The Internet is the ubiquitous and universal source for information about almost anything. When most people want to find products, services or information, they use the Internet, or more specifically, they use search engines that have indexed the content of almost every website and web page in the world. Since there are many millions of websites around, the challenge for businesses is to get your information found by people looking for what you offer.
That's where Search Engine Marketing (SEM) comes into play - to get the various search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing to list information from your website and specific web pages for relevant search queries. The real challenge is not getting it listed, but getting it listed in such a manner that it shows up high enough in the search results to get attention. There are two primary SEM approaches to draw attention to your information on the Internet:
1. Organic - the website content is organized in a manner that search engines can readily identify the information context and relevance for indexing so that the results show up in relevant searches. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) uses methods to specifically optimize website content to achieve the correct and best search engine results. SEO begins with understanding how the search engines work to index websites and produce results for a search. Based on this knowledge, SEO employs numerous techniques to optimize the content and various internal settings of a website so that it will achieve better search engine rankings than competitive websites.
2. Paid - a business pays for various forms of advertising such as paid placement, paid inclusion and contextual advertising for their website to feature in search engine results. Pay Per Click (PPC) is the most common method for paid inclusion in search engine results. In Google it's the first 2 or 3 listings highlighted in yellow on the search results page plus the sponsored links in the right hand column. With PPC Internet marketing, a website operator pays for associating a specific keyword with their website. When someone searches for that keyword, the search engine displays the associated website information and link. Each time a visitor clicks on this link to their website, the website operator pays the search engine a pre-determined fee.
The cost per click depends on the popularity of the keyword(s) and how much other website operators are willing to bid for that keyword to link to their website. This means that the more a website operator is willing to pay per click, the higher an entry will rank in the search results list. Each search engine has separate PPC contracts.
SEM is a marketing strategy that requires proper research, planning, management, execution and continuous refinement. SEO begins with the website design and construction, and is a continuing process to improve results and stay current with search engine changes and quirks. PPC or other paid options are part of the overall business marketing and advertising budget to achieve the best possible ROI across all marketing possibilities for the target market(s). Search engines continue to evolve and change how they index and rank web pages.
Taking action for your business:
* Search Engine Marketing should be a high priority for every business that wants wants tangible results from their website and Internet investment.
* You need to do both Organic and Paid approaches to get the best results.
* Paid methods produce results fastest - within hours or days. Organic methods take months to produce results.
* Organic search is essential for high performance long-term sustainable results.
* There are many websites and articles on the Internet about how to do SEO. Getting the basics done right is relatively straightforward - any reasonable website developer should know how to do it.
* Getting outstanding long-term results with SEO requires more expertise. SEO consultants are a dime a dozen - do your homework and check references before retaining someone.
* Although organic SEM seems to be free since there are no direct payments like PPC, doing SEO correctly does require paid expertise and resources.
* SEM is a major factor for achieving Internet Marketing success - it deserves the right attention and funding, but only within an overall, defined Internet Marketing strategy.
The key to successful Search Engine Marketing (SEM) for your business is developing a coherent strategy and execution plan encompassing organic and paid approaches.