Search Engine Marketing
When you pair the two aces of search engine domination, SEO and SEM together, you get one heck of a dominating force to drive customers to your local business. Kinda like having a team on the race track, rather than going solo… You get to drift, you get to use strategy and it simply puts you in a better position to take the checkered flag. Search engine marketing can provide that tail wind that will take you across the finish line, if you let it…
You’ve read a bunch about SEO (search engine optimization), but what about search engine marketing, or SEM? What’s the difference? Don’t freak out – they’re fairly similar, but still fundamentally different. I guess that didn’t do such a good job of clarifying things…
With SEO, you’re trying to get Google to befriend your site, so to speak. You start by making it as appealing to the search engine as possible: making it accessible to users on all devices, making it appear on Google Images, using the right keywords in your content and so forth. SEO focuses on making users pick your link from many others due to efforts you’ve made to make the site seem more appealing. With search engine marketing, you’ll be launching a paid-for campaign designed to bring you targeted traffic to your site, ending up with new clients by the time you’re done.
Ways to launch a SEM campaign
For your search engine marketing efforts, you’ll need to have some money on the side to fund your expansion of influence. You’ll be trying some pretty aggressive marketing methods that not all users might enjoy, but they’re means to an end – the same methods could also land you a lot of traffic from people genuinely interested in what you have to offer.
Here are some types of search engine marketing:
- Google AdWords, the king of advertisements. This PPC-based marvel will place your listings on a special position at the top and bottom of search results, thereby giving you a type of ‘privileged’ rank regardless of your actual search rank. Tailor-made for for-profit sites, AdWords can also be costly depending on your niche, but are generally well-worth the price.
- Bing Ads often get overlooked due to Google’s popularity, but they can drive a surprising amount of traffic to your site (it’s Microsoft, people!) What’s better is that these ads actually encompass two different search engines – Bing and Yahoo, giving you a PPC platform through which you can interact with millions of users.
- Quite a few advertisers dislike Facebook’s pay-per-impression policy – while the targeting method is passable and there’s no shortage of audiences, some simply find that they’re spending money without getting tangible traffic. Regardless, the affordability is worth a try.
- YouTube ads aren’t search engine marketing in the strictest sense, but they’re close. They can range from a banner at the bottom of a video to a full-blown TV-style commercial that will annoy many users, but might attract some to your product.
- Twitter has been making some breakthroughs in what was once a platform that was difficult to monetize. Aside from their AdRoll platform, you can also pay to have your tweet promoted – a surprisingly effective method of getting the ball rolling, considering the website’s popularity in recent times.
There are many other ‘second-tier’ advertising platforms that might be worth a shot depending on who you’re targeting. If you’ve tried Google ads with little luck, you can try other ways of marketing yourself, but… you should have probably hired me to help you with your marketing campaign.
Making sure there’s enough content to show for search engine marketing
Just because you’re using the privileged position of being advertised on Google or a similar site doesn’t mean you can afford to have a site lacking content (and vigor). You don’t want to just bring people to your site – you want them to stay.
The content on your site should appear professional and in line with how you want your business perceived:
- Written content should be engaging and easy to read. Triple-check for any grammatical errors if necessary – these have an uncanny ability to make you seem as if you aren’t taking your business seriously. Winner spelling bees get the most honey! Needless to say, having content that was copied from another website will put you on a list you don’t want to find yourself on.
- Images should be cropped, clear and relevant to the site. You might want to hire some graphic designers or even photographers so you can get some fresh images or pictures for your site that can’t be found anywhere else on the web.
- If your site has sounds or flashing graphics, make them as minimalistic and non-intrusive as possible. You’re running a business, not a carnival.
Managing your search engine marketing and dealing with competitors
Some businesses can have a good campaign with a couple hundred dollars, others might need a few grand to kick things into overdrive, whereas others still might be looking at a five-figure effort. What is it that sets them apart from one another? It’s mostly the products or services they’re offering.
If you’re planning to make a new soft drink that will take over the world, that’s cool – you’ll just need to find a way to compete with the multi-million global advertising campaign mobilized by your competitors.
I get that we can’t always choose the business we’re in – perhaps you inherited the reins of a family company with a lot of competition in your area. If you’re attached to the business, I’ll have to ask you – are you willing to move to a place where you’ll have an easier time becoming top dog of your trade? If you aren’t, there are still ways to advertise successfully without winning the lottery.
Heck, we could try launching a viral campaign that makes full use of social media and search engines. It might not be the easiest thing to do if you’re selling pastry, but I’m of the belief that anything’s doable with enough creativity.
The search engines can be your friend, but you can also resent them once you’re out of money for ads and the results aren’t there. Let me have a look at what you had in mind for your marketing campaign and what sort of resources we’ll be working with – then we’ll come up with something with the most bang for the buck. You’re always free to try it out on your own, but I oughta warn you – you might not be satisfied with the results.