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SEM- Grooving to Search Engine's tunes!

Having no website presence can make you miss out on numerous opportunities for your business, but having a negligible presence won’t do you any good either! Whenever a user searches the web for a particular keyword, they are basically in the hunt mode. At this hunt mode, the users have an eye for acting on quicker, to-the-point information information which is provided by the Search Engines through their SERPs (Search Engine Result Page). Appearing on the first page of SERPs could work as the best source for getting the targeted traffic. This is where Search Engine Marketing comes into the scene.
So, let’s go through what is Search Engine Marketing.

Beginning with the basics!
Search Engine Marketing can be defined as a method of promoting or marketing of one’s site to increase its visibility and traffic or, in other words, gain higher rankings on the SERPs (Search Engine Result Page) of any Search Engine.
This has two aspects- Organic & Paid

Your Search Engine Marketing campaigns needs to have a judicious mix of both Organic and Paid marketing.

Before taking these decisions, firsthand information is very necessary. i.e Information in the form of the basic understanding of both the concepts (organic and paid) and their respective pros and cons.
Let’s pick them up one by one:

Going deep into the aspects of Search Engine Marketing
Organic Marketing (Unpaid efforts)
As the name suggests, organically means naturally acquiring the top positions in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Here, you earn traffic: this is basically done by optimizing your website in terms of content, keywords, backlinks, title tags etc., so that the Search Engines crawls your site and indexes it in a better way. This can also be referred to as, Search Engine Optimization or in short SEO.

Let us understand this in simpler terms:
Whenever you type in any query and the result page opens up, the list of websites that you get after the advertisements, are called the organic listings. The reason why one website ranks higher than the other in these organic listings is because the higher ranking website has done better SEO than the lower ones.

In the above example, the query typed in is- “how to design interiors” and Google shows up a list of results. The listings in the red box comprises Organic listings.
Search Engine Optimization is simply trying to get more traffic on your website and making it gain higher rankings on the SERPs (Search Engine Result Page) of various Search Engines, by making the site “Search Engine Friendly”.

Speaking of Organic marketing, what are the ways to do the same?
Now, what is “Search Engine Friendly” depends on the parameters the Search Engines uses to rank the websites. To learn more on how Search Engine works, refer here.
Here’s a quick run through of some (there are lots!) of the important parameters that the Search Engines use to rank websites-

1.Title tags – The title tag gives brief information to the user as well as the Search Engines about what the page contains. It is suggestive to include the keywords in title tags so that the Search Engine finds your page whenever a query related to it is typed in, by the user.
2.Content – Always remember, “Content is King”. Thereby, the content should be fresh, unique and relevant to what your website is about, and there should be no duplicate content.
3.Meta description/snippet – Meta descriptions provide the user and the Search Engines, with the information about the page or what is has to offer.
4.Site Design – The site design should give the user a good experience (quick to load, exit popups etc)- so that the satisfied user comes back to your site.
5.URL structure – The URL structure should be keyword friendly, easy for the user and the Search Engine to conduct search.
6.XML sitemap – It’s basically a structure of your entire website explained in a systematic manner. If a Search Engine cannot find or crawl through your website, you can create an XML sitemap to tell Googlebot, that this is your page, and request it to crawl that.
7.Quality Backlinking – Backlinking involves a concept of link juice. Link juice may be defined as the passing of the credibility of the website.
Let’s suppose if website A is providing a link to website B, then it is passing on its link juice to website B.
The backlinks should look natural rather than synthetic. Many a times, website owners create websites for the sole purpose of building links. Google is smart enough to identify such websites and penalize them.
These parameters can be even grouped as On Page Factors, which will include optimizations done on the page itself (including content, keywords, title tags, meta descriptions etc.) as well as OFF PAGE factors, which need to be done outside of the page (this includes quality backlinking, videos, social indexing etc. Here is a quick snapshot of it.

