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.

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 (, Excite, AltaVista, InfoSeek, Dogpile, AllTheWeb, Lycos,, 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 (formerly MSN Search).

What is Search Engine Marketing?

Search Engine Marketing (commonly abbreviated as SEM) is the term used to encompass all the elements involved in using search engines as tools for online marketing. The more often heard abbreviation, SEO, stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is a very effective tool used in online marketing. Coming in a close second in terms of effectiveness is Paid Search.

Both tools attempt to allow a particular website to be “found” easily by the most popular search engines, and rank highly in the search results. It stands to reason that when a prospect is searching for something your company sells, they aren’t going to look through dozens (or perhaps even hundreds) of pages of results. The most desirable place to be is at, or near, the top position in any given set of search results. That way, your prospect sees your website’s address above any number of competitors in the listings.

Search Engine Optimization attempts to accomplish this task “organically,” by manipulating the content of your site so search engines find it highly relevant in relation to specific search terms or keywords. Paid Search attempts to accomplish the same goal by paying for the privilege of being rated as highly relevant. With most search engines, the “sponsored” results (which is just a nicer way of saying “paid for”) are displayed most prominently, appearing above or alongside the main search results. How this is accomplished will be explained in a later chapter.

For now, it’s enough to know these three things:

Search Engine Marketing is a term for all the tools that allow a website to be found more effectively by search engines.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is usually the least expensive way of enabling a website to achieve higher rankings in search results, but it takes time.

Paid Search is the quickest and easiest way to become highly ranked by search engines, although it can be expensive.

Understanding Search Engine Marketing

How To Make Your Website Work Harder— And Smarter

There’s no shortage of information on the Internet about ways to improve your website’s search engine rankings, how to use various pay-per-click services, and so many other topics related to online marketing.

 Almost all these sources of information share two common problems: 

1)     They’re written by researchers, academicians or technically oriented people. They may understand these subjects, but they don’t know much about how to actually implement these tools. Or they know how to do it, but not how to explain it to someone else. 

2)     They want to sell you something: programs, plans, web hosting or technical services. Their material may promise to tell you how to do it yourself, but they’ll make it sound so complicated you won’t know where to start. And they’re hoping you’ll turn to them.

There’s nothing really wrong with these approaches; they’re just not too helpful. And they’re tainted with ulterior motives. After all, even companies who help other companies do Internet marketing need to market themselves.

 Here’s what’s going to be different about this blog: 

1)               We’ll explain everything in plain English, so you don’t need to be an MIT graduate to understand what we’re talking about. And, because this is a blog, you can absorb the information at your own pace, insert notes anywhere in the text, and come back for review whenever you want. 

2)               We are going to tell you how to do it yourself. But these tools are technical and time-consuming, and you may decide it’s not cost-effective to spend your time implementing the necessary changes. 

And yes, we do hope you’ll turn to us for help, if you need it. But we’re not going to try to bamboozle you from the start, just so you’ll give up and give us a call. 

One more thing: We’re not researchers or academicians. We are technically oriented, but we hope you won’t hold that against us. What we mean to say is, the stuff we’ll be explaining inside is the stuff we do all day, every day. We know it inside and out. So, if you decide you don’t have the time or the inclination to tackle these issues yourself, we hope what you read here will persuade you we’ve got the expertise to understand your business, analyze what needs fixing, and implement whatever changes are required.

Oh, and there’s still one more thing: We offer a promise no other supplier in the industry dares to make:

 We guarantee our services will increase the results of your online marketing.

Since 1998 we’ve delivered on that promise—time after time, for a broad range of clients, in a wide variety of industries. We’re willing to put that much on the line to make sure you’re more than satisfied with the work we do. So put us to the test. We’d be delighted to add you to our client list.