GETTING STARTED WITH SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING

Digital marketing has become essential to the success of any business today, and in a world where potential customers and businesses can now connect easily through the Internet, getting your business in front of people who’re interested in your products or services is equally important. An effective way to increase your visibility online and grow your business in a highly competitive market is through the use of search engine marketing.

Originally, search engine marketing involved advertising a business through the use of paid advertisements. This view has evolved over time, and today, search engine marketing encompasses search engine optimization and pay per click marketing/advertising (Search Engine Land).

Let’s say you own a plumbing business in South Hampton, and you’ve decided to make your business visible on search engines. All unpaid activities on search engines, such as listing your business on Google My Business or Bing Places for business, or optimizing your webpage for better rankings on search result pages and so on, fall under search engine optimization. Pay per click marketing, on the other hand, involves bidding for ad space on search engine result pages. Here, you would create an ad campaign using related keywords, and offer a bid for your ad to appear when potential customers search for a related keyword.

Web traffic is generated mostly through searches on commercial sites like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Though social media can help drive traffic to your site, most users turn to search engines when looking for a specific product or service. That is why using search engines to increase the visibility of your business is important.

Search engine optimization focuses on growing visibility through organic (nonpaid) search results. It involves making your site both web, and people friendly. This means that search engines can easily recognize your site. SEO involves using a number of elements, both technical and creative in driving organic search to your site (Moz).

These elements are: on-page and off-page SEO.

On-page SEO includes useful, relevant, and engaging content containing keywords. For a site to be found by search bots, relevant keywords must be integrated into titles on your webpage, as well as into the content found on the pages. They should also flow naturally with the text.

Meta titles and meta description: A meta title is the title published on the search engine results page, and should involve at least 3 main keywords that perfectly describe your business and persuade readers to visit your site in at least 55 words. The meta description, however, should describe and outline your business (Epages).

Off-page SEO includes backlinks, social media, and online directories. Backlinks are regarded as the trickiest part of any SEO strategy. They involve getting quality sites to link to your content. To achieve this, you have to produce quality content frequently. You also need authority sites, such as popular bloggers, or other sites relevant to your industry to link to your site. Getting people to link to your site can be tricky because links from sites with low quality content, or content that isn’t  related to your industry, could lower your site's ranking. Social media helps customers interact with you and your brand, while being useful in promoting products and services. Online directories also help increase visibility, especially when paired with favourable customer reviews (Epages).

Pay Per Click marketing (PPC), is a model of internet marketing that allows you create an ad, then place a bid for ad space on the results page of a search engine. When searchers look for services related to your business, your ad pops up, and you pay when they click on your ad (Word Stream).

In a PPC campaign, you have a budget, but you bid to pay a certain amount whenever someone clicks on your ads. The amount you pay when someone clicks on your ad is called Cost Per Click, and every time your ad is clicked, your CPC is deducted from your budget, until your budget is depleted. Before jumping into PPC marketing, firstly, you have to create goals for your campaign. Goals help you determine who you aim to reach with the ad, the keywords they use to search, what keywords to use when creating copy, while aligning all these to the content on your landing page.

Secondly, what is your expected outcome? What do you want searchers to do when they get to your page? Do you want them to subscribe to your email list, make a purchase? Make sure to include a call to action for your intended outcome. Finally, monitor the campaign regularly. It’s imperative to measure the performance of the campaign so you can remove elements that aren’t working, figure out what needs to be improved, and identify what’s working. Set up ways to do this before launching the campaign (Farotech).

When structuring copy for Pay Per Click campaigns, relevance and simplicity are key elements. Ad text should be related to the selected keywords. It is also important to ensure that the keyword is relevant (it describes whatever product or service you’re offering). For example, if you’re a wedding photographer in South Hampton, the keyword: Photographer in South Hampton is not a relevant keyword, because you could be a landscape photographer or Pet photographer in South Hampton. So, make sure your keywords are specific and relevant, or your ads will rank lower, meaning they’ll appear less on search page results.

Simplicity not only makes viewing your ad easy for searchers to understand, but also makes it easier for you to manage. If you’re going to be managing your campaign yourself, ensure your campaign is intuitive, so you can effectively identify inefficiencies. You should also target your campaigns to specific geographical areas in order to maximize return on investment (Farotech).

Your AdWords account should be structured according to Ad campaigns, and Ad groups. Ad campaigns should focus on similar products or services while Ad groups enable these campaigns to be sub categorized based on relevance. For a Wedding Photography business, one Ad group could focus on wedding photobooks, while another could focus on Prewedding photos.

A common misconception is that businesses win ad space based on their bid amount. Although a large budget is always a good idea, it doesn’t guarantee ad space. Search page results have limited space for ads so all ads have to go through an auction. All ads go through the auction where they are ranked and given a quality score. The auction occurs every time a searcher uses keywords related to your ad in his/her search.

Ads are displayed on Search Engine Results Pages based on ranking, and are ranked based on the CPC bid, and the quality score of the ad. The quality score of the ad is determined by relevance, and uniqueness of the ad.  Relevance determines if the ad will be helpful to the searcher, while uniqueness deals with how different your offer is from others. A high-quality score will give your ad higher priority on the list, and help you rank better. A high-quality score is therefore one of the most important factors in search engine marketing (Word Stream).

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