What Is Search Engine Marketing?

Search engine marketing is the most powerful online customer acquisition strategy available to marketers today. More & more businesses are diverting funds from online banner advertising into search engine marketing because it’s cheaper & generates more sales.

If search engine marketing is not currently part of your marketing then chances are you’re giving your competitors a big opportunity.

Search engine marketing fits within the promotional mix of a marketing plan and is all about using Internet search engines to deliver targeted traffic to web sites.

The term “website traffic” is a bit abstract – what we’re really talking about here are visitors. More to the point, attracting prospective customers interested in whatever it is your website offers.

Search Engine MarketingSearch engine marketing has become increasingly complex and sophisticated. Today it involves much more than simply optimising page code. This is why the term “search engine marketing” or SEM has been coined. It encompasses all promotional activities involving search engines. This included search engine optimisation (SEO), paid search (PPC), search reputation management, and more. The simple diagram to the right shows the key components of search engine marketing.

However to confuse matters the term SEM is frequently used as an acronym to distinguish paid search from search engine optimisation or SEO. 🙁

Semantics aside, here’s what Search Engine Marketing is not…

1) “Search engine marketing is just about getting high rankings in the search engines”

Yes, high rankings in search engines are essential so your site can be found. But search engine rankings by themselves are not the end goal. They’re simply a necessary step to achieving it. High rankings in search engines are worthless unless they deliver visitors to a website. (Blindingly obvious, but missed by so many)

In this regard search engine rankings are like newspaper advertisements or billboards – their success is not measured by how many there are, but by the responses they generate.

2) “Search engine marketing is simply about driving increased traffic to your website from search engines”

It’s relatively easy to get vast amounts of traffic to a website, but if traffic just clicks in and clicks out again what’s the point? That’s like having lots of foot traffic go through a store but few stopping to shop. Tyre kickers don’t help your business.

What does help is getting more of the right sort of traffic. And that’s visitors who convert. In other words focus should be on traffic quality – not just quantity.

Done right, search engine marketing will deliver:

  • Visitors actively searching for the products or services you offer
  • Visitors wanting to buy

Exactly the sort of visitors you want visiting your website!

Mark Sceats

About the Author Mark Sceats

Mark is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire which he founded back in 2002. Prior to establishing SureFire he worked for KPMG Consulting. Today Mark heads up SEO, embracing the challenges that can come with complex website implementations. Outside of work, his interests beyond his family are running, snowsports, diving and fishing (badly).

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