What is Search Engine Marketing? And why do you need it?
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)– in short– is how you get search engines to show your site first. And, in the age of instant information, we all know how important that is.
But how do you actually win that race? Well, search engine marketing takes you down two different pathways: paid, and unpaid.
Paid is the simplest. It uses paid advertisements that appear on search engine result pages (SERPs). The most famous of these is Google AdWords– and they look like this.
How it works
Advertisers bid on the keywords searchers use when seeking their products. They do their research, and find the most relevant ones. And they write ads accordingly. You pay-per-click on your ad– you’ll sometimes hear this part of SEM called ‘PPC’ (pay-per-click).
If you bid on the right keywords, you’ll be in front of motivated customers! You know they’re looking for you, so all you have to do is entice them in with a strong ad and a conversion-optimised site.
This needs constant maintenance. It’s not a set-and-forget activity. Especially not if you want to keep your costs down. You need to monitor your campaigns on a near-daily basis. This involves weeding out weak ads, as well as irrelevant keywords. It could even involve onsite changes– optimising for the PPC-based user journey.
Unpaid is a larger, more mysterious field. The name for this practice is search engine optimisation or SEO for short. This involves getting your website on the first page of Google or Bing for free. Except most brands pay someone else to do it for them. Therein lies the danger….
There are three types of SEO…
White Hat SEO
This is the practice of working with a search engine and your audience. It looks at two things:
- What your consumers are looking for
- How search engines choose their top results
And it strives to create that kind of content. Simple!
Black Hat SEO
This focuses solely on tricking search engines into displaying your website. It provides none of the meaningful content of white hat. And it violates search engines’ terms of reference in the process. This can have disastrous effects on your ranking when you eventually are found out. Think long term penalisation and complete blacklisting. Steer clear!
Grey Hat SEO
When you think grey hat think of the phrase, “well, it’s not technically illegal…. yet.” Grey hat loves loopholes. It can deliver results fast, but will these results last? It’s a big risk. And it’s a risk that many brands take when they enlist the assistance of an SEO expert.
We stick firmly to the top of this list– paid and white hat. Really, with the power that Google has, there is too much at stake. Don’t risk a penalty– keep it clean and you’ll reap the rewards in time.
To find out more, or to understand how search engine marketing will work for you, fill in the form below! All questions answered.