You may have heard about search marketing, but you’re still not exactly sure how you can use it to help your small business grow. You have definitely witnessed its capabilities if you have ever searched for anything online through Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Search marketing is what goes on behind the scenes to make entries appear on your results pages.
Search marketing technically encompasses two areas: SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which generates traffic through free or unpaid listings, and SEM (Search Engine Marketing), which involves buying strategically placed search listings to increase traffic.
SEO generates organic search results, meaning that your business appears naturally in the rankings without paying for anything. These occur by utilizing a strong content marketing program, social media strategy, and website optimization strategy that attracts the attention of the search engines.
SEM produces the ads you see at the top or right side of search listings. This marketing opportunity is called Google AdWords or Bing Ads. Marketers conduct a great deal of research to determine top keyword searches in a particular industry, and then develop short, catchy ads which provide a solution to the searcher’s need. If they work, the person who is looking for something will click on one of the paid ads instead of the organic results. The advertiser then pays for this lead, which is called Pay-Per-Click, or PPC.
It is important to understand this marketing opportunity as billions of online searches are conducted every day. You may think you are just a small business and don’t stand a chance against major corporations with massive marketing budgets, but it is possible. Through a consistent effort and ongoing search strategy, I have managed to land on the first page of search results many times. Two things you can do to increase search marketing effectiveness are:
- Google Keyword Planner: Google has a free AdWords tool that helps you find keyword ideas and estimate how they might perform for your business. Of course they would like you to use the results to purchase AdWords, but there is nothing which says you can’t use the results to beef up your online marketing strategy. Find what keywords work best for companies like yours, and make sure they occur naturally on your website and in your content marketing.
- Landing Pages: This is the first thing that prospective customers see when visiting your website. It is important that this page looks clean, interesting and informative, so that it immediately engages their interest. Many people only spend a few seconds determining whether or not they want to stick around. Make sure it answers the key question of, “What can you do for me?” and provides an opportunity to gain more information from the search topic that led the visitor to your site.
Online marketing is the great marketing equalizer. Now small businesses have the opportunity to market just as effectively as the “big guys” if they know how to use the tools at their disposal.