What is Search Engine Marketing?

Marketing October 27, 2011

Tatiana Morand

By Tatiana Morand

Search Engine Marketing or SEM encompasses the steps taken to increase relevant traffic to your website, through higher rankings on search engines. Traditional SEM is made up of two processes: “organic” search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising (PPC) (or cost-per-click (CPC)). However, the field of SEM is a changing and expanding field thanks to constant new developments, such as:

Google Adwords placement targeting

Its interface allows for placement advertising, which means PPC marketing has the ability to advertise across the entire Internet, and is not just limited to search engines.

Social Media Marketing (SMM)

Sometimes considered to be a part of SEM, social media sites like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Delicious have search fields and also pass authority to sites through links. Making sure your content and links are placed (where necessary) on these social media sites can increase your influence in user search engine queries. SMM is a rapidly growing area of Internet marketing but to discuss it further is beyond the scope of this Guide.

Learn More: 3 Ways to use Google to Grow your Membership

Integrated Vertical Search

Probably the most well-known Integrated Vertical Search is  Google’s “Universal Search” –  although all of the major search engines have now adopted similar search formats. This is the practice of incorporating different types of results in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), such as news releases, images, videos, etc., depending on the query.  This was a game changer for SEO when it was first introduced – it became necessary to create and optimize many different types of content because they all show up on SERPs. The term for this comprehensive approach is referred to as Digital Asset Optimization (DAO).

This is both a challenge and a great opportunity. The challenge is because the organic spots aren’t what they used to be – there used to be ten organic spots on the first page to compete for – and only five above the fold, (which refers to the vertical limitations of a user’s screen and the amount of content one can view without scrolling). Now there might be local search results, news releases, images and video included in the results – many of those above the fold. What’s the new number one spot? Is it the first local result, news release, or organic listing?

Google Search Results

Google’s universal search results don’t just show websites, but include video, news, etc.

There’s also great opportunity in universal search for those that learn how to play the game and are willing to monitor their SEO metrics. You can own more real estate on the first page of results if you can get your site in the local, news, video and image results as well as the organic results.

Google Localized Results

Google’s universal search results can include local listings as well.

If these activities are causing your listings to show up on sites and pages that aren’t search engine results - can you really call it search engine marketing? What most of these advertising methods have in common are that they are all ‘keyword driven.’

There are also a few more similarities. All of these marketing methods are measurable to an extent never seen in any other media. Every click can be measured – where and when it came – and followed through to the conversion, the sale and the lifetime customer value.  This feedback loop creates optimization opportunities that can create huge incremental improvements in your SEM campaigns.

"All of these marketing methods are measurable
to an extent never seen in any other media."

Success through SEM comes from consistently repeating three things: testing, measuring and tweaking. The data gathered from your site will not only measure the click-through, but e-mail capturing, pre- and post-sale customer retention.

SEM is a broad and growing field, and is one of the most targeted methods of getting the right visitors to your site at the peak moment of their interest – when they’re searching for a solution to a problem you can solve.

Search Engine Marketing Guide by Keith Holloway at Envoke

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