How to Use Search Engine Marketing to Get Your Website Noticed
Without a doubt, search engines are the most used online tools for finding information and resources. So it goes without saying that having your website listed can do a lot in helping you market your home business. Here's what you need to know about the ways in which search engines can be used to promote your business.
What Is Search Engine Marketing?
When you think of search engines in terms of marketing, you might focus on SEO or search engine optimization. However, that's not the only way search engines can help your business.
Search engine marketing is the practice of marketing or advertising your website through search engines, like Google, Yahoo, or MSN. Search engine marketing (SEM) may consist of one or more of the following components:
- Organic search engine optimization (SEO): Search engine optimization involves using techniques to help search engines find and rank your website in organic search results. Organic search results are the rankings of web pages returned by a search engine when you search for a specific word (keyword) or phrase (keyword phrase).
- Local search: If your business caters to people who live or work in your area, you can get listed by city in search engines (e.g. Google) and directories (e.g. Yahoo). This offers a way for area residents to find your business online, which is ideal since many people don't use the phonebook anymore.
- Pay per click advertising (PPC): While SEO is free, pay-per-click ads are just as they sound; ads you run on a search engine that you pay for each time someone clicks on it. In PPC advertising, you bid the amount you are willing to pay per click. In general, the more you bid, the higher your ad will likely appear in the search engine results. Google AdWords has implemented an additional factor in which your ads are ranked based on the relevancy or importance that Google places on your site, which is very difficult to manipulate. You can also use pay per click advertising to your advantage on your own site. For example, you can make money with Google AdSense and other similar programs.
Why Is It Important?
You may or may not decide to make search engine marketing part of your marketing and advertising strategy. If you don't have a website for your business and don't plan to ever have one, you certainly wouldn't need search engine marketing. However, in today's business climate, nearly all businesses are expected to have a website. In fact, since most people go online to find information, even about their local businesses, not having a website can hurt your chances of being found. Since having a website is crucial to success, there's no reason not to take advantage of what search engines offer to help you get found.
Search engine marketing can help deliver traffic to your website, which in turn can lead to new customers and clients, and increased home business revenues. Compared to other means of marketing and advertising, search engine marketing can be very cost effective. For example, it costs nothing to use search engine optimization techniques if you do them yourself. Organic search rankings are free, so if you can help search engines find and rank your business, your traffic should increase
Similarly, Pay Per Click Advertising can be very inexpensive, as long as you do it right. You can set limits on how much you pay per click and how much you pay per day, which allows you control costs. The trick to success in PPC advertising is making sure you write a great ad that targets your market.
How to Measure SEM Effectiveness
How you measure the effectiveness of your search engine marketing program depends on what your objectives are. If your intent is to increase the number of visitors to your website, you determine if your SEM campaigns are successful by comparing your web traffic statistics before and after you implemented search engine marketing.
For search engine marketing, efforts may take time before you see any significant boost to your traffic. There are many factors to SEO, including the keywords you're hoping to rank for, how well you utilize them, without overdoing it, on your website, as well as how long your website has been online and the quality of backlinks (other websites that link to yours).
Although you can instantly get your PPC ads running, it can take some time for them to appear against other ads, depending on your per-click pay bid and other factors.
In addition to measuring your website traffic, you need to track your conversion rates. For example, if, as a result of your search engine marketing efforts, your traffic doubles from 250 to 500 visitors per month, how many new customers did you acquire from the additional 250 visitors to your site? Do you now have twice as many customers as you did before? If you picked up five customers your conversion rate would be 2 percent of the new traffic (5 divided by 250) and 1 percent (5 of 500) overall. You'll spend a lot of time marketing, so you want to make sure your efforts are paying off.
Ultimately, when measuring the success of SEM marketing, it isn't just about increasing traffic to your website but also having that traffic lead to greater sales. So your goal is to find ways to increase the number of visitors and their conversion rates, so you'll know exactly what it takes to make your search engine marketing program successful.
Just One Piece of the Puzzle
Although you don't want to ignore search engines in your marketing plan, you don't want to rely on them solely for website traffic. Search engine marketing is just one of the many marketing options available to home businesses.