Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) can both help drive potential customers to your website.
A good digital marketing campaign should employ both these methods in order to maximise your website’s search engine exposure.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO refers to the free “organic” search results on search engines like Google and Bing. i.e. those shown in the middle of the search results.
SEO is really just about ensuring that each page on your website is correctly understood by the search engine crawlers and indexers. The search engines pay particular attention to certain parts of your pages such as the Title, Headings and the wording used on things like Links and Images. So it’s important to make sure all these things accurately reflect the purpose of the web page. If your website can be edited via a Content Management System (CMS) then you should find that all of these things can be easily added and updated via the CMS. The main text of each page is also important to search engines. It’s important though to put your visitors first and write your content in a way that you would enjoy reading it, not just full of spammy keywords. It should also be original content rather something copied and pasted from another source.
If you’re having a website built for you, you should ideally consider the SEO aspects right from the design phase, rather than coming back to it once it’s live, this can really help keep your budget as low as possible.
The first part of SEO (and also for SEM) is keyword research, this is building a list of words and phrases that you believe searchers will use to try and find you. There are tools to help you build these lists, and your keyword lists should be continually checked and updated as you go along.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
SEM is using Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising on search engines. i.e. showing your “ads” at the top, bottom and right hand side of search results.
PPC advertising or SEM is a great way to bring visitors to your website but you are going to be paying for it, so it’s important to have a strategy that will be profitable. It often makes sense to get the SEO right before you attempt SEM because major factors that will affect your conversion rate will have been considered as part of the SEO work. In other words there’s little point paying small fortune to drag customers to your website, if they immediately leave (bounce) when they get there.
PPC services like Google adWords are quite complex in terms of what you can do, but getting started with them isn’t that hard. The key parts to setting up a campaign are writing some ads, choosing some keywords, linking your keywords to your ads and setting a maximum bid/cost per click (CPC) on them. Great care should be taken to get each of these parts right because sloppy work here could cost you a lot of money. It’s worth remembering that most search engine CPC services allow you to set a maximum cost per day. Consider keeping this low (not too low or your ads won’t show at all) initially so you don’t blow your entire budget whilst you’re fine-tuning your campaign.
Other Digital Marketing Areas Worth Exploring
There are many other digital marketing areas to utilise such as Social Media, Mobile SEO, Display Networks, Video Advertising, Re-targeting and (if you’re thinking globally) Google’s Global Market Finder…. All these should at least be considered for your marketing campaign(s), some may be relevant to your business and some might not be but a good plan should at least consider them.
SEO and SEM can either be done by yourself or you can employ an expert to manage it for you, it’s not that difficult doing it yourself but for many business owners it makes sense to hire someone to do it as you’re likely already busy running the business and might not have time to learn all of this. If you are looking to manage your own digital marketing campaign I strongly recommend starting here: Google’s “Digital Garage” Marketing Toolkit