Digital Marketing an SEO and SEM Overview

Marketing Channels
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a way to generate traffic to your Web site by using search engines, such as Google or Yahoo. Search engines index Web sites with keywords; the goal of SEM is to help the search engine identify keywords that will direct its users to your Web site. There are two ways to go about keyword identification: sponsored search (also known as pay-per-click) and organic search.

Sponsored Search
Sponsored search has a few different benefits. It’s an easy way to drive traffic to your site, collects hard data (information about the user) and can guarantee traffic for a set budget. Unlike organic search, sponsored searching can be managed in real-time. By logging on to the search engine account, you can immediately change the keywords affiliated with your website—you can even geographically target your ads. The keyword results will produce a listing on the search results page within the confines of the “Sponsored Results” section (often indicated by a label and shading).

Keywords (which can be either single words or phrases) are billed by their popularity; the greater the popularity of the word, the more expensive it is to use. Sponsored search is billed in two ways: pay-per-click (keyword price multiplied by number of user CLICKS on the ad) and cost-per-impression (CPM) (keyword price multiplied by number of times VIEWED by users).

Managing a sponsored search account can be pricey if you are unfamiliar with keyword determination. Setup requires establishing an account, determining the keywords and setting parameters. Maintenance requires keyword updates, changes to positioning and changes based on hard data information.

Organic Search
Organic search, or search engine optimization (SEO), yields search ranking results without paying the search engine. In this method, search engines draw identified keywords from the existing content to produce search results. It takes longer then sponsored search because the search engine collects the data itself (you aren’t submitting the keywords). The obvious benefit is cost—it’s free to implement. Other benefits include greater trust from the user, a bigger pool of clicks (than sponsored) and easy implementation.

It is important to note how keywords for organic search are weighted: not all website content is weighted equally. Once you are able to determine which keywords are most effective to drive the traffic you need, you need to plug them into areas the search engine weighs more heavily. Of course, search engines don’t share their formulas with web developers (for risk of exploitation); however, professionals trained in SEO are familiar with techniques that can greatly enhance your ratings. Greater popularity (amount of traffic) of your site will yield better results. It is possible to track information on popularity using tools such as Alexa, which provides information on Web traffic to other Web sites.

Setting up an organic search campaign requires determining the keywords and properly placing them. Perhaps the biggest maintenance concern, aside from continually updating effective keywords, is making sure to keep updated content.

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