When people talk search marketing, the term ‘search engine optimization’ is thrown around a lot, but in truth it is only one component. Search marketing is the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility on search engine results for relevant terms. This leads to a boost to qualified traffic, leads, and brand recognition. Search marketing can be broken down into three activities: paid placement, paid inclusion, and search engine optimization.
Paid Placement (Pay-Per-Click Advertising)
Paid placement - otherwise known as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising – is an immediate, targeted method of generating traffic. When setting up a PPC campaign, a bid-per-click and a set of targeted keyword phrases must be defined. Advertisements appear in the most prominent spots of search results pages, resulting in limited real estate, so ads are shown based on their relevance to the search query and their bid amount (where the higher the bid, the more likely the ad will be displayed). As the name implies, advertisers only pay when the ads are clicked on. This can lead to free targeted exposure if carefully planned.
Paid inclusion is a guaranteed way of appearing in Yahoo! search results. (The other two major players, Google and MSN Live, do not offer paid inclusion services.) Depending on the nature of the agreement, payment may be done annually or per-click. Unlike PPC advertising, paid inclusions appear in the non-sponsored results sections, thus appear more authentic.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization is the ‘natural’ process of improving your website’s rank in search engines by improving its relevance for specific terms. In the eyes of search engines, relevance is determined by a site’s content, architecture, coding, and popularity across the web. If done correctly, optimization can generate superior leads over PPC, and be less costly and more robust than paid inclusion. However, it should be noted that search rankings through optimization are never a guaranteed thing, as other websites (and search engines) are constantly shifting around.
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