Internet Marketing, sometimes referred to as Online Marketing, is a phrase that has evolved over time from its initial meaning of possessing a simple website on the internet and later on referring to the placing of ads or advertising banners on websites owned by others. Nowadays, the term can more aptly be used to encompass various techniques and strategies that may be employed in popularizing a product, service, idea, organization, etc., on the internet. The subject matter may be available both on and off the internet or be available partly offline and partly online.
What is Search Engine Marketing?
Search Engine Marketing refers to the use of online strategy or strategies to enhance the level of noticeability of a website by internet search engines. Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, can broadly be classified as falling under two strategic groups:
- Search Engine Optimization – where a website’s ranking on search engines is enhanced through naturally attracting users by application of various content improvement methods that make the subject matter more attractive for capture by search engines without any payment exchanging hands.
- Paid Search Engine Marketing – Takes the form of Pay Per Action (PPA) e.g. Pay Per Click (PPC) which employs strategies such as Google AdWords where an advertiser pays for the specific action taken in relation to an advertisement, such as clicking on an ad, where the search engine has placed the ads on a variety of websites that turn up on a user’s search results. Other PPA strategies may include e-mail sign ups or product purchases from websites that are enrolled on the search engine marketing program.
The Prime Objective of Employing Search Engine Marketing Strategies
SEM, if properly engaged, will achieve the desired marketing objectives you intend for your website. The objectives that SEM could help achieve include:
- Research – This could be on clients and potential clients and what their habits, tastes and interests are as relates to a particular product or service or subject matter;
- Communication – Your intention could simply be that of offering information to the wider world or internet community about your organization and/or the product or service that you are offering;
- Sales – SEM is a popular tool for use in e-commerce to promote the sales of products, services or to simply sell advertising space.
How to Score Big With Search Engine Marketing
As in any advertising campaign, your aim should be to cast your marketing net and capture as wide a target audience as possible while at the same time holding advertising costs to a reasonably low level as possible. PPC or Pay Per Click is one such marketing strategy that can achieve such results as it provides a tested and trusted means of generating traffic to your website.
A popular forum of exploiting PPC is Google AdWords which allows the owner of a website to set expenditure levels for each ad that is deployed by a search engine with these expenses being monitored and adjusted on a periodic basis. Google AdWords extensive use on the internet stems from the popularity of Google’s search engine, making it a widely used option by both large and small online enterprises.
Benefits of Pay Per Click to Your Search Engine Marketing Campaign
To ‘squeeze all the juice’ out of the Search Engine Marketing strategy you employ the cost benefit relationship should be evident from as early on as possible after the deployment of your chosen technique. The use of PPC means that you incur advertising costs only when an ad is clicked and your website is consequently visited. These ads are encountered by visitors who land on websites containing related specific keywords and on Search Engine Results pages (SERPS).
The need for Pay Per Action strategy, such as that employed in the Pay Per Click, is its ability to attract prospective clients who, presumably, bear the capacity to turn into paying customers. Google AdWords relies on a Quality Scoring system which determines the position of your ad on a page and hence its visibility to visitors to a website. This Quality Score in Google is also used to determine how much you pay per click on your ads. Your level of willingness to bid on your selected keywords is another determinant of how much you pay for a click on your ad that leads to your website.
The Mechanics at play in ‘Making A Killing’ via Search Engine Marketing
Knowledge and skillful manipulation and deployment of the metrics of SEM can give your website the edge; thus, these can be studied under classifications that fall under 4 main categories:
- Website Success Measurement Tools – These are, essentially, back end tools engaged in tracking the number of visitors and other relevant data pertaining to a website. These tools include HTML validators as well as Web Analytic tools that store relevant information to prescribed log files.
- Analysis and Usage of Keywords – This involves research and skillful usage of relevant keywords on your website that are related to your subject matter with an aim of increasing traffic and capturing potential paying customers
- Use of Ownership Revealing Tools – These provide an insight into who owns various websites as well as giving information about intellectual property on featured content
- Website Ranking – The rate or frequency of indexing of the webpages on your website will indicate the saturation level on search engines just as popularity is determined by the level of linkage or links that draw web searches to your website. These inbound or inward links are often referred to as backlinks. These are in turn related to the relevance of the keywords that are in use on your website since these are directly related to how much attention is paid to content that is featured on your website.
Search Engine Marketing Versus Search Engine Optimization
It is also important to clarify the relationship that SEM bears to SEO in the online world of Internet Marketing. Although SEM and SEO are at times loosely used to refer to the same techniques, SEO is mainly geared towards increasing visibility of your website on search engines mainly by utilizing techniques such as use of keywords. SEM, on the other hand, could be viewed as an umbrella term to refer to activities geared at promoting your website. These may include the use of Social networks, featuring of topical articles, journals, publications as well as the inclusion of relevant videos. SEM may even call for the submission of a website to search engines and online directories.
SEO thus aims at gaining an edge over other websites by featuring as high as possible on the ‘organic’ or free search results. SEM, on the other hand, earns a website a position on a search engine through the payment of a certain fee as evidenced by Pay Per Click marketing strategy. One of the more popular online programs for hosting Pay Per Click ads is Google AdSense. Other search engines, such as MSN and Yahoo! Have similar programs but not quite as advanced or as popular as Google’s AdSense. But the fundamentals for utilizing these marketing techniques to achieve the desired results of employing the same are relatively similar:
- Level of payment for advertisement;
- Attractiveness and relevance of ads to search results that get potential clients clicking;
- Level of traffic that your website attracts which in turn carries the possibility of turning visitors into paying customers;
Pitfalls of Search Engine Marketing
It is of great importance to remember that Search Engine Optimization is a crucial component of Search Engine Marketing. Without SEO, SEM is incomplete. SEO is the link that adds relevance of a website to both potential customers as well as to search engines. So, let the priority of spending cash on SEM be given to SEO techniques. This is a fact that is often overlooked and, hence, often returns to haunt those who disobey it!
Application of the most appropriate SEM strategies to get your website noticed and eventually achieving the desired results is all good until potential customers land at your ‘doorstep’ hoping to see or get what your marketing campaign promised. Will your website deliver on the promise? Are you prepared for your visitors’ arrival? Is your Website in tune with the marketing hype that you have spent your time and money on? Is the information that users seek easily and readily available? The answers to these questions could determine whether or not visitors stay on or leave your website; whether traffic increases or dwindles; whether potential customers turn into actual paying customers and whether customers will return to the website and generate referrals that in turn increase traffic and future sales.
Therefore, don’t get lost in wooing potential clients to your website thus forgetting to get ready to receive your visitors. Information that your website purports to provide should be readily and easily available, well formatted and presented to ease the work of online users who pay the site a visit. The job of marketing a website should not stop at the advertising banner that led to the actual website but should be carried on by the website itself so much so that it leaves visitors and potential customers with such a memorable experience that keeps them coming back for more.
Ultimately, the work of Search Engine Marketing is to generate a substantial level of traffic by making your website rank as high up the list of websites that provide the product or service that is advertised. This is further enhanced by remaining relevant to search engines and users and making adjustments and improvements based on market research and customer feedback to stay on top of your game.