There is much more to having a successful business than merely having a website. This is because online business is fed by search traffic. This has resulted in a whole industry focus on improving a website’s visibility or Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Originally in 2001, Search Engine Marketing was defined by Danny Sullivan as “The act of marketing a web site via search engines, whether this be improving rank in organic listings, purchasing paid listings or a combination of these and other search engine-related activities.” Today, however, not everyone is in complete agreement as to exactly what SEM is and often uses the term as a synonym for paid search (PPC or Pay-per-click). Now, a commonly accepted definition as stated on Wikipedia is “A combination of search engine optimization and the use of paid and contextual advertising in order to bring a website’s articles or product pages to the top of search engine result pages (SERPs).

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In 2008, the US spent $13.5 billion in search engine marketing; however, according to Street Insider, global industry analysts are predicting that the world market for SEM is going to reach US $50.68 billion by 2015. It is thought that this increase will be driven by factors such as:

  • an increasing demand for cost effective advertising and marketing strategies
  • raising popularity of organic and paid search
  • the growth of the mobile Internet market

The report goes on to say that the US remains the largest market, likely due to the “high usage of web search and the continued evolution of search engine technologies in the nation.”SEM is composed of 2 basic factors which must be employed in order to be effective. The first of these are listings. These listings can then be divided into two groups: editorial and paid. In editorial searches, also called “organic” or “natural,” the listings appear without being paid for and are provided by search engines. In paid searches, also known as CPC (cost per click) or PPC (pay per click), the premise is simple, you pay to be listed; the ad is usually displayed alongside the editorial content and should not influence the editorial coverage.

The second factor in SEM is the type of activities utilized. There are 3 main forms of SEM activities that should be used by business owners: SEO, link building and Paid Search. Using SEO is the equivalent of good PR; good SEO, like good PR, doesn’t necessarily guarantee good search engine coverage, but it can increase the odds if done correctly. In addition to SEO, you should use paid search, CPC or PPC which allows you to “pull in” your potential customer at the exact time they are seeking your products and services regardless of any declines in the marketplace. So, what can you do to make sure that your website is SEM optimized to bring you the full potential? After all, just knowing what SEM is is not enough. You need to be doing it.

Consequently, be sure these 6 jobs are on your “to do” list.

  1. Be familiar with SEO practices. This is the single most important thing you can do.
  2. Use tools such as Website Grader to asses where your site is or where your website isn’t optimized for SEM. If you don’t know where the problems are, then it is difficult to correct them.
  3. Make quick changes first! These would include concerns like metatags, keywords in title tags, etc. Once the “little things” are accurate begin working on any big changes/corrections.
  4. Use SEM optimized CMS software and plug-ins like WordPress or ImpressCMS. These are the preferred choices at Page Progressive and we have been very pleased with the various features each of them affords.
  5. Test PPC and landing page strategies. You may want to keep lists of which keywords and advertisements bring the most traffic, as well as what happens when the guests arrive. You can also use Google Analytics to help you track what guests do.
  6. Remember, inbound links are critical to point traffic to your site.  If writing articles and posting them to a blog or site such as E-zine, or Hubpages does not appeal to you, then hire someone else to do it. It will be money well-spent.

SEM, like many aspects of business, is something that must be maintained. But it can be a bit of a trial and error process as you determine what will work best for you, so don’t get discouraged. After all, SEM has the ability to improve your business and should not be overlooked or deemed unnecessary. If you are interested in implementing SEM, but don’t know have the time to do it yourself, talk to the professionals here at Page Progressive, we’ll be glad to help. Our designers and writers will be glad to give your website a makeover so that you can begin seeing more traffic to your site with positive results being the outcome.