SEM Explained – the Benefits of Having a Solid Online Marketing Plan

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What is the difference between SEM and SEO?

That’s a very common question. SEM or Search Engine Marketing, consists of various interconnected strategic actions taken to make a website more noticed by search engines such as Google or Bing, so ideally the site will appear on the first page of search results. These actions include things like SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, along with paid placement, contextual advertising, digital asset optimization, and more. SEO, in particular, is the subset of SEM that’s most crucial to businesses.  SEO focuses on optimizing a website’s content so that people using relevant keywords and terms will easily find the homepage or specific landing pages (see How Landing Pages Draw People to Your Site). When users search a topic using general words or phrases (such as “computer services”), rather than a specific company name, a site with strong SEO is more likely to appear at or near the top of the results.

How Can Your Site Benefit From SEO?

Making and executing a solid SEO strategy starts with the concept that the content on your site must match what your target customers are typing into search engines. Then, implementing an ongoing process requires much attention to detail, including:

  1. Using words and phrases your customers are searching, and spreading them strategically throughout your website. Remember the words they use may not exactly match your business jargon.
  2. Clearly showing your products and services, and making sure descriptions focus on terms used often in search engines.
  3. Getting other sites to link to yours, also called “inbound links”, which will improve your search results. These include directories, blogs, other business sites, Google places, partners you work with, etc.
  4. Regularly adding/updating content, which will gradually boost your rankings.
  5. Making sure landing pages within your site have clear URLs with relevant keywords.
    Ex: www.harriswebworks.com/online-marketing/social-media-marketing/
  6. Building authority and relevance over time. These items are the most critical and also the most elusive. Search engines determine which page on the web is the most relevant and authoritative for a given search term and list it first. So, the strategy is to increase relevance and authority over time for each page on your site. The more people visit, read, share and link to your page the more authoritative it becomes.This is why quality content has become so important, because low value content does not shared.

Staying Effective as Search Engines Evolve

SEO and SEM are complex and rapidly changing areas of online marketing. Major search engine algorithms evolve – Google Hummingbird, for example, represents a significant advance in search dynamics – and businesses must adapt their strategies accordingly. Trends play a role too, from the impact of social media networks to using content marketing to get more inbound links.

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About The Author

Matthew Harris

Matthew began designing and building websites in 1995, and has since grown Harris Web Works (formerly Medium Well) into a full-service online marketing provider. He continuously adds expertise to become proficient in the evolving world of e-commerce, digital marketing, search engine optimization, mobile web, and more. Client work includes large corporate websites to comprehensive, customized services for small-to-medium sized businesses. He has worked as a designer, programmer, marketer and project manager. Matt is on the Board of Directors of Search Engine Marketing New England (SEMNE), and is a partner at Digital Media Sync in New Haven, CT.