Search Engine Marketing Basics

It may sound obvious, but search engines are the number one source of new visitors to web sites. According to comScore, over ninety percent of UK internet users use them, and over eighty percent of those use Google.

Also, eighty percent of users do not look beyond the first page of search engine results. That means if your site is not on the first page, you will hardly be noticed. So make sure that you have a plan, drawn from the next three sections, to get at least some relevant presence on the first page.

There are two ways of getting people to visit your site from search engines. ‘Natural’ or ‘organic’ listings are the results which the search engine itself has determined are most relevant. ‘Pay per click’ or ‘sponsored’ listings are advertisements which appear at the top and on the right of the search engine results when certain specified words have been searched for. The merchant pays each time a searcher clicks on an advert. The good news is that everyone who comes to your site by either method is probably searching for the products that you sell.

When we search on Google or other search engines, we are searching for something specific. We may type a single word or several keywords. We may search once, then try again with a different search. The job of every merchant is to find out what their potential customers are searching for. It’s not just about numbers, it’s about relevance as there is no point in getting people to visit your site if they will never buy.You need to attract real prospects.

The most popular search engines and search advertising networks worldwide are Google, Yahoo, Bing (from Microsoft), Ask and Miva (US only). The tips here are oriented towards Google, but are also useful with the other search engines.

The tips are split into three sections: identifying keywords and deciding whether to target them in the natural (SEO) or paid listings (PPC), then a section on each of these two approaches. This is a subject that is very much seen as a black art, but as you will see, many of the principles are fairly straight-forward.