Is Search Engine Marketing Right for My Business?
Business owners with an online presence may find themselves wondering if they really need SEM, or if they can just get away with optimizing their site. While search engine marketing may not be for everyone, it is certainly something to consider if you want to boost your rankings.
Search engine marketing requires more advanced techniques than your average SEO. While we can all agree that search engine optimization is vital for any business with an online presence, do you really need SEM? That all depends.
In order to answer this question, we first need to define what search engine marketing is, as opposed to SEO. Search engine optimization is actually a component of SEM. Search engine marketing involves actively marketing your site through the search engines, as opposed to passively letting it get picked up by Google and other search engines.
Most people lump SEO and SEM together, but the truth is, they are two different things. While optimization is the most commonly used method of gaining traffic online, there are many other options that fall under search engine marketing.
How SEM Can Benefit Your Business
If optimizing your site can bring you impressive traffic, then marketing through search engines is even better. While SEO effects can change and your site will most likely move up and down in the search rankings, SEM can help you stay in front of the public’s eye permanently. Because you are actively marketing, it becomes easier to ensure your place among other sites.
As any business owner knows, ending up on the tenth page of Google pretty much guarantees you won’t get much search engine traffic. However, if you have a Google ad on the front page, you’ll easily get clicks from targeted visitors just the same.
By using other methods apart from just keyword optimization, it is possible to increase your rankings and gain more traffic. This is an area that is often overlooked by business people simply because they confuse it with SEO. A combination of optimization and active search engine marketing is the best way to increase sales online.
How to Integrate SEM Into Your Marketing Plan
Marketing is something that every business owner understands as being necessary. However, many feel that online marketing should be free, because of the fact that so much online is available for nothing. If you really want to be successful, some investment is required. It is usually considerably cheaper than offline marketing, but the old adage “you have to spend money to make money” can certainly be applied here.
Getting started in SEM is not as difficult as it may sound, but in many cases, it is beneficial to hire an expert in the field. That’s because these methods do carry some risk and are not as simple as things like social media which can be easily learned and used by the business owner. There are several areas that are involved in search engine marketing.
Pay per click ads. These appear on the search engines and can be an effective method of keeping your business on the front page of the search engines. Another advantage is that you can opt to show your ads on top websites that are ranking for your keywords. This is one of the more complicated methods, however, and it is easy to lose money if you’re not careful. For this reason, you may want to outsource PPC to a professional company that knows the tips and tricks.
Reputation management. This is something you can do on your own. Set up Google Alerts to let you know if your company is mentioned anywhere and stay on top of complaints. Additional marketing and quick resolution of any customer service issues can help ensure that your online reputation stays sparkling clean.
Paid inclusion. You can pay to be included in certain directories and search engines, such as DMOZ. Again, this is going to cost some money, but it can be a helpful method of boosting your rankings, and therefore your traffic.
Link management. While some links can be achieved naturally without any particular effort on your part, there are other methods that require some work. This can all be part of your link management campaign. Asking other bloggers and website owners for links is just one way to get more backlinks.
SEM may cost more than SEO in the long run, but if you really want your website to be successful, it’s best to take advantage of both methods. It still costs considerably less than offline marketing and can increase your rankings quite a bit, as well as bring in more targeted traffic, even if your site isn’t naturally on the first page of search results.
Rochelle is an experienced business writer, marketer and researcher. She is currently the Senior Editor and Content Producer at Intuit.