It’s no secret that the Internet continues to influence our lives in ways that people haven’t even recognized. The Internet as we know it has come a long way since its fairly humble beginnings in the early 1990s. It has become the single most important and influential factor for everything from politics to sales. Our leisure time is spent surfing the net more than ever before and marketers are continually looking for new ways to sell to you during your downtime. Why should you be concerned with search engine marketing (SEM)? Find out here!
What is Search Engine Marketing?
The full answer to that question can be an article on its own. For purposes of brevity and relevance, I define search engine marketing as an approach to Internet marketing where the goal is to attract attention to and promote a website in the search engine results pages (the “first page of Google” is an example of a search engine results page).
The methods used to increase a website’s visibility using SEM typically comprises of two main approaches: Search engine optimization (SEO) and paid advertising (usually by pay per click, or PPC, advertising).
1. Active Versus Passive Searching
One of the most important aspects of search engine marketing is its intrinsic nature as targeting active searchers. Image the scenario where you are watching your favorite program on TV and see a commercial for baby diapers. If you don’t have a baby, you’ll probably ignore the ad. Nonetheless, the advertisers are doing their best to target their commercials for the intended audience. In fact, studies show that even if you have a baby, you’ll probably ignore the ad the first few times you see it since it is commonly believed that consumers have to see your ad at least seven times before doing business with you.
Now compare that to being found in the search engines. As my clients have heard me repeatedly emphasize over the years, when someone is searching for something online, they want something that’s beneficial to them. That benefit can take the form of information (written content), a photo, an e-commerce store where they can buy the products you sell immediately, your company’s phone number, your store’s opening hours, free blog software, and so on. All of these and more are beneficial in one way or another to the end user.
The beauty of the search marketing industry is that someone actively sought that beneficial item and got it almost immediately. Search engine marketing is represents a direct way to go after a “mini-captive” audience. With the best SEM practices, you can forget passive advertising and focus on active buyers
2. A Controlled Environment
The entire life experience during the few minutes (or even just seconds) that someone is on your website is limited to what you present to them. Consumers are all eyes, ears, and mindful of what you are offering them. You have their undivided attention and you get it the first time they find you. No purposeful repetition is required. You create the unique shopping experience for the consumer, whether you run an e-commerce store or you’re a realtor looking to get more people to buy their homes through your services.
3. Ready to Convert
Additionally, it’s not just that you have an active Internet surfer on your website, in many cases, you have someone is ready to sign up for your newsletter, buy your products, call for your service, and so on. Each day, millions of consumers seek what you have to offer and are screaming “I want to buy from you.” Are you ready to take them on?
4. Local Versus Global
In addition to the inherent benefit of search engine marketing to companies looking to market their products online, such as being open to the entire world, businesses can take advantage of local markets. Your company can go from local to global (and vice versa).
You can target large audiences in local region or small audiences on an international basis. Either way, people who find you want to get answers to their questions quickly and they primarily use search engines and to a lesser extent social media to do so. For example, if you’re considering the purchase of a digital camera, you’ll likely read reviews of the ones hat best suit you based on what you find on a search engine results page. If you can control what appears, you’re SEM plan can generate a tremendous increase in sales.
Consider that using a pay per click and/or search engine optimization strategy is more measurable than almost any other form of marketing. Especially the former. You can start with a relatively small budget and assess the results of a PPC campaign fairly quickly. Further, knowing how to analyze and use website statistics can help you go a long way toward increasing sales while getting a return on your investment.
6. Mobile Access
While search engines continue to dominate as a starting point on your computer, they are also growing rapidly in the mobile world. This just adds to their importance as places to focus on when you spend your Internet marketing dollars.
7. Small Businesses Look Big
Businesses with visibility based on high rankings in any capacity (website, social media profiles, product reviews such as on Amazon.com, etc) often look larger than they may be. That can prove to be beneficial for sales.
The Next Step?
The Internet is a continually evolving creature. Search engine marketing should be a serious consideration for any company looking to stay in business in the coming years. Moreover, keeping up with the times, using current methods and approaches to marketing products and services online is primary importance. Your competitors are doing it. Don’t get left behind.