If you want to be found by the right people, you need to start thinking about search engine marketing. Don’t underestimate how important this is: Google processes over 3.5 billion search queries every day. This is how businesses are found in the digital age: you’d be hard-pressed to find a person who swears by the superiority of phone books. But what is it?
Search engine marketing is the set of practices that boosts your position in search results for the good of your web traffic and sales. Searching with Google might look easy, but getting found is a challenge. Even if you’re the only person in your state offering your kind of service, you still might not be locatable through search. The algorithms that search engines use to find your website are beyond complex, and they change all the time. Increasingly, search rankings are something you need to work on and earn through targeted marketing.
Search engine marketing champions the two ways to get at the top of search results. The first way is via paid ads. Most people refer to this as “paid search”.
And the second is via strategic techniques that both optimise both on-and-off-page content for the search process– no ads necessary. This is usually referred to as “search optimisation” or “organic search”.
Neither method is better than the other, and neither is easier: their differences lay in their timeline and not the effort required. Paid ads can take you right to the top right away… Right after you’ve done serious research. Researching common search terms is a prerequisite of paid ads, as is detailed competitor analysis. To succeed, it’s also necessary to monitor the campaign extensively, culling unsuccessful ad copy, and curbing high click costs.
For organic search, you might be waiting for results for a while: a period of months rather than minutes. You still need that competitor and keyword research, too. But don’t throw it in the too-hard basket just yet: it’s worth the investment. Organic search is a pretty broad school of practices, but in their essence, it optimises the architecture of your website so that it’s easier for search engines to “read”, before making the content match the terms customers use when searching for your product. Basically, it takes the way search engines choose which sites to display first, and it implements those elements for your brand.
Being a SEM expert is as much research and learning as it is execution. Google releases and alters algorithms with such frequency that this discipline is in a constant state of flux. Your audience, too, is always changing. What they’re searching for today might change tomorrow. Keeping up with the latest is more than important, it is essential.