Understanding The Basics Of Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing (SEM) revolves around getting the highest possible visibility among your Internet-based target market through a high rank in the search engines.

For most Internet users it’s virtually second nature to use a search engine to look for information, products or services. As expected, when they search on a particular word or combinations of words, the search engines come up with a host of results. Each result represents a website that supposedly has the information, products or services the Internet user looking for. They can click on the link and ta-da! the website does or does not give them what they want.

From your point of view as an Internet marketer, you want prospective customers who search on certain words to see your result when they go hunting for what you offer. In most cases this means being placed as high as possible, on the first page of results. If they’ve found what they’re looking for, most people won’t bother wading through all the search engine ranking pages (SERPs). Even if they haven’t found what they’re looking for, they often give up after sifting through the first few SERPs.

The two main strands of search marketing are search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search. Search engine optimization is about optimizing your website (i.e. each page on the site) – known as “on-page optimization” – as well as undertaking a range of “off-page” activities designed to achieve a high ranking in the SERPs. Getting a high ranking in the SERPs of a given search engine is a function of how that search engine’s mathematical algorithm (i.e. for determining rankings) works. Often this takes a degree of study, trial and error, and hard work.

Alternatively, to achieve a high place in the paid search results, it’s largely a matter of how much you’re willing to pay. Depending on the search engine, you can pay per click – known literally as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising – or pay based on the number of impressions or views the ad receives. Having said that, the priority of your placing may also be impacted by how effective your ad is, based on the number of clicks it receives or click through rate (CTR). Google, in particular, takes the CTR into account, as well as the bid price per click, when determining the order of the paid results.

It can be a good idea to dip your toe into search marketing by starting with paid advertising – particularly PPC. Not only can you begin promoting your offer to your target market without delay, but you can also test keywords. You might decide that particularly high performing keywords should be incorporated into your webpages for SEO purposes.

Search engine marketing can appear daunting to some, but it’s not as complex or “technical” as many think. Like anything, you’ll need to devote some time and effort to the principles of search engine marketing, but the possibility of attracting a huge amount of traffic on an ongoing basis makes it worthwhile.

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