Search Engine Marketing Doesn’t Have to be Complicated

By Andrew Miller | September 16, 2008

Marketing your business online is increasingly important these days, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or inefficient. Many companies want to promote their products or services on the internet but don’t know where to begin. The following overview of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) might help clear the air and put you on the right track towards integrating SEM with your other marketing efforts to cost-effectively grow your business.

Some of the most common ways to leverage the reach and relevance of search engines are:

Step 1. Think backwards
Start by identifying your ultimate objectives. What do you want to accomplish with your SEM program? No matter what business you are in, you will have goals. Most companies want to drive sales, generate leads, increase page views, encourage white paper downloads or newsletter signups.

Step 2. Define success
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Your success metrics will vary based on your stated objectives in Step 1. The most effective way to track your performance is to determine a conversion rate and Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) for each marketing channel. This will give you insight into your marketing program’s efficiency by figuring out your return on each dollar invested. Other meaningful metrics include Cost Per Click (CPC) for paid search channels, Cost Per Thousand impressions (CPM) for display ads and Click Through Rate (CTR).

Step 3. Get your house in order
Your website is an online extension of your company and should be treated as such. Verify that your site works like it is supposed to and the content is up to date. Otherwise, your visitors may not feel confident buying from you. Remember that there is no loyalty online and your competitors are only one click away.

Step 4. Start small
Begin by familiarizing yourself with the search engines and sites you wish to utilize. Who are the primary users? What are their objectives? How can you position your products or services as a solution to their needs?

Step 5. Test, refine, repeat
Search Engine Marketing is a never-ending cycle of testing and refining your campaigns and initiatives. The engines frequently change their algorithms and your competitors are most likely trying to optimize their campaigns as well. These variables present a lot of ongoing challenges and opportunities to constantly refine your SEM program to become more efficient and effective.

Now that you have learned the basics, stay tuned for specific strategies and tactics for each of the areas of focus in future articles.

Andrew Miller is a Search Engine Marketing Consultant with Your Search Advisor. The company provides strategic SEM consulting and implementation in partnership with Kohler & Miller Media Services.

Topics: Internet Marketing, Search Engine Marketing | 1 Comment »

One Response to “Search Engine Marketing Doesn’t Have to be Complicated”

  1. Search Marketing Local Says:
    January 12th, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    This is a great article. You really put out the basic but most important steps in search marketing. It really is not and does not have to be that difficult. It’s rather easy as long as you have the time and patience. Thanks for the great read!