What Is Search Engine Marketing?

What Is Search Engine Marketing?

You probably already know what SEO stands for. You are familiar with the necessity to get a good Google page ranking to drive traffic towards your website. You know that search is integral to online business success. But what is search engine marketing and how could it benefit your business further?

The simple definition of search engine marketing is using Internet search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search smaller search engines to encourage traffic to specified websites. It is a blend of two marketing techniques – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), also known as ‘Natural search’, and Paid Search related marketing Pay Per Click (PPC). If done well, search engine marketing offers a good return on investment and has the potential to improve lead generation, give your organisation an increased profile or corporate visibility online and improve brand awareness amongst potential customers, leading to an increase in sales.

First – the basics

Let’s start with what we know. SEO or search engine optimisation is all about building a website that registers high on the search engine ‘bot’s radar as well as using terminology that your audience uses to locate websites of interest on the search engines. SEO relies on an understanding of the language that is most effective in raising your profile to an extent whereby your traffic levels rise to a sufficient point that makes you interesting to the bots. Once that happens, you will start to see your ranking improve and your link move up the search engine results pages. Your aim is to get onto page one initially and ultimately to clinch that P1 spot. 40% of traffic clicks on P1. P10 gets you nowhere, so it’s obvious why that top spot is so keenly fought over.

Paying customers

The second part of the equation is Paid search, normally in the form of PPC or Pay Per Click. While good SEO is a long-term strategy to improve your position on the page rankings, PPC offers a ‘shortcut’ into the search engines and directories. Search engine marketing has to take account into both aspects of this process and utilise them in such a way that your site encourages both unique and return visits from the human visitors, and continued interest in you by the ‘bots.

PPC allows you to ‘buy’ a top spot on the search engine rankings, but before you throw out everything else and just concentrate on PPC, be warned. It does have its problems – not least the unpredictable way that your human visitors use search engines. While PPC may be a great way to get your site on page one of Google, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll grab that 40% of search traffic from day one. PPC allows you to ‘bid’ for keywords you think your customers are most likely to use. Get it wrong and you could end up paying for keywords that are of no relevance to you or your site. PPC isn’t just about generating instant traffic. It’s about generating the right sort of traffic – traffic that turns clicks into conversions.

Generating the right kind of traffic

One of the pre-requisites of search engine marketing is that you have to constantly monitor your website traffic. Detailed analysis of unique visitors and returns will help you keep track of how many of your visitors convert to paying customers. If you’re looking to generate leads, search engine marketing will let you monitor how successful those generated leads actually are, or if your strategy isn’t fulfilling its potential. Just getting your listing up the search engine sites isn’t enough if the traffic is ‘just passing through’ or saying ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to your product and service. Search engine marketing allows you to pinpoint your target audience with sniper-like accuracy and push them in the right direction to convert.

All of this takes expertise and an in-depth understanding of exactly how search engines work. If it’s something you feel unable to tackle on your own then your best bet is to employ the services of a search engine marketing agency to do it for you. Their expertise and knowledge of what a successful search engine marketing campaign entails will mean that not only does your ranking climb up the listings, but the customers who are being driven towards your site convert into cash sales – and that is the ultimate target for any marketing campaign.