Search Engine Marketing - SEM

Search engines are to online searchers what the yellow pages are to offline searchers. In the context of business, this means search engines allow consumers to quickly locate the goods and services they need.  But unlike the yellow pages, you can’t simply pay a higher price to claim a prime piece of advertising space.  This is what many business owners fail to understand when they decide to market their business online using search engines.

Search Engines Care about User Experience First, Your Money Second

Before you begin advertising your business online using search engine marketing, you must understand that search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing are specifically designed with the end user in mind.  This is why companies like Google have been so successful.  By focusing on delivering a positive user experience and by only returning the most relevant search results, these search engines have earned the trust and loyalty of their users.
The search engines will not compromise the integrity of their service simply because you throw money at them.  In order to successfully market your business on the search engines, you have to give them what they want; high quality, relevant content.  And to do that, you need an effective search engine marketing strategy.

There are two main types of search engine marketing, and both can play a crucial role to improving the visibility of your business online.

Short Term Results - Paid Search

When you conduct a search on Google for example, you will notice that results are divided into two discreet sections.  On the main listings are the natural search results which are free.  Be aware; however, that Google has allocated prime real estate for their most expensive Pay Per Click, (PPC), listings. These are usually the first three (or less) listings and are distinguishable from the free listings by being highlighted with a light pink color in the background. On the right are the paid search results. 

Paid search results are a great way to quickly increase your company’s exposure online and immediately increase traffic to your website.  An optimized paid search advertising campaign can easily give you an amazing return on your investment because your ad will only be shown to people who are already interested in what you are offering.  This is very different from traditional offline advertising where you are often taking a shot in the dark as far as who will see your advertisement.  One major advantage of Organic or Natural Search over Paid Search; however, is that once you discontinue your Paid Search campaign you are left with nothing. Search engines such as Google indicate they do not give special consideration when it comes to natural or organic search for Paid Search customers. In other words, no matter how much money you spend on your Paid Search campaign, you will not see any advancement in the SERPS (Search Engine Ranking Position) as a direct result of the money which you have spent. There may be some effects, such as a few sites finding your website in the paid listings section and linking back to you, but that is by pure chance.

Long Term Results - Natural Search

The second type of search engine marketing involves the natural search results.  Unlike paid search results, it takes time to establish a presence in the natural search results for your business and to increase traffic to your website.  To achieve that, you will need to apply Internet Marketing Strategies such as content creation, content promotion, website popularity and relevance through proper link building techniques (the more prominent websites that have the potential to direct traffic back to your website the better) and social networking. Your website also needs to be search engine optimized for the keyword phrases which are most relevant to your business.  Developing a successful strategy for search engine marketing can include both paid and natural search results.  And the only way to achieve positive results with either method is by successfully optimizing your business website, content and advertisements for the search engines. 

Doing so is a complicated process, involving time, knowledge and money, so consider hiring an experienced SEO company to design and implement an effective search engine marketing strategy for your business.

For an explanation of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how it differs from SEM, click here.

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