These days, with search engines constantly changing and updating their algorithms, trying to uncover the secrets of the right marketing approach can feel like a complete mystery. It's important to review your search engine marketing strategies to make sure your business is still getting the SEM visibility it should, but even knowing where to start can seem impossible.

The catch is that constant changes to search algorithms can be difficult to keep up with. As a result, your company may be missing opportunities to convert the money it spends into actual returns. For example, "set it and forget it" AdWords campaigns simply don't work anymore. If you still rely on them, your company isn't getting the ROI it deserves.

Many companies still rely on old marketing methods because they don't take a scientific approach to managing their campaigns. So it's time to dust off the old goggles and lab coat and apply the scientific method to your SEM campaign. With the help of Google AdWords and trusted SEM experts, these five scientific steps can get you started on the right path:

1. Prepare your workspace for productive data gathering.

Before investing in a long list of highly targeted AdWords, the first step to a successful experiment is to make sure you're gathering the right data. In the case of a lucrative SEM campaign, this starts with optimizing your company's organic online presence. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly, meets the Americans with Disabilities Act's guidelines for accessibility, and is producing fresh, original content through regular blogging.

With these basics of organic SEM in place, you can begin to gather sufficient and relevant data. Learn which pieces of content reach which people, determine where you see the most interaction and conversion, and, most importantly, identify which keywords attract the audience you're most focused on reaching. Then, build the outline of your AdWords campaign based on these metrics.

2. Build your hypothesis on the right analytics.

Now's the time to make an educated guess on what the best SEM approach might be. With the data you gather from your organic SEM campaign, you can start utilizing Google Analytics to track your inbound marketing and make that determination. Analytics are the backbone of an effective AdWords campaign. Without them, you're much less likely to realize any positive ROI. However, building the right hypothesis requires understanding which analytics matter and why.

You might know how many people visit your website and for how long. Yet, as a data scientist, you also need to know why they visited and how you can adapt your marketing efforts to reach similar audiences at scale. Then, you can use specialized SEM tools to build a more robust campaign.

3. Use specialized SEM tools.

Every great scientist needs the most advanced tools at his or her disposal. As your audience grows, you need to scale your SEM strategies to ensure you're reaching a maximum number of potential consumers. All scientists need the right tools to adapt properly, and for search engine data scientists, the most important tools are those that add value to organic and paid SEM channels.

Boutique marketing firm Gauss & Neumann, for example, provides a specialized SEM tool known as MASK. The acronym stands for Massive Array of Structured Keywords, and it's designed to take search engine marketing to its highest level. As the name suggests, MASK allows you to build a long-standing campaign structure by exponentially growing your keywords account to reach millions, rather than thousands.

4. Conduct different experiments.

The only way to reinforce (or disprove) your hypothesis is to conduct various experiments to see what works and what doesn't. As with specialized tools to build SEM, you can also find several organizations and experts who specialize in testing which strategies drive the highest ROI. Companies like growth marketing agency Ladder work to help you test and scale your marketing efforts without time-consuming guesswork.

Jon Brody, CEO and co-founder of Ladder, emphasizes that the science of enhancing your brand involves conducting a lot of experiments. "Test across every customer touchpoint with combinations of audience, creative, message, and channel. Test different value propositions, then integrate these data-driven learnings into your brand and your offline marketing campaigns."

5. Analyze your research.

No experiment or scientific process is complete without analyzing the results and adapting as necessary. The final step of analyzing your research is crucial for confirming whether your ROI has improved or demands another experiment.

At this point, learning that your ROI isn't what it should be doesn't mean you have to start over from scratch. If you've gotten as far as finalizing the analysis of your research, you should already have the tools and data necessary to refine your campaign and experiment with more strategies until you reach optimal ROI.

The algorithms that determine the standards of your SEM strategies may constantly fluctuate. Yet, with a scientific approach guided by these five steps, you can be confident in your company's ability to continuously realize maximum ROI from your dynamic SEM efforts.