Search engine marketing has become an important part of every business's overall marketing strategy. From humble beginnings, search engines have grown in complexity and sophistication to become the most widely used online tool – and with almost 70% of the searches done through their site, Google towers over all options. Ensuring you are easy to find through Google and other search tools is a vital part of attracting traffic and building a healthy business.
What is Search Engine Marketing?
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a part of the broader discipline of online marketing, and incorporates both Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and paid advertising through tools like Google Adwords. A central part of both of these disciplines is keyword research and analysis.
By determining the most appropriate and cost-effective keywords to target, and by using SEO and paid techniques, they raise your search ranking. SEO is used to increase your organic search ranking over time, which puts you in the unpaid results for a given search, whereas paid advertising can immediately put you on the first page of results (typically in sections known to users as paid ads). Because SEO can be a slow process, and because your search ranking relies partly on your website traffic, paid advertising is an essential part of SEM – especially while you are still trying to establish a consistent stream of visitors.
Higher search engine rankings correlate with a higher conversion of impressions – which means that more of the people who see your search listing actually click through to your website.
What are the benefits of search engine marketing?
There are two main benefits to search engine marketing over other marketing techniques:
The ability to target people precisely: unlike traditional marketing techniques like press or radio advertising, search engine marketing doesn’t speak to a broad demographic in hopes that a few are potential customers. You can narrow down your focus to people who are making searches directly related to your product or service, allowing you to spend your marketing dollars far more effectively.
The ability to set dollar-accurate budgets: with search engine marketing, especially paid techniques, you can set budgets which guarantee either a certain spend in a period or a certain number of clicks in a period. This can be incredibly useful when you are in the early stages and need every marketing dollar to be producing results for you.
What are the drawbacks of search engine marketing?
The only real drawback is that SEM can take time to produce worthwhile results. While you will begin to see traffic immediately with paid techniques, you will find that gaining a valuable position in the organic search listings could take weeks or even months. If you are in a highly competitive niche, this may also require significant financial investment and a well crafted strategy.
To reduce the amount of time required to see good results, it is highly recommended to utilise a professional search engine marketer and to undertake some market research. This will inform an overall online marketing strategy which will continue to generate leads while you build search ranking for your website.