Think of Bing, Google, or even Yahoo, and what immediately comes to mind is search.
The World Wide Web lives and thrives through search. Every minute, actually every second, millions of search terms are typed into the all familiar blank white search box.
The words you type into search boxes are called search queries, and they lead or direct you to a page similar to the one below.
It is known as a SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
Research and surveys continue to show that the traffic you gain on your website is related to how high you rank on the SERP.
The quest for the top is unrelenting and endless. Your site is in a never-ending push and shoves with tons of others.
Who will rise and top the list?
Your goal is to get to the top and stay at the top. However, the reality is, other websites want to knock off whoever is at the top and take the spot themselves.
What does this mean for you?
You need to fine-tune, update, and promote all your content. Rising the SERP ranks and staying at the top is but a part of the bigger picture. We shall go into the other workings that guide your search ranking in the right direction.
So, how do the likes of Google and Bing determine who tops the SERP hill?
You guessed correctly. It is all about search marketing.
What is Search Marketing?
Search marketing is an online marketing strategy aimed at gaining web traffic and a robust online presence. To be visible in the market, you need knowledge, skills, and tactics. Search marketing utilizes paid and unpaid tactics via renowned search engines like Bing, Google, and Yahoo.
The paid and unpaid tactics utilized in search marketing involve SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and SEO (Search Engine Optimization), respectively. Search marketing bring together marketing and adverting for a wholistic online promotion of your product or service.
Search marketing is a must-have strategy, as statistics continue to indicate ever-rising research-oriented consumer behavior. Consumers will more often than not conduct online product/service research. Therefore, ignore having a search marketing strategy at your peril.
Search Marketing, is sometimes called Search Engine Marketing; why?
Users online have played around interchanging terminologies over time as they interact with them. This fact came to be the case with Search Marketing and Search Engine Marketing.
When search engine marketing came into existence, both SEM and SEO were within its definition. However, time and misinterpretation led to online users relating search engine marketing to SEM: the paid alternative to online marketing.
Confusion has come about as users correlated the meaning of both terms, SEM and search engine marketing, throwing them about, each working to define the other.
Let’s put everything in black and white, making things clear for you.
Disregard and avoid being misled by the sites stating that search marketing is search engine marketing. This definition is quite misleading. The difference in the two terms arises in the points of focus of each online marketing strategy.
- Search Marketing focuses on using;
- Search Engine Optimization – an unpaid online marketing strategy
- SEM – a paid online marketing strategy
Search Engine Marketing focuses on using SEM – a paid online marketing strategy.
One can get confused when using these online marketing terms. We are here to make sure that this doesn’t happen to you.
To end the confusion, Search Marketing, has now become the term of choice in defining the use of both SEM and SEO in online marketing. From now on your, online marketing plan should be a bit clearer concerning the strategy names to use and their meanings.
Keep the proper definitions of strategies and the differences in mind at all times. It will be of great help to your team as you chart and plan your online marketing strategy.
We believe that you are fully dedicated and are willing to set aside all the time it takes to execute your search marketing strategy. Remember, as you take on your search marketing strategy, you will be working on your SEO and SEM.
Search Marketing: Getting Started
As you may have deduced, SEM and SEO should always work together. Similar to pieces of a puzzle, they come and work together to complete your search marketing picture. Crucial to launching your search marketing strategy is conducting of an SEM and SEO review.
Your whole search marketing strategy stands on the shoulders of SEM and SEO. Subsequently, traffic and sales conversion will result from an intelligent and well-executed marketing strategy.
So, how do you put together an effective free search marketing strategy?
Winning at SEO: Search Marketing and SEO
There is no search marketing without SEO. Regardless of whether your SEO will be outsourced or done in-house, it is still critical to know in and out how SEO functions and its overall purpose in your search marketing strategy.
What is SEO?
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a pool of unpaid strategies that target increasing your website visibility when web users key search words into search engines. Think of increased visibility in search results and enhanced site loading speed. A site with the best rank on SERPs is more likely to get higher traffic, leads, and sales that translate to revenue.
Online users share similar search behavior when conduction web searches. It is here that we see how priceless SEO is. After getting search results on a browser, you will rarely go on to check what results reside on page 2 of the SERPs. Over 70% of search results take the bulk of user clicks while under 28% of users go on to check the second SERP.
Breaking it down, how do you earn position 1 in SERPs?
- Your website
- Your presence on social media
- Other people’s websites
Yes, with SEO, your webpage ranking on search results can improve much.
Search engines utilize ranking factors that determine the visibility of webpages/websites. The ranking factors are what determine webpage placement when search engines generate search results. SEO optimizes your webpage by tweaking it to follow the best ranking factors that search engines use.
For SEO to get the job done, you put two separate areas of focus into consideration;
- SEO within your webpage
Here, you will aim all your SEO efforts on your webpage. You will create engaging content, come up with relevant and informative title tags, and ensure your website is loads fast. The design, functionality, and engaging content are factors that determine if you will get a high ranking in search results.
- SEO that is off your webpage
Off-page SEO deals with a presence on other websites and social media. When putting together off-page SEO, links to your website and mentions of your website on other sites is crucial. Being mentioned and having links on other sites, especially those of high repute and reliability, sends a positive signal about your webpage to search engines. You, therefore, have to ensure a positive off-page SEO at all times.
