What is Search Engine Marketing?

Search engine marketing (SEM) is one of the most effective ways to promote your business online. This internet marketing method is used for improving the visibility of your website in search engine results pages (SERPs) through primarily paid advertising and listings (paid placement, paid inclusion, shopping search, video search ads, local search ads, product listing ads). In short, SEM is the process of gaining website traffic by purchasing ads that appear on the results pages of search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Search Engine Marketing is the most powerful way to grow your business

within the most competitive market of all time.

The Four Most Common Search Engine Marketing Tactics

Paid Placement & Pay Per Click

Pay Per Click is an internet advertising model in which you, as an advertiser, pay every time a potential customer clicks your ad. PPC is the most popular form of Search Engine Advertising. This means that every time an internet user conducts a search in Google, Bing or Yahoo, that includes your matching keywords, your ad will be displayed. In order for your ad to appear on those major search engine results pages, you must bid for keywords that accurately represent your business. As you win in this bidding process, your ad will begin ranking higher, giving your website maximum exposure.

Google AdWords is the most used PPC advertising system today. This platform enables advertisers to create ads that appear on Google’s search engine. Which advertisement will be displayed on a Google results page depends on many factors. Some of which are:

  • quality and relevance of keywords
  • the size of the bid
  • fulfillment of editorial
  • technical requirements, and many more

PPC has many advantages. It allows you to connect with potential customers at the very moment they search for the product or service you are offering. If your ad and keywords accurately describe your business PPC can have a major impact on your website traffic. Just prior to this writing, Google rolled out a huge change that removes ads from the right side of its desktop search results. Now they are only placing ads at the top and bottom of the page. There are now four paid search results at the top instead of three and nothing on the right side. This is a major change, because paid advertisements are more visible than ever, leaving organic search results with little or no above-the-fold visibility on most devices.

Paid Inclusion

Paid inclusion is a search engine marketing model which, according to the Federal Trade Commission, can take many forms:

“Examples of paid inclusion include programs where the only sites listed are those that have paid; where paid sites are intermingled among non-paid sites; and where companies pay to have their Web sites or URLs reviewed faster, or for more frequent spidering of their Web sites or URLs, or for the review or inclusion of deeper levels of their Web sites, than is the case with non-paid sites”.

Unlike PPC, the paid inclusion method doesn’t give a guarantee for top rankings. It only guarantees inclusion within the search engine results pages.

Contextual Advertising

Contextual advertising is a form of targeted advertising that provides a contextual targeted ad on a web page you are browsing based on the content of that page. Contextual ad technology shows “your message to users exactly when they’re reading about your products and services across millions of other web pages – automatically, and in real-time.”

In other words, contextual ad technology displays ads that are related to the unique content a specific user is looking for on the web. There are several types of contextual advertising:

  1. In-text Contextual Ads – With in-text contextual advertising, ads appear as hypertext links within the actual page content. This type of contextual advertising commonly works on a cost per click (CPC) model. Each time a visitor clicks on an In-text ad, the web site owner gets paid by the advertiser. Other models include cost per impression (CPM), cost per action (CPA) and cost per play (CPP) for multimedia content ads (also known as Pay Per Play (PPP)).
  1. Sponsored Ads – This type of ad appears in specific areas of a web page. Typically, advertisers can choose where their ads will be displayed on a particular page.
  1. Pop Up Ads – This type of contextual advertising has broadly become the least popular among users. A pop-up ad is an ad that displays in a new browser window, typically over the top of the window the user is viewing.

This pop-up window can come in many different shapes and sizes. When the program is initiated by some user action (mouse click or a mouseover), a window containing an offer for a product or service appears in the foreground of the visual interface. Pop-unders are similar to pop-ups. The only difference is that the window containing the offer appears under the user’s current browser making it less intrusive and more acceptable to users.

Google AdSense was the first significant contextual advertising network. They use contextual targeting; which implies utilization of factors such as keyword analysis, word frequency, font size, and the overall link structure of the web in order to determine what a web page is about and precisely match Google ads to each page. Google AdSense delivers Google AdWords ads to individuals’ websites. Google pays web publishers for the ads displayed on their site based on user-clicks on the ads or depending on the ad type, Google may pay based upon ad impressions.

Digital Asset Optimization

DAO is the process of optimizing all of your content – video, podcasts, images, etc. – for search engines.

Getting Your Keywords Right

Choosing the correct keywords is the foundation of successful search engine marketing. Keywords can make or break your online marketing campaign. Targeting the wrong words or choosing words that are not related to your business can generate low quality traffic or no traffic at all. Various free tools are available to help you identify the keywords that most accurately represent your business:

The Difference in SEO and SEM

For many people Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are highly vague concepts. Understanding the differences between SEM and SEO is very important when it comes to managing your marketing budget. In the early 2000s, SEM was originally defined as an umbrella term which included SEO and paid search. But today most experts consider SEO and SEM to be two separate practices – SEO for optimizing web pages for search engines and SEM for advanced promotion and paid page-ranking.

SEO refers to the on-site and off-site optimization techniques used to help your website achieve the highest page rankings possible. SEO rankings are also referred to as organic page ranking. Organic page rankings are rankings for which you are not paying for the keywords to show up when they are queried by a user.

SEO is a long-term stable investment that is required for your site to be found by the search engines and displayed to viewers. How high your site ranks depends greatly on the quality of your optimization techniques and just as greatly on the content of your web pages.

SEM refers to paid search listings. SEM is short-term tactic. When implemented well, you can expect immediate and impressive returns.

Search engine optimization and search engine marketing are immensely important to the growth of your online business and brand awareness. As you determine your online growth goals, you’ll want to establish a budget for both strategies.

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