What is Search Engine Marketing?
The business landscape in the 21st century is characterized by more elusive and well connected consumers who are in constant search for value adding products. With the growth in internet connectivity, consumers have turned to the online platform to look for ideas and products before making their buying decisions.
Search engines play a central role in helping these consumers locate businesses and products So in order to remain competitive as a business, you need to leverage the power of search engines to market your products and establish your brand.
What is Search Engine Marketing?
Search engine marketing (SEM) refers to the process of promoting websites over the internet by enhancing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) through paid advertising and search engine optimization.
Paid Inclusion and Organic Listing
Each major search engine (Google, Yahoo and Bing) has paid and free listing options. Paid listing requires that you pay an annual subscription fee to the search engine firms through their various promotional programs (Google Ads, Bid Ads and Yahoo Ads) in order to have your website listed in the main results area or a separate niche advertising area. This sponsored listing will depend on the amount of money that you have paid to have your business and products listed.
For organic listing, you have to employ search engine optimization strategies such as content marketing, directory submissions and link building to try to have your website listed in top positions on search engine result pages.
Why Use Search Engine Marketing
Unlike other forms of online marketing, SEM is a targeted approach to customer acquisition and conversion. The prospects who find your brand or products using search engines are usually interested in them and that is why they searched in the first place. They are therefore more qualified leads than those who stumble upon your products while browsing the internet. Search engine marketing distinguishes itself through the following features:
- Non-Intrusive. SEM does not interrupt your consumer behavior as other online and offline advertising strategies do. Instead, the user, through his own initiative, searches for your products and business information and is ultimately driven to your site. This makes it easy for them to buy from you.
- Voluntary. Search engine marketing leverages on user-originated behavior. The customers who come to your site are not coerced by any means whatsoever, but rather of their own volition click on your listing and explore your offerings.
Search Engine Marketing Website Optimization Techniques
For you to succeed as a business in search engine marketing, you have to put in place strategies that will propel your business to the top of the search engines results. Below are some of the methods you can use to make this happen.
- Search Engine Optimization. This refers to the process of enhancing the visibility of your website on the search engine results page, and it is usually unpaid. To achieve this, you can use several strategies such as keyword research and analysis where you target specific search terms used by consumers in your niche market. In addition, you can use link building where quality and relevant content is distributed to authoritative websites and directories with an aim of linking back to your site. The quantity and quality of inbound links will improve your search engine ranking.
- Paid Inclusion. This is a technique used by search engine marketers where website owners pay search engines a certain contractual fee in return for guaranteed listing on the search engine results.
The advantage of paid inclusion is that it guarantees you that rapid inclusion of your website on the search engine results page in a matter of days. In case of any changes to your website, the search engine will re-crawl your web pages and re-index it for the fresh content. This increases your website ranking and subsequently the traffic to your site.
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC). In this model, advertisers pay a certain amount to the publisher (the website owner on whose site the ad is displayed) for every ad that is clicked. It is an excellent way of directing traffic to your site. The ads displayed by the search engines are usually tied to specific keyword phrases as chosen by the advertiser. You can either opt for flat rate PPC where you pay a fixed amount for every click or bid-based PPC where you sign a contract with the publisher allowing you to compete with other advertisers for a keyword based ad spot.
With PPC, you can target customers in specific areas or regions also called geotargeting. In addition, PPC programs such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads and Yahoo Ads gives you control over the specific keyword searches that trigger your ad.