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Search Engine Marketing Revealed

Jul 4, 2008
Search marketing or search engine marketing (SEM) is all about harnessing the search engines for marketing purposes. For some, it's an obvious decision whether or not to use search marketing. Others need a little more convincing. But first, let's understand how it works...

When someone users a search engine (SE) to look for information or something to buy, they type in words into the search form and up comes a list of sites and descriptions. There may one, two or literally hundreds of pages of these listings, known as search engine ranking pages (SERPs). There are paid results and free results.

Is the very first position on the SERPs the best position to have? Well, opinions vary. Many search engine marketers believe that the top spot on the free listings is the best... but not necessarily believe that the top spot on the paid listings is as profitable as, say, a couple of spots down. Ideally, in as far as the paid listings go, this is something you should test.

SEM involves two distinct fields:

1. Search engine optimization (SEO); and

2. Paid advertising

SEO essentially involves trying to achieve a high "authority" status for your website, for the keywords or phrases your targeting. This, in turn, translates into a higher rank in the SERPs. The search engines' each use complex formulas to calculate the relative authority of different websites and webpages, and rank them accordingly. Such formulas are not publicly known, so search engine optimizers or "SEOs" use various tactics that they think will lead to a high position in the SERPs. Additionally, since the search engines sometimes change these formulas, SEOs have their work cut out for them. Because of the rather peculiar nature of SEO, it appeals to a certain breed of person - often someone who likes solving enormous puzzles!

Pay-per-click advertising is a matter of bidding for certain keywords or keyphrases in order to achieve a higher listing. However, depending on the search engine in question, it's not quite so simple as the higher the bid, the higher your listing. Google, for example, also bases the paid rankings on the click through rate achieved by a given pay-per-click ad. This rate is the percentage of clicks on your ad divided by all ad views (based on how many instances of the ad are viewed). In simple terms, the higher your bid price AND the higher your click through rate, the higher your paid listing. So... it's possible to bid less than someone else and still have your ad appear higher, just because you get more people clicking on your ad. In the case of pay-per-impression advertising, you are paying for each impression or view of your ad.

Buying paid listings is a great way to test product and service offers. That's why many people advocate that you master PPC before concentrating on optimizing your organic listings. However, there is also an art and science to running an effective pay-per-click campaign. Choosing the right keywords, writing effective ad copy, and having an effective bidding strategy are all essential to pay-per-click success. And don't forget, just like any form of advertising, you want to make sure that you end up with a positive return on your investment. It's one thing to get a lot of clicks... it's another thing to get clicks that convert into sales.

Search marketing is well worth pursuing if you're serious about building a web-based business. But given the work involved, that does NOT mean that YOU need to manage all your search marketing efforts. You can always hire individuals or companies to optimize your webpages for SEO purposes, or to run your PPC campaigns.
About the Author
Steve Renner is a well known Internet Marketing Expert, author, consultant, speaker and trainer. Get Professional Internet Marketing training and resources at imtrain.com
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