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Search Engine Marketing: A Brief Overview of SEM and Common Strategies


If you’re an online business owner, or even just a website promoting your business, odds are you’ve heard terms such as “internet marketing”, “digital marketing”, or “search engine marketing”. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they essentially refer to the same thing – promoting your website and driving relevant traffic to it. Here is a brief overview of what search engine marketing is and some of the strategies we use to help our partners achieve their online goals.

Search marketing is the means by which a website gets online exposure via search engines. Often abbreviated as “SEM”, search engine marketing is a crucial part of your overall digital marketing strategy. Today, we want to focus on two parts of SEM: SEO and PPC.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO efforts focus on the growth of “organic” traffic in search engines. Also referred to as “natural listings”, organic traffic is the free traffic you earn after you achieve a search engine ranking position (SERP) that puts your website listing in front of searchers. For example, let’s say you have a website that sells sporting equipment. Someone searching for “buy hockey gear” on Google comes across your website on page one of the search results – let’s say position #3. Your SERP in this case would be a 3 and Google has decided (at least for now) that your website contains content that is relevant enough to that search query to display it at that position (which is really good!). Also, there is a strong possibility that the searcher will click through to your website and if they do, that is a FREE visitor that you earned by having an optimized website, targeting people searching for what you have to offer.

SEO strategies are not an overnight effort and it can actually take some time for your website to work its way up in search results. However, if you do the right things, follow best practices, and your website is optimized using only acceptable practices (no “black hat” SEO), then you’ll ultimately be rewarded in the long term with volumes of relevant, FREE traffic. Search engine optimization should be a long-term strategy for any website. 

Explore SEO marketing services or local SEO services if your business has physical locations.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)

There are several other strategies (besides SEO) you can use to drive traffic to your website. Another one of those is PPC. Sometimes called “paid search”, PPC is an acronym for “pay-per-click”. PPC is a marketing method and platform that major search engines (like Google and Bing) offer to allow you to serve ads targeting specific audiences and keyword phrases. Unlike SEO, PPC is exactly how it sounds – you PAY for clicks to your website. The advantage here though is that you can start serving ads and get traffic to your website almost immediately (pending approval of your ads) without waiting to work your way up in rankings as you would with SEO. But of course, that does come at a cost (quite literally).

Although you need to establish a budget for traffic using this marketing method, PPC does offer you a lot in terms of testing capabilities and data. With PPC, you can acquire data very quickly and you’re able to control virtually everything from what keywords triggers your ads, to what ad text users see, to where they land on your website, and so on. SEO doesn’t allow you such cut-and-dry capabilities. 

Explore PPC marketing services.

SEO and PPC In Your Overall Strategy

Taking advantage of the benefits of both SEO and PPC should be part of your overall website marketing strategy – both short-term and long-term. By focusing on both, you’re able to get traffic to your site right away, acquire useful data, and in the meantime work on boosting your website SERPs in search engines’ organic listings. Both of these efforts combined will work for you and produce amazing results for your website and your business.

We highly recommend using SEO and PPC strategies concurrently to aggressively market your website. At IndieSEM, we specialize in these efforts in particular and would be happy to look at your website and provide you with a free marketing proposal explaining exactly what we’d do to help you get the traffic you need.

Need help with your SEM? Request a free digital marketing proposal today!

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