Search Marketing for Dummies: Essential Things to Know
We have pretty much become global citizens nowadays, with the internet dominating every activity and connection that we have. Of course, same for shopping, most consumers do product research online, making search marketing an essential for any eCommerce business that wants to succeed.
But what are search marketing elements? Why is it necessary for your business? How to apply it to your marketing strategy? Those are the questions you will get answers in this article, as I explain all you need to know about search marketing. Keep reading to find out and equip yourself with one of the most important knowledge for selling online!
What is search marketing?
Search marketing is the effort of gaining traffic and visibility for a business website on search engine result pages (SERPs) through using both paid and unpaid methods.
Search marketing combines of two main categories:
- SEO (search engine optimization): unpaid or free tactics like Blogging to earn search engine listings
- SEM (search engine marketing): paid tactics like Pay-per-click to earn search engine listings
Make no mistake, search engine marketing is not search marketing, even though several marketing definitions online may mix them up. At first, SEO was considered a part of SEM, but over time, SEM is more considered a paid strategy, while search marketing becomes the umbrella term for both SEO and SEM.
You can see the difference between SEO and SEM right on Google’s search results page, with results divided into two main categories: the paid results and the organic search results. SEO is where you focus on ranking in organic results, SEM is where you tap into paid ads to get traffic from targeted keywords and audiences.
Why does search marketing matter?
The answer is simple as the definition already explains itself. Every day, there are billions of people searching on the internet for a new product to purchase, or a solution to their problems. If you want your business to appear in the search results and be the solution they are searching for, search marketing is a critical strategy to implement. It can be the most effective way to gain new customers and grow your company.
How to get started with search marketing?
Both SEO and SEM are the fundamental parts of search marketing, and you should have both in your marketing strategy. SEO is powerful to have evergreen traffic, while SEM is a highly cost-effective way to drive conversions. Let’s go through each of them in detail.
SEO (search engine optimization)
SEO is a vital component of search marketing. Even if you plan to outsource your site’s SEO to an agency, you still need to understand its purpose and function. Here are all you should know about SEO:
Definition: SEO is the practice of optimizing a website in order to rank in the non-paid, organic search engine results pages. There are over 200 ranking factors in Google’s algorithm, which create a whole bunch of strategies for SEO according to those factors.
SEO areas can be divided into four main focuses:
- Off-Page SEO: Focus on your site’s presence on other websites and social media. This involves attracting quality links to your website – called building backlinks. Links are an important trust signal to search engines.
- On-page SEO: Optimizing your website around keywords that target customers use on search engines. For example, some on-page SEO practices include keywords in the title tag, meta description, and webpage URL.
- Technical SEO: Make sure search engines like Google can crawl and index all or your site’s pages. You need to make sure your site’s architecture is correct, the loading speed is fast, etc.
- User interaction signals: How users interact with your site also affect ranking. For example, if your site has a high bounce rate for a keyword, it may lose ranking for that keyword, or even fall off the first page.
One thing to know about SEO is that it takes a long time, usually three to six months, to see results. SEO takes time because search engines crawl billions of pages to have the best search results. Not to mention, ranking factors like links and responsive elements also take a while to implement.
Inform yourself with more Search Terms and Digital Marketing Tips!
However, SEO is still the best investment for a site in the long term to receive traffic, get new leads, more sales, and higher revenue.
Some must-have SEO tools are:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Keywords Everywhere
You can start with free tools or trials to choose the best options for your SEO and search marketing strategy. A free app like Avada SEO Suite can help you optimize your website effortlessly without having to learn all about SEO.
SEM (search engine marketing)
The second component of search marketing is SEM – which is also essential for succeeding in search marketing. Advertising is a field with its own features, best practices, and more.
Definition: SEM is the use of paid ads to appear in search results and promote your business, products, or services. The ads appear at the top of search results on search engines like Google and Bing.
Backed by search engines, SEM is a competitive advertising strategy with an expanded toolkit that allows you to create ads tailored to the target audience. SEM operates on the following elements:
- Keywords: Words and phrases that people use to search on search engines.
- Budget: The pre-set amount of money that you can set for each ad campaign, your spending won’t exceed this.
- Bidding: How much you pay for someone to click your ads, the highest bidder gets the highest position.
- Quality score: An estimate of your ad’s quality by Google. A higher score can mean a discount on each click.
- Ad Groups and Account Management: A dashboard to optimize your ad spend in many campaigns.
- Ad Copy: The writing on your ad. Great ad copy increases click-through rate.
- Additional targeting and researching tools: Free or paid tools to assist your ad campaigns.
Contrary to SEO, SEM starts working with results immediately. As search engines approve your ads and they win biddings, they will start appearing in search results. However, you will still need testing and tweaking to have a positive return on investment.
Some must-have SEM tools are:
- Google Analytics
- Google Trends
- Google Ads
For the best results with SEM, create high-quality and relevant ads for your target audience.
How to create a search marketing strategy?
Now that you know about SEO and SEM, it’s time to create your business search marketing strategy. The next five steps will help you build a foundation for revenue-driving strategies with amazing results. Let’s start!
Determine your approach to SEO & SEM
First, you want to know how your SEO and SEM strategy work together. A few examples would be:
- Targeting the same keywords to maximize your reach in search results
- Using SEM keyword data for SEO keywords
- Using SEO data to build SEM remarketing campaigns
- Testing keywords’ value for campaigns
Once you know this, you can start planning your strategy.
Keyword research is an essential part of a search marketing strategy. Both SEO and SEM use keywords, so you need to find the best keywords for your business to get the most value and return on investment.
You can research keywords on Google, browse industry forums and social media, install plugins, and use keyword tools like Answer the Public. Depending on your strategy, you can have keyword sheets for your SEO and SEM campaigns. Make sure to make keyword research a regular effort to maximize your search marketing results.
This is an important step, so you should have a checklist to keep track of the campaign’s elements. This will take some time to outline tasks, staff, deadlines, and goals. Based on your own resources, you may choose a more SEO or SEM approach.
For SEO, you may need steps like Completing an SEO audit, Setting up Google Analytics, Researching keywords, Optimizing site content, Building backlinks, and Creating a reporting schedule. For SEM, you can use steps like Deciding monthly budget, Creating a Google Ads account, Outlining ad groups, Researching keywords, Writing ad copy, and Creating a reporting schedule.
Monitor your performance
Next, you want to track the performance of your search marketing effort. You can use the following tools:
- Google Search Console
- Google Analytics
- Bing Webmaster Tools
- Advertising platforms like Google Ads
Monitoring your performance helps respond fast to unexpected results, discover new opportunities, and gain new insights. For best results, try to check in on your campaigns weekly.
Improve your search marketing strategy
Finally, always strive for improvement with your strategy. These improvements, no matter big or small, can make a huge impact on your website’s performance. It will be how you move past competitors and keep reinventing your own business.
What is the next step?
Search marketing offers you a smart approach to marketing and advertising your business. With a suitable search marketing strategy, you can capture both valuable organic and paid traffic, which can translate into more leads, sales, and revenue. Your next step should be checking your resources and choosing the best approach to search marketing based on that.
If you need any help, leave your questions in the comments section. Good luck with implementing search marketing into your business!
Chance is a marketing specialist at Avada Commerce – a fast-growing eCommerce solution provider, whose goal is to never write a boring article. His enthusiasm for online business has spanned over two years, accompanying his articles with in-depth knowledge about eCommerce. He also enjoys drinking tea and playing Exploding Kittens in his free time.