Search Engine Marketing
A 10-minute guide to understanding Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, SERP Optimization, Keyword Planning, Local SEO, Search Advertising and all these terms very people really understand.
Search engine marketing and the associated disciplines are some of the most mysterious aspects of a robust digital marketing plan. They are also some of the most important. So hang in there, I am going to take you through all these different aspects of search engine marketing and give you the ammunition you need to walk in to your boss’, clients’ or friends’ offices and blow their socks off with your knowledge of some of the most mysterious, important and misunderstood tools of digital marketing.
What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?
Let’s start with search engine marketing or SEM. It’s simple. Search engine marketing is the overarching term that describes all the disciplines that are described in the subtitle above… search engine optimization, SERP optimization, keyword planning, local SEO and search advertising. See, isn’t that simple? You have the first term understood. So when talking about your digital marketing plan, you should ask, “what are we doing as part of our search engine marketing strategy?”
When an organization or business opens, moves or adds locations, someone must notify the online directories. It’s like changing your address with the post office (if you are reading this in the United States). If you don’t, the online directories will try to gather information for you. Often the data is mixed up or missing valuable information. There are services that will automatically do this for you. For example, we have a product called YourNameListed.com. With access to more than 120 different directories, YourNameListed.com will ensure the data about your organization is correct within 60 days. Whether you use this service or another, it’s imperative that you make sure your contact information is correctly listed online. This process is known as local SEO.
Outside of local SEO, keyword planning is the foundation of all future search engine work. There are tools available that allow you to see which keywords and phrases people are searching for online. Keyword planning is about researching the exact words and phrases people are searching for so that you can later develop content and advertising that matches these searches.
Let’s start with the Google Keyword Planner. Google has a very cool tool that is included as part of the Google AdWords product. It allows you to input your website, or enter sample keywords, and it will find the most relevant searches and their volume. It is a free tool, but you have to sign up for a free Google AdWords account to access it.
Next, UberSuggest.io is an amazing tool that helps you find “long-tail keywords,” or phrases and sentences that people are typing into search engines. I think that UberSuggest is a hidden gem. If you are developing a keyword strategy, it will become one of your best friends.
Complete OnSite SEO
We are slightly more broad in our definition of OnSite SEO than other people. OnSite SEO can be defined as actions taken on your website that entice the search engines to connect your content with the searchers. This is a very broad definition that includes several different practices.
- Code Optimization – Often done by professionals, code optimization usually requires some web design skills and is the most technical of all the practices. Keywords should be included in titles and headings. Page titles and descriptions must reflect the content on the page. Volumes have been written on all the ways you can update your code to make it more appealing to Google and the other search engines. These are just a few.
- Sitemaps and Submission – Once your site is built, a sitemap needs to be created and submitted to the search engines so they know you exist and how often you update or add content to your site. There are tools to create these sitemaps with only a few clicks. Submitting your site is as easy and registering with the search engines and pointing them to your sitemap.
- Content Marketing – Unlike many people, we include content marketing in OnSite SEO. While Content Marketing encompasses much more than your website, there is a critical component that is part of your OnSite SEO strategy. Once you know the keywords people are searching for, you need to create quality content on your site that addresses or relates to those keywords.
Many SEO tutorials neglect to talk about SERP optimization. SERPs are the search engine results pages. They are the pages that are returned after a searcher types terms into a search engine. The first step is to appear in these pages. Once you do, you need to take steps to ensure that searchers choose your website over the other nine or so entries on that page.
SERP Optimization is done by editing the page titles and descriptions of each of your website’s pages. Every page on your site should have a slightly different title and description that represents both the content on the page and the keywords from your keyword study. If you are using a WordPress site, these can be changed quite easily using the Yoast SEO plugin (or a similar SEO plugin).
Page titles and descriptions must be cleverly written to draw searchers to your site. All credible evidence claims that page titles will impact placement on those pages, but meta descriptions won’t. Use the titles to include appropriate keywords and the descriptions to include any text/offers that will compel searchers to visit you over any other site that may place on that page.
Search engines are in business because they work hard to connect searchers with the best possible responses to their inquiries. One of the ways they do this is by ranking websites. One of the biggest factors the major search engines use to determine a ranking is the number of external websites that link to a site. The belief is that better, or more credible, sites have more people linking to their sites than less credible ones. To improve your position, you must increase the number of websites that link to your site.
How do you do that? Here are a few recommendations…
- Request links to your site from strategic partners and associates with whom you do business
- Request links to your site when advertising or joining associations
- Find out where your competitors are getting links and request links from those sites too
Building up this number must be an important part of your business, both online and off. You should always be thinking about how to get more websites, businesses, partners and others to link to your website.
The final part aspect of search engine marketing is search advertising. Search advertising allows businesses to purchase any given keyword (single words or phrases) so that searchers will find their company first on the search engine results pages. Each search engine has their own product. The most popular is Google AdWords. But Bing also has a product that covers several other search engines. These products are expensive but effective.
Building a strong digital marketing strategy must include a plan for search engine marketing. Too many small and medium sized businesses neglect these tactics because they don’t understand them. Find a partner (like Boxless) to help you if you don’t understand it. But learn enough to ask the right questions and get the partner to work with.