The Secrets of Search Engine Marketing
By Richard Rutigliano, PriMedia, Inc.
If you have an active website, you know how much work goes into its development, making sure that your company is shown in its best light. But why is it that some sites are seen more than others? How do companies get "found" on the Web? Those companies know the secret ... Search Engine Marketing.
You may have heard people talk about SEO or SEM. These letters stand for Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing. Search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft are used by more people every day to sift through the millions of Web sites and find what they need. Each search engine uses different metrics to determine which sites they will include in their results, and the order in which those sites will be listed. These free (or "organic") results are displayed in a list, often with paid ads at the top and sides of the screen.
When you develop and code your site according to these metrics, it will appear higher in the organic search results. This is called Search Engine Optimization. SEO is based on determining which "key words" customers and potential customers are searching with to find you or your competitors; and including these key words in the Meta tag coding and text of your site to increase your Search Engine Quality Score. The higher your score, based on consistency and repetition between the Meta tags and the site text, the better your positioning on the organic listings.
Search Engine Optimization is only one facet of Search Engine Marketing. With SEM, those free organic listings are enhanced with paid advertising and cross-marketing links on other sites. The most common and cost effective tactic in SEM is Pay-Per-Click advertising. Pay-Per-Click ads are often listed on the search results pages as "sponsored ads." With most advertising, you pay based on the number of people who will see your ad, regardless of their interest in your products or actions after seeing your ad. With Pay-Per-Click, your ad is tied to key words, so it is only seen by users looking for your services. In addition, you "bid" on each key word - higher bids result in a higher placement among the ads - and only pay for the ad when the viewer clicks on your ad and enters your Web site.
Pay-Per-Click advertising offers extensive flexibility for your budget. You determine the 'bid' for each key word - from as little as $0.05 to several dollars per click. You also can budget a maximum expenditure per day, per week or per month, and can limit your ad to only certain times of the day. You can also set your ad to be seen only by customers in specific towns or ZIP codes. Finally, Pay-Per-Click advertising offers real-time results tracking - you can easily find out how many people are clicking through to your site, which of your key words they're using, and which pages on your site they're visiting. This lets you adjust your budget, your bids and even the information on your site to reflect market trends.
An added benefit is that your Pay-Per-Click ad is factored into and raises the engine's quality scoring for relevance to the search request, so your organic placement is often enhanced as well. When the customer sees you highly placed in both the organic and paid search results, your company appears to be more established and reliable.
There are other SEM tactics available to increase your presence on the Internet. Many professional and charitable associations allow members to post a link on the association Web site. This will provide you with greater exposure to the membership and increase traffic to your site - which will, in turn, increase your quality score.
PriMedia's Internet marketing team knows how to find the right key words to optimize your site and your SEM results. We have updated sites created by others to bring customers from a 6th or 10th place organic listing to a first or second listing, and have seen month-to-month unique visits more than double after optimization. To find out more about our SEO/SEM services, please click here or call us at 1-800-79-MEDIA (1-800-796-3342).
Richard Rutigliano is President of PriMedia, Inc., a full service marketing and communications firm with offices in New York City, Long Island and Boston. The company is now offering free marketing consultations to Oilheat retailers. Phone: 800-796-3342, or visit their Web sites at www.primediany.com and www.propane-advertising.com.