Search engines have to recognize proper on-page and off-page SEO of your webpage to get you noticed and ranked. As has been mentioned before, ranking at the top of SERPs increases your chances of getting more traffic, sales leads, and conversions from your target market.
As we move ahead, there is one thing on SEO you will have to put into consideration.
SEO results take time to reflect. There is no way around this. It is for this reason that search marketing encompasses both SEO and SEM. Your SEO efforts will often bear fruit within a time range of 3 to 6 months after implementation.
Why so long?
Search engines have a huge workload. Consider the millions of pages that are analyzed when compiling search results. You don’t have much say in this scenario. Web bots have to crawl and sift through tons of online content. Indexing of all the available websites takes time.
Additionally, optimization of page ranking factors takes time. Drawing in links to your site doesn’t happen overnight. If your website is one of the many responsive websites out there, on-page SEO will take a chunk of your time to implement.
However, this is in no way pouring water on your blazing search marketing strategy and efforts.
Waiting on your SEO efforts to bear fruit is well worth the time and effort! Once your optimized website garners the precious spots at the top of SERPs, traffic starts flowing in steadily. The upside to web traffic is that it captures the crop of clients you are targeting. Your target market once in convert to sales leads, then additional sales, and growth in revenue.
Winning at SEM: Search Marketing and SEM
Now for the other element that completes your search marketing strategy, SEM. To win at search marketing, you need a team that is complete and effective. The team at hand is SEO and SEM. The success of your search marketing strategy pegs upon how well you allow these two components to support each other.
Time to familiarize yourself with the core of SEM.
What is SEM?
SEM or Search Engine Marketing is an element of search marketing that utilizes paid ads appearing in SERPs to hype the products, services, and business as well. You will most of the time, see these ads at the top of search results. Sometimes they will appear at the bottom of the search results page.
How does SEM make you rank better?
SEM uses a set of tools and data to create ads. These ads are aimed at and packaged to the specific needs of your target market. These features make SEM a powerful advertising strategy.
The set of parameters available to you in SEM are;
When conducting an online search, users type in phrases or words related to what they are searching for on the web. Keywords form part of or describe these phrases or words used when conducting an online search.
Here the financial part of SEM begins. Set aside a monthly budget and have a bid rate in place. Bids are the amounts you pay the moment online users click on your ads. SEM has brought about the rise of the terms Cost Per Click (CPC), Pay Per Click (PPC), and paid search, all of which describe the paid listings on SERPs.
As you prepare your bids, remember that you can’t pay your way to the top of SERPs.
Search engines use ad quality, ad relevance, and bids to determine which ads shall rank at the top of SERPs. Since search engines are not all the same, it is wise to look into what each of them sets as standards for ad ranking.
Good news for you.
SEM goes to work the moment your ad is approved. No waiting time. Furthermore, you see how your ad is performing in real-time. Any changes that need implementation can be done instantly for optimum results.
Other additional parameters that can help you further tune or target your SEM strategy include;
- Day of the week
- Time of day
- User interests
Keyword-check, targeting options-check, bid amount per month-check, now you can go ahead and place your bid.
Creating a Search Marketing Strategy
As you think of fine-tuning your SEO and SEM strategy, take into consideration the following aspects that relate to your target market.
- Your SEO and SEM strategies should complement each other.
- What valuable SEO and SEM keywords are suited to your strategy and target market?
- What is your target market looking for online?
- Why are they looking for it?
- What asset and channel will best meet the needs of your target market? Think of blogs found via google search, Pinterest Pins found via Pinterest, hotel listings via Google Maps, or informational videos via YouTube.
- After your target market finds you, what next? How will you lead them in and get them to buy? Think of an ascension path that includes CTAs leading page visitors to make that all-important purchase or subscription.
- Track and monitor how your search marketing campaign is performing.
- Improve your search marketing strategy frequently. Online search is constantly changing. Don’t allow your campaign to become irrelevant and redundant.
Why Is Search Marketing Important?
Tons of people are searching online, and you have solutions on offer.
Why wouldn’t you want to increase the chances of your business matching up with people looking for the solutions you are offering?
Search marketing is a must-have for your business. Search marketing enhances your chances for growth by showcasing you to the millions of online users seeking custom solutions. The equation is simple and direct;
Search marketing + target market = leads/sales
Search marketing represents a smart step in advertising and marketing your business online.
As you get started with both SEO and SEM, some tools are available for you. These tools offer you an avenue for experimenting before making final decisions on which ones to use. We recommend using these free/trial options before jumping in with your search marketing strategy.
Must have SEO tools to get you going include:
- Google Search Console
- Google Analytics
- Keywords Everywhere
Must have SEM tools to get you going include:
- Google Analytics
- Google Trends
Ad platforms such as Microsoft Advertising and Google Ads have some free tools which you can use to launch and manage your search marketing campaign. Give them a try.
Search marketing is part of your business system. Search marketing links to all aspects of your marketing strategy. Search marketing integrates with the content you create, customer research you do, and customer value optimization efforts you make.
Like any other skill, your search marketing will get better and sharper over time. All you have to do is keep learning and improving.