“The second most important part of Search Engine Marketing is to get the prospect to ‘click here’ – the most important being to get them to buy something once they do.” Heidi Richards Mooney

Most Internet Marketing Experts consider Search Engine Marketing to be the number one online marketing tactic. In fact, according to a survey done by the Internet Retailer, 52% of the websites surveyed said that SEM works better than other marketing tactics.  Search marketing has become so popular it has made it extremely competitive which means it is no longer a “really cheap way” to market your website. But for the money, it is still one of the most cost effective online marketing tactics to engage in. That is when done correctly.

“Search engine marketing, or SEM, is a form of Internet marketing that seeks to promote websites by increasing their visibility in search engine result pages (SERPs) through the use of search engine optimization, paid placement, contextual advertising, and paid inclusion.” (source: Wikipedia)

Just how does search marketing work? There are organic or natural marketing tactics and paid tactics. Natural marketing tactics include website (keyword) optimization, search engine and directory submissions and link building strategies. Paid tactics includes bidding on and paying for
keywords and paid inclusion.

Search engine optimization is fine-tuning the various elements of your actual website code to maximize your web page’s ranking potential in search engines’ results.

Keywords are the words, terms and phrases that surfers enter on search engines to find websites of interest. Optimizing your site for the keywords

that your potential customers are likely to use and perceive relevant to your website content is critical to search marketing. Targeting keywords
using pay-per-click can be expensive and you continually pay to maintain your position in the search engine. Natural keyword optimization is critical to ensuring your site is organized properly. It is important that your content be relevant and properly and accurately reflects your target keyword phrases for keyword marketing to be effective.

Search engine and directory submissions are manual submissions to search engines and directories and can be complicated, because of the unique rules each search engine and directory has.

Linking building involves identifying the correct search engine directory categories and resource web sites appropriate for links to your web site.

Pay-per-clicks are usually text ads placed near search results; when a site visitor clicks on the advertisement, the advertiser is charged an amount
that was bid on for that word or phrase to get the surfer to click through. For instance, with Google adwords, you pay to get listed higher in the
search engines by bidding on certain keywords and phrases. When you buy keywords it is important to optimize your site’s content to reflect those
keywords. You also learn which keywords perform and which don’t.

If this were not enough, there’s also paid inclusion in which a netpreneur pays a search engine to “crawl the site.” In paid inclusion, you have the
opportunity to load a bunch of content or submit a WEB page to be included in a search engine index. Your site is ranked for the quality and relevancy of the content in relation to the keyword that is typed in. This is one way to get more listings in bulk and generally speaking, this is less costly than pay-per-click.

One thing to note is that natural search is still preferred 3 to 1 by consumers according to Google and many marketers believe natural search
gives the best long-term results. And it also gives the website owner control over the message you want people to get.

So now that we’ve covered the very basics of SEM, let’s look at some things to keep in mind before beginning your SEM campaign.

1. How do you display content? Is your content filled with text or graphics and if it’s a lot of graphics, is there a way for the spiders to crawl the
graphics and read the words inside? Spiders can only read the images if you ly ALT text descriptions. Adding ALT descriptions to your IMG tags is quick and easy and you don’t have to know coding to do it. (Note:.jpeg aka .jpg and .gif graphics for your images are the two file formats universally used on the web – mainly because they take up less space without much loss of quality. A basic rule of thumb is to save images in .jpeg format for photos and use the .gif format for your logos, and other graphics).

2. How do your pages link to one another internally (within your site)? Internal links are links which link to pages present in the website only I
recently started making subtle changes to my sites (eg: www.HeidiRichards.com ) by linking pages within to each other. For instance if you write articles you can find ways to refer the reader to other articles within your site or another resource they can learn about. The text in the link should be closely related to the context of the destination page as most search engines rank a page higher if the link text reflects the subject of
interest. In addition, your site should have a site map with active links to all the pages within the site which the visitor can visit when looking around your site. I had significant changes in my rankings (positive) once we set up our site maps on each of our Websites.

3. How much content does your site have? Content is extremely important (relevant content, that is) in SEM. How fresh is your content? Do you
regularly add new pages to your site? The number of pages a site has can significantly impact your natural search rankings.  You can do this by blogging daily or at the very least weekly on your website.

Sounds complicated and time-consuming, doesn’t it? The bad news is that things on the WEB continue to evolve. The rules of SEM change almost daily, making it more and more complicated to know where to begin. It may be best left to web developers and BIG business. The good news is that most of the things mentioned in this article are easy to do but take some time and testing to get it right.

If you are a small business owner, you can do this yourself or you can hire an SEM company to do it for you. It depends on how much time you have to devote to SEM, what your time is ultimately worth and how much you are willing to learn about how to do this. It is really important to have an SEM strategy whether you do it yourself or hire someone else to do it for you. Savvy internet marketers understand that the second most important part of SEM is to get the prospect to “click here” – the most important being to get them to buy something once they do, (to take action). After all, that’s search engine marketing is all about.