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eMarketing Part 5

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Understanding Search Engine Marketing

After the first few lessons covering the basics of internet marketing, now we are ready for the next level of understanding internet marketing. We now move on the most discussed area of “Search Engine Marketing”.

Search engine marketing mainly involves “Search Engine Optimization (SEO)”, and Pay Per Click advertising (PPC). The objective of search engine marketing is to make sure a link to your website is placed in the first search engine result page (SERP) of major search engines, for queries (keywords) related to your business. For example imagine that you own a small budget hotel in Colombo. When someone search for “budget hotels in Colombo” on Google, if your website is not shown up in the first page of the SERP, you will lose a whole lot of potential customers.

In order for you to place a link to your website on Google’s SERP, you can choose two options.

  1. Sign up with Google Adwords and place sponsored links (PPC)
  2. Optimize your website to Google’s search algorithm, and make sure your link appear on the organic results section of the SERP (SEO).

Search engines are the most popular method for target customers to find you. As such,

SEs are the most vital avenue for letting customers find you.

Currently, search engines around the world together receive around 400,000,000 searches per day. The searches are done with the help of keywords: as a rule, people type a short phrase consisting of two to five keywords to find what they are looking for. It may be information, products, or services.

In response to this query, a search engine will pick from its huge database of Web pages those results it considers relevant for the Web surfer’s terms, and display the list of these results to the surfer. The list may be very long and include several million results (remember that nowadays the number of pages on the Web reaches 2.1 trillion, i.e. 2,100,000,000,000); so the results are displayed in order of their relevancy and broken into many pages (most commonly 10 results per page). Most Web surfers rarely go further than the third page of results, unless they are considerably interested in a wide range of materials (e.g. for a scientific research). One reason for this is that they commonly find what they look for on those first pages without the needing to dive in any deeper.

That’s why a position among the first 30 results (or “top-30 listing”) is a coveted goal.

There used to be a great variety of search engines, but now after major reshuffles and partnerships there are just several giant search monopolies that are most popular among Web surfers and which need to be targeted by optimizers.

There are – and the search engines are aware of this – more popular searches and less popular searches. For instance, a search on the word “myrmecology” is conducted on the Web much more rarely than a search for “Web hosting”. Search engines make money by offering special high positions (most often called “sponsored results”) for popular terms, ensuring that a site will appear to Web surfers when they search for this term, and that it will have the best visibility. The more popular the term, the more you will have to pay for such a listing.

The term “search engine” (SE) is often misused to describe both directories and pure search engines. In fact, they are not the same; the difference lies in how result listings are generated.

  • crawler-based (traditional, common) search engines;
  • directories (mostly human-edited catalogs);
  • hybrid engines (META engines and those using other engines’ results);
  • pay-per-performance and paid inclusion engines.

Crawler-based SEs, also referred to as spiders or Web crawlers, use special software to automatically and regularly visit websites to create and supplement their giant Web page repositories. Human-edited directories are different. The pages that are stored in their repository are added solely through manual submission. The directories, for the most part, require manual submission and use certain mechanisms (particularly, CAPTCHA images) to prevent pages from being submitted automatically. After completing the submission procedure, your URL will be queued for review by an editor, who is, luckily, a human. Then, what are hybrid engines? Some engines also have an integrated directory linking to them. They contain websites which have already been discussed or evaluated. When sending a search query to a hybrid engine, the sites already evaluated are usually not scanned for matches; the user has to explicitly select them. Whether a site is added to an engine’s directory generally depends on a mixture of luck and content quality. Sometimes you may “apply” for a discussion of your website, but there’s no guarantee that it will be done.

SEO (search engine optimization) is the solution for making your page more search-engine friendly. The optimization is mostly oriented towards crawler-based engines, which are the most-popular on the Internet.

PPC is most often used, when businesses find it time consuming and tedious task for optimizing their website for search engines. Rather than taking that “difficult route”, companies advertise their links on PPC channels such as Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing or Bing AdCenter.

(Image URL: http://lh3.ggpht.com/_Ty0HUPmsLIA/S_FlwSAkbDI/AAAAAAAAAwc/UQscESra_MM/s912/SERP.JPG)

 

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Amitha is a professional eMarketer based in Colombo, holding more than eight years of experience in Search Engine Marketing, eCommerce Management, and Social Media Marketing. He is a resource person at the e-Business Academy Sri Lanka. Amitha currently works as the head of digital media at Neo@Ogilvy Sri Lanka

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