adCore’s keyword builder also enables you to create ad groups for your campaigns.
As I mentioned earlier, adCore has sophisticated bid management algorithms that enable you to set specific pricing for individual campaigns for individual campaigns. Thus, you can designate cost per acquisition goals or specify bid prices for a range of time-periods. You can also specify minimum click through rates and maximum amount that you are willing to spend on cost per acquisition.The Reports Tab provides analytics related to your campaign in graphical and tabular formats. The graphical report provides a trending report for time periods and displays your average position versus cost per acquisition. The tabular format, however, displays a comparative analysis of your metrics versus stated goals.
An Excellent Support System
On each page, the solution has three buttons that help users learn more about the solution. Using these buttons, you can walk through the feature or view help videos associated with the feature or access a comprehensive knowledgebase associated with it.
Pros & Cons
There are several things to like about adCore. For starters, it automates most of the tasks associated with Search Engine Management, which, I think, is the biggest plus for the solution. Automation helps save money and resources for small businesses, which, as I have mentioned time and again, are constrained for resources. On a macro level, it empowers small businesses (through its easy-to-use interface) to manage their online presence. In addition, adCore has an excellent reporting interface that slices and dices data related to your SEM efforts in interesting and targeted ways. Finally, the solution is perfect to learn more about SEM and SEO because it has an extensive support network that guides you through each step of the way.
One area where the solution could improve is through a richer interface for visualization of data against goals. Currently, SEM data is displayed in simple tabular and graphical interfaces. However, it might be an idea for the solution’s developers to introduce linkages between data to produce a richer and attractive data set. I understand though that version 5 is due to include a major overhaul of the Reporting features in adCore.
adCore offers four tiers of pricing that range from free to premium pricing. The free tier limits the number of users and features available. On the other hand, premium pricing offers unlimited users and a slew of features including client management and extensive support. Depending on the number of users, modules, and support structure, small businesses can opt for a specific tier. We recommend that you start with a test run using the free tier and upgrade later, depending on your needs.
Is It For You?
If you are interested in a solution that simplifies complex SEM into a series of automated tasks and scales well, then adCore is definitely for you. The solution’s versatility lies in the fact that it can be used by small businesses as well as e-commerce websites.