Back to Basics: Make the Most of SEM

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The world of online marketing is constantly in flux, changing and evolving as the technology of the web moves forward. Whereas once a simple SEO strategy would put your brand head and shoulders above the competition, now a more complex and sophisticated game plan is required. This doesn't mean that you should abandon all of the carefully tuned SEO protocols that you have in place, of course, but to stay on the cutting edge, your brand should fine-tune those strategies and combine them with other online marketing techniques to form a comprehensive SEM strategy.

What is SEM?

SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. This acronym encompasses several elements of online marketing that, when employed properly, work together to increase your brand's web traffic, online presence, and sales. There are three key elements of SEM that work in conjunction with each other to funnel traffic towards your brand's website and translate that traffic into sales.

SEO

This acronym stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it is the aspect of SEO that most brands are already familiar with. SEO refers to a set of techniques for generating traffic that all revolve around optimizing the efficacy of search engines. SEO is based on organic traffic and works by directing attention to your website naturally by making it show up more frequently and more highly ranked in search results. The goal behind SEO is that that search engine users are more likely to find your website when they are searching for specific terms related to your brand, products and services. Some of the key aspects of SEO include:

- Keywords and targeted search terms strategically deployed throughout your website, including tags, headers, and text withing your website's content.
- Inbound links to your site from other relevant websites.
- Targeted, well-researched and frequently updated content.
- Don’t forget about Content Marketing. Super important for SEO.

Paid Advertising

Whereas SEO works with organic traffic, raising your website's rank within search engines naturally through keywords and other strategies, paid ads are exactly that: advertising that you pay for. Paid advertising usually appears in a few key forms:

- Adwords. These are keywords that are closely associated with your brand that you pay to have even more firmly attached to that brand via Google. When you purchase an adword from Google, whenever anyone searches for that term, your brand's site will always appear at the top of the (paid) search results.

- PPC (pay-per-click) or CPC (cost-per-click) ads. These are ads placed on targeted websites that are frequented by members of your target audience. Each time someone clicks through to our website via one of these ads, you pay the owner of the website a fee (also the network you purchased them through).

- Social Media Ads. These can come in the form of Twitter trending topics that you promote, Facebook ads, or other paid ads that appear on social media.

Social Media

Having an active, integrated presence on social media is absolutely necessary to an effective SEM strategy. Also, your social media presence should be incorporated into your main site in the form of “like” buttons, sharing options and other widgets. For example, brands with a Facebook page generally see a 300% increase in referral traffic through that social media site. Social media presence also positively effects e-commerce behaviour; for example: Giantnerd.com saw a 100% increase in revenue from Facebook within a month of adding a “like” button to their site. Being able to interact with a brand via social media has a tremendous positive influence on your target audience, and they respond to social media not just by boosting your brand's profile and proving your SEM strategy effective, but also by buying your products and services. Don’t forget you might need a Community Manager to assist your Social Media strategy. Important to keep everyone in the loop!

By combining these three aspects of SEM effectively, you can create a well-executed and coordinated SEM strategy that is sure to drive traffic to your site, result in a rise in your brand's online profile and translate directly into sales.

About the Author: Matt Goulart is the Founder of Ignite Digital. A digital agency in Canada, Ignite Digital helps big brand/enterprise clients become more effective in the online world. You can reach Matt for website development or social media management help at matt@ignitedigital.ca.

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2 comments

RachaelleL 07-29-2012 5:42 PM

The statement "When you purchase an adword from Google, whenever anyone searches for that term, your brand's site will always appear at the top of the (paid) search results" is misleading if not patently untrue. Using PPC in Google Adwords means bidding on keywords, not "purchasing" them; your brand's site may or may not appear at the top of search results, depending not only on the bid but on the quality score, and depending on a variety of factors, including daily budget and scheduling, it may not appear for a given search at all. In any case, you pay per click unless you decide to use another type of bidding. Please refer to accounts.google.com/ServiceLogin and support.google.com/.../topic.py for more information.

Jim Smithson - web design company 09-26-2012 4:10 AM

SEM is great for generating a website's first traffic, before SEO gets a chance to kick in. It sort of acts as a steroid to boost traffic, but the true value comes in the form of the data it provides for you to supplement your SEO. Like good web design, having a good SEM campaign is vital to your website's success.

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