Search Engine Marketing Strategies

Get to know the three main points of the marketing strategy for search engines, which are website optimization (SEO), PPC (sponsored links) and Local SEO (Google map).

The term search engine marketing can be used as a key term to cover all forms of marketing carried out through search engines and therefore encompasses:

  • Pay Per Click  (e.g. AdWords), the practice of getting visitors and leads using paid search engine ads such as those offered by the  Google AdWords program . A user bids on relevant search queries to advertise products or services, but only pays if a visitor clicks on the ad, hence the name pay per click or PPC.
  • Website optimization  (SEO), the practice of maximizing a website’s natural visibility in search engines so as to maximize free visitor traffic. This can be a great traffic generator for large sites with many pages and a  differentiated content strategy  .
  • Local listings  (places), the practice of maximizing a website’s visibility for local searches on services such as Google Maps.

Pay Per Click

PPC has proven to be extremely popular due to the high level of control it gives the user. The Google AdWords program is the biggest, as Google has about 95% of the search market in Brazil, Bing, Yahoo and others share the rest.

You can choose to have your ads appear for specific search terms, and you can control in which region your ads appear as well. You can schedule your ads to appear only at certain times or on certain days.

The system is largely auction-based. If both your ad and your page are relevant to the search query, your ad can be shown and your position on the results page will mainly depend on how much you are willing to pay to receive a visitor. That’s because, inevitably, there are other advertisers who also want to advertise to people using the same search queries so that competition will dynamically drive prices.

You can limit both the amount you are willing to pay per click and the amount you are willing to spend per day. The more you are willing to pay per click, the bigger your ad will appear. The more you are willing to spend per day, the more often your ads will appear.

PPC Benefits:

  • Fast results, you can have on-demand listings.
  • Control over geographic display
  • Control over ad scheduling for certain days of the week or time periods.
  • It can be paused and resumed as needed.
  • Precise keyword targeting or broad targeting as needed.

PPC costs:

  • Requires some advertising budget

Website Optimization (SEO)

Website  optimization for search engines  is the art of optimizing a website’s content, code and other factors to improve its ranking in a search engine’s natural listings. Achieving good listings through SEO can lead to excellent visitor traffic while ranking is high and visits from search engine users are free.

SEO is often highly competitive and some search queries are so competitive that only larger established brands with a good reputation, history, and great content will consistently rank well. SEO can take considerable time to achieve results and is prone to fluctuations as other competitors also fight for position and as search engines change the algorithms they use to rank pages on a regular basis. Google, for example, can make over 500 changes to its algorithms in a single year.

Choosing which search queries to try to rank for is a vital part of SEO, in general, more specific queries are easier to rank for and often lead to better business results.

SEO Benefits:

  • Free visitor traffic as long as the listing is high enough.
  • Increased brand recognition;
  • SEO aims for quality traffic;
  • SEO gets more clicks than PPC;

SEO costs

  • Time and patience! SEO can take considerable time and effort, often many months before success is seen;
  • Success may be fleeting as competitors fight for position and/or as search engines change the way they rank pages;
  • SEO agencies  can be expensive due to the specialized nature of the business and the rewards at stake .

local lists

Local listings like Google Places listings are another way to get traffic from search engines and they are also free. Local listings are not always shown in search results and are best suited for businesses serving a relatively small local area.

Just like standard SEO, getting into those few local results shown for a local search can be very competitive and will require patience as well as good relevant content and consistent effort to maintain position.

Local listing benefits:

  • Lists for local businesses with map location helping to attract more clicks;
  • Free traffic as long as the listing is shown.

Local listing costs:

  • Similar to the broader SEO costs above with increasing uncertainty about when local results will show. Google, for example, can change which queries trigger local results at any given time.

The strategies described above are not mutually exclusive, companies of all types use them as appropriate. The apparent advantage over PPC in this post is simply because it is the most reliable, measurable, and fastest way of search engine marketing. However, it does not suit all companies as it requires a budget!