A Deeper Insight Into Search Engine Marketing
Before moving on to explaining the core principles of Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, it is important to say that one of the most common misconceptions related to search engines is that they have been around for only two or three decades, when the truth is that search engines have been invented before the Internet as we all know it. Private search databases have been around for almost a century, making people’s lives easier and more pleasant, and the first search queries have been made around the beginning of the 20th century.
Having said that, it is safe to assume that search engines appeared before the Internet evolved into the World Wide Web, to which billions of people have access nowadays. Search engines also preceded Web browsers – we now rely heavily on Web browsers whenever we need to find something online, but this was not always the case. Nowadays, Internet browsers are somewhat synonymous to search interfaces, and that is perfectly understandable given the fact that whenever we want to use Google, Yahoo or any other search engine these days, the first thing we do is opening our Web Browsers.
The concept of SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, is relatively simple and straightforward: as the name implies, SEM combines search elements with marketing and advertising elements. The purpose of SEM is to help business owners increase the visibility and awareness of their brand, product or service, while also helping the Internet surfer find whatever he or she is looking for, without too much effort. As soon as the user enters the keyword or the keyphrase in the search box provided by search engines, the engines instantly process and filter the information, in order to return only the best and most relevant results to the search query, thus saving the user a lot of time and trouble. Finding the information manually would be extremely time consuming – with search engines, this only takes a fraction of a second.
This is where online marketers step in: by understanding and analyzing the search algorithms used by search engines when retrieving the information the Internet user is looking for, these professionals can easily adapt and optimize certain content for marketing purposes. By doing so, marketers will automatically target what is known as the “Target Market” (a marketing term used to describe the group of people that is particularly interested in a product or service), and then market a specific product or service. By promoting it to the target market (which has the highest likelihood of purchasing it), the marketer can increase the revenue and boost the sales of the company he or she is working for.
In spite of the fact that search engines have evolved greatly over the years and that their algorithms have changed and improved several times, their basic purpose has remained unaltered in time: today, search engines aim to benefit searchers by helping them find useful and targeted information. The sole difference is that nowadays, search engines also display ads in order to increase their revenue, and this is precisely what makes them a great source of targeted Internet traffic for the marketers mentioned above.
When it comes to the type of targeted traffic provided by search engines nowadays, it must be said that it splits into two major categories: the organic, unpaid search listings, and the paid listings (for advertising purposes). In order to make the best of the search engine marketing concept, a highly trained and skilled marketer should use both the organic and the paid search listings, as they could both benefit him in the near future.
Search engine traffic is unique, and it truly stands out from several points of view. First and foremost, this is a non-intrusive and highly efficient method of Internet marketing, which involves little to no cost whatsoever. Moreover, the traffic is resulted from what is known as voluntary search, and it always results from a fixed and stable inventory of searches. Not all traffic that results from search engines is pure though, this is why marketers make sure that the search is always initiated by the searcher (the Internet surfer, in this case), and this can be done in a variety of different ways, such as using the query box provided by search engines (which is the most common and often the most productive way to generate traffic search nowadays, given the fact that millions of people use the search query on a daily basis), or by simply clicking one of the many search links.
In order to understand the benefits of search engine marketing and search engine generated traffic, one must also understand the algorithms, which are strongly related to another concept close to SEM, known as SEO or Search Engine Optimization. Google and all the other search engines rely on a strong set of algorithms and variables (which are subject to change on a constant basis, given the fact that search engines are always looking forward to providing their users with the best results possible). Having said that, most marketers would agree upon the fact that Organic SEM, or organic search engine marketing currently combines the best practices in the marketing industry. Paid listings are also good, although they are more expensive, especially since marketers who rely on this method of generating traffic must buy text-link search result on the highest ranked websites on the Web, and this does not come cheap. Paid placement, XML paid inclusion, graphical search inventory or shopping search are often the most commonly used paid listings used by online marketers these days.
Also, one of the biggest mistakes some marketers tend to make these days is that they rely on illicit marketing techniques known as Black Hat SEM/SEO, which are not approved by Google and frowned upon by most people, and which can also get a website to be penalized, downgraded or even completely removed from the SERP, or the Search Engine Results Page. All marketers and webmasters alike are highly advised to steer clear from these tactics, and to stick only to the approved advertising and marketing methods.