Search Engine Marketing For Beginners: An Introduction

by Irune

Confused about SEO, PPC and search engine advertising? This introduction to search engine marketing for beginners aims to explain how to get started with SEM for businesses.

Search Engine Marketing, SEM for short, refers to the practice of advertising your website by placing it on the search engine results, either organically (SEO) or using paid advertising. For many small businesses and independent professionals, SEM is one of the most cost effective ways of driving traffic to their websites and increasing visibility for their business. This introduction to search engine marketing for beginners aims to explain how to get started with SEM for businesses.

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Why Search Engine Marketing?

Millions of people use search engines as their gateway to the World Wide Web each day. Faced with billions of web pages full of information, users need search engines to find what they are looking for. In many cases, this is done in order to buy a product or find a solution for a problem, usually in order to buy that solution. Users using search engines are often somewhere in the buying cycle, and this makes them one of the best types of traffic you can get for your website. If you are looking at how to develop your own business, the traffic coming from search engine marketing is exactly what you need.

Another benefit of using search engine marketing is that, unlike traditional ad campaigns, is non-intrusive and fits closely with the user’s intent. This means being in front of your audience, right when they are more likely to react positively to your message. Since the ads and websites displayed are keyed to particular keywords, they are relevant and useful.

SEO: Organic Search Engine Marketing

Search engines use complex algorithms to retrieve and rank the best pages that answer a user’s query, known as a keyword. For example, if you type into Google ‘copywriting for SEO’ the first 10 results will be websites that Google considers better represent copywriting for SEO, based on more than 200 ranking factors, both onsite and offsite. SEO, or search engine optimization is the process of optimizing pages on your website so they rank for particular keywords.

There are many factors affecting the ranking of a website on the search result pages (SERP) but what is clear is that links to your site have a key role, along with the content on the page you want ranked. A well performed SEO campaign can take several months to give fruit, but once it’s in place it will bring a steady flow of highly targeted traffic with minimal maintenance work for a long time.

Search engines have clear guidelines to prevent people from cheating, forbidding practices such as buying links, using cloaking techniques and other black-hat SEO tactics. Following search engine marketing best practices both in terms of onsite optimization and offsite optimization is key to avoid being penalised by search engines and losing on all that passive traffic opportunities.

PPC Advertising on Search Engines

Most search engines complement their organic search results with paid placements, clearly labelled as advertising. In fact, some search engines such as Google display above the fold as many ads as organic results. While the number of people who click on paid ads is much smaller than those clicking on organic search results, it’s still a respectable number and a good way of bringing highly qualified traffic to your website without having to wait until your site ranks naturally.

Most search engines offer PPC advertising as their paid placement option: Advertisers bid the maximum amount they are willing to pay for a keyword in case a user clicks on the ad, and the search engine places the ads that are higher and more likely to be clicked at the top. Ads can be text ads or graphic banners, and can be displayed exclusively during certain periods of the day, and to very specific demographics. Learning how to optimize a PPC campaign is vital for successful paid placement marketing.

Benefits of SEM for Small Businesses

Evaluating the search engine marketing effectiveness is complex, as many campaigns take several months and its conversion rates are highly dependent on the landing pages, but most small businesses will benefit from at least optimizing for organic search. Many search engine marketing for beginners tips and techniques are easy to implement, and will also improve the perception visits have of a particular website, increasing its success long term. While calculating search engine marketing ROI can be difficult for a business new to online marketing, the results speak for themselves after just small trials, making search engine marketing one of the most popular advertising methods online.

Updated: 01/25/2012, Irune
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