As a new PricewaterhouseCoopers study indicates that Internet Marketing is set to increase by 10.7 per cent a year until 2011 in the US, we take a look at search engine Marketing (SEM) and what that term actually means.
In simple terms, SEM covers activities such as placing paid advertisements with search engines like Google, submitting sites to directories, developing Internet Advertising strategies and - perhaps most importantly - carrying out search engine optimisation (SEO).
Search engine optimisation (SEO)
SEO involves increasing the number of internet users (traffic) visiting a website in order to capture a larger audience, as well as improving the quality of that traffic.
Professionals working in SEO consider the methods used by search engines like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Ask.com, when these search engines crawl the internet. Improving the SEO of a website may include changing its presentation, structure and content, such as including a daily news feed to keep it fresh and relevant for consumers.
Various factors are considered, and Google and the other search engines are very good at selecting the best websites based on a number of factors such as keywords. So, if a consumer is searching for, say, "year-round travel insurance", Google will tend to give priority to those sites that feature that key term in their copy.
Paid advertisements SEM
Search engine marketing can also involve the use of paid advertisements, which typically use pay per thousand (PPM) or pay per click (PPC) models.
Pay per click ads are small textual advertisements that display next to search results that are relevant to the product. So, if you search for "travel insurance" on Google you will see a number of sponsored listings on the right hand side.
When internet users click on these ads, the advertisers make a payment to Google. If they are using a PPM model, they pay a certain amount per thousand visitors; if they are using a PPC model they pay a small amount each time the ad's hyperlink is clicked on.
The main programs that are used are Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing and Microsoft adCenter.
Benefits of search engine marketing
The benefits of search engine marketing are well-known. As well as being a way to reach millions of potential consumers, SEM offers an affordable way to gain media exposure and a way for smaller companies to compete with the larger corporations with advertising budgets of millions.
Despite this, many small businesses are failing to take advantage of the fast-growing number of buyers now shopping online.
That's a shame for them, because the benefits are very real - which is why more than £2 billion was spent on online advertising last year in the UK.
Source: Direct Traffic