How does search engine marketing work?
The internet has increasingly become the first – and often only – tool that consumers use to research goods, services and providers before they buy. This makes search engine marketing (SEM) a vital component of any business marketing plan.
The objective of (SEM) is to drive traffic to your website with the intent of converting those visitors into customers. With SEM, it is important to have your business site listed near the top of the search engine rankings since very few internet users will actually look at search results beyond the first couple of pages. SEM can be divided into two categories: organic and paid. Both are important.
Organic Search Engine Marketing
As you might expect, “organic” SEM is a “natural” way to improve your ranking in search engines and therefore drive traffic to your website.
The most common form of organic SEM is search engine optimization (SEO). SEO refers to a variety of techniques designed to help your website rank higher in search engine results. Optimizing your website involves doing a little bit of research on what keywords or phrases your customers or potential customers are searching for when they are looking for your products or services online. It then involves writing web content using those keywords in a way that is both easy for search engines to pick up but still readable and pleasant for your website visitors.
As far as the design of your site goes, an SEO website should have links from page to page that are easy for the search engine spiders to navigate and collect information.
Finally, you should have links on other reputable and relevant sites that lead back to your site as this will increase your SEO ranking as well.
In addition to SEO, there are a few other strategies for organic SEM that may or may not lead directly to your website but can still promote your business. These strategies include SEO video, social media, online customer review sites and tools such as Google Places.
Paid Search Engine Marketing
Sometimes when you are at the beginning of your SEM campaign, it can be difficult to get a decent ranking organically. This is especially true if there is a lot of competition in your field. If you are finding that this is the case for your business, it may be worth it to invest in some paid SEM.
Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is the most common form of paid SEM. PPC ads are the ones you see at the top of your Google search with the word “ad” written discreetly next to the link. Search engines such as Google sell keywords to the highest bidder. One of the nice things about this form of advertising is that – as the name suggests – you only pay for the ad when someone actually clicks on it.
Other forms of paid SEM include banner ads, remarketing as well as ads on social media sites such as Facebook or YouTube.
It is usually not necessary for a business to engage in all of these forms of SEM but we do usually recommend a mix depending on the business and its specific goals.