What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)? It’s about getting a business listed, and ranked well on the search engines, and the message that compels a searcher to click-through to your website. Businesses today need to get their company listed where most people are looking for products and services, search engines.
In an effort to provide a great experience for searchers, Google and Bing both put a mix of different media types and information on each SERP (Search Engine Results Page). This gives you multiple ways to get your message in front of the people typing keywords into search engines.
6 Opportunities To Get Listed On Google
Most people focus on the big three search engine listing opportunities.
- Paid Search
- Local Directory
But Google also lists: #4 Video, #5 Pictures, and #6 News. These last three really help support the big three.
Paid search is also called Pay Per Click or PPC, Sponsored, and some also referred to it as SEM. There is no written rule or set of standards, so people can call it what they want. But just so you are not confused, as far as I am concerned SEM is not paid search alone.
Google’s brand of PPC is called AdWords. They currently offer three methods of paid search, but only two methods that target search engine visitors. Google Adwords is there most popular Pay Per Click model, where you bid against other advertisers for selected keywords. The highest bidder is usually in the top position and so on down the ranking. You are not charged for being listed unless a searcher actually clicks on your ad.
The second is called Adwords Express, this is a stripped down version of the original product. This program is managed by Google them selves for you. They promote your local Maps listing and again you are only charged for clicks.
Google’s paid search listings usually comprise the top 3 listings and all the ads on the right hand side of the SERP. The ads at the top are usually colored with a pink or yellow background.
AdWords accounts are free to set up. Google gives coupons as an incentive for trying their product. Anyone with a registered payment method can run ads. Only new accounts can take advantage of the coupons.
Organic listings are placed right below paid search, and usually below local maps listings too. Also occasionally they’ll put one or two organic results above the local maps. The order is usually Paid ads, then Maps and then organic.
Every listing can be view and clicked on for free that is indexed in Google’s organic section. Getting indexed is pretty simple, ranking well is another matter. Ranking highly in the organic section is based on a secret mathematical algorithm. The algorithm is said to be based on over two hundred different criterion.
The specialists that work to rank sites in highly in the organic section of SERP’s are called SEO’s which has to do with the art and science of search engine optimization. We don’t claim to completely understand Google’s Algorithm, but by reverse engineering thousands of top ranked websites we have it narrowed down to a 75% match (or so). We pretty much know what it takes, and we A/B test different ideas and monitor results to improve rank.
Google Maps / Local Business Directory
Google understands that many searchers are looking for local services and businesses. So they will often show 3 to 7 local businesses in the local maps section of their SERP’s. Getting listed is free, but getting listed above the competition can be quite difficult.
If there are only a few similar businesses in your town, you will probably rank well for your immediate area. Getting listed for searches done in neighboring towns can be a bit more challenging.
What Google Wants
Now that we have discussed the majority of ways to get your business listed on Google. We need to understand what Google wants. Google wants to offer it’s customers ( It’s Searchers) great relevant results and a good user experience (UX).
Google needs people to find the information they’re searching for, they need people to keep using their search engine so they can keep making 34 billion a year in ad revenue. Yes they made an estimated 34 billion in 2012, and are growing by 15 to 20% a year.
They offer a wide variety of results to make as many searchers happy as possible. They know when people are shopping, trying to navigate to a certain website, or looking for how to articles or information.
It’s your job to make Google’s customers happy, and glad they used Google to find your company. Think of some of the things you don’t like about websites and eliminate them from yours.
- Pages that take to long to load
- Pop up’s
- White print on black backgrounds
- Small dense print
- Having to scroll past ads to get to information
- Missing pages – 404 and 500 errors
- Confusing navigation
- Lack of “alt” tags for images
- Keyword stuffed content | Spam
- Non-friendly Url’s
- Thin or irrelevant content
- Hard to find contact information
Put your self in the shoes of the search engines. Would you refer your customers to websites with issues like the ones above if there were better alternatives? It’s not enough that you have relevant content and a lot of links, If you don’t provide a good UX, you will not be ranked nearly as well as you could be.
How Google Measures User Experience (UX)
Google crawls all the pages that are indexed, so they know how long it takes for a page on your website to load, or whether or not the page even exists any longer (404 errors). They also know how long people spend on your website (time on site) or whether or not they visit a second page (bounce rate).
Social Signals & Linking
Google also knows if people value and share the content they find on your website by monitoring social signals (Facebook shares, Pinterest pins, Twitter tweets & retweets etc…). They also know if others are linking to it. Having no links to your website is a bad sign.
If you have great relevant original content, but you don’t have links, you may need to find websites that list resources like yours and let them know you exist.
Reviews alone are a great way to do search engine marketing. Running promotions and giving coupons for reviews will quickly build up a lot of reviews. I personally always look for reviews before making a purchase.
What kind of reviews are being left around the web for your business? Are any being left? It is better to have bad reviews than non at all. Reviews help to validate that your business is still active, current, and at least real, even if it’s not well liked.
How To Measure UX On Your Own Website
- Page Speed: This is a very important metric and can be checked with Pingdom. This tool lets you check page load speed from two different locations in the US.
- Bounce Rate: This data lets you know if a second page was visited on your website, and can be seen using Google Analytics (Free Google Tool).
- Average Time Spent On Site: Also available with Google Analytics.
- 404 Errors & Incoming Links: This data and a lot more about the health of your website can be found using Google’s Webmaster Tools
The above metrics will help you to monitor UX which is important, but when it comes to organic search, you also want to focus on three more things. Two are more important than the last: engaging content that offers value, and attracting links. The final is social: People socially interacting with your brand is getting more important everyday.
Social signals are admittedly already a big part of the Bing algorithm, and while Google is using social in theirs, they admit that they’ll be weighting it much heavier in the future.
All these issues are important for Google Maps too, but you don’t even need a website to outrank your competitors in Maps. The two most important metrics for Maps are reviews and citations. With reviews and citations you can be the #1 of local for many keywords.
Now I would like to know what you do for: Search Engine Marketing, what your strategies are, how you go about ranking better. Please share in the comments and if you like this article share it on your favorite social media.