Monday, November 26, 2012

Search Engine Marketing

SAJ Shirazi


Great strength of the World Wide Web search is that it can locate out vast amounts of products matching to what any user may be asking for. The great weakness is that the product may not be like anything close to what user had asked for. However, constantly evolving search technologies and the ways people are using them are transforming not just the markets but the mindset of consumers as well. Consumers are increasingly embracing new ways of communication; take greater ownership of information and aggregating in increasingly specialized niche online communities. Marketers also need to shift their approach if they want to connect with them. That is possible through aggressive Search Engine Marketing.

Diagram credit: CPC Computer Consultants

How do any search technologies work? Search engines locate selected range of Web pages that contain words matching search keyword(s) or phrase(s). Search engines automatically try to sort the results so that only handful of the most relevant matches is presented. Every search engine searches own pre indexed database and works using own set of rules called algorithm – a closely guarded trade secret. It is in this milieu that Search Engine Marketing comes in to play and help marketers get their products or services found in searches.

Literally speaking Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a form of Internet marketing that seeks to promote Websites by increasing their visibility in search engine result pages. This can be done through search engine optimization, paid placements, paid inclusions, social media or combination of all these methods. One commonly asked question is how important is search engine marketing?

Given the fact that digital technologies are no longer preserves of tech savvy early adopters only, and today ordinary users are integrating them seamlessly into their lives, a simple answer is that every business need to have a powerful online presence online. Many eCommerce sites fail simply because when users search, products or services they are offering appear on the tail end of search results and most users are never likely to dig them down from the bottom. That happens because some businesses have passive wait and see SEM policies. As recent report estimates, “only seven percent of all businesses play online truly, ninety three percent just do not understand it, they do not get it or they do not believe in it.” But this is a must have business process, particularly for those who want to play online.

In essence, the ultimate goal is to increase exposure and revenue. Businesses may have an excellent product or a service; might have invested in functional website, there is not much of a benefit unless they gain exposure in search engines. An aggressive SEM approach will produce results in a timely fashion, and manner while eliminating a lengthy trial of search result pages.

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Gone are the days where conventional four ‘Ps’ of marketing or press releases guaranteed success. Now businesses need to engage with their customers. Give them reasons to come to visit your website, and once they are there give them reasons to return back again and again. SEM supported website turns into a hub, stuffed with remarkable blog posts, videos, interviews and more information (manufacturers are also putting users’ manual of their products online these days). Business need to match practical wisdom with the shift in consumers’ mindset to survive in this new online world.

Getting found in search engines results is complex but necessary; choose the tools that work best for your business, future proof your business by staying ahead of the digital marketing trends and you can harness the power of the Internet to take your business ahead in the massive and ever expanding market.

There are really no shortcuts in SEM. One of the problems with many eCommerce websites is duplicate content. Many businesses are selling similar products (or products from the same manufacturer) so the product descriptions found on their websites are generally formulaic and repetitive. Search engines are known to be sensitive to duplicate content and do not even register the website with similar content what to talk of bringing it up in visible results. Another major problem with eCommerce websites is that they do not have a lot of content in the first place. Businesses need to give the search engines enough content to read so that the website gets pulled to match more search queries. One best way to do this is to include product reviews by consumers on the products pages (like good example of Amazon.com). This gives the search engines more content to read and this also creates a third party endorsement for any product. People are truly social when it comes to shopping online. They want and look for other users’ opinions before they buy. A real consumer review goes a long way in convincing someone to act.

Brilliant as Web search engines are, the search technology is still evolving. It has not reached the point where humans and machines understand each other well enough to communicate clearly. People are already more perceptive and are demanding better results, and they are demanding a more powerful search experience. Given the developments taking place, economic importance being attached to the Web searches, one thing is certain: search technologies have to go much beyond what they are today. We are likely to see some seismic changes in the field. My recommendation: have an aggressive SEM policy and get found whenever some users tries query related to your business.

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