Fundamentals of Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
SEM is no easy task. It requires a thoroughly planned execution strategy and a flawless process to be successful. Depending on the competitiveness of the industry, it might take 6 months to years to achieve substantial results. There are no tricks or magic involved here, just hard work and dedication. There are a lot of roads to take and strategies to implement. However, marketers should not forget the fundamentals of SEM.
- Keyword and Opportunity Research
The research will shape your entire project and process. It’s essential that this phase is conducted with diligence and accuracy. Researching the competition, the industry, analyzing the backlinks of the competition, link saturation and link quality are parameters which you would need data for. The final outcome of the research should be the 20-300 most important keywords to be targeted.
- On Site Marketing
Search Engines operate in a certain way and we want to make sure that the textual and the visual content on the page is both optimized for the best user experience as well as for the search engines. This can get real tricky. Therefore, a very stable execution process must be followed.
o Static URL: While the effectiveness of this could be discussed in the SEO world, it’s still a factor which plays a role in acquiring organic search results.
o W3 Validation and CSS Errors: These errors must be fixed before Google can properly index your site.
o Optimize Titles and Meta Tags: Yes, they still make a difference. Follow the general guidelines; no keyword stuffing.
o RSS Feed: This is an essential part of a web site which has a steady stream of fresh and unique content.
o Social Bookmarking Installation: We recommend this as it really makes a difference in both traffic and organic rankings.
o Google Local: Submit your business to Google Local; this is one of the most important steps of the process.
o Sitemaps: This is a must. Create an XML sitemap and submit it to Google as well as other major search engines.
o Install Google Analytics: You cannot do without analytics. Without the data, you are basically blind and you do not see any aspect of your website or traffic. This is a must!
o Google Base: If you are an ecommerce site, events site, entertainment site, real estate or any other site with a lot of content and fresh listings / products, use Google Base. It’s free traffic and it works.
- Off Site Marketing
Backlinks are the most important factor for SEO and cannot be overlooked. The main objective of implementing an Off Site Marketing strategy is to acquire more backlinks and increase the popularity and relevancy of your site. Directory Submissions (Yahoo Directory, DMOZ), Press Releases, and Google Local submissions are basic ways of acquiring these backlinks. You could also network, create relationships within your industry, exchange links with relevant websites and build your reputation in time.
SEM is no walk in the park. If you do not understand some of the concepts above or you find it confusing, it’s best that you contact a professional. While speaking to an SEM Company, always ask them about the following. This way, you can differentiate the men from the boys!
o Content: How do they handle the issue of textual content? Who supplies it and how is it optimized for both the users and Google?
o Conversions: Can they track your conversions? (phone calls, forms, orders) Can they increase conversions? How?
o Relevance: Do they mention relevance in textual content as well as backlinks?
o ROI: Do they mention your bottom line, your return on your investment? How do they track it?
o References: Can they provide references?