In some parts of the world and certainly including Australia, it has become common to refer to Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising as search engine marketing. Others think of SEM as the business of getting into the ‘ordinary’ organic search engine results while others take a more holistic view and prefer to think of it as all activities undertaken to promote a business via search engines whether that is using paid or free methods including video or image listings, news listings etc.
If we look at a somewhat broadened interpretation we might think of the two mainstream methods of getting search engine exposure i.e. the free results and the paid ones, both have their place in an online marketing campaign.
Naturally, most businesses want to get free traffic to their websites and as much of it as possible. The traffic can come from various sources including social media sites but search engine traffic is highly valued because it is quality traffic that tends to convert into leads or sales at a higher rate than referred traffic. This difference is easy to understand as the very fact the person has searched for something indicates a genuine need or curiosity as opposed to the person who has clicked a link they came across while reading through some other website.
Maximising your free traffic from the search engines is a matter of optimising your website for your target search terms. We’ll write a more detailed article on this but for now we can think of it as writing the appropriate content and structuring both the page and the website in such a way as to get some search engine love. It also usually involves scoring points in the form of attracting links from other websites as links from others can help to indicate your site is worthy.
We can also buy search engine exposure using programs like Google AdWords. Using AdWords can be a very effective way of getting targeted traffic to a site. Programs like AdWords are designed to show your listings (those little ads at the top and right side of most Google results pages) when users search for whatever your product or service is. Advertisers bid for position but getting good positions is not entirely based on bid levels, the ads has to be very relevant to the search query too.
Many new advertisers make a fundamental mistake in attempting to get their ads showing for high volume search terms. Knowing what keywords to use is the difference between a winning campaign and loosing a lot of money. A dress shop owner for instance might attempt to get listings for the search ‘fashion’. This is a bad idea! It is far better to get listed for searches which are as specific as possible to your ad and your products. If the dress shop owner happens to sell plus sized dresses then ‘plus sized dresses’ is a better search term to target! Being very specific rewards the advertiser with a smaller traffic load to pay for and a higher conversion rate from that traffic.
We’ll be producing articles looking at using search engines and whether to use optimisation or pay per click in more detail over the next few articles.