Now, let’s go onto the second ingredient of Search Engine Marketing:

Paid Marketing(PPC)
We always wonder what is paid marketing? What is PPC?
Paid marketing involves paying to gain visibility or higher rankings on the SERPs. Thus, you buy traffic. There is bidding on the keywords, and whoever gives the highest price, appears on the top. It can therefore, simply be understood as an online advertisement service. This is also known as Pay Per Click (PPC). Let’s go further with it.

Whenever we enter any query, the upper column and the left column has some yellow word (seen as “Ad-Image”) marked links – These are the advertisements!

It’s interesting to know how this mechanism works.
You bid in for the keywords in your advertisement, whoever pays the highest bid gets the first place in the SERPs (for that particular keyword). Google Adwords is a platform where the bidding takes place and you can start your campaign with any budget.
But if you think that’s it, it is NOT! Not only the highest bid matters,

QUALITY SCORE is a rating given by Google based on the relevancy and quality of your keywords and PPC ads. Your cost per click is dependent on this score, and is multiplied by the maximum bid to determine your ad rank in the bidding process. This Quality score is dependent on a variety of factors including you Click-through-rate, the relevancy of keywords to its ad group, your landing page quality and relevance, relevance of your Ad text etc.

Once you have your ads live, every time someone clicks on that, you spend the amount you quoted as bid. This method is popularly referred to as Cost Per Click (CPC).

Addressing Everybody’s inhibition-Will paid marketing justify the Cost-Benefit Analysis?
It may seem that spending for every click, may end up bringing you to empty pockets, but trust me it will do the OPPOSITE, if done with the right strategies. The example below might help you.
Let’s say you spent 1$ for a bid on the keyword, Levi’s 501 jeans. The user typed in this keyword, saw your advertisement, clicked on it and came to your website and made a purchase of 50$. You see, a cost of 1$ gave you a revenue of 50$; the net gain of 49$. This is the power of paid marketing.

Don’t know what the right strategy is? Here are a few ways to get you started:

  • Go for niche keywords – Don’t give your advertisement to only broader terms; there can be a lot of competition in there. Go with detailed or niche keywords.For example, instead of going with dresses, go for wedding dresses, party dresses etc. Google Keyword Planner is a good tool to know the search volume of any keyword.
  • Do a complete keyword research and analysis – and then bid on the keyword (check its search volume, competitiveness, search trend Google suggested bids etc). In other words, bid on the keyword that is likely to generate related traffic which is highly relevant with your product and services.
  • Keep reviewing the keywords – If the keywords are getting really expensive and not bringing enough conversions, shut them out!
  • Create landing pages concentrating on specific keywords – A specific landing page should be there for each Adgroup which should contain the keywords you have bided on.
  • Place the bided keywords on the landing page – A lot of people might not be aware of this, but placing the keywords of your advertisements on the landing page would do a great job in improving your quality score, conversion rate, reducing the bounce rate, improving time on site etc.
  • Specific Ad copy for each Adgroups – Organize each adgroup with two different ads that are targeted specifically for that Adgroup.

An unbiased overview on organic as well as paid ways of marketing
The infographic below will give you a perfect picture of the same.

The sweet six reasons which shout out to say that it’s high time, you should be engaging in search engine marketing!

