Unless you’re an industry specialist who helps businesses launch online, for now SEO and SEM have yet to become household words or hot topics of discussion. SEO (search engine optimization) and its counterpart SEM (search engine marketing), referred to in the industry as search engine solutions, figure prominently in online advertising and marketing, playing a vital role in the success of e-commerce sales and purchases.
Whether traditional or internet-based, companies that advertise and market through the internet have varying levels of search engine experience. Some adapt quickly and expertly apply search engine solutions, namely SEO and SEM, to attract consumer traffic to their websites. Others who are new to online merchandising, or have limited SEO/SEM exposure, often launch traditional print and broadcast media campaigns. Some even turn to a personal network of friends, family, neighbors and co-workers as another way to go viral about their products and services.
“Over the long term, internet marketing has delivered a superior return on investment (ROI) in comparison to traditional advertising and marketing campaigns,” said Adam Furman, president and CEO of Saibot Technologies. He has the metrics to support this observation. Through skillful SEO and SEM strategies his , founded in 1991, has helped many businesses go online and optimize their web presence. “Online marketing offers the advantage of ability to track and monitor website activity through Google Analytics or some other tracking program,” Adam explained, “whereas, conventional marketing does not have this capability.”
Defining SEO and SEM
Fundamentally, SEO and SEM are keyword-driven search engine services that direct internet users to websites that match the search words entered (examples: travel, healthcare). Behind the function of SEO/SEM are sophisticated algorithms that measure the frequency of words and phrases (keywords) typed into the query box of an internet provider’s search engine site (example: hotels in Boston). The leading search engine sites are Google, Bing and Yahoo.
SEO and SEM - Related or Not?
Since keywords are the core of SEO and SEM, both acronyms are often used interchangeably. “But SEO and SEM have no direct relationship,” Adam pointed out. Their differences show in the physical display of search engine results on an active search page.
SEO, known as an organic (natural) or “white hat” search, displays a list of websites containing the search word (example: dentist) but excluding the word “Ad” (e.g. “ related to dentist”; “Sponsored Ads”) and “Sponsored Links”Â from the results page. On the other hand, SEM produces website listings containing the “Ad” word or “Ad” symbol above or next to the website name and/or the “Sponsored Links” phrase. The manner in which SEO and SEM search results display is related to the search engine site in use.
The goal of search engine optimization (SEO) is to increase a website’s visibility to a search engine, thereby improving the chances that visitors to a search page will click on that website and explore its contents. The most accessible websites have a high-ranking placement and are positioned closer to the top of a search engine results page. Where a website ranks in an internet search affects the volume of towards that site. Web developers, content writers, and advertising and marketing pros who work with SEO often collaborate on keywords, creation of meaningful links, linking to popular online social media sites and making a website user friendly. But listen up, Don Draper! Such collaborative effort requires an SEO expert on the creative team, because writing successful ad copy for the web differs from copywriting for traditional print and broadcast media. “Like anything internet related, SEO is a real science that calls for a certain expertise,” Adam Furman pointed out. It’s an expertise the Mad Men team and real companies definitely need and Saibot Technologies has SEO specialists.
Search engine marketing (SEM) can be described as directing more targeted traffic to a website through the integrated use of SEO, paid advertising, sponsored links and other services to increase website exposure. For example, when “dentists in New York City” is entered as a search engine query, the results page prominently displays the paid advertising and sponsored links above or beside the SEO “white hat” search results. The phrase “Sponsored Links” often appears above the list of websites, which is another way of identifying an SEM search result.
Often, search results from SEM are well positioned, carefully planned and visually striking. Not surprisingly, internet marketing and advertising that involve SEM is described as a campaign.
An SEM campaign is hierarchically structured in this general format: campaign label; ad group; SEO keywords. An example is: Dentists in New York City (campaign label); Oral Surgery (ad group); Dental Implants (SEO keyword).
Search Engine Results and Effect on Profit and Loss
When Google designed its juggernaut search engine, its founders noticed that some words, more than others, produced page results when entered as a query. Google then capitalized on popular words and terminology, collecting and storing them as keywords into its search engine. Companies who advertised through the internet realized the advantage of keywords in their ads. Keywords became ad words, usually associated with Google, in internet marketing and advertising.
When using search engine solutions, companies bid on keywords. Advertisers who choose a purely “white hat” or organic search (SEO) might pay a few cents or dollars per web click if a keyword has few bidders. In an SEM campaign, an advertiser pays whenever a viewer clicks on its website; this is called pay-per-click (PPC).
“The cost of pay-per-click is based on the competition - the number of businesses that provide the same goods and services,” said Adam. “For example, one might use Google Analytics to look up the number of New York City dentists who provide teeth whitening service. The stronger the competition, the higher the PPC will be.”
“Profit or loss from SEM can be immediately recognized,” Adam continued. “Success depends on the effectiveness of the campaign. A company that relies on SEO can wait as long as three months before financial results are apparent.”
The Importance of Keyword Review and Evaluation
Because search engine algorithms are constantly updated, companies should consistently review the effectiveness of keyword selection and keyword combinations. A search engine ranking to some extent resembles a Nielsen Rating. A website once at the top of a search results page can fall closer to the bottom if the keywords that drive placement rankings lose their luster.
Again, Don Draper would be well advised to hire an SEO expert for all internet ad campaigns because, in contrast to traditional advertising and marketing, search engine solutions are more sophisticated and the ROI more transparent.
Better still Draper and his Mad Men should first consult with media savvy companies such as Saibot Technologies, where they can access search engine solutions and other essential services such as free website evaluation, web design, web hosting and web protection features for a successful and secure online presence.