Search Engine Marketing Demystified
Search engine marketing is by far the most efficient and effective way to advertise your business. With over 86% of internet users using Google as their search engine, the need for your business to show on the first page of Google has never been greater.
Many people are unaware of search engine marketing (SEM) and just take for granted the results that appear when they search for something on a search engine such as Google or Bing (Yahoo).
Search Engine Marketing: The Why?
However, search engine marketing seems to defy to current doom and gloom of the recession. Think about this:
“The average American spends 164 minutes online every day, compared with 148 minutes watching TV”
Over half the world’s population now has access to the web and nearly 90% of them find what they’re looking for using search engines. 36% of people think that the result at the top of the first page is the market leader and 80% of people make their choice from first page listings alone.
Search Engine Marketing: The How?
With over 21 billion web pages desiring a first page position, how can you get your website on the first page?
This is called search engine marketing. Listed below are few techniques and tips to get you started with optimizing your website to rank well on a search engine.
First we have to look at how search engines rank a website and decide which order to list them. The simple version is, Google changed everything the way many search engine rank. The initial creators of Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin) wanted to create a search engine that could rank a website for quality and list them in order of quality to the user. The way they decided to rank a website was to count how many other websites link to it. If other websites link to it then it must be good. So, essentially links mean votes. Like I said, this is the very simple version and there is so much more to it than this but it is a great place to start as it holds the most importance.
- See who links to you and then see who links to your competitors and try to muscle in on some of their action. Simply go to yahoo.co.uk, then in the search box type “link:yourcompetitor.com”. This will bring up a list of websites linking to your competitor’s website. Then contact them and ask them to link to you too.
- Don’t be stingy. Make sure you have links going out from your website. Important though that you link to high quality websites, i.e. If your website is a property website, have links to the relevant governing bodies, Wikipedia or the largest property portals. Search engines will see your site as being a good place to get good content.
- Submit your website to online directories. This can be very boring and takes hours. But once you have had your site accepted in to a directory. You’ll have a link back to your website. Remember. The more the better.
- Subscribe to forums in your niche. You can include a link in your signature straight to your website. Remember though. Do not spam on a forum. Forum users will not like it and the admin will probably kick you off. If you use a forum properly though, you will find it quite engaging.
- Read blogs relating to your niche market. This is very educational as well as beneficial for link building. Read the blog then leave a comment about that blog. Don’t forget to include a link to your website though. Just don’t make it too obvious.
Social Media (web2.0)
“Facebook”, “YouTube”, “Flickr”, “Myspace”, LinkedIn etc. are social media websites. They provide a means for people from all over the world to join online and share information. The ways in which people communicate vary though. “Flickr” allow people to upload photos and share them with other users or even comment on pictures uploaded. “Youtube” allow people to upload videos etc. The number of people visiting these websites to share information is in the millions. So maybe you could use these social communities to spread the word about your website. Social media is a great way to connect with hard to reach people that share the same interests. There are a number of ways to do this.
- Make your content interesting enough for people to want to view it. Then, unlike search engine optimization, change the content often; this will make people want to keep visiting you.
- Make it easy for people to tag or bookmark your new content. Bookmarking is very fashionable at the moment. The most popular way of doing this is by getting an “add this” button due to its ease of use. However, there are many buttons available.
- Use more than just text in your site. Create a video and submit it to a video sharing website like “YouTube”, create a PDF version of your content and create an audio version too. Submit it to appropriate websites. Don’t forget the link back to your site.
- Blog, Blog, Blog, then blog some more. The simple truth is that the majority of internet users love blogs. So do search engines. Create a blog and use it. If it is good enough, people will link to you and then share and tell others about your writings.
- Make friends. The social media community is very social and friendly. They will want to talk to you and ask you questions. Make sure you are polite and take time to answer any messages. Negative feedback spreads faster than positive feedback.
Pay Per Click
This is a method in which you pay to get people to your website. Have you ever done a search on Google and found there are two columns.
The column on the right is called sponsored links. They are advertisements from businesses. They do not pay anything for appearing there but they do pay when you click on the ad (pay per click – PPC).
This is a very fast way to get people to your website, but you do have to pay. I would recommend getting a PPC company to help here. It will save you a lot of money. However, if you must have a go yourself, here are some very basic tips.
- Budget. Make sure you create a sensible budget and stick to it. Don’t get in to a bidding war.
Don’t just rely on pay per click as the be all and end all for your business marketing. PPC is great for promoting specific products and services very quickly, but you always have to pay for the result.
- Analyze your cost per click and cost per acquisition closely. Then compare it to your other marketing activities. See which one works best.
- Remember that sites such as Google take into account the quality of your website content being marketed more than how much you are bidding.
- Always have two ads running at the same time for each product but with different ad text. Google will use the most successful advert for you and show that advert more often, helping you gain more traffic. Change to poorest performing advert and see if it improves. Keep repeating. This will eventually lead to you having the best possible advert showing. This is also known as “split-testing”.
Search Engine Marketing and Search engine optimization (SEO)
Remember the two columns we just mentioned? Search engine optimization is the method of optimizing your website enough for Google to rank it on the left hand column. This list is ordered on how relevant your website is. And you don’t have to pay for these listings. Ever noticed how all the big companies appear at the top of the first page? Search engine optimization is generally split into two categories onsite optimization and off site optimization. The first, when done property is very important but it will only get you to the starting line. Offsite optimization is the race itself. A good search engine optimization campaign should include all the search engine marketing techniques mentioned and when you really get into it, you can learn the more advanced techniques.
Below are a few basics (On-Page SEO Factors):
- Include your keywords in your domain, title, meta tags. The first thing a search engine spider will read is your domain name. i.e [http://www.yourdomain.com]. This doesn’t mean anything to a search engine. So, ideally use [http://www.yourdomain.com/your-key-words], or even better [http://www.your-key-words.com] . Then the next part is your title. Don’t just have “home Page” or “Front Page”. I would have “your domain – your key words”. This also matches the domain name. Then repeat the same in your meta data. And sprinkle it throughout your web page. Keep it readable though.
- Make each page UNIQUE. This helps search engines differentiate them and should lead them to index each of your pages separately.
- Get a site map and submit it to major search engines. Don’t pay for this service though. It amazes me that people actually charge for this. Just type into Google “sitemap” and you should be presented with website that will generate you a sitemap for free.
- Keep going. Older sites generally rank better than new sites. It is believed that older websites must be more reliable. As there is nothing we can do about this. Just focus your time on other offsite optimization such as link building, social media optimization and if you just can’t wait for Pay per click. Search engine optimization is a long term solution that is it worth waiting for.
Other useful Search Engine Marketing tips
Get Google analytics. It is one thing having a website but you need to know what people are doing when they are on it. Before doing anything else, you should get Google analytics, otherwise how will you know your efforts are paying off.
If you decide to use a company to undertake your search engine marketing campaign, Magnum marketing company is a top notch company provides affordable SEO, social media and business marketing solutions.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but it will give people new to the concept a few things to get on with and research. Search engine marketing is not an easy option, but when done properly will bring you organic traffic exponentially for a very long time!