Paid Search Engine Marketing

Today’s search engines sort results by relevance—in other words, which pages out there have the most significant relationship to the search terms or keywords supplied? This process can be, as the British say, a “sticky wicket,” since each search engine has its own method for determining relevance. A site with a top-ranked position on Google may not even show up in another search engine’s results.

So how do you get your site recognized by all search engines, all the time? This is a tall order—sort of the “Holy Grail” of online marketing. And it requires a great deal of research and preparation (and, truth be told, a lot of work!).

This is where the “optimization” part of Search Engine Optimization comes into play. You’ll learn more about this in the next chapter: “Search Engine Optimization Marketing vs. Paid Search Engine Marketing.”

The second approach to accomplishing higher rankings is through Paid Search Engine Marketing. When this strategy is implemented, the owner of a website agrees to pay search engines like Google and Yahoo a fee for the privilege of being “attached” to certain keywords (this is usually done through a bidding process). When a prospect searches for those specific keywords, the website owner’s listing appears above (or alongside) regular search results. Every time a prospect clicks that listing, the website’s owner is billed a predetermined amount, which can range from ten cents to several dollars, depending on the popularity of those search terms.

This process is also known as PPC or Pay Per Click” advertising. Through a bidding process, website owners choose the amount they are willing to pay to be connected to certain keywords. That amount is referred to as the CPC or “Cost Per Click.” A daily budget can be setup so you will have a good idea on how much you will spend for the month. No long term contracts are needed and you can cancel at any time without a cancellation fee. Test your market out for a week to a month to determine if this is a viable option for your site.

Remember, search engines can only make sense out of text. They can’t differentiate between an attractive site or a poor-looking site. What they want to see are places throughout your site where the specific search terms or keywords are used. These terms may be part of the text on a page, a caption on a picture, or in a blog or news release. Beyond the text, there’s another important factor search engines look for: links.

Links are connections, or referrals, between your website and other sites (whether owned by you or someone else) or external documents or web pages. Search engines like websites with large numbers of links to other sites because it suggests that people—other than the website’s owner—have found the material on that site to be valuable or relevant. The more links a site has, the more relevance it is given by search engines.

So how do you know where your site ranks among other results? Google has answered that question with a proprietary system it calls PageRank. Google’s promotional material describes how the system functions:

PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page Bas a vote, by page A, for page B. But Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves important weigh more heavily and help make other pages important.”

PageRank isn’t a perfect system, but if you want to play on Google’s turf, you have to play by Google’s rules.

That’s it for the terminology. Now we’ll move on to how these abbreviations, and the words they embrace, can be put to use to increase the effectiveness of your own online marketing program.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Search Engine Optimization Keywords

What search engines do is literally explore millions and millions of files on the Internet to see which ones most closely match your search terms or keywords (the words you type to signal what you’re looking for). If you were to type in “Pet Sitters,” you’d get a long list of providers of babysitting services for your pet (although you’ll also get results for each of those individual keywords: Pet Shops, Pet Food, Baby Sitters, Pole Sitters). This level of relevance is usually too broad, returning tens of thousands of possible results.

But what if you have a purebred greyhound, and you don’t want to leave it in just anybody’s hands? You’d narrow your search terms to Dog Sitters, or Greyhound Sitters, or Purebred Dog Sitters. Each permutation of your search terms will narrow—and hopefully target—exactly what you’re looking for.

You’re up against the same problem when you want people to find your product or service. How do you get your website in front of the greatest number of potential customers?

That leads us to Search Engine Optimization: This process involves a complete modification and possible enhancement of a website’s content, so search engines will determine it to be highly relevant, giving it a ranking usually falling within the top one to 2 pages for a predetermined list of search terms. Why is this important?

When people are looking for your product or service, it’s beneficial to have your site show up at (or near) the top of all the results a search engine retrieves. That’s because most buying decisions are made reactively. If someone sees what they want near the top of the list, they’re unlikely to continue searching through several pages of results before they make their decision.

Prior to the Internet, when the only place people searched was the Yellow Pages, many businesses took advantage of how listings were sorted by putting an A (or several A’s) in front of their business name. The reasons were the same then as they are today: if you needed a locksmith, would you peruse every name on the list, or would you decide one locksmith is probably just as good as another, and call the first name listed?

Since the Internet doesn’t list things alphabetically, getting seen by the greatest number of people (which, in practice, means being listed near the top of the results in a keyword search), has become a much more complicated issue. And it continues to grow in complexity as the online world itself becomes larger and more complex.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

SEM Terminology for the Technologically Challenged

We’ve all been victims of acronym-ology: terms and abbreviations that make complete sense to those who understand them, but sound like gibberish to those who aren’t involved in their particular enterprise. From the inception of the Internet, through the dot-com boom and its inevitable bust, and continuing to this day, the people who actually make things work online routinely make use of terms that are indecipherable to anyone else.

It would be nice if it didn’t have to be this way. But for those who understand these acronyms and abbreviations, they do make work easier and faster. For the rest of us, who may be involved in hiring, managing or contracting with the technicians, it would be helpful to have some sort of English-Technish dictionary.

We’re not professors, reference librarians or professional lexicographers (those who compile or write dictionaries), so we won’t be too formal in the way this information is presented. Our objective is to provide simple definitions of the most important terms related to Search Engine Marketing, in plain English. These terms are presented in bold type throughout this chapter.

Search Engine Marketing (or SEM) as encompassing all the elements involved in using search engines as tools for online marketing.

So, let’s start with Search Engine: Even if you don’t know what a search engine is, you’ve used one. They are, in technical terms, “information retrieval systems” used to locate specific content on the Internet. In simpler terms, they are the websites you visit when you’re looking for something. Numerous search engines have been launched (Ask.com, Excite, AltaVista, InfoSeek, Dogpile, AllTheWeb, Lycos, Answers.com, Inktomi, Ask Jeeves), although only a handful really dominate the industry. Most online marketers focus their efforts at achieving higher rankings on these few “major players”: Google, Yahoo Search, and Microsoft’s Live.com (formerly MSN Search).

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.