Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Do It Right!

altIf your business marketing strategy does not account for web marketing, you're missing out on a large share of potential clients. The internet has become the most popular way to search for goods or services. Ignore this and you risk losing out to your competitors who have adapted their marketing strategy to include search engine marketing techniques. Learn the basic strategies of search marketing, the benefits of using SEO and PPC ads to boost web traffic and tips for starting out.

Overview of search engine marketing

Search engine marketing uses SEO (search engine optimization) and other methods to boost your web page's presence in search results. While there are a number of methods that you can use to make your site appear more relevant, good content is key. If your website describes who you are and what you do -- for example, you specialize in mold removal -- then users searching for "mold removal" will likely find your website. Without search marketing tactics, they may have to scroll through several pages of links to find your webpage. As you employ search marketing methods, your webpage will rise from page four of the search engine results to page 3, and so on.

Your goal? Land your website on the first page of returned results. A 2014 study found that only 6 percent of users scrolled to the second page of search results and clicked on a link found there. If you can make it onto page one, you have vastly greater odds of attracting page views and landing clients.

Search engine marketing techniques include:

  • Advertising - Web-based advertisements such as pay per click (PPC) campaigns that boost visibility on the web and place your webpage at the top of search engines like Google or Bing. (I'm not a fan of PPC campaigns, but there are certain situations where this is valid).
  • Keyword usage - Employing the right keywords on a webpage enables users to find the page. Keywords should describe your business and your products. (Caution:  "Key word stuffing" is not an appropriate way to get your page found.  i.e: using too many key words on the pages can defeat the purpose you are trying too achieve).  Google algorithms don't like key word stuffing!
  • Optimized web content - Keyword-dense web content tells search engines that your page is highly relevant to particular types of query, which causes your page to return higher in the retrieved search results as long as you don't stuff the content.
  • Backlinking - In search terms, backlinking measures how many links from other webpages link back to your webpage. Links between pages in your web domain -- for example, from your home page to your contact page -- do not count as backlinks. More backlinks equals higher relevancy to search engines.  One simple way to have back-links is to be really active on Social Media sites and direct those friends and followers back to your pages.
  • Analytics - Analytics tools help you measure who visits your webpage, what search terms they used to find it and where users spend time. This can help you refine your search engine marketing strategy over time. Google Analytics is FREE, and should be embedded into every webpage you have. The level of info it can provide you is incredible - giving you valuable insight into what is working (and what is not).

Why you need it

altWithout search marketing, you rely on luck to attract traffic to your website. When you begin to employ web marketing strategies, you take control over how you appear to potential clients and you boost the amount of organic web traffic your site will receive.

Increasingly, people use the internet over telephone directories and other methods to search for the services they need. Nuanced Media notes that 74 percent of internet users perform local search -- for example, mold removal in Denver -- and that 82 percent of local searchers actually follow up over the phone or in person. If your website can harvest those local searchers, you stand to gain a good deal of business.

A PPC ad puts your business in front of consumers who are searching for highly relevant keywords. Google, Bing and other search engines offer PPC ads through Google AdWords, BingAds and other channels. You pledge to pay a certain amount on BingAds if a customer clicks an ad with your chosen keyword, for example 30 cents for the keyword "mold removal Colorado." Your ad appears on Bing for free when mold removal searches are performed. Only if a searcher clicks on your ad do you pay the 30 cents. If fifty people view your ad and two click on it, you've raised your brand awareness along all 50 people who saw the ad and potentially gained two new customers. Your cost? 60 cents.  As I have already stated: I'm not a fan of PPC campaigns, but there are certain situations where this is valid.

Compared with other marketing strategies, the cost of employing SEM is actually quite low: Customer acquisition through PPC advertising and other means runs approximately $10 per customer. If you sent a direct mailing to residences and businesses in your market area, the cost per customer acquired would be approximately $70.

SEOSEO copywriters and web marketing firms specialize in generating web copy that contains the right amount of key words, PPC ad text and other search marketing essentials. If you're interested in expanding your SEM efforts but don't have the time to get started, consider working with a professional consultant. We'll create, roll out and refine your web strategy to improve your site's placement in search results, putting more eyeballs on your site.

Search marketing requires hard work and ongoing attention, but it is a strategy worth the investment. Dive in to begin increasing your business revenue and raising brand awareness.  If you land "below the fold," then you are NOT in first place.  You need to be in first place - second place isn't the winner.

Author: Dick Wagner