What Is Search Engine Marketing?

Search engine marketing is the practice of marketing or advertising your website through search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Search engine marketing or SEM may consist of many components. First, there is organic search engine optimization or SEO. This is the practice of applying techniques to maximize your ranking and organic or natural search results. Organic search results are the rankings of webpages returned by a search engine when you search for specific word or phrase (a keyword or keyword phrase). Then we have what we call pay-per-click advertising or PPC. For ads you place for your website with a search engine such as Google or Yahoo, you bid the amount you are willing to pay per click, the more you bid, the higher your ad will appear in the search engine results.

In addition to search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing search, numerous directories also exist on the web. These directories may be general in nature or related to a specific topic. You can get free listings in some online directories, but most of them charge for a listing. Yahoo directory, which is separate from Yahoo search, is described in Yahoo’s own words as “subject-based directory listing websites in a wide range of topics, from arts entertainment and society and culture to science education and health”. We will discuss more on PPC and SEO in later articles. Find ways to increase the number of visitors to your website, and then find ways to increase the conversion rates of those visitors and you’ll know exactly what it takes to make your search engine marketing program successful.

So why is search engine marketing important? Well, you may or may not decide to make search engine marketing part of your marketing and advertising strategy. If you don’t have a website for your business and don’t plan to ever have one, you certainly wouldn’t need search engine marketing. However, in today’s business climate, nearly all businesses are expected to have a website and most do. Search engine marketing is used as a way to get traffic to your website which in turn should ideally lead to getting new customers and adding to your business revenues. Compared to other means of marketing and advertising, search engine marketing can be very cost effective. For instance, you can implement some search engine optimization techniques on your own. Organic search rankings are free, so if you can move yourself up in the rankings, your traffic should increase which in turn should increase your business revenues. Similarly, pay-per-click advertising can be very inexpensive. Since you can set limits on how much you’ll pay per click and how much you’ll pay per day, it’s fairly easy to keep your cost in line.

How you measure the effectiveness of your search engine marketing program depends on what your objectives were when you started. If your intent was merely to increase the number of visitors to your website, you would determine if your SEM efforts were successful by comparing your web traffic statistics before and after you implemented search engine marketing. In addition to site traffic, you need to track your conversion rates; for example, if as a result of your search engine marketing efforts, your traffic doubles from 250 to 500 visitors per month, how many new customers did you acquire from the additional 250 visitors to your site? Do you now have twice as many customers as you did before? Probably not.  if you picked up 5 customers, your conversion rate would be 2% of the new traffic (5/250), and 1% (5/500) overall.

All in all, there are many components to search engine marketing, and it’s important to look at all avenues as online trends are constantly changing.

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