By Jor­dan Sil­ton, SEO Strate­gist

What is search engine mar­ket­ing? Why is it impor­tant? How can it help my busi­ness? There is a lot of buzz through­out the inter­net about how to “SEO” your site or which tricks to use in order to gain more traf­fic and pre­sum­ably more rev­enue whether it be in the form of leads, pur­chas­es, refer­rals, appli­ca­tions, etc.  All this buzz makes it dif­fi­cult to get back to basics and under­stand the fun­da­men­tals of search engine mar­ket­ing.  Search engines are becom­ing more and more com­plex, and there are infi­nite­ly more tools and tac­tics you can use to try and make an impact.   In the year 2011, it will be increas­ing­ly impor­tant to under­stand these fun­da­men­tals, weed through the clut­ter and make mean­ing­ful busi­ness deci­sions.  Let’s start with the def­i­n­i­tion.

What is search engine marketing?

Wikipedia defines mar­ket­ing as, “the process of per­form­ing mar­ket research, sell­ing prod­ucts and/or ser­vices to cus­tomers and pro­mot­ing them via adver­tis­ing to fur­ther enhance sales. It gen­er­ates the strat­e­gy that under­lies sales tech­niques, busi­ness com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and busi­ness devel­op­ments. It is an inte­grat­ed process through which com­pa­nies build strong cus­tomer rela­tion­ships and cre­ate val­ue for their cus­tomers and for them­selves.”

Search engine mar­ket­ing (SEM) is part of this over­all process of mar­ket­ing with the pri­ma­ry medi­um of a search engine.  The two main dis­ci­plines of SEM are paid search and search engine opti­miza­tion (SEO).  As search engines evolve, paid search and SEO expand tra­di­tion­al roles mov­ing into a broad­er cat­e­go­ry of online rep­u­ta­tion man­age­ment.  SEM has expand­ed to include oth­er dis­ci­plines such as web ana­lyt­ics and usabil­i­ty.

Sprite Instant Preview

In 2010, Bing began dis­play­ing Face­book data, Google incor­po­rat­ed tweets into the search results, and instant pre­views allowed users to see the web­site before click­ing to vis­it it.  All of these new fea­tures impact a web­site or brand’s per­for­mance on search engines, so they too fall under the wide range of medi­ums search engine mar­keters uti­lize to reach their audi­ence.  Look­ing for­ward into 2011, search engines are sure to con­tin­ue inno­vat­ing and incor­po­rat­ing more and more dif­fer­ent con­tent into the search results.  As this hap­pens, the scope of search engine mar­ket­ing will con­tin­ue to expand.

How can SEM help my business?

Search engine mar­ket­ing can help almost every aspect of your busi­ness.  One advan­tage of search engine mar­ket­ing over tra­di­tion­al media is that suc­cess or fail­ure online can be tracked.  With ana­lyt­ics soft­ware such as Google Ana­lyt­ics, you are able to quan­ti­fy your return on invest­ment for every incre­men­tal dol­lar or hour you spend.  It’s very easy to dive into the details on some lit­tle things SEM can accom­plish, but these are two high lev­el rea­sons you must pay atten­tion to your pres­ence online.

Laptops Buying Guide SERPs

Users are search­ing for your products/services – Search engines present a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty for busi­ness­es.  Tra­di­tion­al media uses main­ly push strate­gies to send con­sumers infor­ma­tion and dri­ve them to take inter­est.  With search engines, cus­tomers have already expressed a need, so search engine mar­ket­ing is a pull strat­e­gy.  When a user is typ­ing in “lap­top com­put­er buy­ing guide”, it’s a pret­ty safe bet to assume they are express­ing that they would like to buy a lap­top com­put­er.  In this case, the user is going to the search engine as a resource for direc­tion on where to buy the lap­top and which lap­top to buy.  Do you sell lap­top com­put­ers?  If you do, you bet­ter be appear­ing for search queries like this one.  The truth is, users are active­ly search­ing for prod­ucts or ser­vices in every indus­try and search engines are the pri­ma­ry online are­na for users to find what they are look­ing for.  Users are look­ing for you.

*Online brand man­age­ment *- Users are becom­ing smarter and smarter about who they engage in busi­ness with.  Approx­i­mate­ly 70% of search­es are infor­ma­tion­al by nature as users are research­ing and explor­ing the options for where to spend their mon­ey or who to go to for help.  In many of these cas­es, a user may not be ready to pur­chase a prod­uct and will be form­ing his or her con­sid­er­a­tion set for a future pur­chase.  Main­tain­ing con­sis­tant appear­ance online will help ensure that you gain con­sid­er­a­tion when a user is ready for you.

McDonalds Image Search Results

Your online pres­ence is an exten­sion of your brand, but many busi­ness­es have rep­u­ta­tion man­age­ment issues online.  Search engine mar­ket­ing can help main­tain a pos­i­tive brand pres­ence in the search results. How does your brand do?

Want to learn more about us?  If you’re inter­est­ed in Search Discovery’s search mar­ket­ing and ana­lyt­ics ser­vices, please sched­ule a free con­sul­ta­tion.