The Difference Between SEO & SEM

It’s hard to keep track of all the digital marketing buzzwords that are flying around the internet today. Especially, if those words are thrown into acronyms that further decode their meaning. For those of you just starting to dabble in online marketing, we wanted to provide a quick explanation as to the difference between SEO and SEM.

First off, what do they stand for? That would certainly help. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it refers to the process of increasing your website’s search engine ranking for a specific keyword or set of keywords. Said another way, search engines look for specific things on and off of your website that determines whether or not it’s relevant for a specific query, and SEO is the goal of doing those things.

So then what is SEM? Search engine…? Marketing? Exactly. Search engine marketing is the strategy to increase your traffic and sales through the search engine channel. Search engine marketing includes the tactic SEO and the tactic Paid Search. Paid Search refers to those “sponsored” advertisements you see at the top and right side of Google, Bing, and the rest. Businesses are in a bidding war for every click that drives them to their website. The more relevant your website landing page to the query and the more you pay, the higher you’ll appear on the search engine results page (SERP).

Should you even care? Well, yes, because 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine (Forrester Research, 2006). That means that your customers and prospects are likely finding or not finding you by first visiting sites like Google.com and Bing.com. They type in a search query such as “brown leather office chair” and start visiting the websites that appear. What’s even more important is that you want to appear first. That’s because 97% of searchers never look beyond the first three results. It’s more likely that they’ll change their search query before hitting that “next >” button at the bottom of the page.

A few years ago those top coveted results of the search engines were known as the “Google Golden Triangle” as they get all of the attention and clicks. That triangle has become even more competitive as Google and Bing have introduced other content such as news, images, videos, and social feeds. That and every sixty seconds 70 domain names are registered and 60 new blogs are created, makes it even harder to compete.

The best thing you can do as a company is to get in the game. If you’ve got a website, then you need to understand how people come to it. Take a look at your website analytics. You can set up an account with Google Analytics for free. See how many people are coming from search engines and what they’re searching for. Try out some paid search advertising and follow the SEO best practices [PDF].

How to Improve Google Adwords Quality Scores [Infographic]

I recently stumbled upon an useful infographic created by Digital Net Agency, a performance-based search agency with a concentration on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). The infographic provides great insight into one of the most important aspects of paid search advertising, the Google Adwords Quality Score.

The Quality Score is essential for digital marketers to understand because it helps determine how much you have to pay to receive a position in the “sponsored” area of the search engine results page. You can optimize your Quality Score to receive a higher position for a lower bid that your competitors. Said another way, you’ll pay less money for more clicks and visibility. Therefore, it is important to understand and measure.

Quick summary of Google Adwords Quality Score factors:

  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Relative (CTR)
  • Landing-page quality
  • Keyword/search relevance
  • Ad/site Performance
  • Display URLs past CTR
  • Account history
  • Keyword/ad relevance
  • Geographic performance
  • Targeted devices

Focus on your “kewords, ads, and landing-page relevancy” and you can improve your Google Adwords Quality Score.

How to Improve Google Adwords Quality Scores Infographic:

Improve Google Quality Score Infographic

Source: DigitalNetAgency.com

Get Started with Pay-Per-Click Advertising

In the world of online marketing, pay-per-click campaigns are an advertising medium that marketers use on a regular basis. This method of marketing can provide a number of benefits to webmasters that you can’t find elsewhere. If you haven’t considered getting involved with this strategy, there are two advantages for using pay-per-click advertising. Before we get into these two advantages of this medium, lets explore what PPC is.

What is Pay-Per-Click?

Pay-per-click is a marketing method that is primarily offered by search engines like Google. With this strategy, you sign-up for an account as an advertiser and then create an ad campaign. You come up with an ad, a link to your site and keywords that trigger the ad. You set the amount that you are willing to pay for each click on your ad. Then when someone types in a keyword that you have listed in your campaign, your ad will show up in the advertising section of the search engine results. If someone clicks on the ad, they are taken to your website. You then pay a fee for each person who clicks on one of the ads.

1) Pay-per-click works with your branding strategy by increasing traffic

One way that you could effectively use pay-per-click marketing is to increase the overall traffic to your website. Pay-per-click marketing can be a highly effective way to bring targeted traffic to your site. Depending on the niche that you are targeting, it may not be that expensive to get visitors to your site. The best part is that the people who come to your site from these ad campaigns are actively seeking what you have to offer. This means that you’re not just throwing money away to get people to your site who may or may not be interested in what you have to offer. This makes it more likely that you will be able to increase sales or conversions. However, the positive takeaway you can count on is the brand awareness associated with starting a pay per click campaign.

2) Pay-per-click is effective for conversion testing that increase sales

Another advantage when it comes to taking advantage of pay-per-click marketing is to use the traffic to test your regular site pages or sales pages. If you are building a new site, it probably doesn’t have much weight with the search engines yet. This makes it difficult to get any traffic to the site. Without traffic, it can be difficult to tell if what you are doing is actually working or even something that people will purchase. By purchasing some traffic for the site with pay-per-click marketing, you can get a lot of people there quickly, so you can see if your design actually works and whether your market is actively seeking to purchase your product or service.

Something Important To Consider

When it comes to using pay-per-click marketing, you can definitely get results quickly. However, you have to be careful that you don’t spend too much money with this technique. If you set your daily budget too high, you could end up paying a very big bill for all of the traffic that you get. Make sure and set a spending daily spending limit to your campaign. And remember, Google may go above that limit in any given day but it will offset the over spending less in another given day. Google does this in order to try and maximize your click through ratio.

B2B Long Tail SEO Keywords

Before you start making radical changes on your website, in an effort to rank higher in the search engines, you first need to decide what keywords you’re going to rank for.

There are two types of keywords. Short-tail and long-tail keywords.

Short-tail keywords are the most popular, most searched, and therefore most competitive.  These are short one or two keywords that define an industry or product. If your company sells shoes, the single most popular short-tail keyword is “shoes”. This keyword would be very difficult to rank your website to the number one position.

Long-tail keywords are more specific versions of the short-tail keywords. These are less popular because they are more niche. If you sell shoes, but specifically athletic shoes, you could aim to rank your website for the keyword “blue athletic shoes”. Develop a strategy to rank for many long-tail keywords over going for the more difficult (sometimes impossible) short-tail keywords.

Long Tail SEO

Although this image above is a few years old, it still holds true. It also doesn’t only relate to B2B. It works just as well for B2C.

The point is to focus on the most descriptive phrases that have lower search frequency. They have low competition and are easy to rank for. If you develop a large number of long-tail keywords, you’ll be able to start driving traffic to your website quickly.

Next steps:

  1. Make a list of your ideal short-tail keywords that describe your website and brand.
  2. Add to that list be expanding each short-tail keyword to get more specific.
  3. Prioritize the keywords and order them for what keywords will drive the most business.
  4. Assign each of the specific keywords (1 or 2) to a single page of your website. If you don’t have a page that describes that keyword, plan to create one.
  5. Search each long-tail keyword phrase, observe the competition, and continually check to see if you’re content is showing up.