  • Search Engine Marketing is hyped (actually, over-hyped) in terms, that it is too costly:
    Believe me! If you have the right strategy and techniques, it almost costs you nothing! If you are optimizing your content in a search engine friendly manner (adhering to good on-page and off-page optimization), SEM is just free for you. Your PPC (PAY PER CLICK) advertising is there 24*7 on the internet space. Imagine buying a space on the television for your advertisement and paying huge amounts, again and again for reaching out to the consumers! You now see, that Search Engine Marketing costs almost seem negligible in front of the huge costs of advertising in any other print or electronic media.
  • Everybody sees comfort online!
    Gone are the days when only a few people were technology savvy in a family. Now, everybody finds their solutions online. If you have a product or a service to offer, and you are not going online, in-fact not appearing on the first page of SERPs, it’s like having a music rock show without releasing any information about the tickets!
  • It is traceable and measurable!
    Now that’s a clear icing on the cake! Every Search Engine Marketing activity can be tracked or in other words, reviewed from time to time! If required, it can be corrected or you can say, optimized in accordance to your own needs. You can even track the change in the traffic you got, in response to any optimization done to your site in terms of organic or paid advertisements. If your traffic is increasing, your Search Engine Marketing techniques are working well, however if there is a fall in the traffic, then you essentially need to make some amendments. This is therefore a good way to know your RETURN ON INVESTMENT.
  • It can help you with your offline sales:
    Web Visible/Nielsen study in 2008 states that 86% of consumers use the Internet to find local businesses from which to buy offline. So, your website can be understood as an ever-lasting salesperson, giving details about each and every product/service you are offering, and helping in pushing sales!
  • It’s like a blessing to your brand establishment campaign:
    Humans aren’t computers; they don’t have that good memory, to remember something they see for a few seconds. So brand establishment can be a tough and chaotic task. It requires reaching out to the customers repeatedly so that it remains for a longer time in the customer’s mind! SEM is a blessing in disguise! With PPC, you can display the advertisement in front of the user’s eyes every time they open up the Search Engines!
  • It brings in traffic, and gives your revenues a big hike!:
    The bottom line always comes down to- Are you benefiting out of it? Are you able to make money out of it? Search Engine Marketing is all about increasing the traffic and trying to increase the conversion rates. If done properly, it can do wonders for the business.

Before starting off with the mission of search engine marketing, arm yourselves with the followings do’s and dont’s.
Do’s (a little extra information to serve as a succour)

  • Be Informed and updated! – Get a clear understanding of what is Search Engine Marketing and its different branches are, i.e. understanding the difference between SEO and PAID clearly, and the pros and cons of each tactic. Be updated with all the Google algorithm updates from time to time so that your Search Engine Marketing comes in handy!
  • Appoint Professionals – For securing a place on to the first page on the SERPs, and maintaining that position, you need to constantly monitor your rankings. This is a full time job, which requires a lot of expertise, so better appoint professionals which could provide better results.
  • Go for PPC – If you are still thinking that spending on ads isn’t worth it! Then you just need to change your mind. PPC campaigns help in increasing your website’s visibility thus, driving more traffic.
  • Do good SEO – Follow all the good on-page content and off-page optimization considerations, like fresh, unique content. Don’t overdo the keywords, prevent spammy backlinking etc.

Don’t (a well-wisher’s advice to help)

  • Don’t get fooled! – Don’t get fooled by those agencies that offer 100% guarantee to get your website amongst the top results in a short time. The only one who can do this are Search Engines (which you can’t fool) themselves.
  • Don’t “only” concentrate on Google – Optimizing your website only for Google is not a wise decision. You need to pay attention to other Search Engines too, like Yahoo, Bing etc.
  • Don’t over-do a particular element – Preparing judicious and good mix of search engine marketing is necessary. In other words, use a good mix of organic, paid and social marketing in your campaign for increasing traffic.
  • Don’t give up too soon!– It often takes time for the results to show in SEM. It doesn’t happen overnight. Keep the patience and continuously monitor your website.
  • Don’t wait – Always remember your competition is working towards getting itself ranked on the first position. SEM is a continuous process: it’s not a onetime thing. Keep doing it and see yourself ranked on the first page of the Search Engine Result Page (SERPs) of Search Engines.

So, we have seen what all Search Engine Marketing does and why is it relevant to our websites!

Conclusion
Plan your Search Engine Marketing campaign effectively .Optimize your sites considering both the On-page as well as the Off-page factors. Pay attention to each and every aspect of it including the keyword research, backlinking etc. Engage in sensible PPC, do a thorough research on the keywords for your advertisements. In other words, prepare an optimal mix of organic optimization as well as paid. Just remember one thing- Don’t over do anything!

After completing your optimizations, and getting on the top, sit back and pat yourself. And again after a minute, start working to maintain it on that position.