Search engine marketing—or SEM—is a broad branch of Internet marketing that encompasses many different digital marketing practices and strategies. SEM revolves around Internet marketing techniques—primarily paid advertising—that are targeted toward improving your business website’s ranking on top search engines.

Building an effective search engine marketing campaign for your business can help you increase your website’s ranking on major search engines—thereby driving more traffic to your site, attracting more customers, and eventually increasing your profits. However, improving your ranking on major search engines has become more and more difficult as these search engines’ algorithms continue to advance and competition among businesses to improve their respective rankings increases.

Keep reading to learn how to stay ahead of the game and improve your search engine marketing strategies to build a more successful, growth-focused SEM campaign for your business with these 4 tips.

1. Prioritize Conversion

The end goal of search engine marketing strategies is the same as that of any marketing practice—to attract more customers and increase your business’s profits. While simply increasing your website’s search engine ranking and driving more traffic to your site is an important step toward increasing your customer base, views and clicks aren’t enough on their own.

It is important to keep in mind that increasing your conversion rate—or the proportion of visitors to your site that eventually become paying customers—is the ultimate marker of SEM success. If you notice that the number of visitors to your site is increasing but your conversion rate is not, it might be time to reassess the SEM strategies you are using. Strategies that drive traffic to your site aren’t necessarily effective at improving your customer conversion rate, which is why it is important to prioritize conversion and remember that views and clicks are great—but only if a good portion of them are attached to paying customers.

2. Publish Valuable Content

The days when a business could dramatically improve their website’s search engine ranking through practices like keyword stuffing—i.e. stuffing as many rank-able keywords as possible into a blog post or other piece of content in order to maximize your site’s search engine ranking—are in the past for the most part.

Nowadays, success in SEM is much more competitive and improving your website’s search engine ranking is much more difficult. The modern algorithms that major search engines use to rank websites in their listings have advanced considerably over the past few years, and they’ve gotten smart enough to recognize and see through tactics like keyword stuffing. Customers are also so used to seeing keyword-stuffed sites that they know how to see through them, too. Instead of going the cheap and easy route, focus on publishing valuable content that is genuinely engaging to your customers. Publishing well-researched, informational, and engaging content helps you earn your customers’ trust and confidence and will lead to higher profits long-term.

3. Set Goals for Search Engine Marketing

Setting concrete, objective, and attainable goals is an important part of building an effective and sustainable SEM campaign for your business. Success and growth that amounts from SEM is not instantaneous. It takes a while for some SEM practices to pay off. During the time in between strategizing and success, it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel where all of the time and effort you pour into building and maintaining your SEM campaign actually turns into more customers and higher profits. There will likely be times when you ask yourself, “What am I doing all of this for? What’s the point?”

That’s where goal-setting can come in handy. Don’t limit your goal-setting to a single ultimate end goal. Instead, set a number of smaller goals along the way to measure your progress as you move toward your end goal. Start out small and make sure each and every goal you set is simple, concrete, specific and attainable within a certain time frame. Set goals that set you up for success, not failure.

4. Use Data

Search engine marketing is very nuanced and complicated. It can be confusing and unintuitive much of the time, even for experienced SEM strategists. A good way to keep track of the SEM strategies you are using and how they are affecting your site’s search engine ranking, conversion rate, etc. is by using data.

Tracking data is a crucial part of any effective and successful SEM campaign. Take advantage of data to track the number of visitors your site gets, the amount of time visitors spend on your site, your conversion rate, etc. etc. Use data to track every relevant statistic you can, and let that data guide you in modifying and improving your SEM strategies as you move forward with your Internet marketing campaign.