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Basics of Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing

Updated on March 12, 2015
Search engine optimization and search engine marketing are actually not as complicated as they can initially appear.
Search engine optimization and search engine marketing are actually not as complicated as they can initially appear. | Source

If a business wants to succeed in today’s technological world, it will need to take advantage of both search engine optimization, or SEO, and search engine marketing, or SEM. These two promotional strategies allow businesses to connect with internet users on a continuous basis while simultaneously increasing the effectiveness of their website.

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your website so that it appears in the results for specific relevant keywords when they are entered into Google, Bing, Yahoo and similar search engines. For example, if your business relies on local customers, you will want to target local search terms to help increase your presence within the community.

Google is by far the most well-known search engine that can help customers find your website, but it is certainly not the only one you should consider.
Google is by far the most well-known search engine that can help customers find your website, but it is certainly not the only one you should consider. | Source

SEO and Modern Customers

Consumers are no longer using a physical phone book to find the products and services they need. Instead, they are using internet search engines to find local businesses. If your company’s website does not appear on the first page of the search engine results for local keywords related to your business, you will miss out on a lot of potential customers. Similarly, companies that sell products directly to customers around the world through a website will capture the lion's share of available business if they are one of the most prominent results for their relevant search terms.

Proper SEO and SEM campaigns can generate a major boost in the volume of quality traffic your site receives.
Proper SEO and SEM campaigns can generate a major boost in the volume of quality traffic your site receives. | Source

SEO and Website Design

To understand the process by which you achieve this level of search engine optimization, think of your business's online presence as a human body. All the different systems -- the bloodstream, the muscles, the nerves and so on -- must work in harmony in the body for it to function properly. Similarly, to function properly in the online world, all the different components of your website -- from its written content, to its HTML coding, to the links it contains -- must work in harmony to boost your ranking in a search engine's results.

An effective website should be designed from the ground up with high-quality SEO and SEM in mind.
An effective website should be designed from the ground up with high-quality SEO and SEM in mind. | Source

What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

Search engine marketing is a little different from search engine optimization. Whereas SEO focuses primarily on generating traffic for your website from a search engine's free results, SEM focuses primarily on paid forms of advertising for your website. One of the most prominent forms of SEM is pay-per-click marketing. In this form of marketing, you will pay to have a link to your company’s website and a few lines of information about your company appear in the sponsored ad portions of the results for a particular search term. These sponsored ads are typically found at the top and right hand side of the search engine results page.

The main purpose of SEO and SEM is to ensure that your site stands out from the horde of competing sites in your field.
The main purpose of SEO and SEM is to ensure that your site stands out from the horde of competing sites in your field. | Source

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

When running a pay-per-click SEM campaign, you will develop a series of short ads that will appear in the search engines promoting your website for any keywords or phrases you target with a bid. If an internet user clicks on your ad, he will be taken to your website and your account will be charged a predetermined amount. Search engine marketing can be a cost effective marketing strategy if it is employed properly, since it targets a consumer who is already interested in businesses that offer your services.

The largest pay-per-click program, operated by Google, is known as Adwords.
The largest pay-per-click program, operated by Google, is known as Adwords. | Source

Balancing Marketing Strategies

Many companies find that they receive the best results by focusing on both search engine optimization and search engine marketing. To return to the human body analogy, a person will be healthier if he focuses on eating properly, drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep while also jogging, lifting weights and performing other forms of exercise. Similarly, your company will receive the most customers if it improves its visibility both in free search results as well as in paid advertising.

Which source of traffic have you found converts better for your business?

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Handling Marketing Campaigns

However, learning how to implement high-quality SEO and SEM strategies can be overwhelming, to say the least. Therefore, if you do not have the time or resources to run SEO and SEM campaigns yourself, you may consider hiring an outside firm that specializes in SEO and SEM to handle this work for you. When hiring one of these companies to run your online marketing campaigns, you should check samples of their previous work to see if they can deliver the results they promise. Many companies also offer a free trial or a money back guarantee to back up their projected results. This helps ensure that you receive the return on your investment you expect.

Many business owners are too busy to study effective SEO and SEM strategies, and hire outside specialists to design and implement these strategies for them.
Many business owners are too busy to study effective SEO and SEM strategies, and hire outside specialists to design and implement these strategies for them. | Source

What search engine optimization and search engine marketing strategies have you found to be particularly effective?

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